History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter III

History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter III

An Independent Kingdom.

From the inheritance of the «Comuneros» to the major accomplishments of the Jesuit Kingdom of Paraguay for the Greater Glory of God, a new nation was forged by the hispanic-guarani union when the Conquistadores established themselves in the City of Our Lady of the Assumption.

But the glory days were long gone. Around 250 years after the discovery of Paraguay, the «Mother of Cities» was reduced to a second hand town under the newly established «Viceroyalty of the River Plate» in 1776. Before that, the Viceroy of Peru was a distant and most of the times, indolent authority concerning Asunción and its surroundings, which was a place without gold or silver mines that subsisted mainly thanks to agriculture, cattle and the Paraguayan «yerba mate». The Paraguayans, creoles and mestizos who were direct descendants of the first Conquistadores, had to face two challenging moments: the suppression of the Jesuit Order from the Spanish Empire in 1767 and the creation of the aforementioned Viceroyalty of the River Plate in 1776.

Unbeknownst to the presence of the luciferian intrigues in the Bourbon’s Court, the Jesuit Fathers of Paraguay had to abandon their glorious work, causing profound sadness in the Guarani Tribes. On the other hand, the «merchant bourgeoisie» of Buenos Aires started to see itself as the only ruler and heir of the newly established Viceroyalty thanks to the dominance of its customs and port that became increasingly more important for the Bourbon Kings of Spain and the «porteños» (the pejorative way Paraguayans and other provinces labelled the haughty Buenos-aireans, meaning «the low-class people of the port») were pretty much detested by the rest of the region.

Paraguayans saw themselves as the «landed gentry» of the River Plate Basin. As stated above, the very first «Conquistadores» established the City of Asunción (Our Lady of the Assumption) and their sons were the ones who built the rest of the towns of the region, including Buenos Aires. Though no «Grande de España» (Duke, Marquis, Earl, Vizcount) ever came to Paraguay, the original Conquistadores were «hidalgos» of the lower nobility (Barons and Baronets; Sirs, Knights and Esquires). In fact, the nation usually alludes to the «nobles barones» (with «b» and not «v», in Spanish) who came to establish the towns and villages of the nation in the early XVI Century. The honorific prefix «Don» was similar to the British «Lord», accurately reflecting the situation of the province during the times of the Spanish Empire (nowadays, the word «Don» somehow lost its original meaning in Hispanic America and its used for important individuals, regardless of their origin or position). So, even if they were minor nobility, Paraguayans in the late XVIII Century were indeed «aristocrats» in a hereditary sense, and they disdained everything that came from the arrogant «mercachifles porteños» in Buenos Aires, the mercantilist bourgeoisie of the customs and port. [1]

«Cuatro leguas arriba está situada, la gran ciudad antigua y populosa, que es dicha la Asunción y que fue poblada, por Salazar en era muy famosa… Poblóse de muy buena y noble gente, en tiempos de Don Pedro de Mendoza, aunque hay como sabemos al presente, abundancia de toda broza. La causa de este mal inconveniente, paréceme será la gente moza; que aunque salen valientes y esforzados, al mal y no al bien son inclinados… Al fin salió de España aquesta armada, muy rica, muy hermosa y muy lucida; de todos adherentes abastada, aunque hubo después hambre muy crecida. La gente que embarcó era extremada, de gran valor, y suerte muy subida, Mayorazgos è hijos de Señores, de Santiago y San Juan comendadores». [2]

This old poem alludes to what we were mentioning: the «hidalguía» of the first settlers of Asunción and how they mixed themselves with the Guaranís, causing (according to the author Barco de Centenera) many behavioral problems in the old city that was also known as the «Paradise of Muhammad» because of the licentious lifestyle of the female Guaranis who gave herselves to any Conquistador on arrival (probably because the Spaniards treated these women far better than Guaraní men, but others claimed this was a strategy of the tribes to preserve themselves from harm). The «free love» in the early days of the Hispanic Conquista of the Americas became as legendary as the stories of «El Dorado» and the «Cities of Cíbola», but this was probably exaggerated by the Catholic Priests who were there (Barco de Centenera was one of them) and with a rightful religious zeal, they tried to fix some conciences. But indeed the «mestizaje» (race mixing) that took place and in Paraguay (and in the other Provinces of the River Plate, including Buenos Aires) was notorious: the majority of the creoles and mestizos were «European looking» though preserving, more or less, shades and traces of the Guaraní tribes within themselves.

With the exception of Don Juan José de Vértiz y Salcedo (1718-1799), the 2nd Viceroy of the River Plate born in Yucatán (Mexico), all the Viceroys of the newly established office were natives of the Iberian Penninsula. The Bourbon Kings of Spain wanted no issues of unreliability and handpicked their regents, but this came with a cost: the increasing centralizaton and absolutism was deeply resented, especially in Paraguay. And with the «possible» exceptions of Pedro de Ceballos, Pedro Melo de Portugal and Santiago de Liniers (the three of them were one way or another related to Paraguay), the Viceroys caused total indifference in the populace at best and were very unpopular at worst. Unfortunately, this was never figured out in Madrid.

Painting of the Port of Buenos Aires, circa 1815, just some years after the Revolution of May (Revolución de Mayo) took place. In 1776 the Viceroyalty of the River Plate was established by the King of Spain Charles III (1716-1788) and Buenos Aires, suddenly, gained enormous importance becoming the de facto capital. This was very resented in the Provinces of the River Plate, especially in Paraguay [Image: website Huellas de Buenos Aires; painting of unkown author].
Painting of the Port of Buenos Aires, circa 1815, just some years after the Revolution of May (Revolución de Mayo) took place. In 1776 the Viceroyalty of the River Plate was established by the King of Spain Charles III (1716-1788) and Buenos Aires, suddenly, gained enormous importance becoming the de facto capital. This was very resented in the Provinces of the River Plate, especially in Paraguay [Image: website Huellas de Buenos Aires; painting of unkown author].

Buenos Aires became the «de facto» capital city of the Viceroyalty, much for the disdain and rejection of the other provinces with Paraguay leading the feeling once again, and the «Porteños», as a new rich-kid in town, wanted to enforce all the unpopular changes brought by the Bourbon Kings using, if necessary for them, economic coercion against the «rebellious» provinces via the customs and port.

Atilio García Mellid, our main source for this work, understood this with great clarity: «By the imperative of its geographical position and easy access to the maritime trade routes, the City of Buenos Aires acquired a presence from which attempted to dominate the other provinces. Far away were the times of the First Conquistadores whom spoke about Our Lady of the Assumption (Asunción) as the axis where the whole life of the River Plate turned around. In those days, the «porteños» barely existed in the folios and chronicles of the colonial deeds. More prestige was accumulated, let’s not even say in Paraguay, but in Tucuman and Chile rather than in the small Buenos Aires. The Jesuit Father Nicolás del Techo wrote that in this country (the River Plate Provinces), stretching between Brasil and Peru and between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the main inhabitants were the Chileans, Tucumanos and Paraguayans. Not a single mention was left for the Porteños». [3]

But in 1776, times changed. The Viceroy Don Pedro de Cevallos accomplished all the orders given by the Metropoli. The «Royal Command» of 1778 established the free-trade through the Port of Buenos Aires and this act gave the «porteños» a false idea of superiority in relation to the other provinces. One of the «Próceres» of the Independence of Argentina, the lawyer and journalist Mariano Moreno (1778-1811) left the feeling of the «mercaderes bonaerenses» written for posterity:

«More than 300 trading ships enter in the port (of Buenos Aires); nearly 8 to 10 million products consumed by Peru pass through this channel; the considerable yerba of Paraguay or mate is stockpilled in our warehouses and distributed later in the different provinces; the negro-trading in the Americas became an exclusivity (of Buenos Aires); more than one million pieces of leather are exported from this district; the Port of the River Plate is the only safe harbor for strangers if they want to trade their products (…); there is no trading port in the world who doesn’t know about our fruits and our flag; this is the only people in the Americas who can call itself a merchant people». [4]

The «Buenosairean Mindset» was defined with ease by these words, written by one of the heroes of the Porteños. Mariano Moreno, appointed as Ambassador in Britain, died victim of typhoid fever while sailing the seas in a British ship and with a British Union Jack inside his coffin. His body was dropped in the Atlantic Ocean after an Anglican ceremony carried out by British sailors of the Royal Navy… ¡And this is what we would call «symbolism», in its full extent!

In the inminent cataclysm of the Independences of Hispanic America, the cast of actors already had very distinctive roles. On one hand, Buenos Aires and allies, who thought themselves as the «enlightened minority» with the alleged «manifest destiny» of ruling over the provinces with their Old-Regime-like and «reactionary lifestyles», in order to establish a modern and progressive regime in the River Plate, based on the ideas of British and French liberalism. Upon these false schemes the entire construction of the alleged «dominance» of the Porteños over the rest of the provinces were built. It was an arrogant and anomalous interpretation of the historical process that explains the birth of nations. And of course, everyone has the right to ask: on which authority Buenos Aires presented itself as the sole ruler and arbiter of the destiny of the River Plate? The far more ancient and aristocratic Asunción, the Imperial Mother of Cities, had at least the same rights to the claim. And that without mentioning Cordoba, Potosí or Chuquisaca, towns of erudite thinkers and doctors…

Precisely on the other hand, Paraguay stood as the opposition to everything Buenos Aires.

Against the absolutism and historical falsification of the Liberal School by Mariano Moreno and Bartolomé Mitre, many of the provinces succumbed and allowed the subjugation silently. Others held a passive and latent resistence. But with virile strength and noble potency, Paraguay prevailed against the insatiable ambition of the Porteños doctrinnaires, defending the hispanic tradition, the spirit of the native land and the authentic patriotism against the blatant impostures of foreign ideologies that were new chains of domination for the crumbling fragments of the Spanish Empire, and nothing more.

The Paraguayan voice was loud and clear, and had a distincive tone. It came from a man who later turned out to be the real mastermind of the «Counter-Revolution» that took place in the ancient and imperial City of Asunción. This man belonged to the tradition of the Conquistadores and the Comuneros, was educated by the scholasticism of the University of Cordoba and the Jesuitic Ways of his own nation. His existence was notorious enough for Thomas Carlyle to write about him in a laudatory and very peculiar style. [5]

The man who would, somehow, restore the Independent and Jesuitic Kingdom of Paraguay had a very euphonic name:

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia.

REFERENCES.

[1] Chaves, Osvaldo (1976): «La Formación del Pueblo Paraguayo», pages 31-40. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Artes Gráficas Negri.

[2] Barco de Centenera, Martín (1836): «La Conquista del Río de la Plata: Poema Histórico» (falsely entitled «La Argentina»), pages 23 and 36. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Imprenta del Estado.

[3] García Mellid (1963): «Proceso a los Falsificadores de la Historia del Paraguay», volume I, pages 79-80.

[4] Moreno, Mariano (1915): «Memorias sobre la Invasión de Buenos Aires por las Armas Inglesas», available in «Doctrina Democrática», page 285. Biblioteca Argentina, volume I. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Librería la Facultad.

[5] Carlyle, Thomas (1884): «Dr. Francia», pages 205-263. Available in «Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, 4», volume 16 of the «Complete Works», Sterling Edition. Boston, USA: Estes and Lauriat.

Emilio Urdapilleta

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