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Montevideo, February 21st 2019 - 11:54 UTC

Former President Julio Argentino Roca not good enough for a Neuquén school's name

Tuesday, December 18th 2018 - 19:50 UTC
Full article 22 comments
The school now hides the name of the former president under a blue cover The school now hides the name of the former president under a blue cover

School No. 103 in the Argentine city of Neuquén Tuesday changed its name from that of two-time President “Julio Argentino Roca” to “Rosa Alaniz,” who was one of the first teachers of the institution.

The name change comes after an initiative from a group of parents who felt offended that the school bore the name of a general who commanded the national government's forces against native tribes during the Conquest of the Desert campaign late into the 19th Century.

The project began in 2012, as much of the Neuquén community is said to support the Mapuche people in different actions linked to the name of General Roca, for his role in oppressing the native people of Patagonia.

“We began to know the figure of Roca as genocidal and racist,” one of the mothers of the No. 103 school community told a local radio station.

“Children from the Mapuche community attend this school, and that's why it was also done,” a father also explained.

According to the Provincial Council of Education's (CPE) resolution, “the process took a time of participation of parents, students, alumni, management team, teachers and assistants, who proposed new significant names...”

Finally, the CPE decided to authorize the name change which became official during a ceremony Tuesday morning.

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  • Enrique Massot

    What is called La Conquista del Desierto -- a desert that wasn't a desert -- is one of the most shameful chapters of the Argentina history, and general Roca was instrumental in the extermination, either through battle, through massacres that included children and women, or through forced relocation or concentration camps.

    The immense expanses of land included in the so-called Conquest ended up in the hands of a handful of well known, privileged families which reinforced an Argentine oligarchy that even today climbs to its privileges while keeping the country underdeveloped and in a state of dependency.

    I commend those parents who insisted that Roca's name be dropped from their kids' school.

    Dec 21st, 2018 - 05:30 pm +2
  • DemonTree

    Not saying I agree with them about Roca, but there's a big difference. For example, I don't think anyone wants to erase Hitler from history, but they certainly aren't naming schools after him.

    Dec 19th, 2018 - 05:21 pm +1
  • DemonTree

    After the fall of the USSR they renamed Leningrad and Stalingrad, and pulled down most of the statues put up in communist times. I'm sure the history that Russian kids learn in school has changed a lot since then, too, but I doubt you object to any of that. After the Iraq invasion they pulled down the statues of Saddam, although no one can deny he was an important person in the history of Iraq.

    I agree we should judge people according to their own time, and teach history in as fair and accurate way as possible, but putting up statues and naming things after someone is honouring them, so it's fair enough to reconsider from time to time what sort of acts and people we want to honour.

    Dec 20th, 2018 - 01:07 am +1
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