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Category: Military

585. ossorio arana ◊

Born in the western outskirts of Buenos Aires in 1902, Arturo Ossorio Arana embarked on a military career that would lead him to participate in several military coups. Staunchly anti-peronista, he would also be complicit in hiding Eva Perón’s embalmed corpse… proof that friends & enemies rest side by side in Recoleta Cemetery.

In 1951, the Minister of the Army blamed Ossorio Arana for leading a group of young officers in a revolt against the Perón government. Relieved from duty, he tried to oust Perón again in 1955 with help from Pedro Aramburu & Eduardo Lonardi. Resulting civilian casualties were high after rogue military planes bombed Plaza de Mayo. However, Perón had been tipped off & took refuge in army headquarters just in time. A few months later, the military finally succeeded in taking control & attempted to wipe all traces of Peronism from Argentina.

As part of that plan, Ossorio Arana held the deceased Eva Perón captive for a while… but you’ll have to get the map/guidebook for that story! In the end, Ossorio Arana was more known for re-establishing martial law as Commander-in-Chief under Aramburu’s de facto presidency. In 1956, he gave permission to execute by firing squad a group of young people who had opposed the military government. Seven of 12 people shot would survive & later become immortalized in Rodolfo Walsh’s Operación Massacre.

The tomb of Ossorio Arana is striking with its gigantic, oversized statue of Argentina. A brilliant work by sculptor José Fioravanti, she represents Liberty with her sword ready for action. Ossorio Arana died in Buenos Aires in 1967, but the place & date on his tomb —Córdoba, 16 Sep 1955— correspond to the revolution that forced Perón to flee Argentina. Engraved scales represent Ossorio Arana’s belief in military justice.

His funeral drew a large crowd, with a multitude of military speakers & a large escort. La Nación reported that a couple people were arrested for public disturbance… one even shouting “Long live democracy!” Big thanks to Nicolás Colombo for sending us the images below… he runs the Misterios de La Plata blog & Facebook group.

Given his control over national affairs, memorials (like the one shown below) were common for several years after Ossorio Arana’s death. On the first anniversary, former President Aramburu gave a speech that was later engraved on the left side of the tomb:

“…If you fear the risks of Liberty, If you find safety in the obedience that despots impose… Do not stand before the tomb of this soldier!”

Image courtesy of the Centro de Documentación e Investigación de la Cultura de Izquierdas, 1972.
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583. familia gelly y obes

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Gelly y Obes

Born in Buenos Aires in 1815, Juan Andrés Gelly y Obes had a high-ranking diplomat & lawyer for a father. His family emigrated from Paraguay to Argentina for political reasons, & after the birth of Juan Andrés they had to move to Montevideo in 1830. Father & son fought side by side against the relentless sieges of Rosas. Those early struggles no doubt inspired Gelly y Obes to enlist in the Argentine Legion at the age of 24.

Although reaching the rank of Lt. Coronel, Montevideo would later lose all its appeal: his father moved to Brazil & his mother died after being near a grenade explosion while visiting his position. He considered joining his father & returning to Paraguay, but in the end became a politician/military man in Buenos Aires. A long friendship with Bartolomé Mitre, begun in Montevideo, influenced his career for the rest of his life.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Gelly y Obes

During Mitre’s presidency, Gelly y Obes was named Minister of the Army & Navy but resigned to lead troops in person during the War of the Triple Alliance. When Argentine forces began to sack Asunción, he stepped down based on family connections there; some Paraguayans even wanted him to be their next President. In the end, he continued service in Congress in Buenos Aires & was reinstated in the military in 1877… to be removed again in 1880 after participating in a revolution with Mitre. Amazingly, this pattern would repeat itself when Julio Argentino Roca reinstated Gelly y Obes only to be dismissed again after supporting the Revolución del Parque in 1890.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Gelly y Obes
Gelly y Obes in full regalia, image courtesy of Geni website.

Later reinstated, Gelly y Obes served on Argentina’s top military council & supported the modernization of the military under General Pablo Riccheri. He passed away in 1904 at the age of 89 after a lifetime of service with no equal other than perhaps that of his friend Mitre! This Neogothic mausoleum sits near the rear wall of the cemetery & declared a National Historic Monument in 1946.

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582. jordan wysocki

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Jordan Czeslaw Wysocki
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Born in Poland in 1839, Jordan Czeslaw Wysocki graduated from a technical/engineering school & began his professional life by helping design the railway connecting Warsaw to St. Petersburg. Later in life on the losing side of an uprising against the Russian empire in 1862-63, he sought refuge in France. After work on the Paris-Bordeaux rail line, a Polish coworker suggested that Wysocki should go with him to Argentina & try his luck there. In 1867, he & his wife & daughter arrived in Buenos Aires.

Working on projects in northern Argentina, Wysocki joined the army as a surveyor in 1871. His fame preceded him, with President Sarmiento hiring the new lieutenant to create the first plan for the Parque 3 de Febrero in Palermo… using a small portion of what had been private landholdings of General Juan Manuel de Rosas:

Buenos Aires, Palermo, terrenos de Juan Manuel de Rosas, Endless Mile
Buenos Aires, Palermo, Parque 3 de Febrero, aerial view
Buenos Aires, Palermo, Parque 3 de Febrero

Wysocki would later design the main building of the botanical park in Buenos Aires, also located in Palermo:

Buenos Aires, Parque Botánico, la casona, Jordan Czeslaw Wysocki
La Casona, image courtesy of gobBsAs

Minister of War Adolfo Alsina promoted Wysocki to Sergeant Major & commissioned a topographic study of the Pampa… as preparation to build a 374 km trench used to keep territory away from the Mapuche tribe. Continuing work in Trenque Lauquen in the Province of Buenos Aires, much of his subdivision of the fertile grasslands is still used today.

After several more promotions, defensive projects & even receiving a medal of honor, Wysocki passed away in 1883 at the age of 44 with a rank of Lieutenant Coronel. He had traveled all the way to the border of Patagonia to help delineate & give order to a vast, growing nation. Unfortunately the location of his grave in a closed section of niches in Recoleta Cemetery makes his legacy to Argentina less visible & accessible to the visitor.

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570. cnel ramón f. bravo y familia

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Coronel Ramón F. Bravo

With so many well-documented leaders buried in Recoleta Cemetery, finding a family mausoleum with little trace in public records is rare… but such is the case of Coronel Ramón F. Bravo. Tucked down an alley not far from Eva Perón, few tourists see this wonderful —if shortened— statue of Bravo decked out in full military regalia:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Coronel Ramón F. Bravo
Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Coronel Ramón F. Bravo

Signed & dated 1931, the statue is the only work in the cemetery by art critic, painter & sculptor Vicente Roselli. Just like Bravo, Roselli has also faded from memory… most likely due to the theft of his most visible sculpture in Buenos Aires. Titled “Adolescence”, the life-size male nude stood in Parque Chacabuco from 1928 until 1978. The military dictatorship bulldozed through many parts of the city to make room for highways, & the park lost much of its elegance & artwork. Later rescued from a warehouse, the sculpture decorated Plaza Palermo Viejo until its theft in 1991. Probably melted down for scrap, no one knows what really happened:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Coronel Ramón F. Bravo
Image courtesy of Buenos Aires Historia, photo taken circa 1990.

The little we know of Coronel Bravo’s life comes from the beautiful plaque that sits opposite his statue. Born in 1850, he saw plenty of military action during the war against Paraguay as well as campaigns in Entre Ríos during a complicated civil war. He passed away in 1915:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Coronel Ramón F. Bravo

An internet search turned up a few interesting but random facts: Bravo helped administer the 1904 census (screen capture below), & he seemed to be involved in some aspect of education in Buenos Aires. A residence located at Avenida Santa Fe 5217 put his family right by what would later become the Ministro Carranza subway station.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Coronel Ramón F. Bravo

With such a large, beautiful mausoleum plus a statue by an important artist, surely there’s more to Coronel Bravo’s life than we’ve been able to uncover. If anyone has additional information, please share it with us here. We love a good mystery, but we also enjoy solving them!

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567. general dn hilario lagos

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, General Hilario Lagos

Born in 1806 in Buenos Aires, Hilario Lagos had a life-long military career & participated in most major conflicts during Argentina’s formative years. He grew up just as the nation gained independence from Spain, & the constant conflict of that time drew him to the army. Lagos enlisted just before his 18th birthday & quickly rose in the ranks.

Local skirmishes against indigenous tribes prepared Lagos for his first international conflict. Brazil had declared independence from Portugal in 1822 & then tried to extend their control all the way down to the Río de la Plata… incorporating territory that formed part of Argentina. Losing the war, Brazil’s failure created a new nation: Uruguay.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, General Hilario Lagos, plaque

Lagos gained more military experience as he joined the private army of Juan Manuel de Rosas & continued to push back the native frontier. All these previous battles proved invaluable during Argentina’s internal conflict for the role Buenos Aires would play in national politics: economic capital or part of a confederation? The future of the country hung in the balance with Lagos caught in the middle.

He stayed true to Rosas until the bitter end, but after defeat Lagos switched sides in an attempt to bring about a more peaceful resolution. Buenos Aires did not take kindly to Lagos, whatever side he chose… after Buenos Aires became capital & the idea of confederation was discarded, they confiscated all the territory Lagos owned & forced him to live away from the city in exile. In 1857 Lagos was offered a command position to fight indigenous tribes yet again, but he refused. He passed away & was buried in Recoleta in 1860. Although a central figure in Argentina’s history, the legacy of Lagos is overshadowed by many others. However, many of his descendants also joined the military & even became high-ranking officers, carrying on a family tradition of national service.

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