The City of the 1001 Statues (part I : San Martin)

I suppose you all have noticed that the city is really full of statues. On every square in every park, there are lots of them. They all represent someone, but although those people have died a long time ago and these statues are supposed to make them live forever in the minds of the Argentines, a lot of them (or maybe we cen say most of them), have become nothing more then decoration. I hope to bring some of them back to life. Let’s start with San Martin (1778-1850). We all know this man. In almost every city in Latin America there is a Plaza San Martin, or an Avenida de San Martin. There are even cities named after this man. But what did he do?

san martinSan Martin

His full name was José Francisco de San Martín Matorras. He was born in Corrientes in 1778 and died in Boulogne-Sur-Mer (France) in 1850. He was an Argentine general and the most important leader of the South American fight for independence.

He studied in Madrid and joined the Spanish army to fight the French. In 1812 he sailed to Buenos Aires where he offered his services to the ‘united provinces of the south’ . After the battle of San Lorenzo in 1813 he became general and he got the command over the ‘army of the north’ and made plans to free Chili and Peru, which he did in 1818 (Chili) and in 1821 (Peru). In 1922 after a meeting with his co-liberator Bolivar he left the army, and in 1824 he moved to France. The reason for this is unknown.

In 1825 he wrote a few ‘maxims’ to his daughter Mercedes, but in fact they were implicitly written for the Argentine citizenry. San Martín was considered the first Argentine National hero and the ‘father of the country’. Here are the maxims :

  1. Maker her rich in human qualities, sensitive even to harmless insects. As Sterne opened the window to release fly, he said, “Leave, little one, the world is big enough for us both”
  2. Inspire her to love truth and to detest falsehood
  3. Inspire her to trust friendship, combined with respect
  4. Encourage Mercedes to be charitable with the poor
  5. Respect the property of the others
  6. Teach her to keep a secret
  7. Inspire her tolerance of all religions
  8. Teach her to be kind to servants, the poor and the elderly
  9. Teach her to speak little and precisely
  10. Acostum her to have formal table manners
  11. Love of cleanliness and disdain of luxury
  12. Inspire her love of the Fatherland and of liberty.

He lives further in these places in Argentina :

  • San Martín in the province of Buenos Aires
  • San Martín in Mendoza
  • San Martín in Corrientes
  • San Martín in San Juan
  • San Martín in Santa Fe
  • San Martín in Santiago del Estero
  • San Martín de las Escobas in Santa Fe
  • San Martín de los Andes in Neuquén

In Colombia

  • San Martin (Cesar)
  • San Martin (Meta)

In Peru

  • San Martin (region)
  • San Martin (province)

And then I am not mentioning the streets and plazas…

More details on his life you can find on :

I found my information in ‘The Argentine Reader, History, Culture, Politics” edited by Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo, and on Wikipedia.

San Martin

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