Uruguay celebrates the birthday of its national hero, Jose Gervasio Artigas, every June 19 as a national holiday. Regarded as the father of Uruguayan independence, Jose Artigas was a soldier and revolutionary leader who fought against the Spanish in 1810 and the Buenos Aires government in 1813. Though he was born in a wealthy family, Jose Artigas became a gaucho. Even when Artigas gained more political power, he often championed the gauchos and their well-being.

Portrait of Jose Gervasio Artigas | Source: Wikipedia

His political philosophy, Artiguism, was slightly different from other prevailing political philosophies during the Latin American revolutions. Artiguism was more inspired by the British and US enlightenment than from French enlightenment. Some of the main ideas included in Artiguism are civil and religious liberty; a government focused on the preservation of equality, liberty, and the security of citizens; and free trade among the former provinces of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata (which later becomes Uruguay).

Painting of Jose Gervasio Artigas | Source: Wikipedia

As the champion of federalism in the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, Artigas fought against the efforts of Buenos Aires to assert centralized control in the region. Artigas ruled over 900,000 square kilometers of what is now Uruguay and central Argentina, fighting against a Portuguese invasion for three years. However, Artigas lost, and he was exiled in Paraguay from 1820 until his death. Eight years after Artigas’ exile, Uruguay gained independence.

Argentina 5 Pesos | 2015 ND | Source: Banknote World

Due to his influence and legacy in Latin America, especially Uruguay, Jose Artigas is featured on many banknotes and coins. For instance, the 5 Argentinian peso note from 2015 features many of the Latin American liberators, including Jose Artigas, Jose de San Martin, and Simon Bolivar.

Uruguay 10,000 Pesos | 1974 ND | Jose Gervasio Artigas | Source: Banknote World

The 10,000 Uruguayan peso note from 1974 features Jose Gervasio Artigas and the Palacio Estevez in Montevideo.

Uruguay 10 Centesimos-10 Pesos, 7 PCS Coin Set | 1994-2000 | Source: Banknote World

The standard circulation coins issued in Uruguay between 1994 and 2000 all feature the bust of Jose Artigas. The denominations that feature the national hero include 10 centesimos, 20 centesimos, 50 centesimos, 1 peso uruguayo, 2 pesos uruguayos, and 10 pesos uruguayos.

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