[lit-ideas] Down Argentine Way

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2007 11:26:14 EST

Thanks to L. K. Helm for the transcript
"The first Europeans who visited the River Plate wee a party of  Spanish
explorers in search of a south-west passage to the East Indies.   Their
leader, Juan Dias de Solis, landed, in 1516, with a few attendants on  the
north coast between Maldonado and Monte Video, where according to  Southey
they were treacherously killed, and then cooked and eaten by the  Charrua
Indians in sight of their companions on board the vessels."
Good to see that R. Southey recollected the incident. In Argentina, it is  
mandatory material in schools to read a short story from a collection of 
 _Misteriosa Buenos Aires_ by Manuel Mujica Lainez (set to film) that deals 
with  this horrendous episode. 

"And subsequently at San Espiritu, an attempt of the chief of the  Timbus to
obtain possession of one of the Spanish ladies in the settlement  led to a
treacherous massacre of the garrison and in Paraguay, after three  days' 
fighting with the Guarani Indians on the 15lth August 1536, established a  
settlement where the city of
Asuncion now stands. In the meantime the  settlement of Buenos Ayres was
attacked and burnt by the Indians; and after  terrible sufferings from famine
as well as attacks of the Indians, jaguars,  and pumas, the Spaniards
abandoned the place on arrival of fresh expedition  from Spain . . ."
"In 1573 Garay, at the head of an expedition dispatched  from Asuncion,
founded the city of Sante Fe near the abandoned settlements of  san Espiritu
and Corpus Christi.  The expulsion of the Spaniards from  the latter place
had, according to the Historia Argentina, resulted from a  wanton attack made
by them on the Caracara Indians, slaughtering the men, and  taking the women
captive, -- a mode of procedure which all Pampa Indians  adopted, and have
ever since acted on."
Well, but I was reading about the Rapt of the Sabines -- and it's pretty  
much the same old story. Romulus agreed that the Roman males (now dead) should  
invite the Sabines and rape each one of the females. This is a mythical idea of 
"It is unfortunate, both for the Indians and for the
Spaniards, that the  bold conquistadores were not always under the guidance
of such high  principled men as Cabot and Cabesa de Vaca."
"In 1864 . . . the sudden  seizure of the vessels in the port of Corrientes
was the first notification  of war which reached the Argentine Government.
The official declaration of  war, which was dated the 29th March, and was
based on a declaration passed in  Congress on the 18thy, did not reach the
Argentine Government until 3d  May.  The people of Buenos Ayres were thrown
into a frenzy of  indignation on the receipt of the news of the
above-mentioned  hostilities;"
Yes, loved that phrase, too, "The people were thrown into a frenzy of  
indignation". In those days, 'people' meant _dead white men_, though.  
respetables' met at the Cabildo. I suppose the lower-classes,  so-called were 
not so indignified, as there's a lot of jingoism about having a  war. I suppose 
it was especially the burgeois merchant class who were  'indignados'. The 
army class ALWAYS welcomes a war -- You should see the pride  and joy they 
display their colourful uniforms every Sunday at Plaza San Martin  -- 
hearty and true!
"and on the 1st May a treaty was signed between
the argentine  Government, Brazil, and the Oriental Republic, by which these
powers mutually  bound themselves not to lay down their arms until they had
abolished the  government of Lopez, but at the same time guaranteeing the
independence of  Paraguay."  Good stuff!  I'm beginning to identify with 
those  Argentineans - having been thrown into a frenzy of indignation a time or 
two  myself."
Yes, the Argentines apparently liked a war -- but then the history was  
written by dead white men in retrospect -- usually safe rear-guard generals,  
-- And we are forgetting one battle, "The River Plate battle", in which the  
Argentines never participated!
J. L.  Speranza, Esq. 
Calle Arenales 2021
La Recoleta  C1124AAE,
Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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