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Category: Politicians

533. josefa v. de pujol

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Gregorio Pujol

Built initially for his wife, Juan Gregorio Pujol found his way here too after passing away in 1861. Born in the province of Corrientes in 1817—just after Argentina earned its independence—much of Pujol’s life coincided with the new nation’s struggles.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Gregorio Pujol

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Gregorio Pujol

Pujol graduated from the University of Córdoba with a law degree in 1838. After returning to Corrientes, Pujol obtained various government positions until named Governor in 1852. He worked with Justo José de Urquiza & Santiago Derqui to write a constitution that would be acceptable to Buenos Aires… always seen as problematic due to the region’s overwhelming economic power. Pujol did much to promote education & favor local trade in Corrientes, including aligning the province with Paraguay’s dictator, Francisco Solano López. Anything to avoid siding with Buenos Aires! In the end, Pujol had severe disagreements with Carlos Tejedor & Bartolomé Mitre & foresaw the coming civil war.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Juan Gregorio Pujol

Pujol died in August 1861, still serving as Governor of Corrientes & one month before the Battle of Pavón ended the Confederación Argentina which he had supported & served his entire life. But Pujol’s most widely recognized contribution to Argentina was establishing mail service in Corrientes in 1856 along with the first postage stamp used in national territory:

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531. dechert-barletti

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Dechert-Barletti, Arturo Illia

We love a good mystery…

Aquí descansaron los restos del Presidente de la República Dr. Arturo U. Illia desde su fallecimiento enero de 1983 a octubre de 1983

President of the Republic, Dr. Arturo U. Illia, laid to rest here from his passing in January 1983 until October 1983

President Illia had been forced from office by a military coup in 1966, another victim of the revolving door of democracy & dictatorship in the 20th century. The Argentina Independent has a good article describing Illia’s last day in office. As a high-ranking member of the Unión Cívica Radical, he was entitled to be buried in a mausoleum dedicated to those who had died in the 1890 revolution: a conflict that gave birth to that political party. Obviously he was moved there in October 1983, but why did Illia spend 10 months in this spot? A Presidential sash inside is another reminder of his temporary stay.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Dechert-X, Arturo Illia

At first I thought this family might be related to Illia’s wife, Silvia Elvira Martorell Kaswalder. She had been undergoing treatment for cancer in a Texas hospital when Illia was forced from office in 1966. Silvia passed away only a few months later back home in Córdoba & was buried in Recoleta Cemetery in the tomb of Hipólito Yrigoyen’s mother. Several decades later, she moved to a separate vault. A search in Genealogía Familiar turned up nothing to relate either Illia or his wife to the Dechert-Barletti family.

According to a 1977 edition of the Boletín Oficial, Jorge Luis Dechert & Ernesto Alberto Barletti formed a company called Nininco that specialized in radio & television components as well as albums & cassette tapes. The business venture no longer exists, so even that extra info was a dead end.

If anyone has information as to why a former President temporarily rested in peace here, please help us solve this mystery!

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526. alfonsín vandalism

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Raúl Alfsonsín, vandalismo, Peronistas

Sadly, two posts in a row deal with damage & destruction inside Recoleta Cemetery. The tomb of former President Raúl Alfonsín was spray painted on 05 Jun 2017 with the pro-Peronista symbol “PV”, Perón vuelve. Alfonín passed away in Mar 2009 after a long battle with lung cancer & was buried with much fanfare, fitting of someone so important in national history (for more info, see the 4-part Death of a President series). This method of showing political disagreement should never be considered acceptable.

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What follows is a translation of a press release from the Télam news agency:

Buenos Aires, June 05

National representative Ricardo Alfonsín (of the Cambiemos-Unión Cívica Radical party) today thanked those who called him concerning the vandalism of his father’s mausoleum located in Recoleta Cemetery & confirmed that he would not accept any candidacy.

After a reunion with Governor María Eugenia Vidal, in which it was rumored that the leader of Buenos Aires province offered him a post, Alfonsín reassured that “the meeting took place & we talked about many things, both sides showed courtesy, kindness & frankness”, but emphasized that he does not want “to be a candidate for an elected position, either in Argentina or in a foreign country”.

In statements to Télam Radio, Alfonsín said that he received calls offering support after news of vandalism of the mausoleum of the deceased ex-President Raúl Alfonsín had been made public.

“In every country around the world there are powerful personalities with anti-democratic ideas who do this kind of thing, which we always must renounce regardless of who is the victim”, he affirmed.

Among those who communicated with the Cambiemos representative are the Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich; the head of the Federal System of Media & Public Content, Hernán Lombardi; the ex-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; the ex-Minister of Transportation Florencio Randazzo; and the former head of the Cabinet Aníbal Fernández, as well as “all members of the Radical political party”, the Governor of Santa Fe province & the national head of the Socialist Party Antonio Bonfatti.

In this context, Alfonsín complained that the during the period of government under Cambiemos, the UCR party had maintained “a rather passive role which has harmed society” & added that “no one should be surprised, therefore, that disagreements would present themselves”. At the same time he admitted to be “working” so that “in 2019 there will be a Radical party President”.

Photo from the Télam news agency.

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511. valentín alsina

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Born in 1802—a few years before independence from Spain—Valentín Alsina studied law & obtained his first government post under the presidency of Bernardino Rivadavia. Short-lived, politics became much more complicated after Rosas took charge in 1829. Although Alsina formed part of the opposition to Rosas, he was protected by his father-in-law, Manuel Vicente Maza… an early Rosas supporter who switched sides & was eventually assassinated by Rosas’ troops.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Arrested & imprisioned, Alsina managed to escape to Uruguay in 1837 where he continued to oppose Rosas in the newspapers, along with other exiles like his neighbor in Recoleta Cemetery, Florencio Varela. After the defeat of Rosas in 1852, Alsina returned to Buenos Aires to oppose Urquiza as well. He was elected Governor of Buenos Aires but served for only a brief period due to another uprising.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

The following year Alsina presided over the committee which adopted the first provincial constitution, separating Buenos Aires from the rest of Urquiza’s Confederación Argentina. During this period, he oversaw the opening of the first rail line in Argentina & brought back the remains of his former boss, President Rivadavia, for burial in Recoleta Cemetery.

After winning the 1859 Battle of Cepeda, Urquiza forced Buenos Aires to join the confederacy & Alsina had to step down. But he continued in government & occupied the top spot in the national Senate where Valentín sweared in his son, Adolfo Alsina, as Vice-President under Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. He passed away soon after in 1869. Of his numerous contributions to Argentina, Alsina is probably best known for being the first director of the provincial institution which would later become the National Library as well as the author of the nation’s first penal code.

Alsina’s statue by Belgian sculptor Jacques de Braekeleer shines after a thorough cleaning in 2011:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Update (19 Aug 2014): The Biblioteca Digital Trapalanda (part of the Biblioteca Nacional) recently made the following image from 1876 by photographer Christiano Junior available. Wish those trees were still around!

Valentín Alsina, Christiano Junior, Biblioteca Digital Trapalanda

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508. juan arroqui y familia

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Juan Arroqui, Alfredo Palacios

Born in 1880—just as Argentina settled decades of internal conflict & millions of immigrants began to arrive—Alfredo Palacios would be remembered as the first Socialist Party member elected to any congress in Latin America. Palacios’ early life was not easy, especially after his Uruguayan father decided to recognize legally all 19 of his children… Alfredo being one of the illegitimate ones. This meant little money in the household, but Palacios worked hard to get a good education.

Noticed for his oratory skills even as a teenager, Palacios eventually graduated with a law degree. Committed to helping the underdog, his doctoral thesis titled “La Misería en la República Argentina” went hand-in-hand with a sign posted at his residence/office: “Lawyer. Free services for the poor.”

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Juan Arroqui, Alfredo Palacios

Palacios experienced a memorable first term in Congress when he uncovered & exposed money laundering in—of all things—the construction of the national Congress building itself. Briefly kicked out of the Socialist Party for wanting to settle a disagreement with a duel, he continued to be active in various universities & traveled extensively throughout South America. Palacios opposed US intervention in Latin American affairs during the 1920’s as much as he opposed the 1930 military coup in Argentina.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Juan Arroqui, Alfredo Palacios

Other causes dear to Palacios were repatriation of the Falkland Islands, better health care & living conditions in northern Argentina & in 1938 he tried to pass a bill for female suffrage. He remained at odds with Perón & had brief conflict with every administration afterwards. Palacios always remained true to socialist principles, even giving half his income to the Socialist Party.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Alfredo Palacios plaque

In 1965 while serving as a diputado in Congress, Palacios passed away with practically no money to his name. He never married & had no children, so I’ve been unable to determine how or why he was buried in the Arroqui mausoleum. Perhaps a brother or sister married into the Arroqui family? If anyone has additional information, please post a comment below.

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503. coronel juan de dios rawson

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Coronel Juan de Dios Rawson

Coronel Juan de Dios Rawson, whose father came from Massachusetts, fought in several battles during Argentina’s early years of organization, including the Guerra de la Triple Alianza. He was also the half brother of Dr. Guillermo Rawson. But his great-grandson, Arturo Rawson, became President of Argentina… for only 72 hours.

Rawson had a long career in the military & rose to the rank of General after several decades of service. As commanding officer of the cavalry, he possessed the troops needed to stage a successful coup d’etat already planned by the GOU (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos) in 1943. This secret, informal collection of officers aimed to end the Década Infame where electoral fraud kept the same people in power year after year.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, General Arturo Rawson

On 04 Jun 1943, Rawson marched 10,000 soldiers into Buenos Aires & took control of the country. While naming fellow officers to government positions & before he was sworn in as de facto President, the GOU realized they had made a mistake in asking Rawson for help. He supported the Allies in World War II while the GOU thought Argentina should remain neutral. Juan Domingo Perón, along with other GOU members, forced Rawson to resign & General Pedro Ramírez took his place.

For a brief period Rawson served as ambassador to Brazil. He also supported an attempted coup to overthrow Perón’s government in 1951. Rawson died of a heart attack the following year & did not live to see the eventual ousting of Perón in 1955.

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