One of the few structures in Recoleta Cemetery shaped like a pyramid & often attributed to Masonic origins, the story of the José Pérez Mendoza is much more interesting than any supposed secret society membership.
Egyptian motifs are likely due to the style of the era—late Art Deco—since Mendoza passed away in 1937. One of the plaques clarifies his contribution to porteño society: founder of the Sarmiento Animal Protection Society:
Named after President Sarmiento who supported the first animal rights laws in Argentina, the 1902 society began to care for abandoned & overworked animals. Located on the 600 block of Santiago del Estero, the building is surprisingly still standing… and still operating. The ground floor has been completely altered & now houses a mini-market/garage while the upper floor seems to house the office portion:
They offer basic services such as education, adoption, spaying, neutering & often collaborate with the School of Veterinary Sciences in the neighborhood of Agronomía.
One of the most recognized protagonists of Argentine history, Mariano Moreno is not buried in the simple, unadorned tomb pictured above. He died before the cemetery was founded onboard a ship traveling to the UK. His body, wrapped in a British flag, was lowered into the sea off the coast of Brazil. However Moreno’s son also shared his father’s name & built the family vault.
Mariano Moreno (father) was born & raised in the neighborhood of San Telmo in Buenos Aires to a family of limited economic means. His studies were significantly delayed until Moreno’s family could afford to send him to Chuquisaca in modern-day Bolivia. Once there, Moreno’s life changed as he became fascination with social theory involving man’s freedom & fell in love with María Guadalupe Cuenca. She had been destined to enter a convent, but Moreno’s love was so great that he convinced her family otherwise. Mariano Moreno (son) was born in 1804.
Moreno & family returned to Buenos Aires after he tried unsuccessfully to defend the rights of the indigenous population. By the time of the May Revolution & the Declaration of Separation issued in 1810, Moreno accepted nomination as a secretary of the Primera Junta (along with Juan José Paso). During this time Moreno founded the National Library & became heavily involved in national politics.
National organization proved difficult & Moreno headed a faction opposed to President Saavedra. When his faction lost a key vote, Moreno attempted to resign… & was denied. As a way of separating Moreno from local politics, he was sent on a diplomatic mission to England. During the journey, he died of an accidental overdose of a medication as prescribed by the ship’s captain.
According to Genealogia Familiar, Mariano Moreno (son) married Mercedes González Balcarce Quesada & passed away in 1876. Those dates & names match what can be found today in Recoleta Cemetery:
A 1946 decree from the national organization for heritage protection states that a cenotaph for Mariano Moreno should be located in Section 7. These days it’s missing. But at least María Guadalupe Cuenca is buried alongside her son the Moreno family vault… sadly minus her husband.
One of the most interesting combinations of religious & secular art in the cemetery. The plaque states that Jorge Chapman died in an aviation accident while on duty, & the image of a man in crucifixion position tied to an airplane’s wing is a stroke of genius. The plaque dates 19 March 1925.