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Category: Politicians

125. carlos calvo y familia

Carlos Calvo, Recoleta Cemetery

Neglected & forgotten among the long rows of the southeast corner sits the vault for Carlos Calvo & his family. Born in Montevideo in 1822, Calvo came to Buenos Aires to study law & made a career as a diplomat for both Argentina & Paraguay. While in the service of Carlos López, father of Paraguayan dictator Francisco Solano López, an incident occurred which would shape Calvo’s career for the rest of his life.

A native Uruguayan with a British passport was arrested & found guilty of attempting to assassinate Carlos López. Calvo responded to British demands for immunity with what eventually became known as the Calvo Doctrine… any foreign resident is subject to local laws & court procedures, & diplomatic pressure from the foreign nation will be ignored as well as any attempt at armed force. Pretty gutsy. We may take this legal notion for granted today, but European powers often interfered in the affairs of the Americas during the mid-1800s. The Calvo Doctrine signified an important step for international law & a means for American nations to assert their independence.

Unfortunately no one seems to care that the Calvo vault is falling apart. In constrast to its current condition, an enormous bronze plaque pays tribute to Calvo, whose remains were brought to Recoleta Cemetery after his death in Paris in 1906. The complete text is transcribed below (errors included):

Carlos Calvo, Recoleta Cemetery

Carlos Calvo, Recoleta Cemetery

Buenos Aires Noviembre—27 de 1906—debiendo desembarcarse el día jueves—29 del corriente á las 10 a.m en el puerto de esta capital, los restos del Señor Carlos Calvo, ex-enviado extraordinario y ministro plenipotenciario de la República Argentina en Francia. Y siendo un deber del gobierno honrar la memoria de ese distinguido ciudadano por el alto puesto que ha desempeñado y los grandes servicios que ha prestado al país, el Presidente de la República en acuerdo general de los ministros, decreta:

Art 1º Por los ministerios de guerra y marina se dictarán las disposiciones necesarias para que a la llegada de los restos a esta capital y en el acto de su inhumación, se le tributen los honores militares correspondientes á General de División. En ese día la bandera nacional permanecerá a media asta en todos los edificios públicos de la Nación.

Art 2º Será de cuenta del Tesoro Nacional el entierro y el funeral del Señor Carlos Calvo, para cuyo acto se invita á los altos poderes del Estado y á las reparticiones civiles y militares de la Nación.

Art 3º Comuniquese, publiquese y dése al Registro Nacional—Figueroa Alcorta, M.A. Montes de Oca—E. Lobos, Federico Piñedo—R.M. Fraga, Onofre Betbeder, E. Ramos Mexia, Miguel Tedín

Basically, the plaque copies the text of a law which states that Calvo’s funeral expenses are covered by the national government & that he will be given a burial with full honors. Now the interior looks like this:

Carlos Calvo, Recoleta Cemetery

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117. ramón falcón & juan alberto lartigau ◊

A fourteen-year-old Yiddish-speaking boy, born in a shtetl outside of Kiev, forced to work since the age of ten, is shot during the 1905 Russian revolution. Wounded, he spends six months in jail. Three years later he moves to Argentina to join his brother. Within a few months he leaves the Jewish neighborhood of Once, learns Spanish, finds non-Jewish roommates, and gets a job as a machinist in an Italian-owned metal shop. He frequents the Biblioteca Rusa where he absorbs the vigorous discussions promoting anarchism.

Barely a year after his arrival, this teenager witnesses the mayhem of the 1909 May Day demonstrations. The police fire upon the protesters. Anarchists shoot back. At least five dead and dozens wounded. The days that follow are a week of violent reprisals and protests. Sixty thousand people march to the funerals for those who died on May 1. Riots continue along with demands for the removal of police chief Ramón Falcón.

Tensions continue throughout the year. Our teenager, Simon Radowitzky, closely follows the movements of the police chief. On 14 November 1909, Coronel Falcón and his aide twenty-year-old Juan Alberto Lartigau ride through Recoleta. As their car approaches the corner of Callao and Quintana, a bomb is thrown inside. The explosion follows. Neither man is killed instantly. Their injuries are severe. Both will die before nightfall.

Appropriately, Falcón & Lartigau are buried next to each other in Recoleta Cemetery, both with fantastic monuments. Lartigau has a group of angels watching over his collapsed body in a Pietà-inspired scene. Beneath his name is the date of the bombing with a note that the tomb was paid for by public donations… wrought-iron gates add a nice touch. The Jewish community in Buenos Aires also donated a plaque:

Juan Alberto Lartigau, Recoleta Cemetery

Juan Alberto Lartigau, Recoleta Cemetery

Juan Alberto Lartigau, Recoleta Cemetery

Juan Alberto Lartigau, Recoleta Cemetery

Juan Alberto Lartigau, Recoleta Cemetery

Alongside is the severe vault of Ramón Falcón. He lies sculpted in effigy while someone above fights a Sphinx… half-woman, half-lion, sometimes winged (not in this case). Two robed statues of women in mourning approach Falcón, & the entire monument is covered in plaques:

Ramón Falcón, Recoleta Cemetery

Ramón Falcón, Recoleta Cemetery

Ramón Falcón, Recoleta Cemetery

Ramón Falcón, Recoleta Cemetery

Some text adapted & used with permission by Jeff Barry, author of Buenos Aires: City of Faded Elegance. To discover the fate of Radowitzky, read the remainder of Jeff’s post.

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106. llavallol

Llavallol, Recoleta Cemetery

Occupying an unusually large chunk of real estate, the Llavallol family vault appears to have seen better days. Founders of the family line receive praise with engraved tombstones on the façade… Jayme Llavallol y del Riú was originally from Barcelona & his wife, Gertrudis Merlo, was 100% porteña:

Llavallol, Recoleta Cemetery

Llavallol, Recoleta Cemetery

Felipe Llavallol, son of Jayme & Gertrudis, was the most famous family member, occupying several high-ranking business & government positions in Buenos Aires. As Vice-Governor of the short-lived State of Buenos Aires (named so after seceding from the Confederación Argentina), Llavallol assumed the top spot after the Battle of Cepeda in 1859. Urquiza’s forces won the fight, Buenos Aires was re-incorporated into the nation, Governor Valentín Alsina resigned, & Llavallol took over for the next several months. No doubt he is buried here as well, but the interior only shows a lot of structural damage & neglect… no sign of Felipe:

Llavallol, Recoleta Cemetery

The most decorative part of the vault can be found on the top with a chubby cherub bearing a wreath. Other symbols present are an ouroboros, an hourglass with wings, & an exceptional skull & crossbones:

Llavallol, Recoleta Cemetery

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101. victorino de la plaza, update

After a little research at the Instituto Histórico, I was able to discover that Victorino de la Plaza was indeed buried in Recoleta Cemetery. The vault undergoing restoration in the previous post belonged to the former President of Argentina, but evidently his family decided he would be more comfortable elsewhere. All traces of De la Plaza have been removed.

I find it odd—and a little sad—that such an important historical figure would be moved from the most pretigious cemetery in the nation. I’m sure the family has their reasons.

Anyway, the new occupants have already moved in… the family of José María Vila Penalta:

José María Vila Penalta, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (10 Dec 2012): Victorino de la Plaza had no children, but Rocco Reynal pointed me to an interview on YouTube with Dinorah de la Plaza, a great-grandniece. She states that it was difficult to maintain the family vault in Recoleta, so in 2004 they transferred Victorino’s remains along with those of his mother & first wife to the Cementerio Parque Memorial in Pilar. They considered a burial inside the Salta cathedral, but since most of the family has lived in Pilar since the 1970s they decided to keep him close. Mystery solved!

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096. carlos f. melo

Carlos Francisco Melo, Recoleta Cemetery

Born in the province of Entre Ríos in 1872, legal studies brought Carlos Francisco Melo to Buenos Aires by the end of the 19th century… just when the city & the nation were coming into their own. Melo received acclaim for his doctorate thesis & was rewarded with important government positions. A brief stint as a representative in Congress for the UCR party lead to appointment as president of the University of La Plata in 1920. Melo returned to politics as candidate for Vice-President in national elections but his ticket failed to get the vote. After the military coup of 1930, he was appointed head of the National Library, a position Melo held until his death in 1931.

Carlos Francisco Melo, Recoleta Cemetery

Besides his political & educational duties, Carlos Melo was recognized during his lifetime as a writer & poet. Although his works are not yet available online, a short verse from Melo’s “Piedras Rotas” (Broken Stones) can be found over his tomb:

Cuida tu hora. Porque hay en cada vida una hora única, es la de la gracia, o de la caída, de la justicia o de la iniquidad, la del amor, de la inspiración, de la torpeza, la de la muerte. Descuidado: cuida tu hora.

“Take care of your hour. Because there is in each life one unique hour, it is that of grace or of downfall, of justice or of vice, of love, of inspiration, of clumsiness, that of death. Careless one: take care of your hour.”

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