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Ricardo Rojas: rector of teachers and workers

In the Year of the Bicentennial of the University of Buenos Aires, the first days of March 1926 assumed one of its notable rectors who fished for popular education with national roots

Ricardo Rojas:

 The rectors of the University of Buenos Aires through two centuries have long access to the classrooms and project their legacy to the entire Argentine society . Risieri Frondizi, the ideologue of the brilliant litter of scientists in the sixties, or Oscar Shuberoff, who opened the doors of the knowledge of excellence in the return of democracy, are some of the men who continue the path of Reformism of the 18th, the one who fogoned a work of freedom, autonomy, and iacute; to thought and social promotion, and that he longed to change the world. And  Ricardo Rojas was the first rector to lead the “revolution of conscience” that inspired a Continent, a generation, from the UBA's armchair of highest authority between 1926 and 1930 “ The pains we have left are the freedoms we lack” signed the show the young emancipators Cordobés, and Rojas worked throughout his teaching career in “ forming for freedom, disinterest and intuition a true national culture”, the only way that would allow “Argentina to be born better than we all yearn for, but that some they are looking for lost roads... hatred is always bad counselor... this hour is about teachers and workers,” said Rector Rojas.  

 Rojas's arrival at the rector of the Buenos Aires university crowned a long career of almost twenty years, since this Tucumano received the offer from Joaquín V. González to teach psychology at the Normal School of Señoritas.   With chairs in La Plata and Buenos Aires, the now teacher Rojas also completed his meager journalist income, one of the first to professionalize the media writing in Caras & Caretas and El País magazine, Carlos Pellegrini's newspaper.  Although he did not possess a university degree, the already known playwright, narrator, essayist and researcher, had been appointed in 1921 honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters UBA, where he remained until 1946 at the head of the founding chair and Institute of Literature national, and participated in the founding of the houses of high studies in Tucumán and Cuyo.   But above all, it was still in 1926 that the youth of the Reformation supported in 1918, “-we sustain - this reform that you proclaimed from the chair, from the press, from the public gallery,” said Eugenio Garzón, one of the reformists.

In a time he must move away from La Plata because of the grievances of the University Federation, which questioned that he had not defended the students in the Higher Council during a revolt that was dissolved by sablazos,  Rojas in Buenos Aires was appointed to the Deanship of Philosophy and Letters (1922-1924) and then the rector of the University of Buenos Aires on March 7, 1926  “The new rector is a guarantee for the definitive triumph of the Reform of the 18th” called the newspaper Crítica.  Immediately, Rector Rojas establishes the points he had been “revolutionarily reformist” holding in the field of platense, autarchy, free assistance, free education, competition regime, student representation, unrestricted income and autonomy.   A defense of university sovereignty that increases over the years with the increasing interference of the armed forces in every corner of Argentine life, for example in the classes that the war minister wants to impose, the future coup pist Agustín P. Justo “The university is autonomous in “would say about it Rojas, who would be imprisoned by Justo in 1933, and transferred the Tierra del Fuego Penal in 1934, after his campaigns for radicalism, and against the repressive and anti-popular government of the Infamous Decade.

 “ Today we have more concern, more comptroller, more freedom, and that gives publicity to our vices and our mistakes,” said Rojas and, in that sense, prevented a limitationist  maneuver at the Faculty of Medicine in 1926, which intended to restrict admission, “there is a sense of meaning of privilege in any limitation... there are entire populations in the country with 30% infant mortality due to lack of medical diagnosis... - we are not limiting - the vocation to serve” In 1929 the Faculty of Law must intervene for a counter-reform move, which meant returning to the old castes of professors, “the new generation, animated by an ideal of civic, scientific and moral culture... is a spiritual movement that needs to be channeled by true teachers... Our University is just in the process of formation, like our nationality and all our culture. In the midst of apparent chaos and with its 12,000 students, perhaps conceals the gestation of a new spiritual world”, closed the author of “The Nationalist Restoration”, a pioneering attempt for education founded on democratic nationalism, and at the height of the report Bialet Massé. on working conditions — and their inclusive solutions.

 One of his last projects in UBA, before his departure from the Rector's Office on the eve of the 1930 coup, was the Petroleum Institute that provided human and technical resources to the Petrolíferos Fiscales Fields, in General Mosconi's national project . To confront an “imperialism that occupies empty spaces like wind,” he fervently supports the nationalization of the wealth of our subsoils, under the auspices of President Yrigoyen, who a few months later would be overthrown in a seditious and crisp climate that smelled of oil.

 Son of the civilizing warlord, vate of America 

Ricardo Rojas was born on September 16, 1882 in Tucumán, the son of a warlord and governor from Santiago of humble origin, Absalom Rojas . The management in the governorate of the “caudillo de los pueblos”, founder of 100 schools in the poorest province between 1886 and 1889, allocated half of the budget to the training area, would mark his son forever. “Educating the people to exercise their rights,” would say his father, from whom Rojas also inherited almost Franciscan austerity and “passion for the homeland.”  Rojas's childhood years would strongly mark his work in terms of Hispano-Creole cultural heritage and reference to the original peoples “El país de la selva” and “El Alma española” are the first works that were flattered by Miguel de Unamuno and Bartolomé Mitre, who incorporated it into the newspaper La Nación. He integrates the magazine Ideas with Manuel Gálvez, where he accentuates the spiritualist thought that characterizes the Centennial generation.

In 1907 he made his trip to Europe in order to study contemporary pedagogical systems and, two years later, “ The Nationalist Restoration. Report on education”, a proposal for an educational synthesis that integrates the alluvional country into a romantic root, about the aboriginal, colonial and federal past.   Rojas aspires for an expanded democracy related to the budding popular radicalism, a non-authoritarian nationalism adapted to the “Argentine needs” And with the teachings of a stripped and pluralistic history oriented on “saying the real thing, it would go on the other hand implicit an admirable moral lesson”, which would be tantamount to accepting that “ there were more affinities between Rosas and his pampas or between Facundo and his mountain, than between Mr. Rivadavia or Mr. García and the country they wanted to govern. Barbarism, being gaucho, since he was riding, was more Argentine, was more ours. She had not thought of surrendering the country's sovereignty to a European dynasty. On the contrary, he defended her. His bloody work was the indispensable complement to the Revolution, because he elaborated with Argentine blood the concept of government and nationality giving more solid foundation to the work of the Constituents ,” said Rojas, tertifying the sarmientin crack Civilization or Barbarism. Moreover, the author of a complete biography of Sarmiento, “The Prophet of the Pampa”, a  bestseller  published in 1946 as well as “El Santo de la Espada”, work on San Martín, and edited in 1933, sold thousands of copies to the day of this day, quizi... aacute; the most accessible biography, without losing rigor, of the Liberator of America.

 In defiance of the authoritarianism of the military in 1930, Rojas, who abjurored from politically affiliating with the bitter memories of his father's militancy and miseries, joins the Radical Party —proscripto-,  “radicalism is, by its geographical latitude, by its historical affiliation, by its historical affiliation, its faith in the people, for its nationalist emotion and its proven spirit of resistance to adversity, a civic force that, duly indoctrinated and led, must be a bastion of nationality and social justice at this time,” said Rojas for the newspaper Noticias Gráficas in 1931  . A couple of years later, imprisoned and banished for political issues, he would continue to work on affirming the “civic forces” present in “the spirit of the earth”, in works that widen the conciliatory programme of cultures such as “Eurindia” (1924) and “Syllabario (1930)  His house, current Casa Ricardo Rojas National Museum on Charcas Street, architecturally combines the fountains linked to national inheritances. And its aperturist cultural imprint survives in the UBA Cultural Center that bears his name, on Corrientes Avenue.

Away from politics, although he participates in the radical list of Buenos Aires in 1946, he continues with works on the Argentine past and literary research, without leaving theatre or literature, there his Inca drama “Ollantay. Tragedy of the Andes” (1939) A  staunch opposition to Peronism, who dispenses with its chairs, “this is a Sanmartinian hour,” he would say with the coup of September 1955, the self-called “Libertadora Revolution” appoints him ambassador to Peru. His precarious health prevents travel to Lima and died on July 29, 1957; that by a decree of the last military dictatorship was declared National Culture Day.   The echoes of the “country of the jungle,” which go through Rojas's thought and action, need new civic readings for a Republican nationalist who believed in a single revolution, education and education.

 Rojas, to the master with love 

  Suddenly Rojas, without waiting any longer, sparked severely, how dare a university student take the exam without having studied? This is an absolute lack of responsibility and respect,”  recalled a former student from the times of Philosophy and Letters UBA on Viamonte Street, and adds moved in a tribute that the House of Altos Estudios itself carried out in 1984, “at that time the word universitario was recorded in lyrics of bronze. We never forget that the university is the one who knows the most because he is the one who studies the most,” journalist Petrona Domínguez pointed out that  Professor Rojas added to his university students, “the one who knows the most is the one who should serve the country most” 

“I had the opportunity to observe Ricardo Rojas in his political aspect and in his face as teacher, teacher of civism and teacher of literature, descended from the chair with the prestige of a patriarch and climbed to the rostrum of the street; he went  to the dusty rostrum of all the roads of the Republic to teach how democracy and freedom are defended , in the most authentic, pure and healthy expression of teaching,” said Nélida Baigorria, President Illia's media officer, and president of President Alfonsín's National Literacy Commission,”  Ricardo Rojas, so attached to our things, gave me in those early years of my formation the authentic sense of the national and the Indo-American . Later I knew, studying in depth the thought of Yrigoyen, that this was the living creed of Radicalism, to which I admired with passion,” the deputy closed in 1958 to her teacher, Don Ricardo Rojas, who once said “I am a vate of America”, poet and prophet.


Sources: Rojas, R.  Nationalist restoration . La Plata: UNIPE. University Publishing House. 2010; Castillo, H.  Ricardo Rojas . Buenos Aires: Argentine Academy of Letters. 1999;  Testimonies about Ricardo Rojas.  Buenos Aires: Ricardo Rojas Institute of Literature FFyL UBA. 1984

Publication Date: 02/03/2021

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