March 2020
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J.B. Richter: The Bicentennial of Argentina's May Revolution and UPF


When we Argentine people think of the May 1810 Revolution – which began with a historic six-year process of hard and bloody struggles and ended with our “Declaration of Independence from the Catholic Kings of Spain, their metropolis and from any other type of foreign domination” – we do it from different viewpoints: from  merely emotional view, the historic, bureaucratic, festive, or institutional ones, or just from a vested political interest. Nevertheless, we avoid any type of analytic effort which prevents us from grasping the true meaning of this historical event and understanding its rectifying ideas and its enormous richness.

We inherited this spiritual and ethical legacy from May’s lofty men who dreamt of a free and independent nation.

Not only is it timely to understand our basic ethical and spiritual values on this anniversary but also for every Argentine person to contribute to the collective historical conscience, which will allow us to become a nation despite the ongoing hatred and ideological struggles.

Looking deeper into the May Revolution, we encounter amazing facts, such as values that are equivalent to those currently claimed by the UPF.

Undoubtedly, those lofty men were inspired by God, and so must have been the claims, struggles, and the paths they took, which could not have been possible without that divine flame.

It was His almighty support and their strong spirits that encouraged them to become revolutionary, do away with slavery, oppression, subjection, and even fight a continental war for independence.

The first decree of the newly-born Government was to send troops to Montevideo, Paraguay, and Peru to assist all inhabitants who wished to be free and independent. We cannot be oblivious of the fact that it was necessary to draw on a large amount of human and material resources to organize three different armies. How did they solve this problem? They simply proclaimed ideas of human equality and dignity, overcoming racial, national, ethnic, and religious beliefs which were part of the stratified colonial society, with the result that everybody joined together and shared high spiritual and moral values. Bearing in mind that these patriots had to face an enemy which was superior in numbers and organization, their spiritual strength opened the way to victory.

Religion was a very important factor. The Catholic Church was a socializing force in the colonies and empowered the Spanish administration to exploit and oppress the inhabitants. Most of the population were native peoples, and their god was the sun; the black people had their African gods as well. Furthermore, he recent English invasions had firmly introduced Protestantism in Buenos Aires. Such was the state of affairs when the May patriots overcame those religious differences, guiding by their faith in a Supreme God, the father of all people on Earth; the family was considered the microcosm of a global society in search for freedom, happiness, and common welfare. Where a father exists, a mother is needed; this was the Virgin Mary.

It was not by chance that the Sun of the Incas was placed on our national flag in the midst of a light blue and white background.

On May 11, 1813, the Constitutional General Assembly adopted our National Hymn, whose title became “Oíd mortales, el grito sagrado” (You, mortals, listen to this sacred cry), the sense of which is to spread universal ideas to the world, because it was addressed to all human beings. It was a collective effort to promote one universal brotherhood, one great family under God’s protection.

There is enough proof that, from the very beginning of the revolution, the creation of a Confederation of a Spanish-American Nations was considered as a Federal and political goal. Even though some people claimed that it was impracticable and excessive, every effort was made during the independence process to develop the consciousness and promote a global society under the concept of one universal family. Indeed these were the ideas of San Martín, Pueyrredón, Belgrano, Francisco Miranda, and Bolívar. It is a well-known fact that San Martin initially aimed to joining Chile and Peru to the United Provinces of Río de la Plata, but after becoming the “Protector of Perú,” on October 8, 1821, he promoted the idea of the “Citizenship of America,” meaning that all people born in any of the independent lands of America would be considered citizens of Perú. Artice 8 of our National Constitution acknowledges the citizenship of all those people born in the Argentine provinces.

The ideas of the May movement promoted a remarkable cohesion in the family system. There are several examples of women and children who took up arms and fought next to their husbands, such as the Cochabamba heroines. Such was the case also of Juana Azurduy, who is remembered for her courage in combat. In fact, it was Belgrano himself who appointed her a First Lieutenant, acknowledging her efforts and bravery. There were indeed several families who donated uniforms to armies such as the Andes’ Army.

Going through documents and articles from that period, one may find the word “patria” (fatherland) used to refer to the place of birth and also the people drawn together by true love.

On the other hand, manifestation of these great spiritual efforts and practical ideas was hindered by the time, selfishness, the vastness of the territory, ambition for power, corruption, and indifference to God that sprang in people’s heart. All this contributed to new feuds and social and political division. It was laziness, subsidies, and indifference that opened the way to poverty and weakened family ties, leaving the value of work behind.

We must seize the movement and take the occasion of this anniversary to mend our past mistakes and make the lofty dreams of these men come true so that in a collective effort we can build on brotherhood, family and peace.

Translated by Lic. Liria Guedes