Date: 19 November
Location: Cultural Center Bitola
The film “The Rebel Patagonia” (La Patagonia Rebelde), by Héctor Olivera, came out in 1974. It was based on an investigation realized by Osvaldo Bayer who, from 1972 to 1978, published the four volumes of “The Avengers of Tragic Patagonia”.
The film is about the repression that hit the agrarian workers of the argentine extreme south, from 1920 to 1921.
At that time, the fall of international prices of wool and the loss of markets for bovine meat affected the profitability for the grand landowners and merchants of the patagonian south. Logical consequences were unemployment and deterioration of living conditions for the rural workers. The local sections of the FORA (Federación Obrera Regional Argentina), dominated by anarchists and influent in the towns of San Julián and Río Gallegos, seized the opportunity of these circumstances to promote a campaign of recruitment of peons, loggers and other wage-earning workers. But the riposte of the farmers was extremely severe: lay-offs, violence, menaces. The simple elaboration of a list of demands by the workers could trigger reprisals.
In view of the absence of an agreement between the parties, the national government decided to send the 10th cavalry regiment under command of lieutenant colonel Héctor Varela. The latter’s repressive action didn’t know any limits: he ordered mass executions, obliged victims to carve their own grave before that, locked up strikers in barns, then setting them on fire. The anarchists denounced the assassination of 1500 people; there never were official numbers. Varela, it’s true, didn’t get any promotion afterwards, but no investigation was initiated to sanction his conduct. President Yrigoyen chose silence. Years later, Varela was killed in an attack as reprisal against the cruelty with which he had executed the mission ordered by the minister of Interior.