Uruguayan New Yorkers celebrate Uruguayan Independence Day on August 25. It marks the day in 1825 when what was then called La Banda Oriental declared independence from Brazil.
In this context “Oriental” in Spanish means East, in the same way that the Orient is East of Europe. La Banda Oriental is the land on the East bank of the Uruguay River.
The Uruguayan Independence Day Story
The region became a frontline in the power struggle between the Portuguese and Spanish, and later Argentines and Brazilians. They were not Argentines yet because modern South America was still forming.
The trigger for the independence of countries in Latin America was the collapse of the Spanish monarchy in the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815). When Spain became ruled by the French, first Criollos (American-born Spanish) and later Americans (the Latin mix of Native, European, and African) took the opportunity to seize power.
On August 25, 1825, a group called the “Thirty-Three Orientals” led by Juan Antonio Lavalleja and Manuel Oribe declared independence from Brazil. They were supported by forces from Buenos Aires.
The struggle between the Argentines and Brazilians continued. The modern state of Uruguay was established through the Treaty of Montevideo in 1828.
The culture of modern Uruguay is an interesting blend of Argentine culture in Spanish and Brazilian culture in Portuguese. But Uruguayan culture is something unique all by itself. ¡Viva Uruguay!