It’s been awhile since I posted one of my presidential walks – having left off with Vicente Lopéz, the interim president for a mere five or six weeks after the first real elected president, Rivadavia, had been forced to resign over scandals in negotiations with Brazil. That brings us to Manuel Dorrego (monument above is in front of the government offices at Suipacha and Viamonte), born 1787, grew up in a nice middle class family, nothing of great distinction noted during his childhood or adolescence, and, eventually found himself studying law. At some point during his studies, towards the end of the first decade of the 19th century, he was caught up in the tides of change, dropped out of school and headed into the army, under the command of General Belgrano, where he distinguished himself enough to rise to the rank of Colonel. In 1814 he returned to Buenos Aires, where he took up his studies again, but also took up pen and paper, scribing various anti-royalist sentiments that, in 1816, under the government of Pueyrredón, got him kicked out of the country into exile. He made his way to Baltimore and spent a couple of years there enjoying crabcakes and crab bashes, the latter to serve him well in his later years….
Returning in 1820, after Pueyrredón was out of office, and enamored with the idea of Federalism and Democracy, he took up pen and paper once again, and got actively involved in politics, serving for part of the “Era of Anarchy” as governor of Buenos Aires, then headed off to Bolivia, and then returning to Buenos Aires where he became known for his fiery oratorical skills in advancing the cause of federalism, and went on to win the elected position of a sort of joint governorship and executive leader of the country (referred to as “Governor of Buenos Aires in Charge of International Relations for the Republic of Argentina, loosely translated) on August 3rd of 1827. Immediately taking up the resolution of the mess with Brazil left behind by Rivadavia, he negotiated a peace settlement with Brazil over the independence of the territory that became modern day Uruguay, certainly his most notable achievement during his term in office. But federalism did not sit well with everyone, and while he was off in Uruguay, his childhood friend, late become political opponent, Juan Lavalle, marched on the capital with a sufficient army at his back to take over the country. Dorrego’s attempt to return with the aid of forces from the Banda Oriental, as Uruguay was known, only resulted in his capture. While apparently the plan, at first, was to simply jail him and then, perhaps, send him back into exile, on the day of his transfer from a military prison to a political prison, a conflict arose between various factions that wanted different things both for the government and for Dorrego’s future, and in a pause at, I believe, the modern day Plaza de Mayo, where he requested an audience with Lavalle, instead the latter sent out a military detail with orders to execute him via firing squad. He was given an hour to write some letters to put his affairs in order – he wrote three, one to a lifelong friend, one to his wife, and one to his daughter, and then was summarily shot – the description of the execution is pretty graphic, but essentially resulted in a near complete decapitation by bullet-fire.
The avenue that bears his name, fittingly runs from the working/middle class neighborhoods of Chacarita, Villa Crespo and La Paternal, more or less at a point that they all come together, and then straddles the line between the first two, then cuts across Chacarita, into Palermo and finally Las Cañitas, ending at the domestic airport.
Dorrego starts at Avenida Warres, an area mostly populated by auto parts stores and auto repair shops.
Within a couple of blocks it passes under the San Marín train line.
And pops up next to a huge casino. I don’t know why, but I was under the impression that casinos were illegal within city limits, and that’s the reason the big casino in Puerto Madero is on a floating barge, off-shore.
The pretty two-block stretch of the Parque del Ejercito de los Andes (the park of the Andean army), is off to the left and reaches to Chacarita Cemetery, a fascinating little side trip should you care to make it. You could also make a couple of block side trip, should it be a Wednesday or Saturday, to El Galpón, the organic market.
After crossing Av. Corrientes the area becomes much more residential, tree-line streets, it’s really quite pretty.
Not everything is rosy, though for someone living on the street, whomever has this setup seems to have figured a way to make it rather cozy.
I am, of course, always hungry, and spotting a branch of Le Blé, the main location of which is on nearby Av. Álvarez Thomas, I decided to stop in for a light bite.
One of the best croque madame sandwiches I think I’ve ever had. Absolutely delicious! And accompanied by an excellent lemonade, I was restored to vigor for the next stretch.
For the most part, not a whole lot architecturally interesting on this walk, but, here and there.
The area turns a bit more industrial, and there’s the famous, or perhaps infamous, Mercado de las Pulgas – Flea Market – known for everything from used furniture, odds and ends, to drug traffic, to being a center of anti-government political activism.
The whole neighborhood near to here is filled with secondhand furniture shops – it’s a great place to get deals on things you need for your home if you’re local.
Somebody help me out here. I’ve looked at a dozen different maps and every one of them says this huge building complex is something different, from residential to office, to the Edesur power company headquarters, to a school, to the government site of an unnamed ministry. And asking the guard at the gate got me nowhere, just an order to go away and not ask questions.
The street crosses the Mitre train line, and then more or less shadows it for much of the rest of the walk.
Coming out of the industrial area, we reach the crossover point where Av. Santa Fé changes to Av. Cabildo, Dorrego being the dividing line.
On the far side is the army’s war college, presumably where officers train to conduct them. And that seems a good stopping point for this post, a bit more than halfway physically – the rest in the next post….