Argentine general and statesman, liberator of Chile and Peru, 1778-1850, sometimes referred to as the Libertador or Protector del Perú
Fishburn and Hughes: Argentina's greatest military leader, hero of the Wars of Independence and liberator of Chile and Peru.
Guayaquil: Once the Spaniards had been defeated in Argentina, San Martín foresaw that his country's independence would not be won unless the royalist forces were expelled from the sub-continent. He set off from Buenos Aires to enlist soldiers for his famous Army of the Andes, which in 1817 he led into Chile. Here, after the battles of Chacabuco and Cancha Rayada, he finally defeated the Spaniards at Maipú. He then led an expedition into Peru, where the Army of the Andes was joined by Chilean forces. On 9 July 1821, after securing several victories over royalist forces, he entered Lima — not, in his words, as a conqueror but as liberator of the Peruvian people -whereupon he was proclaimed Protector of Peru. Spanish troops remained in the Sierras, and San Martín realised that neither he nor Bolívar was sufficently powerful to defeat the Royalists on his own. Accordingly he sent troops to Bolívar in Quito and arranged a meeting, which finally took place in Guayaquil on 26 July 1822. The conference clearly indicated the clash of personalities between the two men, as Bolívar distrusted both San Martín's military ability and his monarchical leanings. Fully aware of the predicament, San Martín conceded the leadership of his troops in Peru to Bolívar, returned briefly to Argentina and then, leaving the camp to his rival, departed for Europe, where he lived in self-imposed exile in Belgium. When he tried to return to Buenos Aires in 1829, he found Argentina torn by the strife between the Federalists and the Unitarians (respectively represented by Rosas and Lavalle). He refused to take sides and returned to Europe without even landing on Argentine soil. He died in Boulogne. CF 395;the masonic lodge referred to is the Logia Lautaro, of which San Martín was a member and where he exchanged revolutionary ideas.
The Elderly Lady: San Martín remains to this day a sacred name in Argentine history, an example of bravery and abnegation. On this point Borges ironically recalls that when a Venezuelan writer once wrote that San Martín 'tenía un aire avieso' ('had a sly look'), this was solemnly denied by an Argentine writer, who claimed that to say avieso and San Martín together was nonsensical: You may as well speak of a square triangle.' The Elderly Lady; Guayaquil