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Month: February 2010

395. luis maría drago

Luis María Drago, Recoleta Cemetery

What Carlos Calvo began, Luis María Drago finished. Calvo wrote a gutsy doctrine in the mid-1800’s stating that any foreign resident would be subject to local laws & court procedures. And that diplomatic pressure from the foreign nation would be ignored as well as any attempt at armed force. The Calvo Doctrine marked the first attempt to define Latin American sovereignty legally.

Born in 1859, Drago studied several types of law & was appointed Minister of Foreign Relations by President Roca in 1902. During this period, Europe continued to treat American nations with disregard… case in point, the 1902 military blockade & shelling of Venezuela by Great Britain, Germany & Italy due to debt default.

Luis María Drago, Recoleta Cemetery

Drago felt that the situation should have been handled by arbitration & negotiation rather than by force. In a letter to the Argentine ambassador in the United States, he wrote:

The collection of loans by military means implies territorial occupation to make them effective, & territorial occupation signifies the suppression or subordination of the governments of the countries on which it is imposed.

The Drago Doctrine was seen by many as an extension of the U.S. Monroe Doctrine: America belongs exclusively to the Americans, & Europe should stop interfering in local affairs. The doctrine was debated for several years between its appearance in 1902 & Drago’s death in 1921 but was never formally accepted. However, his ideas helped guide world foreign policy throughout the early 20th century.

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393. lucio v. mansilla

Lucio Victorio Mansilla, Recoleta Cemetery

Lucio Victorio Mansilla was, like Ascasubi, a man whose life could have been a novel. Mansilla embodied the Romantic character: military man, writer, traveler, bon vivant.

Mansilla was born in Buenos Aires in 1831… son of Coronel Lucio Mansilla & Agustina Rozas, sister of Juan Manuel de Rosas, who they called “the star of the Federation.” As a teenager, his parents sent him on a trip to Asia, the Middle East & Europe in order to discourage a love “that was not to his convenience.” Young Lucio traveled through India, Egypt & Turkey as well as France, Italy & England. Those travels would later become material for future works of literature.

After the fall of Rosas, Mansilla’s family moved to France for a year. Lucio married his cousin, Catalina Ortiz de Rosas y Almada, after their return. He challenged José Mármol to a duel in 1856, thinking that the writer had offended his father in the novel “Amália.” The future author was exiled for three years & later sent to fight in the war against Paraguay:

Lucio Victorio Mansilla, Recoleta Cemetery

In 1868 Mansilla supported Sarmiento in his bid for President, who later designated him as frontier commander in Río IV, Córdoba. From there, he embarked on a journey south to defend a peace treaty with the ranquel/rankülche tribe. Mansilla spent 18 days with them & wrote his experiences down to be published in the “La Tribuna” newspaper. His style was colloquial & included many stories, even those told by the campfire. They were published together as “A Visit to the Ranquel Indians,” one of the most striking works of Argentine literature.

Below is an 1868 photo of Mansilla (center, wearing a cape) in what is now Plaza Roca in Río IV… two years before leaving for ranquel territory:

Lucio V. Mansilla, Río IV

From 1876 until his 1913 death in Paris, Mansilla occupied a large number of political positions & published a number of books. But the most important experience of his life—living through & telling his time among the indigenous people of Argentina—had already passed. Mansilla rests in peace in the family vault with his mother & father, & this vault was declared a National Historic Monument in 1946:

Lucio Victorio Mansilla, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (29 Aug 2012): Interestingly, David William Foster of Arizona State University considers Mansilla’s tales of the ranqueles as “one of the great classics of nineteenth-century Argentine prose, ranking perhaps only behind Sarmiento’s Facundo.” More info can be found here.

Photo of Mansilla in Río IV courtesy of the area’s Regional Historic Museum.


392. familia de luis a. huergo

Luis Huergo, Recoleta Cemetery

Born in Buenos Aires in 1837, Luis Huergo completed his high school education in Maryland, USA then went on to become the first civil engineer to graduate from an Argentine university. He coordinated the construction of bridges throughout the Province of Buenos Aires with British assistance, built sections of new railroad, & improved the infrastructure of a growing nation.

Although he served as a Senator in the 1870’s as well as Dean of what eventually became the Engineering faculty, Huergo is most remembered for a project he never completed: a new cargo port for Buenos Aires. He had already deepened the exit for the shallow Riachuelo, allowing transatlantic liners to enter directly. It was only natural for Huergo to be part of a design contest for the new port.

Luis Huergo, Recoleta Cemetery

Huergo had some tough competition & an alternative plan was proposed by local merchant Eduardo Madero. Madero’s design was accepted over Huergo’s with ships entering through the southern canal, loading & unloading goods in any of four dykes, then exiting north. By the time Puerto Madero was inaugurated in 1897, it was obsolete. Madero’s design did not allow expansion of any kind… much needed when ships were growing larger & larger. Congestion was a considerable problem during Puerto Madero’s heydey with an amazing 32,000 embarkations made in 1910 alone:

Port designs, Luis Huergo & Eduardo Madero

To add capacity to Puerto Madero, Huergo’s design was reworked in 1907 & completed by 1919. The in-and-out design of Puerto Nuevo is more efficient & continues to function as the current port for Buenos Aires. All cruise & container ships dock there, & a gigantic plaque to Huergo highlights his biggest BA contribution:

Luis Huergo, Recoleta Cemetery

Luis Huergo, Recoleta Cemetery

Huergo’s son, Eduardo, also became an engineer & was responsible for the rectification of the Riachuelo. Those curves were replaced by a straight line in Eduardo beginning around 1927:

Eduardo Huergo, Recoleta Cemetery

At the age of 73, Luis Huergo formed part of a national commission dedicated to petroleum exploitation in Patagonia. He advocated government control to avoid the emergence of monopolies like Standard Oil while Dr. Pedro Arata, also part of the five-member board, thought private companies would be a better option. Huergo won in the end as the commission transformed into Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales, remaining a state-run company until 1991. Huergo passed away in 1913 & left a legacy which remains apparent even 100 years after his death.

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