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Belgrano was more revolutionary than we were taught

On the Bicentennial of Manuel Belgrano's death, Gabriela Saidon imagines an old warrior who caresses his dreams at the height of the condors.

Art and Literature

Cusco, Peru, 1818, was a hotbed of intrigues and negotiations, the last realistic redoubt that resisted the emancipatory march of San Martin from the South, and Bolivar in the North. The great powers, England, France and the Brazilian Empire, thickened the stew with their spoon while the Latin American patriots sought all the paths of freedom. Manuel Belgrano was supporting a project to restore the Inca monarchy, in direct line with the heirs of Tupac Amaruc, a mancommunication of Indians and Creoles that overcomes anarchies and quarrels of regions and cities so disparate between Upper Peru and the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. This utopian patriate had been presented at the Congress of Tucumán without much apparent success, even the versions that come to us today is that it was mocked by the Buenos Aires deputies despite the support of San Martín - and the absent Güemes. Gabriela Saidon in “La Reina. The great dream of Manuel Belgrano” (Planeta) starts from a hypothetical green light in 1816 and embers us from the half-ancestral, half Spanish, time of the dark Catholic convents and the golden cities of mythical kings. And with Nuna, the queen girl, Shiamara, the intriguing sister, and the troubled mother Irenea, and a gallery of characters worthy of a comedy of entanglements, the writer and journalist pergenized a General of flesh and blood. That he sweats, desires and lives the dream of eternal revolution. 

Journalist: Was this book motivated by the Belgrani year?

Gabriela Saidon: It really had more to do with a discussion in Brazil of the previous election. There they have a monarchical party, and I thought it was an anachronism, and very rare for America. And then I found Manuel Belgrano's Inca Plan, which consisted of entering an Inca king and that the capital of the Americas is Cusco. I was interested in the question of why someone progressive, in the current terms, would support a system antagonistic with the republic. My motivation is outside of the Belgrani year, but it was considered for publication..

Q: In addition, the novel is a historical fiction that is somewhat distant from Belgrano real...

GS: While at first the novel I thought it as an ucronia, which would have happened if Belgrano's monarchical project prospered, then it shot into a pure fiction where the historical question lies at the base of the iceberg.

I left the historical research in the other book I wrote in parallel and where it appears in the form of chronicles, and documents, that I relieved in Peru. In the other production next to be edited, I get into the controversy of trying to understand why Belgrano monarchic, and who opposed, among them the most fierce, Bolivar. In addition to the Buenos Aires unitarians, the Venezuelan Liberator pressed against the Belgrani thesis, one that was supported by  San Martín.  

Anyway, my novel focuses on a single month, a hypothetical October 1818, and a construction entirely imagined and supported by Queen Nuna and her surroundings.

Q: Was it if I intend to work on mother-daughter bonds?

GS: As I always say in novels, the original project is transformed into realization, and in writing, things happen. Novels are never projects. When I started working, the bonds of these women emerged, and Belgrano became the General.

Q: A very seductive General...

GS: There is a certain dose of humor in this narrative figure. This Belgrano is inspired by Vice President Cristina Fernández, who in an event on Flag Day 2019, said that “I would have been a Belgrano lover” And I imagined a Belgrano sex symbol, going into a darkened part that is his bachelor life. Once listening to Felipe Pigna he laughed because he questioned the “frenchement” imposed on the famous portrait of Billiken magazine. It was comical to justify a procerer, through his sexuality, by a portrait.

Q: The General of the novel has several health problems that Belgrano real suffered.

GS: At that time he was a 48-year-old man, older at the time, and who was also very sick from a syphilis of his youth. But he was still a man who could wish a young lady, who was a bit the constant of our heroes,  San Martín with Remedios  for example, and that a current look could accuse of pedophilia. Belgrano had ties with women who courted as girls. I played then with a General who wants to make a queen a fifteen-year-old girl, whom she wants to own, and she can't. The subject of the impotence of a man who continues to desire and can not appear.

Q: You present a very particular early 19th century Cusco.

GS: Unlike other cities in Independence, there were many women who were raised in convents in Peru. They were the famous Pickup Houses and housed women of different classes. From upper class women, with families giving an important dowry for their daughters to be nuns, to others delivered directly to maids. There were nuns with black and white veils that reproduced social classes. And I wanted to show that because Nuna is not a poor Indian but is a descendant of the Inca nobility. An unknown issue is that twenty-four Inca royal families continued to live with the conquerors and were very powerful and respected. They had a lot of interference in the policies of the colonizers.

 We all want to be Manuel Belgrano 

Q: This year Belgraniano crossed glances on the patriot, celebrations in Daniel Balmaceda and Pigna, polemists in Tulio Halperín Donghi...

GS:... Halperín Donghi... first I'm going to say that I fell in love with Belgrano.And every time I go deeper, the more I argue that he was a super-procerer of which little is known on a massive level. In school we see him as the creator of the Flag, which is not a little, of course. And there's a lot more about him. Today if I imagine a Belgrano painting is with the flag of diversity behind , because Belgrano was very progressive in many terrains and very none in posterity. For example Halperin Donghi exposes a psychoanalytic theory that binds Belgrano to a family mandate, and a karma of failure, never giving the pinet. A delirium. Anyway, I was interested in his divagues the defeats of Belgrano, the projects he did not realize, starting with Indian and monarchical America.

 Belgrano's progressive ideas were his very advanced ecological proposals. Or public education for women, which was awarded to Sarmiento, but Belgrano thought about it much earlier. If we had given this patriot ball, maybe we'd be another country. 

He was also an Argentine military officer who ranked in the national army two women, Juana Azurduy and María Remedios del Valle , who was also black. This progressive measure is introduced into the novel when the General wants to ingratiate himself with the future girl  Inca queen.  And, too, it helps me to a possible explanation sketch of Belgrano's singleness, which had two well-known women, and who left pregnant with a girl and a boy respectively. There my General says that his passion is political life, the independent cause, and that it leaves no room for marriage, a little Che Guevara.And, speaking of Latin American revolutionaries, Belgrano was also a lawyer and military as Fidel Castro.

 Belgrano  was more revolutionary than we were taught and, so I think, we don't know much about him. The revolutionary Jacobins remained in —Mariano- Moreno and —Juan José- Castelli, Belgrano's last cousin. There is a historian who argues that the idea of the Inca queen comes from Castelli. And while Belgrano participated in the 1816 Declaration of Independence sessions of the group of moderates, his revolutionary spirit cannot be denied in his intense but short patriotic trajectory .

 The Argentine Faith 

Q: Gabriela, we are interested in a definition of a previous book of his, “Santos Ruteros. From la Deafta Correa to Gauchito Gil” (Tusquets, 2011), about that “Argentines make saints like the Americans make super heroes”, is it something that defines us?

GS: I have no doubt that a matrix of the Argentine being is to manufacture saints. Today Maradona, yesterday Gardel and San Martín. I feel like we're unique. Although Mexicans have saints linked to drug trafficking, and in Brazil they have umbanda saints mestizado with the Catholic religion, in Argentina diversity and quantity amazes. It is a construction of Argentine faith with images and liturgies different from each other, or what does the Spread Correa have to do with Gauchito Gil. We even have holy girls, or media outlets like Gilda. Maradona was already a saint because for many her miraculous act, the Hand of God, was in 1986. Surely on Argentine routes and villages will appear sanctuaries with their image.

Q. Did you find any explanation of national devotion to popular saints?

GS: The strong repression of native cultures mainly caused this syncretic explosion of thousands of popular saints. In San Rodrigo or San La Muerte or Santa Maradona — I love that feminization in the popular religious passion — native cultures cannot be silenced.

Publication Date: 02/12/2020

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We suggest you continue reading the following notes:

belgrano-carta Interview with Manuel Belgrano
PORTADA HISTORIA (22) Belgrano and the Inca King



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