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377. adolfo alsina ◊

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Vice-President under Sarmiento then later Minister of War under Avellaneda, Adolfo Alsina was born in Buenos Aires in 1829… son of politician Valentín Alsina. Although father & son were supposedly of very different temperament & character, both participated significantly in national politics.

Adolfo fought in early conflicts after independence from Spain, lived in exile for some time in Montevideo but eventually occupied important positions in Congress & became the Governor of Buenos Aires.

But as Minister of War, Adolfo left his mark. He built 109 lookout points —all connected by telegraph to major forts— deep inside what was at that time indigenous territory. Known as the Zanja de Alsina, the lookout points were defended by a 374 km trench which was 2 meters deep & 3 meters wide. Constructed to gain access to fertile land & eliminate the Mapuche tribe, Alsina’s offensive/defensive system proved vital to the success of the Conquest of the Desert lead by Julio Argentino Roca.

Zanja de Alsina map, Museo de la Patagonia

The crypt of Adolfo reminds visitors of his pivotal role… look who flees on the right relief panel & who calmly takes control on the right. No one can claim Recoleta Cemetery to be PC:

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Even Roca left a wordy plaque to Alsina:

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (Nov 2021): Reliefs were executed by Basque sculptor Lorenzo Fernández de Viana who worked in Argentina from 1912 to 1916.

Published inPoliticians


  1. Muy interesante y completo post. Lo de “políticamente correcto” o “incorrecto” dependerá obviamente del tipo de política que utilicemos como referencia. Evidentemente, la mirada que produjo estos relieves los consideraría “correctos”.
    Más allá de lo anterior, (ya que todo arte revela una ideología y un contexto propios) las esculturas son simplemente maravillosas.


  2. Hola Laura – Sí, las esculturas son una belleza a pesar de lo que representan. Optaron por resaltar el apoyo de Alsina al Conquista del Desierto como algo bueno y que ocurrió después de su muerte. Interesante.

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