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Category: Military

393. lucio v. mansilla

Lucio Victorio Mansilla, Recoleta Cemetery

Lucio Victorio Mansilla was, like Ascasubi, a man whose life could have been a novel. Mansilla embodied the Romantic character: military man, writer, traveler, bon vivant.

Mansilla was born in Buenos Aires in 1831… son of Coronel Lucio Mansilla & Agustina Rozas, sister of Juan Manuel de Rosas, who they called “the star of the Federation.” As a teenager, his parents sent him on a trip to Asia, the Middle East & Europe in order to discourage a love “that was not to his convenience.” Young Lucio traveled through India, Egypt & Turkey as well as France, Italy & England. Those travels would later become material for future works of literature.

After the fall of Rosas, Mansilla’s family moved to France for a year. Lucio married his cousin, Catalina Ortiz de Rosas y Almada, after their return. He challenged José Mármol to a duel in 1856, thinking that the writer had offended his father in the novel “Amália.” The future author was exiled for three years & later sent to fight in the war against Paraguay:

Lucio Victorio Mansilla, Recoleta Cemetery

In 1868 Mansilla supported Sarmiento in his bid for President, who later designated him as frontier commander in Río IV, Córdoba. From there, he embarked on a journey south to defend a peace treaty with the ranquel/rankülche tribe. Mansilla spent 18 days with them & wrote his experiences down to be published in the “La Tribuna” newspaper. His style was colloquial & included many stories, even those told by the campfire. They were published together as “A Visit to the Ranquel Indians,” one of the most striking works of Argentine literature.

Below is an 1868 photo of Mansilla (center, wearing a cape) in what is now Plaza Roca in Río IV… two years before leaving for ranquel territory:

Lucio V. Mansilla, Río IV

From 1876 until his 1913 death in Paris, Mansilla occupied a large number of political positions & published a number of books. But the most important experience of his life—living through & telling his time among the indigenous people of Argentina—had already passed. Mansilla rests in peace in the family vault with his mother & father, & this vault was declared a National Historic Monument in 1946:

Lucio Victorio Mansilla, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (29 Aug 2012): Interestingly, David William Foster of Arizona State University considers Mansilla’s tales of the ranqueles as “one of the great classics of nineteenth-century Argentine prose, ranking perhaps only behind Sarmiento’s Facundo.” More info can be found here.

Photo of Mansilla in Río IV courtesy of the area’s Regional Historic Museum.

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389. ascasubi

Hilario Ascasubi, Recoleta Cemetery

The fabulous life of the gaucho poet Hilario Ascasubi seems to have come directly from the pen of a 19th-century Romantic writer.

The story goes that Ascasubi was born in Córdoba in 1807 aboard a covered wagon. At the age of 5, he rode alongside the then Coronel José de San Martín. And when he turned 14, on a whim Hilario embarked on “La Rosa Argentina” & sailed for over two years around the world.

In 1825, he enlisted as a recruit in General José María Paz’s forces to fight against the Spanish. It was there where Ascasubi began to compose verses to entertain his companions. Shortly after, he met Facundo Quiroga in Tucumán.

Hilario Ascasubi, Recoleta Cemetery

When Rosas came to power, Ascasubi wrote satires against the “Restorer” which got him two years in prison. After his release, he lived in exile in Montevideo for the next two decades… the time when his literary expertise would make him famous. Ascasubi returned to Buenos Aires in 1852, & the following year edited the satirical newspaper “Aniceto el Gallo.” A few years later he spent almost his entire fortune in building the first Teatro Colón on Plaza de Mayo.

In 1872, his complete works were published in Paris & “Santos Vega” appeared for the first time—about a storyteller who defies the Devil himself & is regarded as one of the best works of Latin American literature. In Recoleta Cemetery, his most recognized works are listed on the left side of the tomb while his military actions are named on the right:

Hilario Ascasubi, Recoleta Cemetery

Ascasubi—friend of Sarmiento, Florencio Varela, & Valentín Alsina—passed away in Buenos Aires in 1875. His crypt was declared a National Historic Monument in 1946. The tree stump is unique to the cemetery… a symbol of death of something which once lived, something which can never be recovered:

Hilario Ascasubi, Recoleta Cemetery

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385. brigadier gral. pedro ferré

Pedro Ferré, Recoleta Cemetery

Born in 1788, his lifetime coincided with Argentine independence & the troubled times of Rosas & Lavalle. Elected four times as governor of Corrientes Province, Ferré passed away in 1867. His tomb was declared a National Historic Monument in 1946 & has a unique, little-bit-of-everything style:

Pedro Ferré, Recoleta Cemetery

Pedro Ferré, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (06 May 2011): Thanks to Sergio, posted below are photos of the transfer of Pedro Ferré’s remains to the cathedral in Corrientes in 1964. And surprisingly enough, this vault had it’s declaration of National Historic Monument removed afterwards. This is the only case we know of a vault in Recoleta Cemetery losing its status by presidential decree. The MHN protective status was transferred to the spot where Ferré now rests in peace. ¡Gracias Sergio!

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, transfer of Pedro Ferré

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, transfer of Pedro Ferré

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Pedro Ferré

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340. gral wenceslao paunero

Wenceslao Paunero, Recoleta Cemetery

Early figures in Argentine history are usually the most complex to document because they participated in almost every major event. National population was smaller, the elite kept themselves in power & most military figures ran parallel lives as politicians. Adding to the mix were powerful alliances, & Argentines became involved in events spanning half the continent. Wenceslao Paunero was no exception with a lifelong military career & political allies among the most recognized names in Argentina.

Born in 1805 in Colonia del Sacramento, Paunero was a child during Argentina’s independence from Spain. At the age of 20, he joined the Argentine army & fought for his hometown during the 1825-28 war with Brazil. Although captured & later freed as part of a prisoner exchange, it did not hinder Paunero from moving up in the ranks.

Wenceslao Paunero, Recoleta Cemetery

Paunero later joined forces with General Juan Lavalle, participating in battles throughout northern Argentina & negotiating with opposition forces led by cuadillo Juan Facundo Quiroga. After exile experiences in Bolivia & Perú, meeting Domingo Sarmiento & Bartolomé Mitre in Chile brought Paunero into new political circles. Paunero fought against Rosas & was consequently promoted to the highest military position Buenos Aires could offer.

Once internal issues were somewhat settled, Paunero had little time to rest. Under the presidency of Mitre, he was sent to command troops in the War of the Triple Alliance. Mitre later promoted Paunero to Minister of War/Defense & in 1868 he ran as a Vice-President under a losing ticket with Rufino de Elizalde. Always serving his country, Paunero passed away in Rio de Janeiro as Ambassador to Brazil in 1871 at the age of 65.

His tomb was declared a National Historic Monument in 1946 & sits quietly at the end of a row that very few tourists visit. The modern style does not fit with the date of Paunero’s death, so most likely a later family member had this built & his remains transferred to Recoleta Cemetery.

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332. pedro inchauspe

Pedro Inchauspe, Recoleta Cemetery

Many people who visit Recoleta Cemetery have heard about Perón’s policy of allowing Nazi war criminals safe haven in Argentina after World War II. But there is another, often neglected part of the story. Argentina could have easily been on the Allied side long before Perón came to power.

Argentina consulted the UK about declaring war on Axis powers in 1939 under the presidency of Roberto Ortiz. England had been Argentina’s chief creditor for decades & one of the major importers of Argentine grain & livestock. But Argentina was advised to maintain neutrality so they could continue to supply food to a nation at war. As a contrast to Ortiz’s willingness to involve Argentina in a conflict in another hemisphere, his government also issued an order to deny visas to any Jewish person trying to escape the Holocaust. His interests were obviously only economic.

Acción Argentina, Recoleta Cemetery

In a response to the horrors of Axis domination in Europe, Acción Argentina formed in 1940 led by ex-President Marcelo T. de Alvear. Although their motives were different than those of Ortiz, they might have been successful in taking Argentina to war if the US had not been attacked in 1941. Dropping their isolationist policy, the US requested at a conference in Rio de Janeiro that all American nations form a united front against Axis powers. To many—including Argentina foreign minister & Nobel Laureate Carlos Saavedra Lamas—the US request sounded like a way to extend their own power to South America & the request was rejected.

Other members of Acción Argentina included Victoria Ocampo, Nicolás Repetto, Alicia Moreau de Justo, & former President Agustín P. Justo. Although total membership was under 500, elite members gave the organization a strong voice.

For more info, check out a book by Andrés Bisso titled “Acción Argentina y las estrategias de movilización del antifascismo liberal-socialista en torno a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, 1940-1946.” Under US pressure, Perón’s predecessor declared war on Germany about 6 months before the conflict was over.

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310. martín rodríguez ◊

Martín Rodríguez, Recoleta Cemetery

Martín Rodríguez, Recoleta Cemetery

Successful rancher turned soldier, Martín Rodríguez participated in almost every conflict in early Argentine history. His first campaign was against the British in 1806, taking back the Iglesia de Santo Domingo in downtown Buenos Aires. During independence, Rodríguez went north to fight with Manuel Belgrano & saw his share of victories as well as defeats.

With independence won, Rodríguez became a politician. As Governor of Buenos Aires, he & Bernardino Rivadavia created several important institutions: the University of Buenos Aires, the Museum of Natural History, the Banco de la Provincia & most importantly, Recoleta Cemetery. Then called the Cementerio del Norte (Northern Cemetery), a few lines of text on the Rodríguez tomb is the only place where the cemetery’s original name can be seen today:

Martín Rodríguez, Recoleta Cemetery

Rodríguez originally supported Rosas but soon switched sides. By doing so, his family had to flee in exile to Uruguay where Rodríguez died in 1845. His remains were later repatriated, & the current vault was erected in 1924 with ironwork & a fantastic sculpture by Arturo Dresco. It became a National Historic Monument in 1946:

Martín Rodríguez, Recoleta Cemetery

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