In the Name of Power
Culture and Place Names in Venado Tuerto

Page 4

A new change of street names followed the same strategy. Venado Tuerto, together with other cities of the country, took part in the preparation for the commemoration. Eleven months in advance, there was a meeting at the London Hotel to create a special committee for the Centenary celebrations. [14] The Centenary Committee worked together with the Funding Committee, which was in charge of the financial administration of the town. The Funding Committee appointed members of the Centenary Committee. To illustrate the particular ideological atmosphere of the time, the resignation to the Committee Chair by one neighbour, Luis Cucchiani, was based on his foreign origins. Cucchiani recommended to appoint an Argentine citizen and, at the same time, reaffirmed his support for the celebration.

The Centenary Committee aligned the celebrations with the government interests and strategy, and therefore changed the toponymy of the city. The old names were replaced by the names of heroes, who were considered the central characters of the Independence. The street names changed abruptly, representing a successful and subtle political operation, the target of which was to shape the idea of an Argentine Nation and its people. Four days before the Centenary the street name change was formalised and submitted by the Centenary Committee Chair, Manuel Sosa, to the President of the Funding Committee, Patricio Kirk. [15]

The change of street names supported the creation of a patriotic feeling towards Argentina. The transformation was performed with the participation of local political authorities. Additionally, this process of patriotic development received support from Santa Fe provincial authorities. From a total of forty streets, only six kept their name. Four plazas changed their name too. Thirty-four streets names related to national heroes, dates, and battles. The historic events taken into account by the new toponymy were the May 1810 Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and other dates connected to the development of the national state. The local leaders, with the exception of Brigadier López, were neglected and names connected to European immigration or patria gringa were forgotten too. Street names like Casey and Runciman, founders of Venado Tuerto, were displaced from the centre to the suburbs. Other streets received the names of neighbouring countries (Uruguay), of other countries strongly related to Argentina (Spain, England), of Argentine provinces (Buenos Aires, Tucumán), or the name of the great European conquistador, Colón.

The street naming strategy of 1910 in Venado Tuerto was an outcome of the Argentine elite's scheme to manipulate the May Revolution with the idea of imagining the concept of Argentineness.

And the Action Continued

The project did not end with the Centenary, and for different reasons it continued to be significant for some years later. A new political context was added to the immigration problem. Hipólito Irigoyen's success in the 1916 presidential elections reinforced among the members of the bourgeoisie and the military a disdain for democracy. According to them, political parties were as dangerous for the nation as was immigration. Since 1930 the army began playing a key political role as guardians of patriotism and the constitution. During the administration of Agustin P. Justo the crusade for patriotism was re-enacted. At that time a new Academy of History began to write the History of the Argentine Nation. General José de San Martin was recognised as a hero of the Argentines. [16]

Plan of New Town Venado Tuerto, offering land along the railway.
(José Favoretto Collection)
  In Venado Tuerto there is a continuity between 1910s toponyms and the city expansion in the 1930s towards North West and East directions, and close to the Motorway 8. These decisions were adopted by municipal decrees. [17] However, there is an ellipsis in that continuity, that is the period of the Radical Party administration. During President Alvear’s government, the Funding Committee assigned street names in places that still lacked a name. The pattern selected was completely new, and the new names had to do both with geographical and, in particular, political aspects. [18] However, at the end of the 1930s, when Venado Tuerto's new City Hall adopted a decree to name twenty-eight streets, concepts associated with the May Revolution and the Independence Wars were used once again.

The new street names, with the exception of two (Cullen and Perú) followed within the old pattern: Liniers, Balcarce, Dorrego, French, Berutti, José Maria Paz, Suipacha, Monteagudo, Laprida, Las Heras, Arenales, Rodriguez Peña, Caseros, Alberdi. In addition to this, a monument to General San Martín was erected in the main plaza. [19] Thus street names and monuments were part of the visual strategy used by the governing elites to stimulate the patriotic feeling.

Rescuing Casey

The value of Eduardo Casey as founder, was rescued after its removal to Venado Tuerto's periphery. In 1937 the main street name, Avenue of the Centenary, was changed to Avenida Casey. Furthermore, a monument to celebrate his heritage was erected in a plaza at the end of Avenida Casey. [20] This resolution was taken on line with the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Venado Tuerto, and it was the work of the municipal administration in 1933, which was responsible for establishing the history of the place since its foundation.

With this exception, the choice of place names was dominated by the Argentine elites' strategy to stimulate the Argentineness of new settlers.


Previous to the colonisation of Venado Tuerto, the lack of a settlement culture in this space had the effect of emphasising the border between common and proper names. Hence, the initial toponymy was not associated to the space's history or geography, but to the colonisers and their political and economic power. However, this trend was modified by the new nationalistic model of power, which was supported by the local forces when planning the street names used in the city since 1910 to the 1960s.

25 April 1917, wedding of Diego Kenny and Catalina Gaynor
(José Brendan Wallace collection)


[14] 22 June 1909. Communications of the Venado Tuerto Funding Committee, November 1908 through December 1910 (Venado Tuerto Municipal Archive).

[15] Communications of the Venado Tuerto Funding Committee, op. cit.

[16] The Sanmartinian Institute of Buenos Aires was founded, and 17 August was selected as an yearly national celebration.

[17] Digest of the Municipality of Venado Tuerto, 1 January 1940. Decree N° 46 Denomination and Street Numbering of the City.

[18] Pueblo Nuevo was the name given to the modification of the urban plan performed in 1890, i.e., the lands that ran parallel to the railway. R. Landaburu, Los Irlandeses, op cit.

[19] Decree N° 10 in Book N° 1, Municipality of Venado Tuerto.

[20] Digest of the Municipality of Venado Tuerto, op. cit.




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Last Update: July 2004


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