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Literature / Facundo

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The brave Caudillo

"El mal que aqueja a la Argentina es la extensión:
el desierto la rodea por todas partes y se le insinúa
en las entrañas; la soledad, el despoblado sin una habitación
humana, son, por lo general, los límites incuestionables entre
unas y otras provincias"
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, "Facundo"

Facundo, o Civilización y Barbarie note , by the former Argentine president, writer, military and journalist Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, is an odd example of the politically messed up times in the early Argentinian history. Somehow, it's an Ur-Example of a Non-Fiction novel, a journalist investigation and the very proof that journalism is never objective, nor free of a biased ideology.

Part biography, part journalistic investigation (after all, it was published in a political journal in Chile while Sarmiento was exiled there), part political pamphlet and part novel, this odd mix of a work is considered one of the basis of the Argentine Literature as well as an historic document.

(It should be noted Sarmiento himself is a controversial figure, both praised by the Educational Revolution that (at the time) practically elliminated analphabetism in Argentina and granted the right of free, state-run Elementary schooling, and questioned by his racism and xenophobia, and for his controversial ideas about the "barbarian" population of Argentina. Hell, even contemporary works like Martín Fierro are critical of his domestic policies.)

Facundo is a work about a popular "caudillo" (a type of local strongman and landholder) and "prócer" of the Independency: Facundo Quiroga, governor and general of La Rioja province, and his controversial relationship with the Buenos Aires' governor, Juan Manuel de Rosas. Sarmiento even points a plot to assassinate Quiroga originated in Buenos Aires, specifically in Rosas' office, that ultimately succeed.

In the first half of the work, Sarmiento goes all Tsundere about Facundo Quiroga, praising his bravery and physical skills, but attacking his "barbarian" and "brutal" personality: the "Argentinian" temper, as he dubs it, citing other political figures like General Lavalle and really though guy note General Lamadrid. The second half is about Rosas, almost exclusively an attack about his methods to bring peace, and a lament about how the French and English navy couldn't stop him when they had the chance.

This work contain examples of the following tropes:

  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: The Gaucho's way. A "Caudillo" is the badassest of all the Badasses,according to the gauchos. Quiroga is the boss because he kicks asses.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Civilization against Barbarism.
  • Blue Oni, Red Oni: Played straight. The Federals love woring the blood's red colour, but the "idealistic" Unitarians wore blue or light blue.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: "La mazorca"(the corncob) was known by his innovative investigation methods. You know, when you inverse the beggining and the end of the digestive tract...
  • The Fashionista: Sarmineto himself. He even points out that the Barbarians deserve to die because they don't wear frac, and well, they look like barbarians with all the ponchos and chiripás and red stuff. No, for realnote .
  • Fearless Fool: General Lamadrid. He tried to stop an massive invasion to the city fortress of Tucumán only with... thirty swordsmen. He lost.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: General Lavalle. He is even praised (but a bit mocked) by his cavalry charges against the royalists. But Sarmiento prefered the European methods: cold blooded, mathematical artillery strikes, encarned in General Paz.
  • La Résistance: according to Sarmiento, himself and the Unitary faction, although still fighting, they are under the rule of tyrants like Rosas or Quiroga
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Lamadrid, sort of. He doesn't care about strategy, and blatantly ignores it for his own sake, jeopardizing all his faction.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Facundo Quiroga. He even points out that his untamed hair was an extension of her badassery
  • The Pampas: well, it's about the rural landscape of Argentina and his effect on the people. He calls it "The Desert" anyway.
  • Values Dissonance: the fight between "Barbarians" and "civilized" people, the Final Solution against the Indians, the Black people hatred... you name it.
  • Zerg Rush: The Argentinian main strategy,according to Sarmiento. He opposses to Paz's artillery tactics, more "European" and thus "Civilized"