Our true heroes

Versión en castellano aquí

Julio Argentino Roca, the Conqueror of the Desert, said: ‘As a nation, we’re involved in a battle of races where the indigenous carries the tremendous anathema of its disappearance, written in the name of civilization. We shall morally destroy this race then, we shall annihilate his resorts and political organization, make his order of tribes disappear and, if needed, divide his families. This race, broken and disperse, will end up embracing the cause of civilization. The central colonies, Marina, the northern provinces and the ones in the coast serve as a theatre to achieve this purpose’.

roca y dorrego

The crimes commited by Roca, praised as a national hero by official historiography, must be condemned until he falls from the pedestal were he still stands. Today, we share an article by Osvaldo Bayer published on the last 25th May, where the historian keeps writing a History that finally reveals the indigenous genocide:

This spirit of May is coming back to our land. The Argentinians are already discussing about the fake heroes the official History imposed to us instead of the Equality we sing to in our national anthem since the glorious assembly of 1813. We were taught to admire everything European and to despise the essence of the native peoples, with their respect towards nature, their sense of equality and their lives in community.

Here’s the translation of the full article:

Today, the day of Freedom. Of our dignity, of the search of the Noble Equality. Manuel Belgrano, Juan José Castelli, Mariano Moreno. The three greatest heroes of May. To remember this day is to admire those who pushed for a real change. The spirit of May. The freedom from the European oppression, that had arrived not to “discover” America, but to take away its gold and silver, and to slave its native peoples through pernicious slavery methods such as the encomienda, the mita and the yanaconazgo; besides taking possession of the lands in the name of Christ and the king with harquebus in his hand.

This spirit of May is coming back to our land. The Argentinians are already discussing about the fake heroes the official History imposed to us instead of the Equality we sing to in our national anthem since the glorious assembly of 1813. We were taught to admire everything European and to despise the essence of the native peoples, with their respect towards nature, their sense of equality and their lives in community.

And these lands are living a period of true revisionism. I could test it these last two weeks. Many sectors are experiencing it. Ethics above all, the defense of Life above all, and not the raise of monuments to the ones who were qualified as ‘those who brought progress’. Because here’s the question: progress for who, and what does the word “progress” means, if it’s not suited for the respect towards life and towards true democratic equality.

Before, it would have been impossible to imagine such thing. For instance, what happened in Puerto Deseado: there, in a ceremony full of emotion and equalitarian sense, the name of the Roca avenue was removed. That was a gesture towards the native peoples who have inhabited our plains, coasts and valleys for centuries. To stop glorifying a genocide perpetrator, author of the death of thousands of men, women and children from the peoples who had always lived on our grounds. Moreover, a soldier who got lands as spoils from his genocide.

After Puerto Deseado, we went, together with the representative of native peoples, Raúl Fernández, over the towns of Jaramillo, Caleta Olivia, Pico Truncado and Comodoro Rivadavia, where we found a fervent support and deep willingness of establishing always the existence of Ethics in the interpretation of History. Not only from citizens, but also from authorities of those Patagonian places. Those men have proved great civil courage. Because there are some that don’t want any changes. They prefer those who brought fortune for some and poverty for many instead of the ones who presented their faces to get the real principles of May to triumph. There are majors and councilors who refuse to retire the name of Roca and his officers from the streets because they say that would bring trouble for those who have properties, since they would have to update their documents with the new address. This is no honest or rational argument, since the notary or civil servant will write ‘ex Roca’ next to the street that changes its name to ‘Freedom’ and won’t cause disruptions to anyone. To the contrary, historical justice would be done before the true genocide that the so-called ‘Conquest of the Desert’, lead by president Avellaneda and his War Minister, general Julio Argentino Roca, turned out to be.

The day of our visit to Pico Truncado, this town was incorporated to the ‘Route of the strike of 1921” for students and visitors who want to go over the places where the greatest repression against rural laborers took place during the first Government of Hipólito Yrigoyen.

After that, in that same week, we went with researcher Marcelo Valko to the presentation of his book ‘De-monumenting Roca’ in the towns of Claypole and Vedia, province of Buenos Aires. In Claypole, in La Casa Theater, the hundreds of people who attended stood up and clapped their hands when we pointed out that there are already 24 Argentinian cities that removed the name ‘Roca’ from the streets that had it. And there was emotion in the auditorium when we reminded with anger that Roca and president Avellaneda restored slavery in Argentina, a slavery that had been removed when the Year XIII Assembly gave freedom of wombs.

After that, in the town of Vedia, in the middle of the plain of Buenos Aires, its brave major Alberto Conocchiari, seconded by the initiative of his city councilors Fernando Girón and Eduardo De Francesco –who had constant support form the local magazine La Nueva Voz-, achieved an unanimous vote from the Deliberant Council: eight votes from Frente para la Victoria and four from UCR so the street ‘Rauch’ would be replaced by ‘Arbolito’, ‘Ataliva Roca’ by ‘Juan José Castelli’ and ‘Uriburu’ by ‘Manuel Dorrego’. Rauch was the European officer hired by Rivadavia “to exterminate the ranquel Indians’, as it’s written textually in the decree of the first Argentinian president. And the first announcement of the European officer said this: “Today, to save bullets, we cut the throats of 27 ranquels”. Western and Christian, lord colonel. Well, the indian called ‘Arbolito’ would wait for him in a hollow and kill him, the proud colonel who had been hired by Rivadavia to eliminate the ranquels, a hard-working and peaceable ethnia.

The other street, Ataliva Roca, had this name as homage to Roca’s brother, named Ataliva. His only merit had been to accompany his brother Julio Argentina Roca in his business. Imagine how the situation was, that Sarmiento made up the verb ‘to atalivate’, a synonym of backhanding. As for Uriburu, he was the first dictator in Argentina. He overthrew president Yrigoyen in September of 1030 and was known for executing workmen. That was a good change: Dorrego was a federal fighter who was cowardly executed by Lavalle.

We can see that the Truth always triumphs in history. It may be a long time, but, finally, Ethics impose their order.

Another fact that dignifies those who fought for a true democracy in Argentina: to Mendoza, we brought the play ‘Exile’. It tells the action of the exiled during the last dictatorship, who fought from the outside to denounce the coward crimes of that regime: how disappearance, torture and stealing of children from arrested parents and then “disappeared”. Also in this, due to the audience and the communal authorities’ support, it became clear that there’s no fear in presenting what our tragic reality was anymore.

All these positive changes took place as dictator Videla died in an ordinary prison.

There’s neither joy nor sadness for the death of this sinister character. Only satisfaction when seeing that, now, the Argentinians were, for the first time in our history, capable of managing that deceitful officers would die in common prisons. An Argentinian satisfaction we want that lasts forever: not allowing and resisting always any uprising against democracy, and to increasingly deepen in the sense of the word democracy in our beloved homeland.


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