imagesAn ancient map of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, published in 1826 in the United States, shows an interesting overview of the main features of the young nation. With reference to its history, makes an interesting and detailed account referred to the two British invasions, highlighting the courage of the citizens of a defenseless Buenos Aires against the huge invasion force. An authentic and high testimonial value!

…“Nothing of moment appears in the history of Buenos Ayres, until July, 1806, when the capital was taken by surprise by British Army under general Beresford which suddenly invaded the country. These troops proceeding from the Cape of Good Hope, found the country entirely defenseless, there been only handful of regular troops, and the militia being unarmed and undisciplined. The British enjoyed their triumph only a few weeks, when a small body of the militia under de command of General Liniers, a French officer, invested the city, and force them to surrender at discretion, on the 12th of August. Soon after the surrender of general Beresford’s army, another body of troops, in number about 5.000, arrived from the Cape of Good Hope, under sir Home Popham; who, after taking the Fort Maldonado and the mouth of La Plata, laid siege of Monte Video. The Spanish garrison made a resolute and glorious defense, and finally compelled the besiegers to withdraw disgracefully from the contest. Other troops arrived some time afterwards, under Sir Samuel Auchmuty, and the number of the British bearing a vast superiority over that of the garrison, another attempt was made, and the town was finally carried by storm, after a defense which reflects the highest honor upon its little garrison. It was now determined by the British commanders to proceed against Buenos Ayres, as soon as certain expected reinforcement arrived.

10056In May, 1807, these succors arrived under general Whitelocke, who assumed the chief command, and was joined on the 15th of June by General Crawford. The invading army now amounted to upwards of 12.000 men, all regular disciplined soldiers. On the appointed day they embarked in boats and sailing up the river, debarked below the capital. They were permitted to approach the town without molestation; but no sooner had they entered it, than they were received by the indignant inhabitants with one tremendous and well-directed fire of grape and musketry. Every house was converted into a fortress, from which vengeance was poured out upon the invaders of the soil. The British troops were thrown into confusion, and endeavored to find safety in a disgraceful flight. General Whitelocke, finding that the patriotism of the people was not to be overcome, and having no means of escape, surrendered this formidable army prisoners of war to the militia of Buenos Ayres, and thus ended the second British invasion of this province.
At the time that this edition was published the war that the nation of the North had again engaged with Great Britain in 1812 by the expansion and consolidation of its territory, was still vivid in the US. Thus an undoubted sympathy with the facts of South America was shown.

But what is important today is the attitude and determination of the inhabitants of the small urban settlement that served as the nascent Buenos Aires port facing a colossal invading force.

imagesCAC5N2E4Almost 200 years after that unequal feat that seemed impossible, the Argentinians seem to be far from taking a more active and effective participation in the life of the country, leaving aside the lethargy, that hypnosis for the everyday life, by a society devoid of goals and aspirations for their future, and that of their children and grandchildren. The request of Ortega y Gasset of 1939, during his third visit to Argentina, Argentinians! Take actions!” should be resonating in the subconscious of locals. And he added “leave aside previous personal issues, those of suspicion, of narcissism. You cannot imagine the huge bounce that that action would give this country. That should happen the day that its men resolve once and for ever to, bravely face issues personally, deal with and worry about them directly instead of living on the defensive and having locked and paralyzed their spiritual powers, which are egregious, their curiosity, acumen, their mental clarity abducted by intimate complexes. A.

(Marta Bentolila, thanks for your help!)

Buenos Aires, Argentina. November 2013.

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  1. The 1st Infantry Regiment "Los Patricios" (Regimiento de Infantería 1 "Los Patricios") is the oldest and one of the most prestigious regiments of the Argentine Army. The title is often shortened to the Patricians' Regiment (Regimiento de Patricios). Since the 1990s the regiment has been designated as air assault infantry. It is also the custodian of the Buenos Aires Cabildo, the welcoming party for visiting foreign dignitaries to Argentina and the escort and honor guard battalion for the City Government of Buenos Aires. Since 22 September 2010, the Regiment's headquarters building has been a National Historical Monument following a declaration by the Argentine government on the occasion of the country's bicentennial year.
    The regiment was formed as the Legión Patricia ("Patricians' Legion) from inhabitants of Buenos Aires in 1806 to fight against the British invasions of the Río de la Plata. Among some of its first members it included a woman, the Alférez (approximately, second lieutenant) Manuela Pedraza, one of the heroes of the Defense of Buenos Aires in 1806. The regiment therefore existed prior to Argentine independence. Their first commander was Cornelio Saavedra.

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  2. Regimental March "El Uno Grande" (The Great One)[edit]

    Composed by Campos Pinto and Otantino Ambrosi, this is the official regimental march of the Patricios Regiment, played by the Tacuari Drummer Regimental Band.

    Lyrics in English[edit]

    (Here is) The Great One of all the greats
    Sentinels on attention, always alert,
    Formed from the caverns of the Andes
    In the crucial hours of the Fatherland.

    For the Patricians, that war cry
    The Fatherland that very May responded
    Because brave Saavedra prepared it all,
    These Buenos Aires heroes live on.(repeat verse 1, then instrumental trio)

    Various bugles sound these brave notes of war throughout the land
    Coming from the confines of the hills, plains and mountains
    And from that day the Fatherland's voice came to us,
    Remembrances come from various persons illustrious
    In Curupayti, Salta and Tucuman, the pennants in remembrance still waved. (optional repeat)

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