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High position, high risk: attacks on Argentine presidents

In 50 years they attacked the first president six times. From Sarmiento to Yrigoyen, political violence was about to change the direction of Argentines.

atentados a presidentes argentinos

 What would have happened if Sarmiento was finalized in Corrientes and Maipú in 1873?  Would Avellaneda be the next president, on the way to the Buenos Aires federalization, or an unlikely general Roca, not yet moved the fur in El Zorro ladino that would dominate a country? Or, if Mandrini killed Victorino de la Plaza at the celebrations of the Centennial of Independence, would the conservatives have given the staff to Hipólito Yrigoyen on October 12, 1916? And, to close the circle of attempts by Argentine assassinations, and not counting the “hellish machine” that almost flies through the air to Rosas or the savage murder of Urquiza, would the deadly bullets to Yrigoyen in 1929 drive the radical klan uprising in arms? And what would happen to the coup pists in the 30th?  Would peronism have arisen?  Complex determine a change of tiles on the board, and possible combinations between pawns, bishops and queens. It is an interesting contrafactic exercise, a practice of historians looking for alternative answers, and in a global look,  a little-known plot of the political violence of the “Peace and Administration” that supposedly preceded the Infamous Decade . Argentine presidents were about to lose their lives in tune with the political struggles of each moment, first by the National Organization, then in the social conflict fueled by anarchist militancy.

 The first was Sarmiento, the last Yrigoyen .  And in the middle there were more attempts that even caused an Argentine president to give the opening speech of national legislative sessions stained with blood. It was  Julio Argentino Roca   “An unforeseen accident deprives me of the satisfaction of reading my last message that as president I address to the Congress of my country”, began May 10 1886, in a key year because he would reluctantly leave in power in his compelling Juarez Celman, one of those responsible for the economic barefoot of 1890, “A moment ago, no doubt a madman, entering Congress, has wounded me on my forehead I don't know with what weapon,” closed El Zorro, who was curated in the secretariat of the Chamber of Deputies - which operated in front of Casa Rosada - by Minister Eduardo Wilde.  It all happened when President Roca crossed the street, with the military band that played the Ituzaingó March, and Correntino Ignacio Monjes threw himself stone in his hand at the head of the president.   He was able to hit the first blow, which caused a deep wound in the parietal, and when he went for the auction between Carlos Pellegrini and David Arguello they managed to reduce the attacker “Because he was responsible for the political situation, which was unbearable a year and a half ago, and with the intention of saving the Patria, whose freedom he ambitioned” was the release of Monks, who had acted in the War against Paraguay and in the crushing of Jordanism on the Litoral, and which was part of an opposition current within Correntino liberalism to the all-roquist autonomism. He was sentenced to ten years in prison - and not twenty as some biographers in Roca say, with the mention of the pardon of archenemy Juarez Celman - although he had popular support because of his epileptic situation. A few years later they would again try to assassinate Roca, this time serving as Minister of Pellegrini.  For those curious, the stone and the bloody band were exhibited at the National Historical Museum.  

1905 was also not a quiet year, with the radical revolution of February 4 frustrated, which pushed universal suffrage among other agendas, and tension over the application of the Residence Law, or Cané Law, which justified the persecution and expulsion of “solvent elements”, in the dawn of the labor movement.  At 2 o'clock in the afternoon of August 14, the coupe of President Quintana was marching down Santa Fe Street. Through Plaza San Martín, Salvador Planas and Virella pounces a gun that does not work and runs to Esmeralda, where it is intercepted by the chief of custody, Commissioner Felipe Pereyra.   Planas and Virella confessed that “he had caressed since the previous Tuesday the idea of eliminating the President of the Republic, for considering him guilty as Head of State for the workers' unrest,” and said he was an anarchist. The investigation determined the failure in the poor condition of the Smith Wesson 38-caliber bullets. They were times violent throughout the world, they had also attacked the French president, and the director of the National Penitentiary, Antonio Ballvé, had long ago requested a strengthening of presidential custody.  This Catalan typographer was sentenced to thirteen years in prison at the National Penitentiary in today's Las Heras Park, although he only served five because he escaped with another anarchist companion, and another presidential aggressor, in April 1911.  

His companion on the escape was Francisco Solano Rejis, who also claimed to attempt on February 28, 1907 against the first  magistrate Figueroa Alcorta  due to the “oppression and oacute; n of the working classes” and, idem, failed by a defective device, now a bomb. Neither of us could be recaptured.

 The last Argentine president who suffered an attack was Victorino de la Plaza, on July 9, 1916 “Long live anarchy! ” testified the witnesses cried out by Juan Mandrini, as he fired with lousy aim at the presidential box.   This Buenos Aires frentista was outraged by the shooting of Giovanni Lauro and Francisco Salvatto, the last time the death penalty was applied in Argentina under the Civil Code of 1886. They had been hit men from a wealthy family and who did not receive the same penalty in the famous Livingston case of 1914. Following the proven mental problems of the accused, justice ruled only a year and a half in prison, “that madman deserves to be convicted, for bad shooter,” said the Plaza  If that shot instead of the molding had impacted the heart of the president, Yrigoyen would you assume that same year as the first president of all Argentines?  

 The guerri's trabuco 

“It is known that Sarmiento is a controversial figure. His writings against Rosas in the 1940s and his discussions with other thinkers like Alberdi are facts that place him at the center of major debates. Since taking office in 1868, he has been facing violent attacks by supporters of former President Bartolomé Mitre. In addition, it has faced problems with different provinces.  But until now, no one had tried to directly attack his life. Moreover, it is the first time that someone seeks to openly kill an Argentine president,”  they reflected in the press of the time after the events of August 23, 1873 (some historians place the fact on 28) To the news summary of the enemies of the “Loco” Sarmiento warlord López Jordán, the intellectual author of the murder of Urquiza, who rebelled twice against the National State. All these vectors converged one July afternoon in La Boca where the coup was plotted for ten thousand pesos, a fortune corresponding to the magnitude of the assassinated, President Sarmiento. Knowing the tour without escorts, Francisco and Pedro Guerri and Luis Casimir, Italian immigrants who had been hired by Achilles Sesabrugo, were waiting on the corner of Maipu and Corrientes with a blunder, and bullets and dagars poisoned with strychnine sulfate.  As soon as they see the presidential car at 20, Francisco opens fire but the fruco explodes in his hand for excess gunpowder (hence the old Cuyana phrase “worse than the guerri fruco”) To all this Sarmiento, with a growing deafness, never heard about the stampede and reaches quietly to the house of Dalmacio Vélez Sarsfield - and his daughter, lover of the president, Aurelia - on Cangallo Street.   Annoticiated the attacker's arrest just atina to ask “And they knew me? ” and continues his work at a complex, lonely time in power, and preparing the presidential succession in favor of Avellaneda. Inspector Floro Latorre reduces the attackers hiding in a house in Corrientes 145, and a few days later they confess the participation Sesabrugo, who had fled to Uruguay.  There he finds the death supposedly by Jordanist doctor Carlos Querencio but leaves some compromising papers, which are collected by Commissioner Ireneo Miguens. Immediately this officer embarks on his return to Buenos Aires but his ship “La Porteña” is intercepted by Jordanians, under the command of Luis Bergara, in the heart of Rio de la Plata, and Miguens released on condition he never disclose the information.   The roles with the intellectual authors of the assassination attempt disappeared in the Uruguay River.

Sentenced to 20 years Francisco Guerri, and fifteen Pedro Guerri (no filial relationship) and Casimir, only the latter served the entire sentence because Pedro died in prison in April 1883, and Francisco would be pardoned by Juárez Celman in 1890.  As the end of the novelesque history of the first attack on an Argentine president, at the age of nine the Guerri wrote to Sarmiento asking to intercede to justice to commute the sentence, that “they had been seduced and dominated by a criminal” and who acted “like poor crazy people lost” Father of the Classroom of America ignored the request for clemency. In 1889, a few blocks from the 1873 attack, López Jordán was shot to death.  

 A Hairy scare 

At the end of 1929 Argentina was a hotbed. Federal interventions in Mendoza and San Juan, murder of political opponents, Mendoza's Carlos Lencina, and national assemblies, converge in a hot December.   President Yrigoyen  was cornered by an adverse congress, and an unjurious press, even though the country was coping with the crack of 29 in an airous way.   There were even some social improvements, and progress was made with far-reaching nationalist projects, such as oil. But the crush of supposed senility, and the certain data of a verticalism of the president that hindered management, undermined power in the inexorable step towards the military coup. And to end the year, on December 24 at 13.30 they shoot on his car on Brasil Street, when he went out to work like every day from his humble home to Casa Rosada, no matter holidays or weekends.  A few metres from the junction with Tacuari Street, Gualterio Marinelli, an Italian dental mechanic with distant acrats background, shoots three times on the side of Yrigoyen.   The driver Eudosio Giffi accelerates thoroughly and doubles for Piedras quickly. Custody in the same car, go ahead, Deputy Commissioner Alfredo Piccia, gets shot in the abdomen, and opens fire on the attacker. Simultaneously, Agent Carlos Sicilia fire, and the rest of the police, who watched the surrounding area due to persistent rumors of attack. Marinelli dies riddled not without first hurting Sicily on one leg.  Yrigoyen returns to the police station and contemplate the body and supposedly exclaims “And I never did anyone wrong!   “ Then he passes by the hospital to congratulate the injured policemen. In later days, the press version circulates that the attacker was clinging to a letter asking for a doctor, from a public hospital, unjustly exonerated by union ties. It is also known that the aggressor had sold his property in favor of the family, and was shot with his 32-caliber five-shot revolver, Iver Johnson's.

A few months later, the guild of dental mechanics, in a tribute in the Chacarita in honor of Marinelli, founding partner of the association, exclaim,  “A Gualterio Marinelli, Vox populi, Vox Dei, Hail! ” “The revolver has not hurt him in the flesh but it did in the soul”  said Manuel Gálvez about a feeling of widespread pessimism, in President Yrigoyen and his people, and that foreshadowed the fateful  September 6, 1930 , the breakdown of Argentine democracy.   

Sources: Rodríguez, A. E.  The dangerous office of President  in magazine Todo es Historia Year II No. 18 October 1968. Buenos Aires; Luna, F.  I'm Roca . Buenos Aires: Planet; 1989; Chávez, F.  History of the Argentine country . Buenos Aires: Theoría. 1977; Garcia Hamilton, J.  Cuyano troublemaker. The life of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento . Buenos Aires: South American. 1997

Publication Date: 20/02/2021

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We suggest you continue reading the following notes:

Hipólito Yrigoyen Argentine Presidents - Hipólito Yrigoyen (1916 — 1922)
Julio Argentino Roca Argentine Presidents - Julio Argentino Roca (1880 - 1886)



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