University of Notre Dame
Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections
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Precursors to Independence
Early Independence
Federalism vs. Unitarianism
Rise of the Caudillos
Juan Facundo Quiroga
Rule of Rosas
Critics of Rosas
The Gauchos
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A caudillo from the western province of La Rioja, Juan Facundo Quiroga, in concert with Juan Manuel Rosas, led his gaucho army against the Unitarios from the 1820s through the mid-1830s. Quiroga’s political views reflected a conservative ideology, including local control versus centralization, support for local industries, and a strong role for the Catholic church in societal affairs.

Historian and statesman Domingo Sarmiento immortalized Facundo through his portrayal of him as a barbarian in a series of articles, later issued as a book in 1845 with the title Civilización y barbarie. Sarmiento wrote that the gaucho chieftain Facundo governed through intimidation and violence: "Incapable of commanding noble admiration, he delighted in exciting fear; and this pleasure was exclusive and dominant with him to the arranging all his actions so as to produce terror in those around him, whether it was society in general, the victim on his way to execution, or his own wife and children. Wanting ability to manage the machinery of civil government, he substituted terror for patriotism and self-sacrifice." (Sarmiento. Translated by Mann, p. 88.)

Facundo’s private correspondence reveals a different side of his character. The letter dated September 16, 1831, written to his wife Dolores, asks her to sell everything he owns to educate his children if he does not return from battle.

After consolidating power in La Rioja in the 1830s, Facundo traveled to Buenos Aires where he met with both federalists and Unitarios promoting the virtues of federalism, an arrangement that Rosas disagreed with. During this visit, he offered to fund a trip for study to the United States for Juan Bautista Alberdi, who would become one of Rosas’ critics.

Facundo was assassinated at Barranca Yaco in February 1835. While it was never proven, some believe Rosas planned the murder to dispose of Facundo, who was increasingly becoming his rival. The subsequent pursuit, arrest, trial and execution of the murderers are documented in the government publication, Causa criminal seguida contra los aútores y complices de los asesinatos perpetrados en Barranca-Yaco, below.

See also: Quiroga Bio.



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