Four certified charts of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands dating back to the XVIII century and belonging to the Pedro de Angelis collection of Brasilia’s National Library were given by the Brazilian Foreign ministry to the argentine delegation currently holding a bilateral meeting in the country’s capital.
“It’s an act of love and solidarity with strong historic, symbolic and political value” said Argentina’s Secretary of Culture Jorge Coscia during the meeting with his peer from Brazil Ana de Hollanda.
“They are copies dating back to the XVIII century previous to the British occupation of Malvinas and drawn by Spanish navigators”, said Ezequiel Grimson, head of the Culture department from Argentina’s National Library, which will be the custodian of the prized Brazilian gift.
The singular charts reveal a historic fact: “the map dated 1770 is intimately linked to the Spanish expedition which that year was sent to expulse the British from the (Malvinas) Islands”, added Grimson.
The Argentine archivist said that following the French defeat to the British at the Seven Year war, when it lost most of its colonial empire, France tried to recover its lost power and international standing by taking advantage of Spain and was planning to conquer the Malvinas.
The first founder of a settlement in the Falklands was Louis Antoine Bougainville who on 31 January 1764 arrived at the Islands, which he named the ‘Iles Malouines and in March built Port Saint-Louis and on 5 April 1764 took formal possession of the Islands in the name of France’s King Louis XV.
However the Spanish court claimed its right over the Islands to which France yielded while Bougainville accepted compensation for abandoning the settlement he had built, explained Grimson.
But in the meantime England aware that the Falklands would be crucial for its trade and naval interests, London organized a secret expedition to the Islands trying to circumvent the Spanish claims.
“The document donated by the Brazilian is evidence thus of the first Spanish recovery of the Malvinas Islands in 1770”, said Grimson.
In retribution for the charts of Spanish origin the Argentine delegation presented the president of the Brazilian National Gallery Foundation, Galeano Amorim the facsimile edition of “The Southern Star” which was published by the British during their brief occupation of the port city of Montevideo in 1807.
Since Montevideo was the garrison of the Her Spanish Majesty’s navy, the Malvinas actually depended from what is today’s Uruguay capital and not from Buenos Aires.
In 2009 the national libraries from Argentina and Brazil agreed on a joint project called the Pedro de Angelis virtual library, the first trans-national undertaking of its kind in South America and which brings together the documental heritage collected by one of the outstanding history science pioneers of Argentina from the century XIX.
Considered one of the first historians of Argentina, De Angelis published unedited documents and founded several newspapers. The Buenos Aires political and literary chronicle in 1827 and The Morning Star in 1829, and was also the first to begin biography publications in Argentina.
As an archivist De Angelis accumulated documents from the XVII and XVIII centuries including the first dictionaries of Guarani, the language spoken by most indigenous tribes in the River Plate basin, which were written by the Jesuits as well as chronicles of expeditions to Patagonia and to the Upper Peru in the heart of South America.