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574. tierra de los padres

Opening with over four minutes of historical videos of violent confrontations & death scenes set to the Argentine national anthem, Tierra de los Padres (Fatherland) then switches to the walkways of Recoleta Cemetery. Director Nicolás Prividera uses this final resting place to explore not-so-traditional points of view of Argentina’s complicated history. Whatever opinion leaders had on particular issues during their lifetime, they often ended up in Recoleta Cemetery almost side by side… friends & foes alike.

The second scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie: everyday people —not trained actors— read excerpts written by historical figures buried in Recoleta Cemetery, often at the site of their burial. Prividera explains his concept:

El cementerio de la Recoleta es el más antiguo de Buenos Aires. En 1881, en coincidencia con la formación del estado moderno, se lo transformó en una necrópolis: una simbólica ciudad dentro de la ciudad en la que los mausoleos de los “padres fundadores” trazan un recorrido por la historia oficial. Sin embargo, esta historia también puede ser leída desde la perspectiva de los vencidos…

Recoleta Cemetery is the oldest in Buenos Aires. In 1881, coinciding with the formation of the modern state, it was transformed into a necropolis: a symbolic city within the city in which the mausoleums of the “founding fathers” trace a journey through official history. However, this history can also be read from the perspective of the defeated…

After great debates of Argentine history are spoken aloud, their readers fade away & are replaced by shots of specific sculptures, cemetery caretakers cleaning & repairing mausoleums or the occasional tourist:

Ideologies at odds are presented more or less in chronological order: civilization vs. barbarie as defined by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento · internal conflict as a means for glory in South America according to Juan Bautista Alberdi · immigrants viewed as immoral & anormal by the Liga Patriótica Argentina · Eva Perón dividing people into those who hate, those who are indifferent & those who love · Aramburu at the hands of the Montoneros · Rodolfo Walsh confronting the military junta · and many others.

As this excellent review by Guido Pellegrini states, the director’s political stance is made clear by his selection of texts & images. Anti-elite & wholeheartedly Peronista, Prividera makes no attempt to balance opinions or explain historical context. This bias can be confusing & mislead viewers who have little idea of Argentina’s many historical twists & turns… something we make an effort to explain in this blog & in our PDF guide. No small task but ultimately worthwhile to gain an understanding of Recoleta Cemetery.

The only other criticism would be a failure to respect architectural heritage. Recoleta Cemetery is almost 200 years old, & its mausoleums need to remain for future generations to contemplate like Prividera has done. But he places his readers directly on the tombs of their author’s texts —sitting, standing or inserted among the statues. While his intentions are good, those type of takes should have never been permitted.

Tierra de los Padres can be seen for free in its entirety on YouTube.

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573. familia de juan b. mignaquy

Juan Bautista Mignaquy exemplified the entrepreneurial spirit of the early 20th century in Argentina. Seemingly with a hand in every pot, successful business ventures gave Mignaquy a great deal of influence… but surprisingly few people remember his contributions to a growing nation today.

Born in 1859 in the French Basque Country, a young Juan Bautista arrived alone in Buenos Aires at the age of 12 or 13 & began to work for Luis Logegaray, a fellow Basque who had established a successful wholesale & warehouse business. Following in his mentor’s footsteps, Mignaquy became part of Logegaray’s association & kept offices in downtown Buenos Aires for 70 years.

Juan Bautista Mignaquy

Much of his success would come from dedicated night study sessions, encouraged & supported by Logegaray. That hard work paid off when Mignaquy was accepted to the Colegio San José —founded by French Basque missionaries— and had classmates who would later go on to make names for the themselves as well: Luis María Drago, General Enrique Mosconi, Tomás Duggan & Jacobo Peuser to name a few.

After the death of Logegaray, Mignaquy went to Paris & lived there for two years with Logegaray’s widow; no doubt he saw her as an adopted mother. Besides maintaining the import & distribution business, Mignaquy would return to Argentina & occupy several important positions on the local & national level, many noted by plaques which decorate his family mausoleum. He passed away in 1940 but is remembered by the Provincia de Buenos Aires bank where he sat on the directive board:

Mignaquy acted as President of the Buenos Aires stock market in 1902 & also had a top position in the El Comercio insurance company:

A reminder of Mignaquy’s French roots are present with a plaque from a prominent Basque organization:

He also acted as director of Cusenier, an importer of distilled French beverages & cider. He also imported the popular vermouth Cinzano from Italy:

As if those accomplishments were not enough, Mignaquy founded a trolley company that connected Retiro to the southern suburbs of Buenos Aires. In 1930, one of their trolleys fell into the Riachuelo when the conductor failed to see red lights in the fog that indicated Puente Bosch had been raised. Almost all 60 passengers on board died. You can imagine the city’s shock. A few tracks of that trolley line still exist, but the largest vestige of the Mignaquy trade empire sits abandoned in La Boca, waiting for restoration & for someone to take advantage of its prime location… directly across from La Bombonera. At least this warehouse keeps his memory alive:

Argentina, Buenos Aires, La Boca, warehouse, Mignaquy & Cía
Argentina, Buenos Aires, La Boca, warehouse, Mignaquy & Cía

572. credit & copyright

copyright image

Two cases of copyright infringement related to the content of this blog & its corresponding PDF guide to Recoleta Cemetery have recently come to our attention. Although we have initiated claims or contacted the parties who used our material without permission, we doubt a resolution will be ruled in our favor. At least as owners of this blog & all the material herein, we can leave record of these cases… & hope we’ll never have to add to this list!

Case #1

YouTube, title

I rarely watch YouTube videos about Recoleta Cemetery, but a few months ago a random recommendation seemed interesting: a 26-minute video in English with excellent photography. While watching, I thought: wow, this guy has done his research. Then the voice-over commentary began to sound all too familiar. Ah yes, channel owner David Owens purchased the PDF guide in November 2017. My guide was not the only source material used, but in many places Dr. Owens quoted the guide’s text directly without any change. Also, the general organization of his video closely follows that of the PDF.

After reporting this video to YouTube, they asked for additional specifics. I rewatched the video to take note of exact usage & could only make it through 18 minutes. It’s disheartening to see your own hard work & decades of investigation claimed by someone else. I sent the list below to YouTube to establish a claim, complete with phrases used, minute marks & corresponding pages of the PDF:

  1. “branch of Franciscan monks” 01:36 (page 07)
  2. “grassy plots with simple tombstones… a number of early modest tombs” 02:38 (page 09)
  3. Exact statistics (55000 square kilometres, 4700 tombs, 350000 departed) 03:48 (page 07) – no one ever agrees on these numbers & the tomb count comes from my own investigation
  4. “1946 tombstone” + “fading relief of her father” 6:00 (page 18)
  5. “crucifix placed above a small altar with recently deceased in caskets beneath” 07:25 (page 10)
  6. “metal grate in the floor” 09:07 (page 10)
  7. “network of lookout stations connected by telegraph to major forts in what was indigenous territory” 11:53 (page 24)
  8. “battles against Brazil… forged from a cannon from one of his ships” 12:58 (page 53)
  9. “actually buried in the church beside the cemetery” 13:54 (page 52)
  10. “founded War College in 1900” 15:14 (page 42)
  11. “made life better in Buenos Aires by improving city sanitation” 16:55 (page 20)
  12. “to help establish US teaching” 17:05 (page 29)
  13. “record of 32 wins out of 38 title matches” 17:43 (page 29)

These direct quotes demonstrate that Dr. Owens did not use my guide as a resource but rather lifted whatever text he needed to produce the video. In several other instances, my text had been slightly reworded yet I recognized it as mine.

What shocked me most was no mention of this blog nor the PDF guide. No credit where credit is due… as if Dr. Owens became an expert on this particular cemetery overnight.

YouTube, comments

Update (Aug 2021): No one informed me directly, so I’ve just seen that the YouTube claim has been resolved… in my favor! The video has been removed. Nice to see the system working:

YouTube, claim

Update #2 (Aug 2021): By coincidence I noticed that Dr. Owens had tried to contact me & his email went to my spam folder. After our conversation, he suggested linking to the PDF guidebook in the video description. I thought this recommendation might promote sales, so I dropped the claim & the video is once again on YouTube.

Case #2

Monumentos Históricos Nacionales de la República Argentina (Ciudad de Buenos Aires)

In 2011, Sergio López Martínez asked if I would participate in a massive national project to catalog Argentina’s architectural heritage. Of course I agreed. His particular interest was in a set of photographs on a separate blog which I’d taken of the interior of the Confitería del Molino. At the time, the building had been closed to the general public & was in real danger of disintegrating into rubble. But for one week in 2004, the city government commandeered the former café & pastry shop to allow visitors inside. I sent him the photos I had, & they appeared in the series… along with a thank you credit + an invite to the formal release of the first book:

Patrimonio Arquitectónico Argentino, agradecimientos

If I hadn’t been planning a move to Esquel, I would have used those connections to participate in more projects. But I left for Patagonia & couldn’t even get a hard copy of the volume with my photos. Years have passed —now I’m living in Sevilla— but find online the two-part book series pictured above: Monumentos Históricos Nacionales de la República Argentina (Ciudad de Buenos Aires). An update of a previous publication, Sergio wrote the section for Recoleta Cemetery as well as took most of the photos. On further examination, two photos looked very familiar… but he takes full credit:

Monumentos Históricos Nacionales de la República Argentina (Ciudad de Buenos Aires)
Monumentos Históricos Nacionales de la República Argentina (Ciudad de Buenos Aires)
Monumentos Históricos Nacionales de la República Argentina (Ciudad de Buenos Aires)

Photographs for Domingo Matheu & former President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento both appear in their original posts on this blog. Given the fact that Sergio & I had collaborated previously, copying images posted here to use in an official government publication is disgraceful. As I wrote the Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación on Twitter: all they had to do was ask.

Monumentos Históricos Nacionales de la República Argentina (Ciudad de Buenos Aires), stolen images

In both cases, a disregard for research & investigation is evident. On many occasions, I’ve received payment for my photography as well as for published articles. But I have also allowed my images & text to be used for free on request… depending on who asks & for what purpose. AfterLife has been online since 2007 & takes no small effort to maintain. PDF sales each year fund this website as the most complete online resource about Recoleta Cemetery. Period. When using information or images from an independent webpage, please consider all the work involved by the author: ask for permission, offer compensation or give credit. Thanks!


571. somebody feed phil

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Somebody Feed Phil, Netflix, Phil Rosenthal

Although not fans of Phil Rosenthal, we’re very pleased he took time to visit Recoleta Cemetery. As part of the Netflix series “Somebody Feed Phil”, episode 3 of the second season took him to Buenos Aires. The cemetery even becomes the main image of the city on Rosenthal’s website:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Somebody Feed Phil, Netflix, Phil Rosenthal

This travel & food show often takes a break to show some of the city they are featuring. In between eating all manner of choripan with Allie Lazar & a Perón-worshipping steak feast —roughly after the 10:30 mark— Rosenthal strolls inside the main entrance gate of Recoleta Cemetery:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Somebody Feed Phil, Netflix, Phil Rosenthal

As he ponders the cemetery’s beautiful character, he also visits the mausoleum of Eva Perón. No singing of musical songs fortunately:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Somebody Feed Phil, Netflix, Phil Rosenthal
Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Somebody Feed Phil, Netflix, Phil Rosenthal

Next, someone off-camera recounts an abbreviated version of the tragic story of Rufina Cambacérès… which he finds particularly depressing:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Somebody Feed Phil, Netflix, Phil Rosenthal

Finally, Rosenthal himself tells viewers about the trials & tribulations of the Del Carril family. Hoping his wife does not wish to turn away from him when they pass away, the visit to Recoleta Cemetery ends.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Somebody Feed Phil, Netflix, Phil Rosenthal

First aired in July 2018, we would have liked more screen time for Recoleta Cemetery. Naturally. But in a program about food, two minutes of a 55-minute program is very generous & serves to introduce more people to this fascinating place. Thanks, Phil!

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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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