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Category: Military

242. guerreros del paraguay ◊

Guerreros del Paraguay, Recoleta Cemetery

This pantheon is unique since Recoleta Cemetery does not officially commemorate national events & has very few group memorials… it’s more of a family place. The war with Paraguay ended in 1870, but the architectural style of the pantheon contains elements of Art Nouveau (popular at the beginning of the 20th century). A trip to the Archivo General de la Nación solved the dilemma. One archived photo records the site dedication in 1913:

Guerreros del Paraguay, Recoleta Cemetery

A large statue of Argentina as female warrior (note the coat-of-arms on her breastplate) offers a branch of laurel in a gesture of peace:

Guerreros del Paraguay, Recoleta Cemetery

Paraguay & Argentina declared independence around the same time. Stuck in the middle of South America without an exit to either ocean & no chance to develop overseas trade, Paraguay depended on its neighbors for imported European goods. As its only control mechanism, Paraguay introduced strict laws with heavy taxation & managed to earn a small fortune. Never a democracy in its early years, leadership passed from grandfather to father to son. In the 1860s (50 years after independence), Francisco Solano López was in charge. Historians still aren’t quite sure what to make of him or what really started the war, but it went very wrong for Paraguay.

Uruguay had already been created as a buffer zone between Brazil & Argentina. Both countries continued to meddle in the new nation’s affairs, & in the 1860s civil war was about to break out in Uruguay. Brazil & Argentina loosely supported one side while Paraguay supported the other. López asked permission to cross Argentine territory with troops to backup his friends in Uruguay. Argentina refused. López went ahead with his plans, attacking Brazil & occupying part of Argentina. He had gathered the largest army in Latin America, amounting from 30,000 to 80,000 troops depending on which account you read. His neighbors were no match with just a few thousand men each. López had the best odds.

Uruguay, Argentina & Brazil decided to join forces to beat López & formed the Triple Alliance. These nations’ flags decorate the top of the mausoleum, actual flags covered in plastic are inside, & repeated again on the interior stained glass:

Guerreros del Paraguay, Recoleta Cemetery

Guerreros del Paraguay, Recoleta Cemetery

The 5-year war was extremely violent & eventually devasted Paraguay. They had more manpower but also out-of-date equipment & no supplies. Historical figures vary wildly, but using conservative numbers at least half of the population Paraguay was killed. In terms of gender, only 1/10 of the male population survived. When the fighting was over, López & his followers were executed & Paraguay was forced to surrender half of its territory; one chunk going to Brazil & the other to Argentina, today known as the Province of Formosa.

Revisionist historians have spent decades analyzing the facts. Was López really so arrogant to think he could defend Uruguay’s interests as well as obtain an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean? Maybe not. Someone else financed the war: England. One theory claims that since England didn’t have a steady supply of cotton from the US thanks to an equally horrible civil war at the same time, they looked elsewhere. Paraguay produces lots of cotton & perhaps the UK took that into consideration when loaning Brazil & Argentina extravagant amounts of money to fund the war. Two statues of armed soldiers remind visitors of the men who fought in one of the most horrific & often forgotten wars of Latin American history:

Guerreros del Paraguay, Recoleta Cemetery

Guerreros del Paraguay, Recoleta Cemetery

The pantheon became a National Historic Monument in 1983.

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238. pablo riccheri ◊

Pablo Riccheri, Recoleta Cemetery

Attracting as much attention for its size as well as its location in the center of the cemetery, the tomb of Pablo Riccheri is a fitting memorial for his deeds. Born in the Province of Santa Fe of Italian immigrant parents, Riccheri dedicated his life to the military. From the age of 15, he rose in the ranks & seemed to be a patriot in the true sense of the word. Riccheri saw the military as a professional organization used to uphold the constitution & defend the nation… not to be involved in politics or used for invasion.

Pablo Riccheri, Recoleta Cemetery

Riccheri traveled frequently to Europe & adopted the best of what he saw in the armed forces overseas. These trips occurred during Argentina’s growth spurt of the 1880s, & by the next decade he had befriended soon-to-be President Julio Argentino Roca. Roca appointed Riccheri as Minister of War (what we would today call the Minister of Defense) & gave him the opportunity to make real change.

Riccheri acquired several hectares of land around the nation & transformed them into training grounds (campos, like the Campo de Mayo near Buenos Aires). He hired mainly German military officers to instruct upper-ranking staff while relying on French engineers & artillery. Riccheri also instituted obligatory military service in 1901 for all males when they turned 20 years old. At the time it helped form a sense of national identity, but after decades of misuse conscription was eliminated in 1994. Riccheri also created the Escuela de Aplicación de Sanidad Militar where new doctors had to live at the main military hospital in Parque Patricios for 3 years to complete their training. His professionalism was remarkable:

“Si las instituciones armadas de un pueblo se mezclan en las contiendas políticas, perdiendo su respetable y noble misión de ser los guardianes tutelares y el respeto a las leyes, siempre bajo la autoridad que marca la Constitución, ¿a quién incumbirá entonces el mantenimiento del orden y el respeto a la ley?”

“If the military institutions of a nation get entwined with political disputes, losing their respectable & noble mission to be the guardians of law, always under the authority outlined by the Constitution, who will then take the responsibility of maintaining order & upholding the law?”

The mausoleum is interesting in its own right. A depiction of Argentina plus a few soldiers flank the statue of Riccheri made by Luis Perlotti:

Pablo Riccheri, Recoleta Cemetery

Pablo Riccheri, Recoleta Cemetery

Side relief panels depict Riccheri overseeing the training grounds:

Pablo Riccheri, Recoleta Cemetery

Pablo Riccheri, Recoleta Cemetery

Riccheri passed away in 1938, & the national government appropriated the mausoleum which was orginally in the same spot—that of first President Bernardino Rivadavia. Rivadavia’s ashes had been moved in 1932 to Once where they remain to this day. A small plaque in the rear, relegated to the bottom left corner, reminds visitors of the original occupant of this spot:

Bernardino Rivadavia, Recoleta Cemetery

The Archivo General de la Nación has an old photograph of the Rivadavia vault:

Bernardino Rivadavia, Recoleta Cemetery

The current vault dates from 1952 & buried inside with Riccheri are other military figures… the national government dedicated this spot to several important leaders. A plaque states that Bernardo de Monteagudo is buried there & supposedly so are Juan O’Brien, Félix de Olazábal, Juan José Quesada, Francisco Fernández de la Cruz & Elías Galván. But Monteagudo is the only one with a plaque:

Bernardo de Monteagudo, Recoleta Cemetery

The remains of Bernardo de Monteagudo were transferred to the Cementerio del Oeste his natal province of Tucumán on 24 Jun 2016 (news report in Spanish)… we’ll add photos here as they are provided.

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225. guillermo brown ◊

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

At the junction of eight intersecting walkways Guillermo, or William, Brown could not find a more prominent spot to rest in peace. Born in Ireland in 1777, his family fled to the US to escape religious persecution. Brown became a merchant marine & earned the title of captain at the young age of 19. In an odd twist of fate, he was captured by the British at sea & later joined the Royal Navy. England was turning out naval greats like Horatio Nelson at the end of the 18th century, so Brown was in the right place at the right time.

Brown also met his wife while in England, & their household became a model of tolerance at the time mixing Irish Catholic & British Protestant members. Soon after their marriage, the Browns arrived in Argentina. He ran trade between Montevideo & Buenos Aires, acquiring enough money to buy his own boat & a large mansion. After independence, Brown offered his services to the new nation & helped found the Argentine Navy.

Over the next 35 years he served Argentina well by winning battles against Brazil & impeding the British-French naval blockade. Brown died in 1857 in Buenos Aires at the ripe old age of 80. His final rites were performed by fellow Irishman Father Fahy, whose cenotaph can be found directly across from Brown.

A single Corinthian column topped with a model of a ship & wind-blown sails is tall enough to compete with neighboring trees. Naturally the green color makes reference to his Irish origins, although I’ve read that the monument was not initially painted green:

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

Around the base of the column, silver-painted plaques depict naval battles he won for Argentina against Brazil:

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

Brown’s ashes are conserved in a bronze urn, cast from cannons of ships he commanded, seen through an etched glass pane:

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

Barely visible behind his urn are the remains of his daughter, Elisa. She was engaged to be married to a captain under her father’s command, but during the war with Brazil her fiancée was killed. Many guides like to embellish the already tragic story by claiming a distraught Elisa drowned herself in the Riachuelo, but this is not true. Elisa did die in the Riachuelo but from a tragic accident while bathing, slipping into an unseen hole:

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

Lots of text around the base honor Brown’s accomplishments & was declared a National Historic Monument in 1946:

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

Guillermo Brown, Recoleta Cemetery

Brown’s wife could not be buried alongside him because non-Catholic burials were not allowed in Recoleta Cemetery at that time. She was laid to rest in the Cementerio de Victoria, now Plaza 1º de Mayo, used by both Protestant & Jewish residents.

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213. sepulcro de antonio martínez

Ángel María Zuloaga, Recoleta Cemetery

Neglected & forgotten, the final resting place of Ángel María Zuloaga remains unnoticed by most. A few plaques alert to his skill in aviation, but only one mentions Zuloaga’s 1916 record-breaking trip across the Andes by hot air balloon with Eduardo Bradley:

Ángel María Zuloaga, Recoleta Cemetery

Quite a personality in his own right & not a mere sidekick to Bradley, Zuloaga traveled the world & was considered an expert in aeronautics. In his 20s, Zuloaga served as military attaché to France during World War I & later spent time in Washington, DC as a military advisor. He could have even been the first to cross the Atlantic by plane, but the Argentine government failed to back Zuloaga’s request for assistance three years before Lindbergh’s historic flight. Foreign Minister Bernardo de Irigoyen told Zuloaga, “If man was meant to fly, God would have given him wings.” At this point, Zuloaga had to choose between his Air Force career or going it alone across the Atlantic… he remained in the military.

His youngest daughter described him as “loving but disciplined” & fondly remembered his great love of art & friendships with Benito Quinquela Martín & Luis Perlotti. During a visit to Europe as World War II began, Zuloaga was invited to speak with Hitler but refused to go. He was, however, on friendly terms with Franco. Zuloaga added to his legacy by penning a history of Argentine aviation in 1948 titled “La Victoria de las Alas.” At present, I’ve been unable to determine how Zuloaga was buried here but I’m assuming that the Martínez family was related to his wife in some way. Any further info would be appreciated.

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207. sepulcro del general terrada

Juan Florencio Terrada, Recoleta Cemetery

In October 1806—just months after the first British invasion of Buenos Aires—the victorious Compañía de Granaderos Voluntários de Infantería was split for easier management. Captain Juan Florencio Terrada commanded the newly created, 350 member Compañía de Granaderos Provinciales since he had bravely commanded troops under Liniers. Terrada saw battle again during the second British invasion the following year.

Juan Florencio Terrada, Recoleta Cemetery

Continuing to move up politically as well as within the military, Terrada accepted appointment as the first Governor-Mayor (Gobernador Intendente) of Mendoza province in 1814. A later post as Minister of War gave him the responsibility of assisting José de San Martín prepare troops for the independence of Chile.

Terrada married María Mármol, aunt of José Mármol. José took refuge in the Terrada estate in San Isidro before spending years in exile in Montevideo. Terrada passed away in 1824, & this crypt was declared a national historic monument in 1946.

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188. general alvear

General Alvear, Recoleta Cemetery

Built by Alejandro Christophersen, this gargantuan granite temple has housed the remains of the Alvear family over three generations. Its size adequately reflects the importance of this family. A nearby avenue named after them is synonymous for upper class elegance with expensive design shops, a few embassies, & the Jockey Club all sharing the same address.

The general referred to on the cornice was Carlos María de Alvear, a controversial fighter for Argentine independence & frequently at odds with founding father José de San Martín. With a life worthy of being made into an epic movie, Carlos acquired the status of national hero for winning campaigns during the 1827 Argentina-Brazil War. He died in Washington, DC in 1852 while serving Argentina’s first ambassador to the United States.

One of Carlos’s most important sons was Torcuato de Alvear, also buried in the family mausoleum. As the first mayor of Buenos Aires after it became the nation’s capital, Torcuato instituted wide-sweeping improvements: constructing Avenida de Mayo down the middle of a city block, demolishing the old marketplace in the main square, & commissioning the large entrance gate for Recoleta Cemetery. Since Torcuato ordered cemetery improvements, he made sure to place his family’s mausoleum in front.

One of Torcuato’s sons became President in 1922. Marcelo T. de Alvear is remembered for leading a period of economic & cultural prosperity. Although part of the upper class, Marcelo became instrumental in shaping the Socialist-leaning Unión Cívica Radical party.

Declared a National Historic Monument in 1946, all generations of the Alvear family can watch everyone coming & going from their prime position:

General Alvear, Recoleta Cemetery

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