BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s official history has consigned independence hero Manuel Belgrano to relative obscurity, a wrong author Felipe Pigna aims to redress in a new book on the creator of the Argentine flag.
“Manuel Belgrano, el hombre del Bicentenario” (Manuel Belgrano, Bicentennial Man) highlights the founding father’s environmentalism and advocacy of gender equality, among other facets.
“He is the first man who thought of the country before there was one,” Pigna told EFE in an interview.
The biographer describes his subject as an excellent economist who was imbued with the same Enlightenment ideals that inspired the French Revolution.
The author credits a fiery speech by Belgrano (1770-1820) with persuading the legislators gathered on July 9, 1816, in the northwestern town of San Miguel de Tucuman to approve Argentina’s declaration of independence.
Belgrano’s role in the independence struggle was minimized after his death by members of the ruling elite who disliked support for women’s rights and broad access to higher education, according to Pigna.
Bicentennial Week in San Miguel de Tucuman will culminate Saturday with a ceremony led by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with the guests to include Spanish King Emeritus Juan Carlos and the leaders of several Latin American countries.