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President Martín Fierro: José Hernández and his worlds

The author of the national poem was also military, political and journalist. But there is little talk about this.

 José Hernández

When  José Hernández  died (1834-1886) the newspapers of the time greeted “Senator Martín Fierro” Ala afar, and long ago, they began a tendency to hide a political man who is certainly uncomfortable by words like these in “The Argentino” (1863) from Paraná, “ General Peñaloza — who had fought in blood and fire against the Buenos Aires centralism of Rosas, as well as Urquiza, Hernández and... Sarmiento- has been killed . The man ennobled by his inexhaustible patriotism, strong for the cause of his holiness of his cause, the  Argentine Viriato — a historic Lusitan leader who resisted the Roman empire — whose prestige the conquering host crashes, has just been stabbed to his own bed, slashed, and his head has been led as proof of his murderer's good performance, to the  barbarian Sarmiento ,” Hernández defended the dying cause of the Uquicist Confederation against the mitrist centralist interventionism, which suffocated the last montoneras protected in the sarmientin motto of “not economizing gaucho's blood” —in truth the last montoneras were those of  Ricardo López Jordán,   alleged instigator of  Urquiza 's murder , to which Hernández would join in 1870. And yet when the future author of “Martín Fierro” directs “El Río de la Plata” (1869-1870) his cannons will point more to the dangers of mitriism, bombing an inveterate arrogance of Buenos Aires than to the  presidency of Sarmiento,  who continues to intervene provinces from Buenos Aires to taste. And, later, he will be a conspicuous representative of the government “peace and administration” roquista, in the provincial legislature of Bonearena, moving away from any populist ideary. The gaucho, and the campaign, were wired and lost in the dust of the last Hernández, something that was glimpsed in the itinerary of his famous gaucho that in the “Ida” goes as a renegade, and in the “Vuelta”, he returns integrated to the agro-export Argentina.

Perhaps the best biographical summary is one of Rafael Hernández, his brother who fought in the  heroic   Paysandú (1864-65),  and was providentially rescued by José, “in the activities of life, and thanks to his powerful intellectual organization, he guided his mind by different directions, without distractions, without confusion, and so it was successive and sometimes together: accountant, tachygrapher, warrior, revolutionary, legislator, member of the National Council of Education, counselor of Monte Piedad (municipal bank), the Mortgage Bank, protector of the industries, stancier, journalist and poet. A man of sword and feather, from the forest and of the hall, of a stand and of spur... he was a man of athletic forms — he differs from the cartoons of his last years that ridiculed his wide porte-, possessing a colossal force, comparable to that of Rafetto, the hercules of the circus, and a goodness of soul comparable to its strength. Decidor, sparkling, timely, fast and original... never hurting (although he had some sabre duels for political differences and honor in Paraná)... in the tumultuous assemblies served to appease the waters its culminating figure, for his word of fire, for the affection with which the people have receives and even for his powerful voice of thunder”, emphasizes Rafael although  Hernández's only memorable intervention was in the historic debate over the federalization of Buenos Aires (1880), rebating the words of Leando N. Alem. 

Rafael would hold the hand of José's last moments, who apparently mentioned “Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires” before expiring, surrounded by his large family in the luxurious  Quinta San José — the same name of the entrerriano palace of Urquiza. Hernandez was Secretary of State for his alleged murderer, Lopez Jordán.  There in Belgrano — in the current Oath and City of Peace — the now prosperous agrarian commission and landowner died; before Caseros, a humble troop in Sierras de los Padres. There he would know as a young man the “science of gaucho”, one that in 1872 would overturn in octosyllabics in the residence of the well-appointed “ Gran Hotel Argentino”, in front of Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada, symbols of a porteñista executive to whom his words of an outcast were addressed., clandestine, in the way of Martín Fierro.  By contrast, at the age of 52 he was an enriched author and editor of “Martín Fierro” and pulled 20,000 copies in each edition, mainly read by the rude Buenos Aires country men (over a population of 200,000), the few literate, of course.

President Martín Fierro is an entry to rehabilitate a Hernandean political program, which does not prologue to his great poem, literature is something else, although it stands in the historical context of discussions that inspire the paper gaucho, eternally outside the Law “He who wants to amend/much has to know-/You have a lot to learn/Whoever wants to listen to me-/Has a lot to ruminate/ Who wants to understand me” appeared on the cover of the first edition of “ La Vuelta de Martín Fierro” (1879), a “book they asked me” said Hernández  in an unpublished fact within a germinal national literature, and a warning to future generations that we continue to ruminate a poem isolated to a man, at one time, in a school infographic.

 Hernández, journalist 

In the years that his father died hit by lightning in the middle of the field, Hernández began in journalism in “La Reforma Pacífica” (1856), which held the Reform Party in the same heart of Buenos Aires — was published in the current Defence 73-, and which advocated incorporation.from Buenos Aires to the Confederation until its forced closure, prior to the battle of Cepeda (1859) Emigrated to Paraná for personal reasons, although also in his first land business with a father-in-law of López Jordán, he assumed the direction of the aforementioned “El Argentino” while —supposed- publishes “Un cielito ateruterao directed to Aniceto el Gallipavo”, his first verses that contrasted Urquiza with the Gauchesco poet Ascasubi. Political issues take him successively to Corrientes and Rosario where he continued to criticize Buenos Aires centralism and  Sarmiento 's candidacy, and in the defense of the livestock interests of Litoral,  proposed Rosario as Argentine capital .

More than a decade of active presence in graphic media had its corollary in “El Río de la Plata” founded in 1869 in the time that he reside with the family in his native house, in the  Pueyrredón farm in San Martín — now Museum.   Not only do I cull because there he embodied his substantial political ideology, and that he anticipated questions poetically screened by Martín Fierro, but because it was his swan song in journalism, which he never exercised again  . He was also able to expand with unknown freedom in Buenos Aires itself due, in part, to a policy of amnesty — and co-optation — that Mitre and Sarmiento carried out with their old enemies of the Confederation. For Hernández, Mitre was “crazy,” he had stoned him at the meetings of the Constitutional Reform of 1860, and Sarmiento, we read, defined as “barbarian” A rare tranquility seemed conducive to all opinions in the city, a mirage that the murder of Urquiza closedto abruptly a year later.

A novelty in nineteenth national factious journalism is that Hernández's publication —perhaps funded by Urquiza—clearly presented the basis for the formation of a political party. Drafted by  Carlos Guido and Spano,  another old federal, proposed autonomy of localities, elective municipalities, abolition of the border contingent and popular eligibility of judges of the peace, military commanders and school counselors, lowering the price of public land and genuine freedom of universal suffrage. A project that even identified sectors of Buenos Aires autonomism of the Club de los Libres, where Carlos Pellegrini and a son of Mitre himself participated. And while on the surface there is an attempt to democratize a country involved in internal struggles, as Noe Jitrik argues, it is possible to read between lines a gaucho understood as the essential labor force to work the Argentine countryside.  Hernández stands in the thought of a fraction of Argentine liberalism, which does not deny the colonial past, inasmuch as it can be incorporated into the progress of the Argentine Nation.  In his attack on the forced cam of the country men, the great problem of Martín Fierro — and of the landlords — defends tenants and matreros, Martín Fierro actually owns a small farm at the beginning of the poem, and reinforces the punishment of the “malentertidos (i.e. gauchos without patrs)oacute; n, they can be sent to fight against the Indian” In a position close to the last  Alberdi , Hernández argues “El Rio de la Plata has become a defender of the unknown and violated rights of the inhabitant of the campaign . Indefatigable and persevering in defending the cause of the oppressed, we will not faint before we see the individual guarantees become an unquestionable truth and cease to be a simple and luxurious declaration of the law What does it matter if we have exhibitions, telegraphs, railways, if the Indians invade us, if life is in danger — let us remember the very negative assessment of the Indians and, add, immigrants and blacks in Martín Fierro, in correspondence with the  thinking of the ruling classes — if the is property threatened at all times? Life and property are the foundation of society... all freedoms, all rights are solidarity, and never will a people see their political freedom fulfilled in its splendor if they do not enjoy economic freedom, in a word, of freedom of work as the foundation of property, which is the basis of civilization and progress”  Hernández adheres to the dominant liberal thought of the Generation of the 80  with the exception of the legal protection of gaucho, half Buenos Aires, half Entrerrian and Correntino, in order to surrender it to a hegemonic order.

After the assassination of Urquiza, whom Hernández initially indicates Mitre and Brazil, began a sustained campaign against federal intervention in the Entre Rios de López Jordan, a warlord who repudiates crime but quickly assumes governorate. In the editorial before closing “El Río de la Plata”, and  march to fight, and lose, with López Jordan at the hands of Julio Argentino Roca , Hernández announced, “We do not want to attend the press of the blood show that is going to take place in the Republic...  we support the policy of the Law resolutely against the politics of war — again, Alberdi—... the clash between Buenos Aires and Entre Ríos will be fatal for the Homeland,” said  Hernández, who defined himself as a son of Buenos Aires, “of that people where all the generous inspirations” -... -because- I have learned that other Argentine peoples such as Buenos Aires are inspired by the ardent desire for peace, order, progress, freedom, law, justice and work”

 Hernández's latest articles were tests on the question of the Falkland Islands and the request for the urgent recovery of national sovereignty , something that a sarmientine government could not do in the midst of negotiating for burdensome new British borrowing.aacute; nicos.

 Hernandez, legislator 

By 1875 Hernández has two rooms, a field, a thousand steers, two houses, two conventillos in the city and two plots in Rosario, apart from the fifth of Belgrano. He actively participates in the Autonomist Party with the vehement Aristobulus del Valle, run in the elections of 1877 without success, and began the  Republican Party with Leando N. Alem and Hipólito Yrigoyen.  After two years, coinciding with his election as provincial deputy, a long-awaited “Vuelta de Martín Fierro” was published, in a story that dialogues — and justifies, in part — the self-called Conquest of the Desert commanded by Roca.  Also with the “pacification” of the campaign in the preteroom to the federalization of Buenos Aires, that Hernández will vote a few years after he advocated Rosario  What changed his thought? While Alem, his co-ligionary, opposes himself arguing from traditional Creolist federalism, “Buenos Aires with this measure is once again privileged in the face of the misery of the Interior,” something that the Urquicist Hernández would have applauded to rage,  the greatest poet of the gauchesco contrapses , “a capital is the brain, the heart of a nation; let us have a strong brain and heart, and we will have a powerful nation... the capital is the point where all traditions, talents, all prestige, all the moral and intellectual development of a country reside... belongs to millions of Argentines... if Buenos Aires is the commercial capital, the industrial capital, the scientific capital of the Republic , it must be, has the right, the political capital ,” he ended with his voice of thunder associated with a measure “that the nations of the world are demanding from the Republic of the Republicublica Argentina” The bells were doubling for a project of national federalism of a whole generation of the Litoral, now many flourishing farmers.

The last years of his life he will be a provincial senator who unconditionally supports the roquista regime, except for some financial management he considered “fraudulent” Recognized Hernández in the second row of the ruling leaders, works with  Gov. Dardo Rocha  in the project of the provincial capital La Plata —his father's second surname was Plata (sic) - and in the “Instructions del Estanciero” by virtue of being a “consecrated voice of the campaign by his huge Martín Fierro” (sic), a text more literary than agricultural, or economic, due to the poor vocational training, or interest, of the author. This certain disdain of Hernández is also notable in his parliamentary performance where the rural problems, and the socio-economic perspectives of the gaucho emanated from his poem, are tempered according to Tulio Halperín Donghi. According to this historian, author of “José Hernández and their worlds”, “if Hernández's identification with the perspectives dictated by landlord interest has no doubt, she does not offer him such a vivid source of inspiration as the one provided by the rearrangement of planet for a capitalism in impetuous advance; and it is the curiosity that inspires her that imprints to her ideas  a less rectilinear course than expected in a spokesperson for the campaign”  Her intense final work in the banking architecture necessary in large-scale agricultural exploitation, and development of transport, synthesize the transition from radical democracy, which he advocated in 1869, to the impositions of the triumphant agro-export model in 1886 “ The dream of Echeverría and Sarmiento, also of Alberdi and therefore Urquiza, was fulfilled,” Jitrik asks sharply, “why did Jitrik ask sharply it must not be Hernández's dream”  The modern Argentina was born, enlightened, civilized, productive, open to the world and dependent on the central countries.

Because of this, and other things, José Hernández is lost behind the gigantic Martín Fierro, in an attempt to have a mythical Argentine gaucho shut down with his “vigüela” the decisions of a wide-back man who thought a possible nation, at a juncture cracked.

Sources: Jitrik, N.  Jose Hernandez . Buenos Aires: CEAL. 1971; Halperín, D.  José Hernández and his worlds.  Buenos Aires: South American. 1985 and  A Nation for the Argentine Desert.  Buenos Aires: Editors of Latin America. 2004;  180 Years of José Hernández. Martín Fierro in the 21st century . Buenos Aires: José Hernandez Museum of Popular Art. 2014.

Publication Date: 10/11/2020

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José-Hernández What other poems did José Hernández write besides Martín Fierro?
martin-fierro Five key stanzas of Martín Fierro



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