History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter IV

History of Paraguay contra its Falsifiers: Chapter IV

A Tale of Two Cities.

Asunción and Buenos Aires were like night and day. The «Mother of Cities» was aristocratic, centerplace of the Spanish Conquista of the early XVI Century in the River Plate Basin. The «landed gentry» and minor nobility of that Glorious Kingdom (of the Houses Trastámara and Habsburg in Madrid) were the backbone of the new Paraguayan nation by blending themselves with the Guaranís. Very loyal to King and Pope thanks to their lineage and their Jesuitic Education, and despite the downgrading into a secondary and «distant from the metropoli» town by the late XVIII Century, Asunción represented everything noble, traditional, hispanic and catholic in the region. On the other hand, the «City of the Porteños» became relevant with the establishment of the Viceroyalty of the River Plate (thanks to the modernist reforms of the House Bourbon, most especially the «Reglamento de Libre Comercio», free trade rules of 1778), gaining economic power thanks to their port and customs through tariffs and taxation and thanks to the new «merchant bourgeoisie» with their liberal and progressivist ideas inspired by British and French «enlightened» authors. By 1810, Buenos Aires was «de facto» an economical, cultural and intelectual «colony» of England, as explained by the Argentine philosopher Marcelo Gullo:

«(The French Revolution) was the first major and silent triumph of the soft-power-domination of Britain through ideological subversion, and in Hispanic America another victory would arrive… In Buenos Aires («Fatherland of Merchants»), the pseudo intelectuals of the higher-and-middle class would become collaborationists and utterly obsecuent to the British Invasion of the River Plate (1806-1807)… For the «Porteño Elite», formed through smuggling and piracy, the arrival of Britain into the River Plate Regions was hailed as the definitive victory for their principles of free trade and liberalism». [1]

Of course, the Provinces of the Viceroyalty had totally different principles in mind. The Defense and Reconquista against the foreign and perfidious aggressor became a battle cry. From Peru, supplies and money came for the support of the hispanic soldiers. The rest of the provinces gave their blood quota. Paraguay, as usual, did an enormous war effort for the struggle against the British Invader, providing around 1,500 – 2,000 men in the two campaigns. The Paraguayan soldiers were the finest of the region because they had to fight constantly against the Chaco Indians and the Portuguese advance in the ill-defined borders of the two enormous Empires of Spain and Portugal in the Americas. The Commander in Chief and greatest hero of the «Defensa y Reconquista» was Don Santiago de Liniers, a French-born Spaniard who served in his Catholic Majesty’s Navy and was Governor of the Jesuit Missions of Paraguay some months before the British Invasion (replaced in that role by Don Bernardo de Velasco, another hero of the «Defensa and Reconquista» who became Governor of Paraguay and the Jesuit Missions until 1811). [2]

For the «provincianos», chiefly represented by Asunción, it was all about saving the Fatherland from the invader and fighting for God, King and Country. For the «porteños» of Buenos Aires and their enablers, it was about fighting for the principles of British Liberalism and French Revolution. At last, on August 15, 1807, the last soldiers of Britain surrendered to the hispanic troops led by Don Santiago de Liniers, who later became Viceroy of the River Plate by popular acclamation.

The Spaniard Cities of Toledo (up) and Valladolid (down) in the famous "Civitates Orbis Terrarum" of the XVI Century by Hohenberg and Braun. Asunción and Buenos Aires were like night and day: the first city being the aristocratic "landed gentry" made of descendants of the noble Conquistadores while the second city was formed by a cosmopolitan "merchant bourgeoisie" thanks to its port next to the Atlantic Ocean. [Image: Wikimedia Commons].
The Spaniard Cities of Toledo (up) and Valladolid (down) in the famous «Civitates Orbis Terrarum» of the XVI Century by Hohenberg and Braun. Asunción and Buenos Aires were like night and day: the first city being the aristocratic «landed gentry» made of descendants of the noble Conquistadores while the second city was formed by a cosmopolitan «merchant bourgeoisie» thanks to its port next to the Atlantic Ocean. [Image: Wikimedia Commons].

But the British Invasions «setted the stage» for the clashes between the two sides of the coin in the River Plate Basin. All the «criollos and mestizos» celebrated the victory, however, each side had a different idea of how the future endeavors of the Provinces in the Viceroyalty had to be dealt with.

The Buenosaireans saw themselves as the providential incarnation of the new liberal doctrines from France and Britain and they were ready to enforce that arbitrary will upon the rest of the provinces. The alleged «enlightened minority» of the port attributed to itself imaginary rights only by self-proclaiming them. The «próceres» of Buenos Aires, without any authority or consent from the rest of the population, tried to impose themselves as the leaders of the former Viceroyalty. Behind all these absurdities, the «hidden hand» of freemasonry was easily spotted. In fact, today it is well established that the majority of the «próceres porteños» were members of masonic lodges which were established at the beginning of the XIX Century, most likely months before the British Invasion of 1806-1807 (they were the «collaborationists» and later, they became the «freedom fighters» for the «Revolución de Mayo»). The two main lodges of Buenos Aires were «Logia Lautaro» (where Gen. José de San Martín was initiated, though later he would renounce to his membership after many troubles he had to face because of the intrigues of his fellow masons) and the «Logia de los Caballeros de América» (the «Knights of America», where the more revolitionary and radical «próceres porteños» were fanatic militants and where they designed, according to a former member, Vicente Fidel López, «the most tenebrous associations of death, extermination and corruption». [3]

The enigma was crystal clear for anyone who dared to open his eyes. The «School of Thought» of the Porteño Doctrinnaires was very simple: they would impose the British and French Liberalism through the political will and power of Buenos Aires to the «reactionary» and «retrograde» provinces. This is well summarized by the acute writings of a staunch «porteñista», the Argentine Professor José Luis Romero:

«The populace of the countryside, as a whole, lacked of the most basic doctrinnaire instruction and of the most simple political experience to assimilate the fundamentals of the new institutional system that was imposed by the porteño group in the New State… With the eruption of the liberal ideologies, the mentality (of the provincianos) reacted with all the vigour and strength of blind convictions, refusing to do any examination and repudiating anything that was meant to give freedom of conscience and freedom of political will, and the dissidence against the enlightened elite of Buenos Aires started immediately… Contrary to the organic doctrinnaire democracy (of Buenos Aires), the remnants of the colonial spirit, surviving in the rural population and in all the provinces (of the former Viceroyalty of the River Plate), stood up under the guidance of a fierce anti-liberal sentiment». [4]

This powerful resentment had obvious reasons. The people, with the exception of the «happy merchant» porteños, was overwhelmingly against these foreign ideologies, preferring to defend their hispanic traditions. From the very beginning, the emnity between the «Liberal City» of Buenos Aires and the «Traditionalist City» of Asunción was settled. If more evidence is needed, this is explained by the arch-liberal Gen. Bartolomé Mitre, of course, from a «partocratic» perspective:

«The Federal Party, originated by the hatred towards the Capital, represented, more than an order of ideas, just a system of hostility against Buenos Aires. Despite this, it never lacked of proselytes in the Capital… These particrates (of the provinces), devoid of any political morality and of any practical sense, united themselves… They were men of good faith but short vision, they thought they could avoid the perils of the situation by reducing the Capital into the conditions of becoming a mere province, and through this act, they thought they could remove the causes of rivalry between her and the other towns… But being Buenos Aires the one and only possible basis for a general government, the only centerplace from where a vigorous impulse and a massive number of resources could be sent to be put in the service of the community, her isolation, once she was constituted into a federal province, meant in fact a real national dissolution, another advantage for the enemy (Spain) and another hazard for the Revolution». [5]

Once again, the falsifiers of the history of the River Plate pretending and trying to impose their doctrines as facts. The Provinces, for sure, strived for a political union based on common grounds and federalist ideals, pretty much in the style of the Old Regime of the Spanish Empire with the «regionalist» concepts. The Catholic Kings of Spain («the enemy» for Mitre) ruled their realms giving great autonomy to their different territories, something that changed with the centralist and absolutist stance of the Bourbon Kings. The Buenosaireans, thinking themselves as the «continuation» of the Viceroyalty of the River Plate (without any authority at all to support that claim), never resigned to the idea of an «unitarian» Republic and the Paraguayan War (1864-1870) can be considered as the final act of that long and persistent struggle of the «Porteños» to impose themselves and to destroy their historical and fiercest enemy in Asunción. That’s why, for the «Escuela Histórica» of Mitre and his sidekickers, absolutely nothing could have been done without Buenos Aires, absolutely nothing could have been done without enforcing the anglo-frankish ideologies of revolution and liberalism propelled by the cosmopolitan «merchant bourgeoisie» of the Porteños against the aristocratic «landed gentry» of the Asunceños.

But just to give some hard data to prove how the Porteños overestimated themselves, let’s compare the number of inhabitants in the Province of Buenos Aires versus the Province of Paraguay in the period of 1780-1810.

In 1786, the Governor of Paraguay Don Pedro Melo de Portugal completed a census of the province under his rule. In his report, the number of souls in Asunción and the rest of the country was 97,480 (in 53 parishes of whites and mestizos, 14 reductions of natives and 3 villages of afro people). And this number did not include vast extensions of Paraguayan territories where the census couldn’t arrive, nor villages and military outposts in distant locations, nor the «tribes of Mocobies, Abipones, Tobas, Lenguas, Vilelas, Payaguás, Mbayás, Guanás and Monteces», that is, the Guaraní tribes who lived unmolested in the Jungles of Paraguay. [6]

Buenos Aires could not stand against those superior numbers. The official census of the «Porteño» City and Province gave pale figures in 1778: even including distant military outposts and villages way outside of Buenos Aires’ sphere of influence, the number of inhabitants of the proud province was at 24,754 in the city and 15,425 souls in the countryside. ¡They barely reached 40,000 populants at the end of the XVIII Century! [7] Yet somehow, they thought themselves as the «masters» of the River Plate.

Against the unitary centralization and absolutism of Buenos Aires, Paraguay defended the idea of the Confederation, more akin to the hispanic traditions that held together the largest continuous empire the world has ever seen during nearly four centuries. But, strictly speaking, with this paragraph we are arriving to the conclusion of this chapter and the prelude for the coming one. In 1810 AD, the Provinces of the Spanish Empire in the River Plate Basin started a Revolution… Buenos Aires took the lead…

The «Junta de Mayo» was established.


[1] Gullo, Marcelo (2013): «La Historia Oculta: La Lucha del Pueblo Argentino por su Independencia del Imperio Inglés», pages 59 and 63. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Biblos Historia.

[2] «Asunción Salva a Buenos Aires de los Ingleses (1806-1807)», article by Urdapilleta, Emilio. Published in «El Parlante» (Asunción), 2 May 2020. Link: https://elparlante.com.py/historia-del-paraguay/asuncion-salva-a-buenos-aires-de-los-ingleses-1806-1807/

[3] García Mellid (1963): «Proceso a los Falsificadores de la Historia del Paraguay», volume I, pages 96-97.

[4] Romero, José Luís (1946): «Las Ideas Políticas de la Argentina», pages 69-70 and 99-100. Colección Tierra Firme, 25. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

[5] Mitre, Bartolomé (1887): «Historia de Belgrano y de la Independencia Argentina», volume II, chapter XXVII, pages 364-365. 4th Edition in III volumes. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Félix Lejouane Editor.

[6] «Informe del Cabildo de la Ciudad de Asunción a la Corona, elevado por el Gobernador Don Pedro Melo de Portugal». Archivo General de Indias (Sevilla, España), 124, I, 3. Cited by García Mellid (1963) op. cit. volume I, pages 112 – 113. Here, our inspiration for this series makes a little mistake (which I corrected): he confused Don Lázaro de Ribera with Don Pedro Melo de Portugal.

[7] Treilles, Manuel Ricardo (1871): «Registro Estadístico del Estado de Buenos Aires, 1859», I. Volume I of the «Revista del Archivo General de Buenos Aires». Buenos Aires, Argentina: Gobierno de la Provincia.

Emilio Urdapilleta