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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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Following Dorrego's death, further renewed military conflict between the federalists and Unitarios was almost inevitable. With the national government dissolved, 35-year-old Juan Manuel Rosas filled the void when he attained the Buenos Aires governorship in 1829. To address the unstable political situation, he received suma del poder, dictatorial powers, from the provincial legislature. Rosas successfully led the federalist provincial forces against the Unitarios, thereby enforcing peace throughout the countryside. Further, Rosas paid down he nation’s debt and rolled back many of Rivadavia's reforms. By the end of his term in 1832, he had consolidated power in the governorship. He then returned to his estancia, extensive ranch, until he was offered the governorship again in 1835. He accepted only after being guaranteed even greater extraordinary powers than before. Rosas ruled with impunity until he was overthrown in 1852.

Rosas’s overarching goal was domestic stability. He saw the concentration of power in the person of the governor as the answer to Argentina’s political chaos. According to him, the country lacked the political maturity to establish a working national government. All efforts by his provincial allies to create a national confederation were denied. Referred to as the Restaurador de las Leyes, restorer of the laws, he selectively dismantled liberal policies on the domestic front while plotting a more liberal path with regard to foreign trade.

Rosas' contributions to Argentina were considerable. He increased the lands available for settlement, promoted the export of salted beef and hides, stopped the cycle of civil wars between the provinces, and paid down foreign debts. His stands against foreign intervention received praise from José de San Martín and made him a hero to Argentine nationalists, but he also established a model of tyrannical, personalistic leadership that was emulated in other provinces and in Latin America. He ruled by fiat, not consensus, dictating policy directly to his private secretaries. (See the memoirs of Rosas' secretary below.) He censored the press and placed curbs on domestic travel. The mazorcas, his private police force, forced compliance through violent means. This mixture of the progressive and the tyrannical has made Rosas a figure of enduring controversy in Argentine history.

See also: Critics of Rosas and Rosas Bio.



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