During the last years of the 19th century, Juárez Celman’s misrule had been pushing the country towards revolution. Indeed, this land was governed by a conservative and authoritarian minority, the rest did not exist. It was the time of sweet money, financial speculation, business was the order of the day, there was administrative corruption, external indebtedness. In the midst of all this situation, the Civic Union, led by Leandro Alem, began to conspire, while Miter left for Europe and, although within the Army only one group accepted a revolutionary solution, in the Navy the adherence was total. A revolutionary government junta was then formed that would be provisional and would call for elections, its civil chief was Leandro Alem, while General Manuel Campos directed the military operations. The ministers were appointed, as well as the chief of police, who was Hipólito Yrigoyen, former Balvanera commissioner, Alem’s nephew. Finally, on July 26, 1890, in the city of Buenos Aires, the movement broke out in the Artillery Park and its surroundings.
Women played an important role during the Revolution of 1890, despite the fact that at that time politics was a men’s thing. However, on July 26 of that year, during the so-called Revolution of the Park, a woman, Elvira Rawson, a third-year Medicine student, demonstrating her integrity, requested permission from the director of the Rivadavia Hospital to intervene personally in the care of the victims. Together with a group of students, she wanted to meet with the health team that was at the Hospital de Clínicas, in order to leave from there for the Artillery Park located on Lavalle and Talcahuano streets. Elvira’s decision did not sit well with the medical environment at the time and provoked certain reactions, especially in relation to the director of the hospital, who did not want her to help the wounded of the revolutionary troops, and tried to dissuade her by putting up a series of barriers and inconveniences to her actions, which Elvira overcame with a strength and determination that characterized her. Despite the fact that the event took place on a holiday, this courageous woman got an ambulance, which, being Sunday, was without a driver, against all this, without hesitation, she ended up driving the vehicle herself, although not before saving a new stumbling block which consisted of providing horseshoes to one of the horses, and looking for the place and the person who, with his trade, would make the necessary adjustments. Once this last mishap was resolved, she left, together with other young colleagues, for the Hospital de Clínicas and from there to go to the Artillery Park, where most of the wounded were concentrated.
They had not yet reached the hospital in question when, in the middle of the journey, from a government canton located in Libertad and Santa Fe, they were shot at, which caused the ambulance to be rendered useless due to the death of the horses and the breaking of its windows. Temperately, Elvira got out of the carriage, secured her nurse’s bracelet and continued at all costs along the established route, heading for the Clinics, briefcase in hand. Once she arrived there, she immediately verified that the health group had just left. Critical situation that however failed to twist the woman’s steps. Indeed, she continued the mission alone to the end, going through the firefight with bravery and courage, until Lavalle and Talcahuano, where the others were.
In the surroundings, revolutionaries in white berets improvised camps, lining up with each other and seeking positions on the tops of houses. They were distinguished by a badge with the colors white, green and pink. Josefina Copmartín de Rodríguez, wife of a member of the Revolutionary Junta, and Elvira Ballesteros were the ones who made flags, pennants and three thousand rosettes that they all wore on their right shoulders.
This 23-year-old student healed and helped the wounded, without respite or rest, for three full days with real courage, perhaps without even noticing that there were witnesses to her work. The head of the blood hospital established in the Park, Dr. Guillermo Udaondo, was in charge of the area that was to provide health care to the revolutionaries. From that position, the doctor, after noticing the work of that woman, expressed his praise in the part he addressed to General Manuel Campos: “Recommendable is also, Mr. General, the conduct of Miss Rawson, a medical student, the who, in the last days, accompanied us with zeal worthy of all applause, taking care of our wounded with request and contraction.
Miss Rawson had not gone unnoticed even by General Manuel Campos himself, military chief of this revolution, in whose statutory report he reflected his invaluable collaboration.
Just two months after these events, as a result of his outstanding performance, Leandro Alem presented him with a gold watch and a parchment as a tribute to the meritorious services rendered by the heroes of the Park days. He did it during the act held on September 1 of that same year at the Politeama Theater, the largest in Buenos Aires. Everyone gathered there to celebrate with honor the first anniversary of the founding of the Civic Union. (…). Barroetaveña, Castellanos, Lastra spoke, Miss Elvira Rawson also gave a speech that was transcribed in the book Unión Cívica.
Our speaker, Elvira Rawson, was born in Junín, province of Buenos Aires, on April 19, 1867. She was a teacher, founder of the Association for the Rights of Women, and the second Argentine doctor to graduate from the University of Buenos Aires in 1892. .
*Author of Women in Argentine Radicalism 1890-2020, Eudeba. (Fragment).
You may also like