El Libertador Part 1: General Jose de San Martin- Spanish colonialism, Napoleon and the Peninsular war

Jose de San Martin, champion of the guerra de la independencia, was an Argentine General, provincial governor and innovative commander who played a key role in the liberation of the viceroyalties and colonies of Latin America from the Spanish Crown in their post-Napoleonic struggle for independence. His youth was spent training as a professional soldier and his early career saw him first fighting with Napoleon’s French forces against the Portuguese; then against them, as Napoleon revoked his alliance with the Spanish King and invaded the Iberian peninsula and installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne in 1808. Years of bloodshed and horror during the Iberian campaign was the crucible in which he developed his social consciousness and military thinking, and as the war ground to a stalemate, the call to return to his native motherland in its struggle for self-determination became increasingly difficult to ignore. This led San Martin – the highest ranking criollo officer in the Iberian peninsula, to resign his commission and make his way back to Buenos Aires, where this quiet, reserved and politically moderate soldier was to embark on a military career that would see him become venerated as “el libertador” (the liberator).

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