Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

"Dublin Traitors" or "Gallants of Dublin" the Argentine Newspapers and the Easter Rising

Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

"Dublin Traitors" or "Gallants of Dublin" the Argentine Newspapers and the Easter Rising

Article excerpt

"Sir Roger Casement Captured off Irish Coast". This was the main headline of the front page of Buenos Aires Herald on 25 April. The first article on that page gave detailed information about the arrest of "the arch-traitor" and, at the end, a subtitle "Capture of Dublin!: Amazing New York Story", under which it was succinctly reported that it was "also announced that the Irish volunteers have captured Dublin and are holding it".

The same happened in other Argentine daily newspapers, like La Nacion, La Prensa and The Standard: the first news of that key week in Ireland was about the former British diplomat and his failed landing of weapons, with a brief reference to unconfirmed news about problems in Dublin. The Standard even gave this latter cable the title "A Stupid Rumour", and added at the end: "Ed. Note: Our readers will understand this to refer to the insignificant Sinn Feinn [sic] movement described in other cables" (p. 13).

But during the following days the news about Casement received less attention: the Easter Rising occupied an important place on Argentine newspapers until the end of the executions of its leaders on 12 May. (1) The next pages will analyse the treatment of this news by some Buenos Aires papers: La Prensa, La Nacion, and Critica, which were printed in Spanish; and The Standard, the Buenos Aires Herald, and The Southern Cross, published in English. (2)

The Argentine newspapers examined

By 1916 La Prensa (1869) and La Nacion (1870) had been published for more than forty years and had grown "to be among the great daily papers of the world" (Murray 1919: 307). They belonged to the Paz and Mitre (3) families, respectively: in 1916 Jorge Mitre was the director of La Nacion, and Ezequiel Paz of La Prensa. More recently, Natalio Botana had founded Critica (1913-1962), an innovative newspaper of sensationalist tones (Beltran 1943: 257-63 and 279; Fernandez 1943: 113-22; De Marco 2006: 310-5 and 319-22).

Britain was an important topic in these newspapers. For example, in the case of La Prensa, "not only is all local news fully chronicled, but its correspondents all over the world send articles of great literary merit. The letters from the London correspondents, Mr. H. Nield and Sr. Ramirez [sic] de Maeztu, show perfect knowledge of all British movements, the lengthy articles from the pen of the latter showing a deep acquaintance with all phases of thought in Great Britain" (Pennington 1910: 284). (4)

This is not surprising since

Argentina in the early 20th century has a clear relationship to the western world. Its ruling classes admired and tried to imitate from France its culture, from England the economic development, and from Germany its militarism ... In 1914 the Third National Population Census was conducted; it reported a total of 7,885,237 inhabitants, of which 2,357,952 (30%) were foreigners, most of them Spaniards and Italians (Ramirez Bacca 2015: 192).

The pro-British attitude was related as well to the fact that "[t]here was probably a generally pro-Allied sentiment among the Argentine populace" (Dehne 2014: 155), which was reflected in its newspapers. Also, it should particularly be remembered that the United Kingdom had great influence in Argentina, not only on its economy, but also on its culture and way of life:

In 1900 British-owned companies accounted for almost 90 per cent of aggregate railway investment in Argentina and some 15 per cent of Argentina's total capital stock ... By 1913 Argentina alone absorbed almost half of Britain's exports to Latin America ... In Argentina ... the British and Anglo-Argentinian community, already 5,000-strong in the 1830s, had by 1914 expanded to 40,000--the largest British community outside the Empire. Several thousand lived on the pampa and in Patagonia, but the majority were concentrated in Buenos Aires ... They were served by two daily newspapers, the Standard and the Buenos Aires Herald. …

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