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Category: Military

089. sepulcro obligado y familia

Pastor Obligado, Recoleta Cemtery

A small gallery of niches holds the remains of Pastor Obligado, a key player in national politics after gaining independence from Spain. Born in 1818 in Buenos Aires, Obligado studied law & received his degree in 1845. Juan Manuel de Rosas ruled the new nation with an iron fist at that time, & Obligado was a firm supporter due to his upper-class background. But as time passed, he made allies with the anti-Rosas faction but continued to defend the rights of Buenos Aires above that of the nation. Obligado associated with fellow cemetery residents Adolfo Alsina, Valentín Alsina, José Mármol, & Carlos Tejedor. He also made friends with future presidents Bartolomé Mitre & Domingo Sarmiento.

All the above alliances paid off for Obligado in 1853 when Rosas was forced into exile. Obligado became the Governor of Buenos Aires & maintained the province’s separation from the Confederación Argentina. In 1857, he presided of the inauguration of the first train line in the city of Buenos Aires & made major improvements in providing basic utilities such as water & gas.

Remaining active in national events after his term as Governor ended in 1858, he later served in Congress as well as in the military. Obligado died in Córdoba while on vacation in 1870. He forms part of a long list of historical figures that were very important in their day but unfortunately have faded away from public memory.

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082. recent restoration ◊

If you notice scaffolding surrounding a tomb or mausoleum in Recoleta Cemetery, don’t worry. It’s not a demolition project.

I plan on donating 10% of map profits to the Asociación Amigos del Cementerio de Recoleta in order to help a good cause. Since 2002, the Friends’ Association has coordinated the restoration of the tombs of historically important figures. Most sculptures & monuments are generally around 100 years old so pollution, climate change, & invasion by plants & microorganisms can do a lot of damage over time. Also, plots are normally purchased for eternity so if a family leaves Argentina, has no descendants, moves their family to another cemetery, or does not pay the monthly maintenance fee, the mausoleum slowly decays over time.

From stop #6 in our PDF guide, three completed restoration projects can be seen. The first is a General José María Pirán whose bust decorates his vault:

José Pirán, Recoleta Cemetery

The large, unfinished column houses the remains of the adopted son of one of Argentina’s most beloved presidents, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. His son, Dominguito, was buried here after being killed in the war with Paraguay:

Dominguito Sarmiento, Recoleta Cemetery

An obelisk crowned with an angel is popularly known as the Cenotaph of the Three Friends (Cenotafia de los Tres Amigos). A cenotaph means that this is just a memorial & no remains are buried here. Evidently these three were such good friends that their loved ones wanted to remember them as a trio. You can see a plaque as well as a symbol of what each man did as you walk around. Alberto Viola was a prolific writer & politician (with books). Adolfo Mitre was son of President Bartolomé Mitre & a poet (hence the lyre). Benigno Lugones was a writer for La Nación newspaper (which is his symbol). Oddly enough all three died within a year of each other:

Cenotaph, 3 friends, Recoleta Cemetery

Cenotaph, 3 friends, Recoleta Cemetery

In the long run, ADACRE never responded to my offer of donating 10% of map profits. Basically I put that cash into maintaining this blog, but it would have been nice to make a contribution.

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071. luis maría campos ◊

Luis María Campos, Recoleta Cemetery

Lots of important people built their mausoleums along the cemetery’s outer walls… or at least lots of people with delusions of grandeur. Prior to the days of high-rise apartments, these were some of the best spots. And given the open views, it’s understandable that many families got carried away with size & decoration.

The Campos family dedicated themselves to military service & Luis María founded the War College (Escuela Superior de Guerra) in 1900. But in spite of Luis María’s historical merit, the mausoleum is one of the finest in the cemetery. Big & bold with lots of symbolism, Jules Félix Coutan, the head sculptor of the Paris School of Fine Arts at the beginning of the 20th century, created this work of art. Coutan had already designed & decorated several important buildings in Paris… so in a sense, Campos brought a piece of that city to Buenos Aires. Coutan’s signature is visible on the lower left:

Luis María Campos, Recoleta Cemetery

Luis María Campos stands with his sword to his heart while an angel beckons him to join her above. One thing that makes this sculpture unique is that Campos is supposedly so great, he towers over Argentina. The figure of a woman sitting at his feet supporting a shield is meant to represent the nation. Country should be more important, but the upper class usually has a very different view of what’s appropriate:

Luis María Campos, Recoleta Cemetery

Luis María Campos, Recoleta Cemetery

Luis María Campos, Recoleta Cemetery

Luis María Campos, Recoleta Cemetery

The Escuela Superior de Guerra can be found in Buenos Aires at the 400 block of the avenue which bears his name… with another statue of himself:

Luis María Campos, Escuela Superior de Guerra, Buenos Aires

Luis María Campos, Escuela Superior de Guerra, Buenos Aires

Update (10 Apr 2013): Incredible Art Nouveau image found in Campos’ obituary in society magazine Caras y Caretas (Año X, 19 Oct 1907, No. 472, page 52):

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Luis María Campos, Caras y Caretas

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047. argentine flags

Only those who have served Argentina in its top positions reserve the right to be buried with the nation’s flag. Most often used for Presidents, the flag can also cover the casket of high-ranking military officers:

General de División, Recoleta Cemetery

Panteón UCR, Recoleta Cemetery

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038. teniente general eduardo lonardi

Eduardo Lonardi, Recoleta Cemetery

Eduardo Lonardi briefly served as de facto President of Argentina after leading a military coup which forced Perón to flee the country. Dubbed the Liberating Revolution, the military’s reaction to Peronism would influence politics well into the 21st century.

The year was 1955, & Perón had been in power for almost a decade. His policies & political style had generated controversy among Argentines for several years, but those differences were heightened after the death of Eva Perón in 1952. Lacking the charisma of Eva & eventually seeing the results of bad economic decisions, Peronism lost its early strength & the military attempted a coup in June 1955. The daytime bombing of Plaza de Mayo & the Casa Rosada resulted in 364 deaths & over 800 casualties… but Perón was not one of them. He managed to escape unharmed.

A few months later in Sept 1955, Lonardi successfully attempted another coup in the city of Córdoba which spread through the rest of the nation. Perón resigned from the presidency & Paraguay granted him safe passage to Asunción. Lonardi was proclaimed President, but his term was to be short… only 50 days. Realizing the seriousness of ousting a populist leader like Perón, Lonardi thought a lenient attitude to Perón supporters was wise. This conciliatory stance was the origin of his most famous quote, “Neither victors nor vanquished.” In other words, the military should not be seen as victorious over the Peronists, nor should the Peronists consider themselves vanquished.

Eduardo Lonardi, Recoleta Cemetery

Unfortunately Lonardi’s Vice-President didn’t agree. Wanting to try over 300 Peronistas for treason, Lonardi was forced by fellow members of the armed forces to step down. Pedro Aramburu took Lonardi’s place & remained de facto President of Argentina until elections were held in 1958. Lonardi died 4 months after leaving office, the result of cancer which many say encouraged him to lead the uprising against Perón. If he had failed, he only had a few months to live anyway.

An Art Deco sculpture from 1928 signed by local artist Luis Carlos Rovatti draws a lot of attention. Depicting a fallen soldier with a sword in his left hand, a cloaked woman helps support him as well as his eternal flame. Provocative enough to get carried away with lots of photos.

Eduardo Lonardi, Recoleta Cemetery

Eduardo Lonardi, Recoleta Cemetery

Eduardo Lonardi, Recoleta Cemetery

Numerous plaques pay tribute to Lonardi’s role in the Revolución Libertadora.

Eduardo Lonardi, Recoleta Cemetery

Eduardo Lonardi, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (30 Nov 2015): Thanks to newly available images on the CeDInCI website (Centro de Documentación e Investigación de la Cultura de Izquierdas), many images of Lonardi’s funeral and a 1964 tribute to the former de facto President are now available online. I’ve uploaded three here… follow the link above for more:

Eduardo Lonardi, funeral, CeDInCI

Eduardo Lonardi, homenaje, tribute, CeDInCI

Eduardo Lonardi, homenaje, tribute, CeDInCI

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029. cause of death

Lots of information can be found out about the occupants of a particular tomb, even with only basic Spanish… just stop & study the plaques. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Luis María de la Cárcova, Recoleta Cemetery

Upper text reads: “To First Lieutenant Luis María de la Cárcova, RIP. He passed away tragically on 03 May 1948.” As is customary in Recoleta Cemetery, this plaque was given on the first anniversary of his death by those who miss him… in this case, fellow military personnel.

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