Uruguay celebrates a national public holiday called “Landing of the Patriots” every April. This day commemorates the bravery of 33 particular patriots who helped win Uruguay’s independence from Spain.
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The struggle of Uruguay for freedom from colonial Spain and from control by neighbouring Brazil was a long and bloody one. Even in colonial times, the Spanish and Portuguese Empires fought over this region continually as a kind of border state zone.
In 1811, under General Artigas, Uruguay escaped from Spanish rule and set up a republican form of government. This immediately seemed a threat to Portugal, which feared Brazil might rebel in an attempt to copy Uruguay’s new republican ways. So Portugal invaded and conquered Uruguay in 1816. Later, Uruguay came under Brazil’s control.
Finally, on 19 April, 1825, 33 exiled patriots crossed the Plata River and landed on the western bank. On 25 August, they declared independence from Brazil and helped Artigas win against the Brazilians.
Argentina sided with Uruguay and fought Brazil in a 500-day war. In the end, Uruguay’s independence was recognised in the 1828 Treaty of Montevideo.
Every year on Landing of the Patriots Day, Uruguay’s people remember the valiance of the 33 by wreath-laying ceremonies and listening to patriotic speeches. They also get a day off work.