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Cerro Largo Department (Uruguay)

Departamento de Cerro Largo

Last modified: 2021-12-24 by rob raeside
Keywords: cerro largo | departamento de cerro largo | largo | etcheverry benítez (carlos enrique) |
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[Flag of Cerro Largo] image by Ivan Sache, 8 May 2021
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The municipality

Cerro Largo Department (86,587 inhabitants in 2018; 13 648 sq. km) is located on the border with Brazil.
Ivan Sache, 8 May 2021

Description of the flag

The flag of Cerro Largo, approved on 14 August 2018 by the Department Council, was inaugurated on 3 February 2019.
The flag is composed of seven horizontal stripes, in turn blue and white.

The adoption of the flag was pushed by Cristina Cardozo. The flag was originally used by the "Oriental insurgents", as reported in 1950, with a drawing, in the Almanaque del Banco de Seguros del Estado. Cardozo claims that "this was the first flag used by the eastern people after its formation, as reported by José Artigas (1764-1850; "the father of Uruguayan nationhood"); the design is supported by different sources and at lest one drawing kept in the Spanish royal archives. The flag was most popular in the 1950s in the aftermath of the commemoration of the centenary of the death of Artigas. The design of the flag is confirmed in a document written by Joaquin Lenzina 'Ansina' (1760-1860), Artigas' friend and close collaborator from 1790 to 1850. Two copies of the flag are kept in the Blandengues and Santa Clara barracks.

El País, 8 February 2019
El País, 24 June 2018

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2021

Former flag

[Flag of Cerro Largo] image by Ivan Sache, 8 May 2021

The former flag of Cerro Largo, white with the coat of arms of Melo, the department's capital, was proposed by Wilson Gómez on 29 April 1983, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Pedro Melo de Portugal y Villena (1733-1797), Viceroy of Rio de la Plata from 1795 to 1797, based on historical material gathered by Carlos Enrique Echeverri Benítez. This was the first departmental flag in Uruguay
Gómez claims that according to Spanish heraldry, the flag of department has to be white with the local coat of arms in the center.
On the flag, the coat of arms of Melo is surmounted by a four-towered mural crown and surrounded by two flowered branches of Roman cassie [Vachellia caven (Molina) Segler & Ebinger]. Beneath the shield is a red scroll inscribed with the year of foundation of the town, "1795".
According to the designer, the branches represents the local flora, as a symbol of strength, resistance, glee and promise of profuse harvests.

Gómez argued that changing the symbols was simply not possible: "The flag was approved and distributed in the schools and registered with the Ministry of Education and Culture. The original flag, bordered in gold, is kept by the Department's Council. It is a shame that the proposed flag is the same as the jersey of the Cerro Largo cyclists and footballers."

El País, 8 February 2019
El País, 24 June 2018

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2021

The flag was the creation of Professor Carlos Enrique Etcheverry Benítez. On a white field, it has in its superior part a golden mural crown with four towers (since it is the region head).

The coat of arms of Melo appears at center with two branches of "espinillos" in flower and its inferior part has a red listel with the name "Cerro Largo" and the date of foundation of its capital.

Since June 26, 2006, the inhabitants of Melo and all people that arrive to the city can see the Cerro Largo flag flying in the intersection of Boulevard Francisco Matta and Manuel Oribe and Saviniano Perez streets.
Olivier Touzeau, 13 August 2007

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Coat of Arms

Translated from

The coat of arms of Melo was designed by the local writer and painter José Monegal (1892-1968) in 1936.

The horizontal dividing line is charged with a native decoration; the vertical dividing line represents a border post, divided in five quarters charged by a cross, a lion, a castle, a lion and a cross, respectively.

The upper quarter features on a field azure whose 16 rays - eight rectilinear rays ending like spearheads, another eight undulating, flame-shaped rays - reach the field's edge. in base and superimposed to the lower rays of the sun, a hill chain, described by the author as follows: "Cerro Largo [Big Hill], unmistakable through its ample and severe silhouette and the singular ornamentation of Guazunambí [Hill]. Cerro Largo, as a symbol of a steadfast fortress established by nature on our land as a castle to heal, embellish and dignify. Our department acquired its name in its shade."

The lower quarters feature dexter the arms of Viceroy Pedro de Portugal y Villena, the founder of Melo, and sinister an emblem composed of native weapons crossed in cross and saltire. The two historic emblems, the arms of the Spanish official and the elements of native origin, are combined with the first quarter's geographic and toponymic motif with the obvious aim to compose an emblem representative of the department.

The presence of the sun and the colors of the quarters are, according to Monegal's memoir, "a seal that accredits the dignity of the Uruguayans, the colors of the homeland's flag".
Ivan Sache, 9 May 2021

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