Argentina Travel

Juan Manuel de Rosas

Juan Manuel de Rosas(1793 - 1877) came from a family of wealthy land owners. After managing a few ranches for his parents, Juan married and decided to make his own fortune going into business for himself. He married the young, but strong-minded Encarnacion Excurra y Asguirel. Encarnacion proved to be a great wife and prudent woman that watched out for Juan's interests when he was away from Buenos Aires. With his new wife and his natural leadership skills Rosas won the hearts of many men that worked for him. Rosas was also an expert at breaking horses, lasso and the popular sport of juego del pato. The gauchos worshipped him.

Rosas' rise to wealth and position was rapid. He became a major land and cattle owner. His own ships exported beef to Brazil and Cuba. His investments brought him further lands that were than owned by Indians in the West and South of Argentina. Rosas then conquered politics by becoming governor of Buenos Aires in 1829. Everyone saw him as a young, handsome and popular do-gooder, far from the horrable dictator he was to become. Juan resigned from his position to conquer further lands in 1832. He came back 3 year later a national hero and more powerful then ever.

He became governor for a second time in 1835. This time, Rosas started showing his true colors. The first famous incident of cruelty came when ordered the death of his prisoners while cutting the throat of a twelve-year-old child that was caught with the prisoners. At that time Rosas started a new fashion of wearing a red ribbon showing support for Federal rule. That red ribbon later became the symbol of Rosas' cruelty.

For the next 17 years Rosas became more and more power hungry and cruel. His death squads, the Mazorca, rulled the streets of Buenos Aires and many citizens were forced to keep to themselves for fear of personal safety. Rosas went after any and all opposition that he may have had while expanding his personal fortune at the same time. He even argued with other countries such as Brazil, England, and France over import taxes. His overtaxation brought on a blockade of Buenos Aires that lasted almost 12 years by those countries. Indirectly, the blockades did help the cattle industry because cattle was no longer slaughtered and exported by remained inside the country. The cattle population tripled during that time.

By the year 1851 there seemed no end to Rosas' power. Most of his enemies were dead or hiding out in neighbouring Uruguay. Just then the estancieros, the ranch owners that originally brought Rosas to power rose up against him. General Justo Jose de Urquiza gathered support and an able army to beat Rosas' troups in the abttle of Caseros. Rosas was beaten. No one supported him henceforth and Rosas fled to England in a British warship.

Rosas died in 1877 in the English town of Southampton. Argentina held a mass for all the people that were slain during his rule. There doesn't remain a single street, plaza or testament to his honor in Buenos Aires. But Juan Manuel de Rosas is not forgotten.

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