Feb 252014
 

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Today is the birthday (1778) of José Francisco de San Martín, an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire. He was born in Yapeyú, Corrientes, in what is now Argentina, but spent his youth in Spain.

In 1808, after taking part in the Peninsular War against France, San Martín contacted South American supporters of independence from Spain. In 1812, he set sail for Buenos Aires and offered his services to the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata in present-day Argentina. After the Battle of San Lorenzo and time commanding the Army of the North during 1814, he organized a plan to defeat the Spanish forces that menaced the United Provinces from the north, using an alternative path to the Viceroyalty of Peru. This objective first involved the establishment of a new army, the Army of the Andes, in Cuyo Province, Argentina. From there, he led the Crossing of the Andes to Chile, and triumphed at the Battle of Chacabuco and the Battle of Maipú (1818), thus liberating Chile from royalist rule. Then he sailed to attack the Spanish stronghold of Lima in Peru.

On 12 July 1821, after seizing partial control of Lima, San Martín was appointed Protector of Peru, and Peruvian independence was officially declared on 28 July. On 22 July 1822, after a closed-door meeting with fellow libertador Simón Bolívar at Guayaquil in Ecuador, Bolívar took over the task of fully liberating Peru. San Martín unexpectedly left the country and resigned the command of his army, excluding himself from politics and the military, and moved to France in 1824. A re-creation of his study in France now sits in a museum about 5 blocks from where I live, including all the original furniture. You can have no idea in what high regard he is held in Argentina.

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The Order of the Liberator General San Martín (Orden del Libertador General San Martín), created in his honor, is the highest decoration conferred by the Argentine government.

Going to show off my patriotism just this once.  “Oid mortales. .  .” Soy Argentino y soy orgulloso.

No recipe today.  You should have an asado in San Martín’s honor.  Just one small note.  People always get this wrong.  Asado is NOT a barbecue — it is a roast.  I am no asador.  You need generations of experience.

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