Woman as Witness: Essays on Testimonial Literature by Latin American Women

By Linda S. Maier; Isabel Dulfano | Go to book overview

The Aventuras and Infortunios
of Agustina Palacio de Libarona
on the Argentine Frontier 1840'41

MARY G. BERG

As Argentina reorganized after the fall of strongman Juan Manuel de Rosas in 1852, new president General Justo José de Urquiza commissioned a distinguished French scientist, Martin de Moussy, to undertake an extensive study of the geography and population of Argentina. 1 With such a broad mandate, it is not surprising that in July 1856, Moussy and his companion, Benjamin Poucel, were intrigued while in Tucumán by the rumor that there was a woman in Salta who had a story to tell. 2 They traveled four days on mule back to meet “La Heroína del Bracho” (“the heroine of Bracho”). On 25 July 1856, Poucel wrote to Félix Frías of his exciting discovery:

Existe en estas comarcas un ser angelical, y es una mujer argentina. Entre las miles
de víctimas de la era nefanda que tanto duelo causó, no habrá otro ejemplar de
virtud más sublime. No hay que recordar los males pasados; más vale ahogar esos
recuerdos en océanos de perdón y olvido. Pero ¿cómo se envolverían en un
mismo manto a las víctimas y a los sacrificadores de ellas? Es un deber presentar
a éstas con toda la pureza del sacrificio adornado con sus virtudes y nunca Buenos
Aires habrá hecho demasiado para consolar a las provincias hermanas por los desór-
denes y calamidades que el Buenos Aires de aquel entonces causó a sus hermanas.
(Villafañe 108)

There is an angelical being in this territory, and she's an Argentine woman. Among the thousands of victims of that infamous period that caused so much suffering, there is no greater example of sublime virtue. It is unnecessary to recall that terrible period; it is far better to drown those memories in oceans of forgiveness and forgetfulness. But must we also forget the victims and those who sacri

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