Andrés de Santa Cruz, the military man who changed sides

Andrés de Santa Cruz, the military man who changed sides

Andrés de Santa Cruz He was a prominent military man at the time of the emancipation of the Spanish colonies in America. Although he started out as an important member of the royalist army, he changed his mind and joined the independence cause. However, due to disagreements with other politicians and the outbreak of the Restoration war, he was exiled to Europe.

Santa Cruz He was born on December 5, 1792 in the city of La Paz (Bolivia) into a family of the colonial aristocracy. His first studies were carried out in his hometown and at the San Buenaventura school in Cuzco, where he met Agustín Gamarra. At the age of 17, he joined the royalist army as an ensign of the regiment "Apolobamba Dragons”. Little by little he was fighting to try to stop the advance of the rebellious troops. These campaigns served to rise within the military ranks of the Spanish army until reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1817. Shortly after his appointment he was captured but managed to escape.

But the course of his career would take a drastic change on December 6, 1820. That day, Santa Cruz was captured by the rebels and transferred to the headquarters of José de San Martín, who managed to convince him to join the independence cause on January 8, 1821. From this moment, the liberating current counted with much more force. After the battle of Pinchincha on May 24, 1822, Santa Cruz obtained the rank of Brigadier General and the Peruvian Congress gave him a medal of merit for his bravery and brilliance as a military man.

Although there were several relatively humiliating defeats between 1823 and 1824, Santa Cruz could count on the confidence of Bolívar, who appointed him chief of the General Staff of the Peruvian Division during the Battle of Junín on August 6, 1824. Sucre noticed him and appointed him chief of the General Staff of the Liberation Army in the Alto Peru campaign. His successes in both missions led him to obtain the rank of Grand Marshal and the prefecture of Chuquisaca.

Once the Republic of Bolivia, Santa Cruz supported the union with Peru. This position was quite inconsistent with those of Sucre and the independentistas in 1825. But even so, he was appointed president of the Council of Ministers of Lima in 1826. From this position he dictated the dismissal of Bolívar, affirming the independence of Peru and electing General La Sea in 1827.

After the Peruvian occupation of Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz assumed the provisional presidency of the country. However, he would hold that position for much longer, since after the assassination of General Blanco he was appointed president of Bolivia in 1829. As the maximum leader, tried to form the Peru-Bolivian Confederation, entering Peru in 1836 with the title of Protector. But everything was much worse than he could have foreseen, since he provoked the Restoration war against Chile and Argentina. It was a contest that he lost and that caused him to be exiled to Europe.

Although he returned in 1855, had no real influence on the political or military landscape. He became linked to the Argentine president's family and ended up moving to France. There he served as ambassador, diplomat and plenipotentiary minister until September 25, 1865, when he died in Beauvoir, near Nantes.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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