Home » Thoughts » Tell me how you name your streets, and I’ll tell you your ideals -or of how Canning became Ortiz

Tell me how you name your streets, and I’ll tell you your ideals -or of how Canning became Ortiz

Scalabrini Ortiz and Santa Fé

The corner of Ortiz and Santa Fé. You can see the café Plaza del Carmen, characteristic of this place. The green ball-like sign a little in the back is the entrance to the subway. You can also see the english fence I’m talking about.

Nothing’s left to luck when trying to clarify your political position. Not even the streets’ names, if you are the official government. Your every decision, your every move, should reflect coherency with your ideals.

And that’s what’s been happening here in Buenos Aires for the last century.

There is one concurred and commercial avenue reaching Palermo. It even has it’s own subway station. The name’s Scalabrini Ortiz. But, many still remember when that street was named ‘Canning’.
I find this avenue’s history very symbolic of my country’s history, and so, I’m gonna tell it to you.

The street itself started off being known in 1867 as ‘El Camino del Ministro Inglés’ (English Minister’s Road), because that’s the way an english diplomat, named Henry Southern, used to get to the city, from the country house he lived at with his family.

Years went by, though, and, thanks to a decree on Novermber of 1893, it was named ‘Canning’, after the famous  former Secretary of Foreign Relations of the United Kingdom.
This man, George Canning, was the responsible for the UK’s recognition of freedom from the Spanish Kingdom of: Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, and the one who pushed the recognition of Brazil as independent from the Kingdom of Portugal, all of this in 1825.

Even though this was a celebrated fact through-all Latinamerica, as having the recognition of that time’s most important economic potency was the final step to be recognized world-wide, this wasn’t just out of Canning’s good and pure heart.

“Spanish America is free, and if we do not mismanage our affairs, she is English”*

This came out of his mouth, or rather, his feather, explaining his interest in the economic independence of America. If they were out of Spanish monopoly, then that meant they were free to enter the English one. Yay for them.
He also ended up mediating after the Argentinian army besieged Rio de Janeiro, winning the war against Brazil. Thanks to his mediation for peace, though, Brazil ended up with MORE territory than before, and the Argentinian troops were sent back to Buenos Aires with a bitter victory. This ended up with the resignement of Bernardino Rivadavia, my country’s first constitutional president.

Back to the avenue, it held on to that name, until 1974, with Gral. Juan Domingo Peron. He replaced the name of the English liberal, diplomat, and even Prime Minister for a little time, with the name of an Argentinian nationalist writer and thinker: Raúl Scalabrini Ortiz.
Ortiz was hard against the national economy’s dependence on England, and even proposed for the railways lines across the country, that were at the time English, to be nationalized and managed by the state.

Scalabrini Ortiz is known for being one of the founder members of the FORJA, a political organization that tried to join the ‘best of’ both Radicalism and Peronism.

But, in 1976, the Peronist government suffered from a raising from the military -again- and it was forced out of the government. In it’s place, the presidents designated by the military stood, one after the other, until Videla -resently convicted to a life-sentence for his crimes against human rights during his unconstitutional government, and being processed for even more crimes- was left there.
During the military’s illegal stay at the head of the country, and faithful to it’s admiration towards England, Scalabrini Ortiz Av. became Canning again, the same year they took the power.

That dictatorship lasted long years, and was the most cruel, vengative, and inhuman one in my country’s history. It was the last as well, and we all hope for it to stay like that.

In 1984, after a failed war against England (coherence?) for the Malvinas Islands, with the country with the highest external debt ’till then, having destroyed the National Industries and production, and with no support from any side left, the illegal government called for presidential elections.
Raúl Alfonsín, representative of the Radicals, won. The first constitutional and elected president after those black years.

A year later, in 1985, the government renamed the avenue after the nationalist and revolutionary thinker, Scalabrini Ortiz.

So, the opposition between Ortiz’s and Canning’s ways of thinking was more or less represented in this street.

Many small business there still have names referring to Canning, or boards like that, because they were already known with those names. The street itself is double-handed, has the corners closer to Santa Fe, a very important avenue, full with old buildings and english-styled fences, and is the stop of two subway lines (‘D’ Line, and ‘B’ Line), apart from being transitated by many busses and cars every day. My uncle has a furniture shop located in this avenue as well.

Station Scalabrini Ortiz

This is a small part of the very long painting in the walls, inside the Scalabrini Ortiz subway station.

As you can see, in only this avenue’s street, located in the Palermo neighborhood, in the north part of Buenos Aires, you can see the transition of part of Argentina’s history.

I think that’s pretty awesome -don’t you?

Do you know the story behind some streets in your city? What do you think about Scalabrini Ortiz’s?

Thanks for reading.


*Quote taken from Wikipedia.


3 thoughts on “Tell me how you name your streets, and I’ll tell you your ideals -or of how Canning became Ortiz

  1. Yes actually, most of the streets here are a persons last name. Usually people who assisted on the construction of the road or a famous person.
    Great post Mila.

    • Yeah, usually. But I think there are many hints about our history our cities can tell us, but we usually don’t really listen to them!
      I think I might be writting more posts like this, explaining how I relate Buenos Aires with Argentina’s history in every way I can find -^^-
      Thanks for liking and commenting, it means a lot!

  2. Pingback: On the street where you live: or, What’s in a name? « The Mex Files


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