Antonio Rivero – another Argentine distortion of history

25 Aug

Yesterday, Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez, held a ceremony to commemorate the myth of the Gaucho Antonio Rivero who, she claims, hoisted an Argentine flag on the Falkland Islands in August of 1833 in defiance of the British authorities there.

Typically with Argentine versions of history, the truth is rather different. On August 26th, 1833 Antonio Rivero, a 26-year-old Guacho, led a riot over pay. The ‘Authority’ he attacked was that of Buenos Aires, and he, or one of his supporters, killed Jean Simon, the man designated as the Civil and Military Commander by Colonel Pinedo, who had been ejected from the Islands by the Royal Navy that January. In fact, all the people killed, were employees of Luis Vernet who had been designated Commander of East Falkland by Argentina in 1829, even though their president was warned in a diplomatic note that the islands were British, and had been since 1765. Vernet’s second-in-command, Matthew Brisbane, was amongst the dead.

This, from the report of Thomas Helsby, who survived the murderous attack.

“On the morning of the 26th of August as above mentioned, Captain Low left the colony in a whale boat with four hands, (viz) Faustin Martinez, Francis Muchado, Jose Manuel Prado, and the man of colour Antonio Manuel, for the purpose of sealing the North & South rocks, at the mouth of the sound, calling at Johnsons Harbour. About 10 AM of the same date, I walked down from Captain Brisbane’s house towards the store on the point, for the purpose of procuring some oil from William Dickson, whom I found with Henry Channen, Daniel McKay and Joseph Douglas, in the house of Antonio Wagner.

I returned immediately afterwards towards the flagstaff with Henry Channen, leaving the three aforementioned persons with Antonio Wagner, in his house. When I had passed the house of Antonio Santiago Lopez, I met Antonio Rivero, Jose Maria Luna, Juan Brasido, Manuel Gonzales, Luciano Flores, Manuel Godoy, Felipe Salagar and Lattorre, running towards the point armed with muskets, pistols, swords, dirks and knives. It was very evident they were going to kill someone, and I hastened towards the house of Captain Brisbane, for the purpose of informing him of what was going on.

On my arrival I was alarmed at finding the doors locked and after knocking some time, was surprised at learning from two of the women that the aforesaid eight men had killed Captain Brisbane, Juan Capitaz Simon (the Capitaz) and had left Don Ventura for dead, he having been wounded by a musket ball in his throat, his head cut open, and his hand almost cut off by a sword, afterwards he escaped by a back window, and reached the house of Antonina Roxa, about 50 or 60 yards distant. On my  way up from the point, I heard two musket shots fired at the house of Antonio Wagner, where they killed him, and William Dickson, to which two of the boat’s crew Joseph Douglas and Daniel McKay, were eye-witness. They then returned to the house of Captain Brisbane, and not finding the body of Don Ventura, searched for him and on finding him, he ran out, when I saw him killed by their firing 2 or 3 musket shots at him….”

Antonio Rivero did not raise any flag and the only British ‘Authority’ that he killed was the storeman, who had the job of raising the Union Jack every Sunday.

Argentina must be desperate for heroes if it allows this fantasy to continue.


2 Responses to “Antonio Rivero – another Argentine distortion of history”

  1. Don Alberto August 25, 2012 at 3:08 am #

    She’s more to be pitied than censured.

    Lt. Smith discovers the location of Antonio Rivero … he determined the following morning to betray his companions …”

    A true hero.

    • Biguggy April 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

      I liked her reference to him in her speech to C24, where she claimed he held out against British Forces. Lt Smith had 4 sailors with him on the Islands. There were more alleged criminals than garrison!
      As you say a real hero.

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