Landing of the 33 Patriots Day is celebrated annually in Uruguay on April 19. It commemorates the first step towards Uruguayan independence, when, in 1825, a military unit known as the Thirty-Three Orientals bravely crossed the river and planted their flag in a war zone between Uruguay and Brazil, pledging to fight for the country’s independence until it was achieved. A few months later, Uruguay effectively declared its independence, and fought for Brazilian recognition until 1828, when it was finally granted.
The background of 33 Patriots Day
The Thirty-Three Orientals was a military organisation founded by Juan Antonio Lavalleja and Manuel Oribe against Portuguese Brazil, an empire whose objective was to expand its territory by reclaiming territories in what is now known as Uruguay. The movement’s name derives from the fact that their primary objective was the independence of the Banda Oriental, or Eastern Bank, a region in modern-day northern Uruguay and southern Brazil. In 1825, the expedition left the province of Buenos Aires for the province of Cisplatina, where they would endeavour to expel the Brazilians.
The group was able to advance into the territory on April 18 without being spotted by the Brazilian brigades, and on April 19 at dawn they planted the Flag of the Thirty-Three Orientals, which consisted of three horizontal stripes of red, white, and blue. This event is commemorated on Landing of the Thirty-Three Orientals Day, a Uruguayan national holiday.
After this, the Thirty-Three Orientals continued their campaign throughout Uruguay, disseminating their message to all Uruguayans in an effort to convert more individuals to the objective of territorial and political independence. In June, a new government was installed, and independence was declared in August. However, a new conflict erupted between the country and the Brazilian Empire: the Cisplatine War, which lasted until 1828, when Brazil recognised Uruguay’s independence.
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LANDING OF THE 33 PATRIOTS DAY DATES