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As benign… I had nothing.

Héctor Benigno Varela was an Argentine military officer with a colonel's badge. He was responsible for the Patagonia Rebelde in
The worst thing about us
Patagonia tragica
| 22 December, 2019 |

It was 1920 and in Rio Gallegos (Santa Cruz) there was a “benign” production center for export. This era was of foreign capital and counted 1500 workers, who worked on agricultural farms and refrigerators under the English flag.

Things started to get ugly for the workers after the First World War. With the fall in sales and exports, the quality of of work for them. They started being mistreated, increased the amount of working hours and lowered their wages . He unhealthy work began to “weigh them”, and the comings and goings with the stayers led to an unexpected situation.

Enforcing your rights

It was in November 1920 that the first workers’ protestbroke out, which included a boycott of traders linked to the Rural Society. Rio Gallegos, Puerto Deseado and Puerto San Julián were the center of a general strike of hundreds of employees tired of so much mistreatment. Days later, the first reprisals began and a policeman killed the first striker, Domingo Olmedo.

The taking of police as hostages, the fighting between ranchers and the reprisals of the workers became, thus, a daily thing. Under the order of President Yrigor yen, a cavalry regiment arrived in Rio Gallegos on November 10.

From lieutenant to authoritarian assassin

With a large army of 200 soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel Héctor Benigno Varela gave the order to shoot all the strikers and workers. His great ally was the Chilean government, which closed the border so that no one could escape his final destination.

The mass massacre ended on January 10, 1922. It is estimated that between 1000 and 1500 workers were brutally killed. Those who managed to survive received a reduction of more than a third in their wages and saw this killer be decorated by President Yrigoyen.

Everything bad always comes back

And, as the popular song of La Princesita says, it was “with the same coin.” That’s how he was paid for unhappy. The execution came to Benigno Varela in a bloody manner. It was on January 27, 1923 in the neighborhood of Palermo (Buenos Aires), a year after the murders in Santa Cruz.

They say that while the military was walking down the street, the anarchist Kurt Gustav Wilckens intercepted him, dropped a bomb and gave him four bullets. These emulated the four shots he himself ordered to give, to end his life of each of the strikers.

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