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Montoneras

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Martín Miguel de Güemes leading a guerrilla of gauchos
Martín Miguel de Güemes leading a guerrilla of gauchos

The Montoneras originally were known as the armed civilian, paramilitary groups who organized in the 19th century during the wars of independence from Spain in Hispanic America. They played an important role in the Argentine Civil War, as well as in other Hispanic American countries during the 19th century, generally operating in rural areas.

In the 20th century, the term was applied to some insurgent groups in countries of Central and South America. Generally, these were paramilitary groups composed of people from a locality who provided armed support to a particular cause or leader. In 1970, the left-wing Montoneros guerrillas in Argentina adopted their name from the 19th century militias.

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Paramilitary

Paramilitary

A paramilitary is an organization whose structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but is not part of a country's official or legitimate armed forces. Paramilitary units carry out duties that a country's military or police forces are unable or unwilling to handle. Other organizations may be considered paramilitaries by structure alone, despite being unarmed or lacking a combat role.

Spanish American wars of independence

Spanish American wars of independence

The Spanish American wars of independence were numerous wars in Spanish America with the aim of political independence from Spanish rule during the early 19th century. These began shortly after the start of the French invasion of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. Thus, the strict period of military campaigns would go from the battle of Chacaltaya (1809), in present-day Bolivia, to the battle of Tampico (1829), in Mexico.

Hispanic America

Hispanic America

The region known as Hispanic America and historically as Spanish America is the portion of the Americas comprising the Spanish-speaking countries of North and South America. In all of these countries, Spanish is the main language, sometimes sharing official status with one or more indigenous languages or English, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion.

Montoneros

Montoneros

Montoneros was an Argentine left-wing Peronist guerrilla organization, active throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. The name is an allusion to the 19th-century cavalry militias called Montoneras, who fought for the Federalist Party during the Argentine Civil Wars.

Etymology

Several philologists think that montonera is derived from montón (crowd) because the men marched in a disorderly fashion. Others think it derives from montes (mountains), as the men used the backcountry as their defensive bases. Others said thar the first fighters were montados (mounted) on horseback.[1][2][3]

As Montoneras appeared spontaneously in towns that revolted, attacking isolated Royalist garrisons and quickly dispersed when confronted by a superior force to regroup later, historians have compared them to the guerrillas who fought in Spain during its war of independence, part of the Peninsular War, or guerrillas in other areas.

The Spanish historian Manuel Ovilo y Otero noted they operated similarly to those guerrillas fighting in Spain against Napoleon's troops from 1808 to 1814.[4]

The English officer William Miller, who served in Wellington's army during his campaign in Spain and then in South America, said that the montoneras in Peru served an invaluable function as an auxiliary force. Their value was similar to that of guerillas in the Peninsular War.[5]

Argentina

In the history of Argentina, "montoneras" were usually military units from rural areas, generally cavalry, led by local caudillos. They participated in the Argentine Civil Wars of the nineteenth century.

Features

Posthumous portrait of Francisco Ramírez
Posthumous portrait of
Francisco Ramírez

The montoneras units were relatively unorganized, based in rural areas and generally operated in rural areas, where they had the advantage of being on their home turf. They were associated with the concept of local rural militias.

Forces designated and authorized as "militias" supported the provincial government, while montoneras were insurgents against it. When montoneras succeeded in overthrowing a provincial government to one they supported, they became classified as "rural militias". Similarly, many rural militias became montoneras when they lost the support of the provincial government.[a]

The capitals of the most populous provinces, especially Buenos Aires and, to a lesser extent, Córdoba, had major urban militia forces. These defended only the cities.

The degree of organization of the montoneras depended on the circumstances. For example, the montoneras organized by Blas Basualdo in Entre Ríos Province in 1814 from historic accounts appear to have been mobs of men without discipline. They achieved some success thanks only to his courage and boldness. Those who were organized in the same province a few years later, commanded by Francisco Ramírez, were said to have had a remarkable discipline, organization and command. They repeatedly overcome superior forces of regular "line" troops.[6]

The montoneras often used rudimentary combat tactics, but they adapted to the conditions on the frontiers of Argentina. They often had to travel long distances through unpopulated country between towns and cities, and to fight in places dictated by natural geographical features, choosing locations where the proximity of waterways or mountains of trees could give them an advantage. However, when they were mounted troops, they chose more open areas for confrontation with government forces.

Generally, the troops were eager to contact the enemy and fight them in melee. Their leaders preferred to pursue a guerrilla strategy of quick attacks and withdrawals. They could wear down the regular troops and hinder their maneuvers, defeating any group that strayed from the main enemy army. Estanislao López, the leader of the province of Santa Fe, is often quoted for his strategies of attrition. He maintained the autonomy of his province from the enemy armies, defeating such military leaders as Juan Ramón Balcarce, Manuel Dorrego, Juan Lavalle and José María Paz. He ultimately achieved victory over his former ally Francisco Ramírez.

Historical appreciation of the term

In Argentina historiography, the term montonera is often used in a derogatory sense, especially by historians identifying with the central governments.[7] At one time, historians avoided using the term montoneras to describe the fighters who defended the north of the country during the war of independence. But, like the later Federalist leaders, Martín Miguel de Güemes used irregular cavalty. Revisionist historians have sometimes praised the montaneras as authentic defenders of provincial federalism against the centralism of Buenos Aires Province.[8]

In the last third of the 20th century, the name was adapted by the Montoneros, a leftist guerrilla movement in Argentina. Their ideology, on the left of Peronistas before they were expelled from the party, and methodology had little in common with the montoneras of the 19th century.

Evolution of weaponry and tactics

The rural men used weapons at hand, often nothing more than lances, before they gained guns. When they gained firearms, they adapted their combat tactics. As the 19th century advanced, the increased number of fighters had to rely on less expensive weapons; they used spears combined with sabers, and failing that, the most primitive weapons, including indigenous bolas.

In Santiago del Estero Province, the insurgent leader Juan Felipe Ibarra used a defense of a "scorched earth" policy. As the borders of the province were particularly difficult to control, each time the province was invaded, he let the enemies occupy the provincial capital. Then his forces deprived them of food and water, forcing the invaders to leave the province.

From 1828 onward, some provinces started to have formal armies, especially Buenos Aires and, to a lesser extent, Córdoba. General José María Paz led the formal military of the latter province. After his fall, rural militias of Cordoba returned to their preferred montonera style of organization.

Buenos Aires Province preferred to organize professional armies, limiting the action of rural militias to defense against the Indians. During the war against the Northern Coalition, the superiority of the Buenos Aires professional army decided the fight. They defeated the army of General Juan Lavalle, who tried to organize popular montoneras.[9]

During the period called the "National Organization", after the enactment of the 1853 Constitution of Argentina, the struggle between political groups was expressed in fighting between regular troops and montoneras. After the Battle of Pavón, the montoneras were more often defeated by the increasingly modern weapons and distance tactics of the line infantry.

Ángel Vicente Peñaloza led the first war against the national government, and was defeated by the better training and equipment of the regular national cavalry. In these struggles, the superiority of the infantry always determined the results. The last of the federalist warlords, Ricardo López Jordán, was beaten repeatedly because the montaneras were superior.[10] The last Unitarian caudillo, the former President Bartolomé Mitre, was defeated by the superiority of the regular infantry against his montoneras. At that time, the word "montonera" was applied only to Federalists. The organization of troops who supported Mitre in 1874 was montonera.[11]

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Argentina

Argentina

Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, is a country in the southern half of South America. Argentina covers an area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,500 sq mi), making it the second-largest country in South America after Brazil, the fourth-largest country in the Americas, and the eighth-largest country in the world. It shares the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, and is also bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. Argentina is a federal state subdivided into twenty-three provinces, and one autonomous city, which is the federal capital and largest city of the nation, Buenos Aires. The provinces and the capital have their own constitutions, but exist under a federal system. Argentina claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and a part of Antarctica.

Caudillo

Caudillo

A caudillo is a type of personalist leader wielding military and political power. There is no precise English translation of caudillo, though it is often used interchangeably with "warlord" and "strongman". The term is historically associated with Spain, and with Hispanic America after virtually all of the region won independence in the early nineteenth century.

Argentine Civil Wars

Argentine Civil Wars

The Argentine Civil Wars were a series of civil conflicts of varying intensity that took place through the territories of Argentina from 1814 to 1853. Initiation concurrently with the Argentine War of Independence (1810–1820), the conflict prevented the formation of a stable governing body until the signing of the Argentine Constitution of 1853, followed by low frequency skirmishes that ended with the Federalization of Buenos Aires. The period saw heavy intervention from the Brazilian Empire that fought against state and provinces in multiple wars. Breakaway nations, former territories of the viceroyalty such as the Banda Oriental, Paraguay and the Alto Peru were involved to varying degrees. Foreign powers such as British and French empires put heavy pressure on the fledging nations at times of international war.

Francisco Ramírez (governor)

Francisco Ramírez (governor)

Francisco Ramírez, also known as "Pancho" Ramírez as well as "El Supremo Entrerriano" (1786–1821), was an Argentine governor of Entre Ríos during the Argentine War of Independence.

Buenos Aires Province

Buenos Aires Province

Buenos Aires, officially the Buenos Aires Province, is the largest and most populous Argentine province. It takes its name from the city of Buenos Aires, the capital of the country, which used to be part of the province and the province's capital until it was federalized in 1880. Since then, in spite of bearing the same name, the province does not include Buenos Aires proper, though it does include all other parts of the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area. The capital of the province is the city of La Plata, founded in 1882.

Córdoba Province, Argentina

Córdoba Province, Argentina

Córdoba is a province of Argentina, located in the center of the country. Its neighboring provinces are Santiago del Estero, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, La Pampa, San Luis, La Rioja, and Catamarca. Together with Santa Fe and Entre Ríos, the province is part of the economic and political association known as the Center Region.

Entre Ríos Province

Entre Ríos Province

Entre Ríos is a central province of Argentina, located in the Mesopotamia region. It borders the provinces of Buenos Aires (south), Corrientes (north) and Santa Fe (west), and Uruguay in the east.

Estanislao López

Estanislao López

Estanislao López was a caudillo and governor of the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, between 1818 and 1838, one of the foremost proponents of provincial federalism, and an associate of Juan Manuel de Rosas during the Argentine Civil War. He is considered an iconic figure in Santa Fe and one of the most influential political actors in the Argentine conflicts of the 1820s and 1830s.

Juan Ramón Balcarce

Juan Ramón Balcarce

Juan Ramón González de Balcarce was an Argentine military leader and politician.

Manuel Dorrego

Manuel Dorrego

Manuel Dorrego was an Argentine statesman and soldier. He was governor of Buenos Aires in 1820, and then again from 1827 to 1828.

Juan Lavalle

Juan Lavalle

Juan Galo Lavalle was an Argentine military and political figure.

José María Paz

José María Paz

Brigadier General José María Paz y Haedo was an Argentine military figure, notable in the Argentine War of Independence and the Argentine Civil Wars.

Peru

William Miller, known as Guillermo Miller in Latin America
William Miller, known as Guillermo Miller in Latin America

In Peru the name "montoneras" is generally applied to different bodies of guerrillas who fought against the Spanish forces during the independence wars. Some units joined the Royalists. According to General Miller:

Some were mounted on mules, others on horses, some wearing bearskin hats, others helmets and many hats were downcast vicuña wool: some had feathers, but most had no feathers. Their costumes were no less varied; hussar jackets, coats infantry, and ingrown furs, removed the royalists dead, were interspersed with patriotic uniforms. To this must be added romper pants, other set, with hood and fur runs knives, short shorts, sandals, and shoes, but they were all in uniform in a garment. Each individual had a poncho he wore in the usual way, or tied around the waist, as a belt or shoulder hung fantastically, nor had any carry him to stop his tie. Their weapons were equally diverse: rifles, carbines, pistols, swords, bayonets, swords, large knives and spears or pikes, were the weapons with which chance had armed and one, and another of them, but which managed to combat with terrible effect. The commander of them, Captain ..., who had been appointed to consider their particular feats, was armed with a pistol, a rifle and a long straight sword he had taken a Spanish colonel, who was killed in single combat.[12]

The term "montoneras" was used also to refer to irregular forces who fought during the civil wars in Peru, and later against the occupation by Chile during the War of the Pacific.

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Peru

Peru

Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the south and west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon River. Peru has a population of 34 million, and its capital and largest city is Lima. At 1.28 million km2, Peru is the 19th largest country in the world, and the third largest in South America.

Spanish American wars of independence

Spanish American wars of independence

The Spanish American wars of independence were numerous wars in Spanish America with the aim of political independence from Spanish rule during the early 19th century. These began shortly after the start of the French invasion of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. Thus, the strict period of military campaigns would go from the battle of Chacaltaya (1809), in present-day Bolivia, to the battle of Tampico (1829), in Mexico.

Vicuña wool

Vicuña wool

Vicuña wool refers to the hair of the South American vicuña, an animal of the family of camelidae. The wool has, after shahtoosh, the second smallest fiber diameter of all animal hair and is the most expensive legal wool.

Chile

Chile

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America. It is the southernmost country in the world, and the closest to Antarctica, occupying a long and narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Chile covers an area of 756,096 square kilometers (291,930 sq mi), with a population of 17.5 million as of 2017. It shares land borders with Peru to the north, Bolivia to the north-east, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chile also controls the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Isla Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. It also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometers (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica under the Chilean Antarctic Territory. The country's capital and largest city is Santiago, and its national language is Spanish.

War of the Pacific

War of the Pacific

The War of the Pacific, also known as the Saltpeter War and by multiple other names, was a war between Chile and a Bolivian–Peruvian alliance from 1879 to 1884. Fought over Chilean claims on coastal Bolivian territory in the Atacama Desert, the war ended with a Chilean victory, which gained for the country a significant amount of resource-rich territory from Peru and Bolivia.

Ecuador

In Ecuador, the "Montoneras" were an unorganized military phenomenon who emerged after independence in the coastal agricultural zone. They comprised an armed wing - a cavalry - of a popular opposition movement against violence committed by landowners or authorities of the new republican power. Their members included laborers on the estates, smallholders and independent workers. Over time, they became the shock troops of the Liberal Party, led by Eloy Alfaro, in the 1880s (see: Liberal Revolution of 1895).

Source: "Montoneras", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montoneras.

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References

Notes

  1. ^ The most typical example is the militia of La Rioja Province commanded by Chacho Peñaloza, who lost the favor of the provincial government after the Battle of Pavón. His forces continued the war against the Buenos Aires invaders as montoneras.

Citations

  1. ^ Hildebrandt 1969, p. 249.
  2. ^ Rosario Candelier 2003, p. 14.
  3. ^ Molina Massey 1950, p. 263.
  4. ^ Ovilo y Otero 1847, p. 103.
  5. ^ Miller 1829, p. 138.
  6. ^ Paz 1988.
  7. ^ Sarmiento 1999.
  8. ^ Rosa 1986.
  9. ^ Ruiz Moreno 2006.
  10. ^ Ruiz Moreno 2008.
  11. ^ López Mato 1874.
  12. ^ Miller 1829, p. 140.

Sources

  • Hildebrandt, Martha (1969). Peruanismos: Martha Hildebrandt. Francisco Moncloa. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  • López Mato, Omar. 1874: Historia de la revolución olvidada. Ed. Olmo, s/f.
  • Miller, William (1829). Memoirs of General Miller: in the service of the republic of Peru. Vol. 2. John Miller. p. 140.
  • Molina Massey, Carlos (1950). La montonera de Ahuancruz: Novela de ambiente histórico de la época de Rosas. Editorial "América Gaucha". Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  • Ovilo y Otero, Manuel (1847). Historia de las Cortes de España, y exámen histórico-crítico de las mismas desde el casamiento de S. M. La reina Doña Isabel II. Libro de los diputados célebres: Arte de la elocuencia y de gobernar, y nota de las dignidades, condecoraciones y sociedades ilustres, con los nombres de los individuos que a ellas pertenecen. Aguado. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  • Paz, José María (1988). Memorias póstumas. Buenos Aires: Ed. Hyspamérica. ISBN 950-614-762-0.
  • Rosa, José María (1986). La guerra del Paraguay y las montoneras argentinas. Ed. Hyspamérica. ISBN 950-614-362-5.
  • Rosario Candelier, Bruno (2003). La ficción montonera: Las novelas de las revoluciones. Sociedad Dominicana de Bibliófilos. ISBN 978-99934-23-46-1. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
  • Ruiz Moreno, Isidoro J. (2006). Campañas militares argentinas. Vol. II. Buenos Aires: Ed. Emecé. ISBN 950-04-2794-X.
  • Ruiz Moreno, Isidoro J. (2008). Campañas militares argentinas. Vol. III. Buenos Aires: Ed. Emecé. ISBN 978-950-620-245-3.
  • Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino (1999). Facundo, civilización y barbarie. Buenos Aires: Ed. Emecé.

Further reading

  • Academia Nacional de la Historia, Partes de batalla de las guerras civiles, Bs. As., 1977.
  • Aráoz de Lamadrid, Gregorio, Memorias, Bs. As., 1895.
  • Cárcano, Ramón J., El general Quiroga. Ed. Emecé, Bs. As., 1947.
  • Quesada, Ernesto, Pacheco y la campaña de Cuyo, Ed. Plus Ultra, Bs. As., 1965.
  • Ruiz Moreno, Isidoro J., Campañas militares argentinas, Tomo I, Ed. Emecé, Bs. As., 2004. ISBN 950-04-2675-7

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