Between May and October 1946, over 170 male and female peasants walked for about 2,000 km from the northern Argentina province of Jujuy to Buenos Aires to ask the government the recognition of their property rights on the ancestral lands appropriated by large landowners, mostly of colonial origin. The march took the name of Malón de la Paz – Peace Raid –, a peaceful interpretation of the armed incursion (malón, from the Mapudungun malók) once carried out by the native people against the colonial settlers and their descendants.
The Museo del Camminare presents here the first English translation of the travel diary that Hermógenes Cayo (1907-1967) wrote in the immediate aftermath of the march.Read More
The opportunity for the land rights march was also given to the participants by the victory in the February 1946 election of the Labour Party, whose leader Juan Perón would become President of Argentina on 4 June 1946. During his electoral campaign, Perón hinted to the expropriation of lands in favour of the peasants and this created expectations among the native population. The Peace Raid’s unofficial leadership of Mario Augusto Bertonasco, retired lieutenant and officer of that Secretariat for Labour and Social Welfare that Perón had established in 1943, has been interpreted (see Marcelo Valko, Los indios invisibles del Malón de la Paz, Buenos Aires 2007) as evidence of the initial support that the Argentinian President would have given to the Peace Raid and the native peoples’ land claims. The hopes for a land reform, however, were let down soon after the Peace Raid arrived to Buenos Aires. After welcoming the marchers from the balcony of the Casa Rosada, President Perón gave order to repatriate them at the end of August 1946 and in November he claimed that they did not represent the indigenous people of the northern provinces.
In spite of its sad and unsuccessful ending, the long walk made by the Peace Raid participants in 1946 was the first collective protest staged in Argentina against a profoundly unequal land tenure, which benefited large landowners while discriminating against peasants in terms of land access and security, often obliging them to pay tribute to the land elite.
To date, most land claims are still unsettled and many indigenous communities in Argentina are fighting for the recognition of their rights to ancestral lands. In the north of Argentina, a second Peace Raid was carried out on 7 August 2006, when members of twenty native communities in the Province of Jujuy walked for one day and a half to Purmamarca to claim the restitution of their ancestral lands. In the south, the Mapuche legitimate resistance against land dispossession dates to the 1870s and 1880s, when the Argentine State seized huge extensions of their ancestral lands and sold them to British companies. In 1991, after a decade of nationalisation of these lands, the State sold them again to other foreign companies, among which the global fashion brand Benetton Group plays a dominant role. Since then, the Mapuche land claims as well as their resistance against eviction and unrestrained exploitation of natural resources were met with the abuses and violence committed by both federal and company’s security forces, as international human rights organisations including Amnesty International have repeatedly reported.
Hermógenes Cayo (1907-1967) was born in Miraflores de la Candelaria, Province of Jujuy and worked as woodcarver and painter of religious figures. He participated in the Peace Raid and began to write a diary during and in the immediate aftermath of the travel. His account, of which the Museo del Camminare presents here the first English translation, is an outstanding testimony of that journey in quest of social justice and land reform. Characterised by the simplicity of its narration and imbued with religiosity, Cayo’s journal is a moving account of a defeat, not a surrender. In spite of the sad ending of the Peace Raid, his faith in justice is not broken and, as he writes in the conclusion, ‘a day will come...’. The translation – which is based on the Diario de viaje de Hermógenes Cayo, Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández, 2007 – does not reflect the spelling errors in the source, while adds bracketed punctuation only when necessary.
Hermógenes Cayo's life was documented by the Argentine filmmaker Jorge Preloran in the film Hermógenes Cayo (Imaginero) (1969), from which the excerpts that accompany the text are taken. In the videos below, Hermógenes Cayo talks about the Peace Raid more than twenty years later (English subtitles by Museo del Camminare).
Cover photo: March of Native Peoples. Walk for Truth towards a Plurinational State, Buenos Aires, 2010, Periodismohumano, Pancho Ciavaglia.
Sliding photos: historic images of the 1946 Malon and, in colour, of the 2006 Malon.
In this distinguished city of Our Lady of Buenos Aires, on the 27th of August in the year of Our Lord 1946, at 2pm in the hall of immigrants on the 3rd floor, in the dormitory No. 5, I rewrite this in the name of God and the Virgin and believing in the Church and its Saints and ministers of God and the other righteous people of the earth, and let this be done may peace reign in the whole Nation of Argentina and the other sister nations, may God Our Lord bless my writing and my divine mother of Copacabana and Luján, and having faith in her I put my pen in this little book of grace and spikes of history, and for the Pearl of Miraflores de la Candelaria, to what begins in this way devoutly.
From Miraflores de la Candelaria I began my journey on the 17th of May 1946 at 12pm, sad and gloomy with pain in the heart together with the precious little Virgin in my arms, in the company of Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant Mr Augusto Bertonazco, head of the Peace Raid for the roads of our Country, we left making a caravan of people on foot by land and also accompanying the other four brothers who, other than Lieutenant Bertonazco, were Messrs Francisco Kemer, Horacio Vallejo, Carlos Ruiz Allen, Galindo Tamer Maquiero, we left Miraflores de la Candelaria[.] this committee visited my sad house in the Sanctuary of the Milagrosa Virgen de Copacabana accompanied by the children of the School No. 124 of my principal, Mrs Dominga Mercedes Catalán, then we left sad, melancholic, fearful; leaving my family in such a distress with no food stock in the pantry,[.] and with no money I left without a coat to wear in the journey, in the middle of a strong wind that was running and beating the small dark face of my dear Mother, the miraculous Virgin of Copacabana,[.] we start the walk, proud and strong, with the flag that visited the niche [of the Virgin’s statue] with my colours blue and white, through the dry and sad fields of my homeland of Miraflores de la Candelaria; across the Rio de las Doncellas, some on foot, some on horseback,[.] and in the middle of these sand dunes the wind strongly pushes against the holy image of the Most Holy Virgin, which goes uncovered in such a long journey. Tired by the hills and the hardships, we go through Tambillos shaken by the wind blowing against us[.] with my knapsack, tired I arrive at the school in which we listen to the children singing the songs of the brutal carnival. And there, my royal sleep on a desk together with Saint Gerónimo and the national flag[.] my resonant sikuri [pan flute] made of cane unspoiled by the winds is heard, and a little cup of coffee, thanks to their attentions, as I had nothing in my knapsack: only three bread loaves and my little bag of coca leaves, which I was chewing unceasingly for the pain I had in my heart only the Virgin knows[.] later we head to Casabindo and Mr Pablo Gutiérrez asks for my beloved Mother’s blessing, for a sick member of his family[.] and then the walk continues[.] at sunset of the chilly and cold evening, the wind is whispering unceasingly sad during the evening of the 17th of May[.] when night falls we reach Casabindo[.] one can already hear the hurrahs in the village, and the humble bells ring when my precious Queen arrives and they welcome her with a harmonious melody[.] the people of Casabindo patrol aside[.] at the sound of a harsh drum the men leave marching in two columns, and the women on the other side[.] the Raid breaks in at a gallop and stops in the square in front of the historic sanctuary of Our Lady of the Asunción a los Cielos[.] and then after welcome and salutation they move to the municipal council and a speech made by our brother Bertonasco is heard with some applauses[.] later in the night I look for an accommodation at Mr Carmen Vilte’s house, with my precious Mother in my frozen arms, and hungry enough to only savour a coffee and then a cheerful conversation[.] and my adored Mother rests in the sad little house, the saddest of all and after that I lay down sorrowful for the tiredness of the day and at the same time cheerful I dreamed of the long journey that will mortify my route.
And the next day the 18th in the morning getting myself ready with sadness and sorrow only breakfast and after chewing my coca leaves as usual I figure out the long territory and a heavy day to Agua Caliente[.] this day I have faith in my adored Mother thinking that I won’t get tired and hungry perhaps or how it will be. Like in the land of Miraflores, the people and my neighbours remained looking and with a great strain, similarly, around ten in morning, a column is formed in front of the church and they enter the church, and pray in front of the Virgin on the altar, asking her holy blessing[.] and later the singing with my sikuri, the greeting to the Virgin of Copacabana and her song[.] like in the night what a sorrow and I greet Mary of Copacabana the traveller and brave Mother the Queen of the natives beautiful like the morning dawn she shines like a star never seen before what a joy[.] and then the caravan leaves and the blue and white flag of my beloved Country sets out in search of peace and justice[.] and we went out on the dusty way leading to Agua Caliente[.] march and march and my sikuri alone was playing again the sad farewell song, which was the song that the devotees offer her at my historic niche of Miraflores de la Candelaria[.] and I keep walking through this long terrain a beautiful journey but tiring[.] half way we rested; and then we walked[.] at sunset we arrive at Agua Caliente, tired and hungry[.] my adored Mother always in my arms[.] tonight she rests in the chapel of this neighbourhood and later in the night I pray the rosary and then sleep[.] my feet aching, my sleep heavy[.] on the 19th before the rise of a cold chilly impossible sun uncomfortable fire to warm us with and then talks, getting oneself ready, and leaving, towards Quebrada de las Leñas[.] I look at the day long and full of sand hills[.] sad when I think to Buenos Aires it seems nowhere to us far away are the first days, days of 10 leagues[.] how afflicted I would be if I get tired during the journey I still don’t know, poor me I only trust my beloved Mother who will take me on her maternal wings! How much I owe to this Queen!
And then we restarted the journey with the whole caravan[;] it was around 10am[.] a nice day there was no wind[.] we set off some on foot, some on horseback, and we already see our fellows en route with their little donkeys heading to Buenos Aires with their load, like us[.] and then at about two or three leagues from Agua Caliente further into the land bordered by sandy hills we met the others there[.] and once all together, we rest with those of Cochinoca and we say a prayer to our Mother and then a stone is erected and this meeting is given the name of “the land of the fraternities” of the fellows who are part of the Peace Raid on the roads of the motherland[.] it was 12pm, and the national flag was waving the nice blue and white colours in this land full of glory and joy[,] and already resolute to go on good spirits, courage, lift up your hearts, the roads are ours[.] Buenos Aires our courage freedom, justice, and the Virgin of Copacabana she will lead us.
Then we continue walking already in front of Agua de Castilla, and soon beyond the thirst afflicts my brothers[.] we look for water and there is none and the little animals our donkeys and horses hoofprint after hoofprint, follow the path and at last the sun ends the journey[.] it goes on during the night in the middle of some shrublands and water holes[.] darker is the night one cannot see anything[.] a small group got lost cries are heard[:] that is not the right path! and then we join together again[.] some lose part of their load, and the houses of Quebrada de las Leñas are not in sight[.] in the night cries and cries at last we see the firelight from a distance and through cliffs and rugged slopes we finally reach a house in which we lodge[.] our queen I did not see her nor where she was[.] it was painful but I trusted her[.] at last breakfast and then I slept in a very narrow space what a discomfort. Long journey, the 20th of May was an 11-league day heading to Colorado at the school building, when the sun was at its highest point we left[.] I remained with three little donkeys I don’t remember if my Queen was with me or not[.] the pilgrimage went on through the corner of Mt Piscuno, and from there it headed straight to Colorado[.] they left us well behind[.] it seemed like a procession[.] a large troop of people was going raising a dust cloud through a vast stretch of sandy area and sand hills and thirst mortified us and tiredness[.] finally close to sunset we reach Colorado lost tired the feet aching and they care for us once more and then to sleep in the open field, my Queen in the school building.
On the 21st of May very early let’s lift up our hearts and at sunrise we leave through a gorge with big rocks and a horrible crag[.] it is a twelve-league day towards Punta Ciénaga near Purmamarca[.] on this day we walked, a steep and sandy gorge through beautiful big red rocks in a huge mountain this climbing to Colorado and my pan flute is heard[.] it looked like a temple for the roar and noise of the wind and then around noon we climb the large slope of Sepultura and finally we reach the top[.] one can see the valleys of Quebrada de Humahuaca and the blue distances of southern Argentina and the paths that go downhill[.] on such a high peak the wind was whispering[.] my Queen in my arms and with my little bundle and my knapsack together with some friends we began to descend a rock step below the rocky path which winded through the slope until entering into Quebrada de Sepultura[.] that day the wind was howling through the mountain range and later in the evening the national flag passes through that gorge and the people look at us astonished and motionless stopping to work on their activities and when the sun is at its highest point we arrive at the school of Punta Ciénaga tired the feet aching and we look for a place where we can take a coffee[.] there is no firewood[,] we go out in search of it during the night and finally we managed to have breakfast and then we could sleep and the wind was howling fiercely[.] it seemed to be an earthquake[.] the trees were threatening us with their branches[.] and in just a moment I fell asleep uncomfortable in a small corner of a kitchen and thinking about the distant journey and about my home that remained far behind what a sorrow. Only my little Virgin comforted me when I saw her, what a comfort,[.] and the little donkeys on the terrible slope were looking for a way down but they were going in line but one of them arrived injured, the poor[.] how much will suffer this little animal it belonged to Mr Leoncio Cusi, and the little dog also walking without being able to put one paw on the ground it wanted to share life with us, at night it looks after the caravan, the loyal animal, the little dog is a dogo with long black hair[,] the owners seem to feel sorry for the injured paw they are sad. This little dog belongs to Mr Leoncio Cusi and Mrs Elisea de Cusi[.] this lady is also a little sick and therefore should be very careful[.] Buenos Aires is far away[.] we hear saying what a pity and if we don’t get what we hope for.
The 22nd of May is a 14-league day to [Cu]yruru, let’s lift up our hearts! The caravan is on the move, it parades at daybreak[.] it travels all day tired hoping only to get to the end of the day[.] I carry my Queen in my arms happy today[.] how cold is the Quebrada de Tumbaya clouded over and it drizzles. Only my Queen knows[.] the sight of her image comforts me and my eyes see with tears her precious face of my dark Mother[.] how happy I feel[.] the people was looking with curiosity at the white and blue[.] where will they go? they ask themselves[.] nobody knows. Finally in the evening we get to a street corner before reaching Volcán[.] it is the campsite[.] we spend the night there and we sleep out in the open[.] the sky was our roof cold and chilly and hurrah for the Peace Raid on the Roads of the Motherland.
The 23rd of May this really was a fierce day[.] from there to Reyes early in the night at 1am loading the animals and walking towards Volcán which we pass at 3am[.] and under a steady rain near dawn we can only see dark clouds[.] on the escarpment of Chorrillos the sun rose and we finally arrived at noon where a little Virgin appeared in a cave and there she is[.] I went up the stairway to see her and is the Immaculate Conception[.] then towards León and shortly later en route for Yala and after so much walking it was already noon and finally at 4pm we reached Río de Reyes[.] we all gather there waiting for Lieutenant Bertonasco who remained behind and the others of the Committee[.] the city of Jujuy is already in sight. Here we spend the night resting so to reach the city of Jujuy the next day which is the 24th eve of the 25th of May. During this journey we were almost run over by the buses that speed on the road[.] it’s an inconvenience[.] my Queen is with me, what a joy. The morning of the 24th of May the day broke warmly the sun was shining the birds were singing all the brothers were cheerful in the hope of seeing the national festival, and soon after breakfast setting up the caravan to reach Jujuy the women’s infantry parading to the front with the Virgin of Copacabana the cavalry behind and last came the little donkeys and my canes were playing the coming of the Virgin, The Greeting and The winds of the Altiplano[.] we entered Jujuy at 12pm through its streets the cars made us squeeze and with the little donkeys it was such an inconvenience and finally in front of the Municipality and in front of the Police Headquarters photographs then resting in the police courtyard, and later to the barracks of the 2nd Mountain Detachment[.] we took a bus and once we got there lunch and accommodation in a hall on straw beds, here was really cold[.] I don’t remember if my Queen was with me or not but my thoughts were for her. The following day we saw the national soldiers saluting the flag music by the band and singing of the National Anthem they line up tightly and seriously the May’s holiday is on the 25th great day.
On the 26th, the Walk continues again this is a 12-league day, to Perico de San Antonio. We left Jujuy around 9am tight caravan and my Queen in my arms. I walked all the day without being able to find water, and finally in the evening we reached the end of the day tired. In San Antonio on a river and there we slept my Queen out in the open I have nothing to cover her.
On the 27th to Las Calderas we walk again all the day tired. We walk briskly without rest and we arrive late at the village of Las Calderas and we stay in a square out in the open[.] my Queen too we have no bread to eat, and the feet hurt.
On the 28th to Salta we arrive around 2pm[.] my Queen in my arms. The band meets us halfway at the edge of the barracks and the Soldiers escort us and they bring us to the barracks of the 5th Cavalry Regiment and then they give us a succulent afternoon snack and then they lodge us in a court and entertain us with the band[.] we stay there two days and the following day I go to the Cathedral of Miracle to perform my religious duties. And there in the church how wonderful is the Virgin and the Lord and how magnificent the paintings of God’s temple. Only my Queen knows what does it mean to appreciate these religious art jewels in that city of Salta[.] and the people appreciate us more than in Jujuy it seems that we are brothers as we say. And in the quarter they treated us well during this stop and here we put horseshoes to all the little animals that my brothers were taking along. The other brothers from Salta to the side of Orán were happy for this[.] they caught up with us in Jujuy all on horseback or muleback and so we increased the caravan.
On the 30th we resume walking at dawn[.] the journey is long it is of 18 leagues[.] on this day we walked without lunch and I had no breakfast because they didn’t treat us equally some took mate twice and others any[.] what a pity to see this and so I left without having breakfast. During the journey some charitable Ladies gave me three tasty biscuits with which I spent this walking day and my canes were playing the song of the Virgin of Copacabana and we went through the centre of Salta city to the accompaniment of the band[.] and the little Narcizo López laid down a branch of flowers at the statue of General San Martín[.] and then we headed to Cabeza de Buey where we arrived at 11pm in total darkness, and very tired my feet bruised because of two holes in the sole and without canvas shoes almost barefoot, and at this hour in search of water with a unique thirst and with hunger. And being tired[.] what a pain only God and the Virgin of Copacabana know. And at that time I didn’t know anything about my Queen because the brothers from Oran were carrying it[.] I laid down tired in the absence of my adored miraculous Mother[.] for dinner I only had some mate cooked at such a late night hour.
The following day the 31st at night and in the rain that lasted all day we set off towards Juramento[.] a road of about 12 leagues without water and rest[.] well the previous day it was tarmac but stressing and this day I reached Juramento at nightfall tired[.] after crossing the river we stopped because we couldn’t go further[.] part of the caravan reached the station[.] it rained all night long[.] my Queen was here with me[.] she knows this place this historical location in which the flag of Belgrano was pledged allegiance to.
On the 1st of June to Metán a 12-league journey painful[.] we expected to have lunch at Rio Pedras and soon a car took us to Metán what a kindness. Thanks to God and the Virgin. Only some of my fellows were left on foot.
On the 2nd of June to Rosario de la Frontera another long journey in this day we lost our way for a mistake done by our own fellows but we reached Rosario at 4pm[.] there they gave us a succulent roast and mate[.] it was an about 8-league journey.
On the 3rd of June to Trancas an about 14-league journey, we left very early in the night[.] we had breakfast around 3am[.] we were in Trancas at nightfall. And there we rested a little and after a short dinner we walked in the night until Benjamín Paz which we reached at 4am[.] we slept there with some of my fellows.
On the 4th to Tapia we set off at dawn and walked fast some at full speed[.] we were told that if we don’t get to Tucumán that day we lose the cause but what they said was all vain[.] those who said so were the henchmen of the gringo Kemer nothing more[.] and then at 12pm we arrive to Tapia at a station of the Central Northern Railway[.] there we get together and wait for the rest of the caravan[.] we do some laundry and we are treated well.
On the 5th to Tucumán we left very early in the night the journey would be about 6-league long[.] we reached Tucumán at noon and we entered the city through its centre[.] we visited the square then the Casa Histórica and later the barracks[.] we stayed there four days to restore strength, in our body, and animals[.] here I went to the cathedral to attend Mass[.] what a beautiful architecture that church has[.] only my dear patron knows thanks to her. Here the people of Tucumán help us with a small cart to load some stuff and give us goods worth 200 pesos thanks God the cart with its mules and adjustable straps, and how beautiful is the city of Tucumán and its surroundings lots of sugar cane plantations and sugar factories[.] only we don’t go to Catamarca because they told us it is far and very mountainous.
On the 10th the walk continues again heading to Simoca[.] the journey is long about 18 leagues[.] we leave Tucumán at dawn and the brothers wait for us in Bella Vista at 12pm with some accommodations and a bit of bread and fruit and after an applause to Colorados how far[.] at the Colorado River the sun was already setting, and we passed the station at night and further ahead around 9pm we had to cross a river on foot[.] it was about 120 metres large but we crossed safely with the little donkeys and the entire caravan and my Queen Mother in my arms only her would have done all these miracles at that time[.] After so much walking we arrive at a level crossing near Simoca[.] those from Simoca are waiting for us there and bring us to the village with cheers and applauses, the boom of the explosion of firecrackers stunned us while entering and a joyful ringing of the church’s bells drew the attention on us it seems that the pilgrimage with the Virgin of Copacabana is religiously coming. Then the singing of the National Anthem in front of the church and the parish priest encourages us to do well puts us in the hands of the Highest of the heaven and then he admits us in the temple to give us God’s blessing. Then we leave to our lodging, there we are invited to a roast and a little wine and soda and then mate and after that we lay down tired, but well safe thanks God and the Virgin, my queen jointly with me, and all my fellows, cheerful.
On the 11th to Lamadrid a journey of 15 leagues this day. We left Simoca at dawn and we walked all the day on a narrow path crossing rivers and arriving at Lamadrid around 9pm tired, and the cart driver and someone else nobody knows if they lagged behind on this day[.] Mr Leoncio Cusi carried my small load on his donkeys may God help such a charitable man.
On the 12th of June to Frías, far away here they carried us on a freight train for three or four stations which I don’t remember[.] we reached there in the night around 11 then they brought us to have supper in an encampment and they lodged us in a shooting range[.] and here we stayed a couple of days I don't remember and here a fellow from Orán passed away one of those from Salta[.] it was very sorrowful[.] we went to see him at the local hospital and we prayed for his eternal rest.
And then it may be on the 15th I don’t remember we left Frías[.] again they carried us on a train bound for Deán Funes but we didn’t get there as the machine only reached Recreo or Mansilla I don't remember[.] we stopped various hours there until another locomotive came to bring us to Deán Funes[.] it would be the 17th.
We arrive around 3pm[.] and here they accommodate us in a large shed and give us food and lodging[.] the following day we stay there and then they move us elsewhere in the same village[.] here I go to the Mass[.] what a beautiful church is there. Only the little donkeys lagged behind how all horses and mules would suffer as they went through the roadway of Cordoba’s Salinas Grandes which they cross on foot in three days[.] they arrived the last night, and the following day they left to Jesús María[.] and as by a miracle by the Virgin of Copacabana they took me and some of us to Jesús María on a train[.] there they lodged us in the barracks and from there we left the following day very early in the night towards Cordoba[.] it was the 19th or 20th, I don’t remember[.] in General Paz they gave a collection box to the Virgin of Copacabana donation by Graciela Nocier whose box is still extant together with the Virgin who travelled to Buenos Aires. In Cordoba there were many people waiting for us[.] we arrived at Guiñazú and from there they accompanied us[.] several cars hit us hard while entering the city of Cordoba with applauses and there we made a procession through the city centre with the national flag visiting the national monuments[.] it was around 8 in the night and then they took us to the barracks of the 4th Communication[.] there we stayed around 8 days I don't remember[.] here we visited some important houses[.] here I heard Mass at the Cathedral it is a beauty[.] here I arrived very tired what a pain but since they made us stay for a week I regained my strengths thanks God[.] here we caught up with other five brothers of the Rinconada Department[.] we had good time with some local people[.] we were given food in the barracks all in order, lunch and supper and how sumptuous is this city with all its landscapes and its mountains westwards of the city everything is fine thanks God.
On the 29th or 30th of June I don’t remember we left Cordoba and set off towards Rosario a very rich city of the province of Santa Fe. We left on one of these days, already rested[.] on the first day we left Cordoba I found Pilar a small village nearby[.] together with some fellows I stayed at the police’s quarters where I was later scolded by some Vallejos as if he cared about me,[.] I am fine with my queen[.] thanks to her about one kilometre before crossing the river and reaching the village of Pilar I got a palm leaf which is here with the Virgin and it is the palm that represents the martyrdoms of the whole caravan of myself with the Virgin and the outrages made to us during the entire journey[.] this palm testifies what has been suffered in this crusade,[.] and the following day we travelled long distance passing several stations that I don’t remember and if I remembered them it would take a lot of writing[.] what I’ll remember near Tío Pugio is that the gringo Kemer called me a coward and provoking my Queen told me that I was asking alms for myself[.] however the very Holy Virgin will know about him,[.] but in Bell Ville another city in which they treated us well and in many others in Bell Ville a parish priest gave us several advices about our issue[.] for this reason we didn't trust gringo Kemer and the same also in other places[.]
and another good one was the blessing from the church in Cañada de Gómez[.] I took the Virgin to the temple there in my arms, as witness and Godmother of this, this sad caravan, according to what the parish priest told us there[.] and for the food we were well cared for in all those villages before reaching Rosario[.] they took part of us by car thanks to them, only the animals went by land and finally we arrived at the city of Rosario on the 9th of July in the year of Our Lord 1946. This was a great day all the people of Rosario went out to see us in the streets, and we entered there at about 9 in the morning and at around 3pm we were already in the barracks[.] what applauses they gave us in this city to me and the Virgin I was carrying[.] here they donated her an Argentinian cockade and various little paper flags, here we stayed some days and then we set off towards San Nicolás[.] here the large Paraná River runs towards Rosario with its waves and boats[.] during that day we visited various villages whose names I don’t remember.
And then we reached the limit of the Province of Buenos Aires at Arroyo del Medio[.] we were there at 11am and 12pm on the 14th of July 1946 Sunday[.] we already were at the edge of the territory of Buenos Aires near San Nicolás de los Arroyos, thanks God and we arrived there without incidents[.] we put up on the banks of the large river[.] here they wanted to take the women on a boat trip on the Paraná River, and from here later, I attend the Mass on the day of the Virgin of Carmen, the 16th of July and the whole caravan goes to the church here and they donate us the scapular of the Virgin and as they haven't enough scapulars they give us little medallions and a saint card.
An then we left from here towards Pergamino which we reached on the 21st of July after passing through various villages[.] they were waiting for us there with great jubilation and a band and they lodged us in some large meeting rooms and food for lunch and supper thanks God. And then from there to a village named San Antonio de Areco[.] I heard another Mass where are plates of Saints among which I liked most that of Saint Bartholomew Apostle and also various others.
And further on near San Andrés de Giles the farms looked at us with curiosity as they were greeting us and the caws mooed, all these fields and pastures and they came to look at us closely what beautiful farms. It seemed that they were saying poor people where are they going[.] it was something to think a lot about.
Finally we reached San Andrés de Giles and then the following day very early in the night they took us by car to Cortinas and we got off there and we stayed until around 2pm[.] here they hosted us with some food and then we walked towards Luján[.] the roads to get there are all paved[.] from Jesús María to Buenos Aires the road is a pool table for the cars to roll on.
Close to Luján we see around 4pm the Holy Basilica of Our Lady the pure and clean Concepcíon of Luján we already see its beautiful towers[.] in the middle of a beautiful wood blooming with yellow flowers which offer us perfumed and aromatic scents and after a little bit more of walking already at sunset we arrive at Luján,[.]
the brothers of Luján join us with tears in their eyes[.] and seeing us tired they applaud us and recommend us to God and the Virgin[.] and then we enter the square of Luján[.] a huge quantity of crowd can be seen we already see the Basilica well its towers and entrance doors to the temple and home of Our Lady thanks to her, and then can be heard the beautiful and melodious sounds of its organs which play and resound in the areas at all sides[.] it seems to be in the Glory and its bells of all tones that is a harmony to hear together with all the temple’s music[.] and then in front of the Basilica the Holy Priests give us the Holy Blessing and they talk with us about the journey’s route to the extent that the tears come to us when we see all this to us and to them. Then we enter the temple with my Queen of Copacabana in my arms and we give thanks to the Virgin of Luján for having travelled well until there[.] then on our knees we receive the blessing that the ministers of God give us with the Holy Sacrament[.] after saying some prayers we move to the niche of the Virgin to know her and we see her as beautiful and lively as she is[,] her altars and beautiful architectures and treasures and jewels of gold and silver from her devotees and promised things that they bring to her feet in thanksgiving to Our Lady[.] then we leave and find accommodation in the Pilgrims’ Rest[.] they give us supper and lunch there[.] and the following day the Thanksgiving Mass from the caravan[.] it was around 9am and our communion and I received communion in the niche thanks to her[.] and later I went to look for a Virgin of Luján to take with me and I found it in the religious accessory shop of the Sanctuary of Luján and I bought it with all its stories to keep it in my chapel of Miraflores de la Candelaria at my return[.] and having met all the wishes I had I was happy and how enchanted I was to see the beautiful Basilica, that I’ll never forget these miracles of the Virgin, of Copacabana as well as of Luján for the preservation of my health, and the kind attentions from the brothers of the South who gave charity through the little Virgin of Copacabana.
Finally, on the 1st of August we left Luján and when will I come back to see this majestic temple of my adored Mother[?] but the consolation that I took with me was the beautiful painting of her, and the photographs of the Sanctuary of Luján, this was consoling me and I went happy on the road to Buenos Aires exhausted and tired for the fatigue and the canes of the pan flutes were playing the marches of the caravan and the Virgin[.] and we left this day towards Merlo and from there to Ramos Mejía[.] this day of the 2nd of August happened to be rainy, and we had to go by car from Merlo to Ramos Mejía,[.] and we stopped there around 4pm and we were given accommodation as usual[.] in the afternoon they brought us to a square in which various speeches were made and there was a huge crowd, and where Mr Ovidio Merola spoke to welcome us in Ramos Mejía[.] and there in the night we enrolled us in the cartel of Mr Governor Mercante in order to have our signatures recorded in Buenos Aires, as a record that we are part of and make up the Caravan as Argentinians from the North of the Republic of Argentina at the presence of our leader Lieutenent (R) Augusto Bertonasco, who led us from this to the Metropolis of the South.
And on the 3rd of August 1946 very early in the night around 4am we left with the women carrying on their shoulders the Virgin of Luján, whose image is kept in Casabindo and other various more which we had[.] and me with the Virgin of Copacabana and that of Luján too,[.] we left through a very large road and mist and cold and many people[.] and at 8am we began to enter Liniers, which is at the beginning of the Federal Capital of Buenos Aires, we entered through the Calle Rivadavia we walked the whole day as a compact caravan march and march[.]
my pan flutes were playing cheerful songs, and cheered up the heart[.] at this time an enormous crowd gathered to see us and applauded us and honours that the people of Buenos Aires paid to us and finally in front of the National Congress then in front of the Cabildo and soon after in the middle of Plaza de Mayo and right after in front of the desired Pyramid[.] we prayed for thanksgiving and we laid flowers at it[.] our prayers to God thanks to the Virgin for the good travel we did. And then the National Anthem and in a moment in front of the Casa Rosada we waved at the General Juan Domingo Perón President of the Republic of Argentina a crowd so immense that one could not walk and then we proceeded towards the accommodation at the Hotel de Inmigrantes[.] we got there around 5pm, and finally we crashed[.] we heard saying we wait for justice but there is none.
Here the food doesn’t cause diarrhoea bed, food, mate, accommodation in short everything is comfortable[.] from here one can see the Rio de la Plata, the boats, launches, ships, etc., the city in short[.] rides on cars, trams, underground trains and till they bring us to the city of La Plata and to know various factories and farms, countryside, mansions, etc. We spent 26 days there in the open[.] we had no chances to talk with the national authorities[.] it seemed that the Leader of our caravan kept us for a daily Carnival as if we hardly cared about anything. We wanted to settle our issue of our lands as soon as possible and nothing more[.] this is what took us to Buenos Aires Capital, and at the end, around 9pm, the federal police kicked us out with false stories[.] it’s our bad luck[.] only God and the Virgin of Copacabana and Luján favoured us in our lifetime. Around 9pm, until 12am and 3am they put us on a train as damned vile thieves, I say so as if it were a crime.
Then we left by train already on the way back at around 4am kicked out without saying goodbye to our brothers of Buenos Aires some of whom loved us so much, and we became afflicted sad[.] only the Virgin knows[.] questions after questions at every station[.] we don’t care at all, on the train they look after us as on the way to and everything was loaded our animals, only the belongings of my fellows were abandoned lost[.] bad luck we had[.] the rich will stay, but a day will come when everything they did to us will come back to them[.] if there is no justice, let’s not have laws[.] there is scarcely enough for the poor like me and my brothers from here from these places we are miserable all our life, it will be like this but perhaps by suffering all these things and needs we’ll manage to gain something better one day in the other life after this. We have this faith in the Virgin of Copacabana and Luján, to whom I devote myself to be her loyal servant[.] and finally we reached Abra Pampa on the 3rd of September[.] the landlord and landowner oligarchs were laughing at us so that we didn’t have a good welcome at all, absolutely, and this night with my Queen I lodged in the house of Mr Fermín Vilte in Abra Pampa and the following day when I could I came home with my patron saints of Copacabana and Luján that was the 4th of September[.] I left Abra Pampa around 2pm and I arrived here at my beloved Mother’s throne at nightfall together with Genavio Tomar who accompanied me with her mother from Abra Pampa[.] until here that was the night of the 4th of September a freezing and sad night and I told my family the story of my journey tearful and sad having achieved nothing I became glad only after the Miraculous Mother of Luján[.] this comes to assist all of us all the time everywhere we are she is our Mother and she’ll hide us under her cape she will be always ours.
Welcome Holy Virgin of Luján! – Stand up for us in these sad lands you who are mother of the sad ones, and now you’ll be our happiness and consolation here – Amen.
Sad ending of my story.
The present and Holy Writing, if there is something wrong against it I apologise to my adored mother of Copacabana and Luján and to all the saints whose relics are present here. I apologise for the sake of God’s love if something in my writing contradicts history and if not everything is a Blessing of God and the Virgin of Copacabana and Luján, but what truly occurred is the truth that I relate in my reading, and as all my brothers who went to Buenos Aires are certain of, and according to the signature that some of them will put here those who want and are willing to put it [and] it will be up to them to keep it in this book which came to the feet of the Virgin of Copacabana and also some signatures of devotees who saw us in the conditions we were in when we came back from Buenos Aires.
This writing will remain forever as a memory and example as long as my life lasts and after that it will hopefully last until the end of the world, it is a memory that will be useful to always remember what happened to the servant who serves the Virgin of Copacabana, and for not forgetting to pray for him, and the pilgrimage we did from here to Luján and Buenos Aires, it is a series of stories that were written just after they took place, All the passages that it narrates are true, and for faithful witness, here is the Virgin of Copacabana and Luján, magnificent Picture and its stories and various annotations in separate notebooks[.] Never forget to honour the Virgin of Luján, her feasts, her own feast day.
This writing began to be written in Buenos Aires and ended to be written in this place of Miraflores de la Candelaria, jurisdiction of the Department of Cochinoca, of the Province of Jujuy.
Together with the entire pilgrimage and on behalf of all my family from my house here we ask that this Writing, which may God Our Lord and His Very Holy Mother the Miraculous Virgin of Copacabana and Luján bless this writing of mine though sad be kept intact at the feet of the Sacred image of Saint Mary. As a Catholic testimony of the journey of mine and of the entire caravan called The Peace Raid on the Roads of the Motherland. So it be.
Miraflores de la Candelaria
31st of October 1946
(date of the conclusion of this story)
Writer of the story.
© Museo del Camminare 2019, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0