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Martin Güemes

Martin Güemes (1785-1821) led the resistance against the Spanish forces in northwest Argentina during the wars of inde- pendence. Born to a wealthy family in Salta, he joined the Spanish military in 1799 and distinguished himself against the British invasions in Buenos Aires. Shortly after returning to Salta, Güemes learned that Buenos Aires had declared independence from Spain due to the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy by Napoleon Bonaparte. He joined the newly formed provincial militia where he would spend the remainder of his life defending the region from royalist incursions. While Güemes held the royalist forces in check, to the south José de San Martín was able to prepare his campaign to liberate Chile in peace. Through his connections to the provincial elite and his control of the military, he became the leader of the region. When he planned liberal tax and land reforms, however, there was a backlash that led to his assassination in 1821.
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