Mariquita Sanchez and Juan Manuel de Rosas in the Afterlife

Friday, January 8, 2016: 8:50 AM
International Ballroom B (Atlanta Marriott Marquis)
Jeffrey M. Shumway, Brigham Young University
This paper analyzes how Mariquita Sanchez and Juan Manuel de Rosas have been depicted in Argentine history.  Both were icons of politics and culture during the first few decades of Argentina’s national history. Friends in childhood, they ended up on opposite sides in the turbulent politics of mid nineteenth century Argentina.  She inclined more toward liberalism and welcomed foreign influence that she hoped would transform Argentina.  Rosas resisted those tendencies.  During Rosas’ rule, she went into exile in Montevideo. After his overthrow in 1852, Mariquita returned home while Rosas went into exile in England for the last 25 years of his life.  She died in 1868 and he in 1877.

After theie deaths, historians made Mariquita and Rosas significant players in the developing historiography of the country.  Rosas received attentionbecause of his pivotal role as leader of the Argentine Confederation and the governor of Buenos Aires Province.  Depicted as the great villain, over time, his historical image became a battleground as right wing nationalists adopted him as one of their maximum heroes.  Academic historians, as well as historians from the liberal heritage, distort their histories of Rosas as well.  The figure of Rosas became so politicized that is was difficult to do objective history of him and his era. Whereas academics have made progress in treating Rosas with more objectivity and maturity, elements of the old historical divisions remain in how he is portrayed.

Mariquita, meanwhile, became a symbol of anti-Rosista resistance—open minded, liberal, democratic, and welcoming of foreign ideas and culture, and a precursor to modern liberalism and feminism.  Two minor biographies of her were written in the 20th century, and two major biographies were produced in the last 20 years (all in Spanish), both of which have helped bring Mariquita more into the mainstream of Argentine history.