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Commerce Consulate of Buenos Aires

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Royal issue for the creation of the Consulate.
Royal issue for the creation of the Consulate.

The Commerce Consulate of Buenos Aires was one of the most important institutions of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, along with the viceroy, the Cabildo and the religious ones.

The Consulate was built in 1794 at the request of local merchants. It was a collegial body which functioned as a commercial court (called the Court) and as a society of economic development (called Governing Board). The Consulate was directly under command of the Spanish Crown, and it was directly governed by the rules dictated by the House of Trade in Seville.

It was largely a guild of merchants with powers delegated by the King in trade matters. It could settle lawsuits and claims brought by merchants and was financed by levying taxes. With the passing of the years it would increase the power of control over customs.

It was required from the Secretary of the Consulate to annually propose, through the reading of a Consular Report, ways to promote agriculture, encourage industry and protect the commerce of the region. Manuel Belgrano, Secretary of the Embassy since its inception, set for himself the goal to transform a poor and virgin region into a rich and prosperous one.

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  • Islands in the Stream: Cuban Maps from the Past to the Future
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>> From the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. >> Ryan Moore: Good morning, everyone. We're going to begin today's event. Welcome to the Library of Congress. This event is sponsored by the Philip Lee Phillips Map Society, it's the friends group of the geography and map division. My name's Ryan Moore. I am a specialist in the division and I am also the Executive Secretary of the Phillips Society. And today, we are happy to present Islands in the Stream, lecture by Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez. And, also on the screen, I just want you to take note of some of the other activities that the Society is involved with. Our latest publication is by Louis De Vorsey, it's called The History of the Gulf Stream's Missing Chapter, a very interesting piece that discusses who actually discovered the Gulf Stream. Benjamin Franklin is assumed to have discovered the Gulf Stream and understood it scientifically. This author makes a different argument about that. Very interesting piece, it's available in the back and it's also available online where you see You can download the color PDF and read it at home. Our forthcoming publication is by Cheryl Fox. She's an archival specialist here at the Library of Congress, and she's looking into the history of Philip Lee Phillips himself. He began some overseas acquisitions trips in 1905 and this was the beginning when the Library of Congress actually was going out into Europe and other places to bring things back to make this library a world-class library, in competition with France and England. This was is the time of Teddy Roosevelt, this is the time when the United States was extending itself into Latin America, and the library saw itself as part of that larger mission to be a status symbol worldwide. It's a very interesting piece. So, the last piece I have to say today is that this event is brought to you by a group of donors that was established in 1995, by Chief Ralph Ehrenberg who is here, somewhere. And these group of folks are very interested in collecting maps, history of maps, and discussing maps, and not just maps alone, but maps as a window to discuss the world. Their donations make this possible. If you're not a member of the Society, it has 400 people and institutions together contributing, we ask you to consider joining. No contribution is too small and I assure you, no contribution is too large. We are very happy to work with you if you are in that camp. So please see me or see the Chief. So, without further adieu, I would like to bring up a colleague of mine, Anthony Mullan. He is an expert in Latin American maps, the Caribbean, and the Iberian Peninsula, and he's going to kick things off today. So, without further adieu, please welcome Mr. Mullan. [ Applause ] [ Silence ] >> Anthony Paez Mullan: Thank you, Ryan. It is a great pleasure for me to introduce Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez to this audience. Today, Mr. Perez Hernandez will present us with an historical overview of Cuba, through the medium of maps, plans, and engravings. Mr. Perez Hernandez is an international consultant and world-class expert in Cuban architecture and urbanism. He is a scholar and author of several articles, books, and forthcoming works on architecture and urban design in Cuba. He received his degree in architecture from the School of Architecture at the University of Havana in 1982, where he served as adjunct professor from 1998 to 2006. He undertook advanced study as a Fellow at Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2002, and in 2013 he returned to Harvard as a visiting scholar. As a recognized architect, urban planner, and consultant, he has developed and worked on designs and projects in the US, Europe and Cuba. His works have not only included commercial, new commercial, cultural, and residential projects, but also historic preservation. Today, Mr. Perez Hernandez will narrate a history of Cuba using maps, plans, and engravings. And he will conclude by discussing his publication, Master Plan for 21st Century Havana, that describes a comprehensive urban project for the future redevelopment of Havana. And before turning the program over to our speaker, I would like -- I would briefly like to turn your attention to our extensive holdings of cartographic material for Latin America, the Caribbean region, and the Iberian Peninsula. A few statistics will suffice to demonstrate the breath and depth of the collection. The geography and map division holds more than 1000 manuscript plans, 1000 manuscript plans, maps, and atlases alone related to Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Iberian world from 1550 to 1900. Of these, that is of the manuscript materials, 81 are manuscript maps or plans of Cuban bays, harbors, towns, or cities, mostly from the 18th century, but not, not, not entirely. In addition, the division possesses more than 140 uncatalogued maps of Cuba, covering the period from 1896 to 1925. For those of you don't know much about Cuban history, this was a very important period. During these 30 years, there was the Spanish-American war, there was also the independence from Spain, Cuba's independence from Spain. And from the same time period, the geography map division holds, holds 42 catalog maps and plans of Cuba. And the division continues to review dealers' catalogs and offerings for other cartographic material, significant to the understanding of Latin American and Caribbean history and culture. Our most recent acquisition to date is a large manuscript map that we acquired last fall, which is a map from 1811, which shows Louisiana, Spanish Texas and the Trans-Mississippi West which was prepared by Father Jose Antonio Pichardo and that was prepared for the Spanish viceroy of New Spain to determine where the boundary line should be drawn between the United States and Mexico. And now, I'd like to turn the program over to Mr. Perez Hernandez. [ Applause ] >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: Good afternoon, everybody. There's so many things that I can say when I'm in Washington, DC, a city that I love, not only because it's the capital of the US, but it's just that it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world, not only the US but in the whole world. So, I am very pleased and honored to be here and I would like to thank you for joining me in this adventure, in this journey this afternoon. I am particularly grateful to the US Library of Congress and it's geography and map division. Mr. Ralph Ehrenberg, the Chief of the division, also Ryan Moore, Diane Schug-O'Neill, people have been in touch with since last year. And the very origin of this lecture is this building where I, where I came to request authorization for using a special map for the book I'm currently working on. I was particularly honored and pleased to come here with my dear friend, Leonard Hacker and his lovely wife Naomi [assumed spelling]. And we had a wonderful time thanks to the kindness, extreme kindness of Chief Ralph Ehrenberg, who we just met. Meeting people like Mr. Ehrenberg in this sort of institution confirms how great this country is and how well represented it is by its institutions. So thank you for being here. I hope that you enjoy. I am also grateful to, very much to again Diane Schug-O'Neill, for her kindness in sending me the, the maps. It treasure them, Diane. Thank you. So, the lecture slide show is also very much related to the US and the US history and the US literature. "Islands in the Stream" was the title of Hemingway's last novel. As you know, Hemingway lived in Cuba for some time and several of his writings happened there. First, in 1928, when he first arrived in Havana at the Ambos Mundos Hotel and then after the long time, he spent I think a year in the outskirts of Havana, after his wife purchased the property for him to peacefully write there. Hemingway used to fish also in the waters of the Caribbean, and at some point he was even pursuing Nazi submarines there, so it's another interesting topic for any other lecture. Hemingway and Cuba we could make. But then, the background of this picture is this famous 1500 map by Juan de la Cosa, the first map that confirmed that Cuba was an island. I'm here to talk about Cuba, of course, but I'm here to talk about the world and the world of maps. The key to understand the history of the, of the world is the history of maps. So maps bring people together, maps help understand the world, and there was a time when maps made the difference. I'm talking about that time when the Europeans mastered the oceans, especially the Portuguese. And this is to show you that this guy, Martin Waldseemuller, whose map I'm showing you, this is the one I was looking for when I came here last September, reflected the island of Cuba in his 1507 map too, just several years, seven years after Juan de la Cosa did. And Waldseemuller also made a mistake, and the mistake consisted in naming America, America. So, we're here today, this will start a fight some years later and I will let you know about it, and he, he was aware of his mistake because he tried to mend it, he tried to fix that, but at the time he was trying to do that, it was impossible to do just because of the increase of prints. So, everybody would name America this whole continent and, and it took some time, as I said, to clarify, and in fact, centuries. And, this is where Cuba is shown, here's Carta Marina, it says Terra de Cuba here, Land of Cuba. And, but again, I would like to refer to Columbus' background, because if we are here today, we are here today because of Columbus. We are here today thanks to Columbus. We are here today thanks to the Renaissance. And Columbus, in a way, was a Renaissance and benefitted from his contemporaries. This is a chart from 1455, the [inaudible] pareto, pareto chart. Where you see the how the islands were represented, not very accurately, not very precisely. We can see here this very enigmatic name of Antille, which means the anthills. People also related the Antille Island with the disappeared mythical island that, you know, is the subject of so many texts also. And then, you know, Columbus had all these cosmographic knowledge that he accumulated throughout the years, the years he, you know, Columbus was from, you know, Italy but he spent most of his life in Portugal. And there, he started to put together his plan. Columbus was a visionary. It takes a visionary, otherwise, there wouldn't be America, we wouldn't be here again. So, Columbus knew he was, he made his living as a, as a sailor but also, as a book trader. So he knew about books, among many other things, so he knew about Imago Mundi, this book. He knew also about Toscanelli, who was a Renaissance man who not only researched the cosmos and taught geometry to architect Filippo Brunelleschi, but made this map of the Atlantic that he sent to the Portugese king announcing that there would be a route to India and China, other than the one that they knew so far, meaning that sailing westward, you could get to the East. And that's what Columbus really was aware of. And Columbus was also aware that the globe, the earth was rounded, especially after this globe was made in 1492. So, Columbus made several attempts to convince kings in Portugal and Spain for his trip, for his so-called enterprise of the Indies. Remember that Columbus died believing that he had arrived in India. This is why he would say that the aboriginals were Indians. So this is where all the terms for years came, love the Indies, and the West Indies, and all those geographic terms. Yes, geography was key at this time. So this beautiful stained-glass is crowning one of the buildings in Havana, showing and displaying one of Columbus' trips. As you know, he sailed with special ships, not any ship, but the Caravels. The Caravels were particularly good to face the winds. And Columbus didn't know about the seas and the winds. You need to know that if you want to come back, you want to return to the place you departed from, otherwise, you're lost in the middle of nowhere. So here's what Columbus founded -- sorry, this is what Columbus found when he arrived in Cuba. He found very peaceful aboriginals, wearing almost nothing. Which confused him at first because he contrasted that with what he had read from Marco Polo's voyages. And he was confused, but still he couldn't figure it out. So this is why he took some of them back to Spain on his trip, on his first trip back to Spain. And then this is where Columbus arrived. This very old map. This is Baracoa in the North East part of Cuba, where he arrives on October 12th -- on October 28th, sorry, of 1492. This map, the oldest map depicting Cuba as an island, here, was done by Juan de la Cosa. Juan de la Cosa came with Columbus in his second trip. So this is from 1500, it's a treasure. And shows for the first time that Columbus was mistaken because he only thought that the land he had arrived to was a continent and not an island. So this was clarified for the first time by this very old map. This is also another chart that, chronologically speaking, you could place after Juan de la Cosa, and is the famous Cantino map. Here you find also the island of Dominican Republic, the current Dominican Republic and Cuba. With this very picturesque representation here of South America and Brazil, that was the trend. Maps, as we know them, they were pieces of art. They were ornated, they were beautiful as we cannot find current maps, unfortunately. So for us, here together maps are works of art. And that's what elevates maps to the special condition. Well, after Columbus returned, he brought, as you know, Diego Velazquez, and conquest and colonization of America started. It was a very unprecedented process of colonization, only compared to that of the Roman Empire that we are going to refer to also. These tell you about the conditions and the very precarious architecture that Columbus found. And also as how the Spaniards started to be interested in extracting the riches from America. Especially this picture is about the processing of silver at some point. In the beginning, especially after Hernando Cortes went to Mexico, and that was 1519, Cuba was neglected because the Spaniards were very interested in bringing the riches from Mexico and Peru, where they found a very different condition from the Caribbean islands. There was no civilization that you can recognize as such in the Caribbean islands, but there was a civilization in Mexico and Peru. In Peru, the ancient Tiwanaku. And in Mexico, the Aztecs and the Mayans. They had canals, sophisticated and civilized system of government. They had temples. They had a very organized urban life, as you call. So this is a map showing Christopher Columbus discoveries during his first trip in 1492. All these islands were Columbus reward after his long quest in the ocean and after his adventurous trip to America. In the same way, this also chose how the Spanish settlements were abundant in Cuba. And in fact, some clarification is needed because the original Cuban settlements were settled, and this is why I'm talking now about not only the word maps but also the Cuban cities, and especially one of them, which is the capital of Cuba, Havana. But for us to understand the urban condition of Cuban cities, we need to go back to this very old map from the 4th, 5th century, that shows the roads to Rome. The Roman Empire, they founded cities across the whole Europe and also in Spain. And the very precedents of Cuban cities are the Roman camps [inaudible]. They were fortified towns where there would be streets in both directions, meaning there was a grid. And at some point where this grid met, there was an open space that we can call let's say the primitive plaza or square. Then, of course, we find in Cuba and we find in America, this very origins of the cities that date back from the Greek from [inaudible] and also from the Romans. And this is the court, the center, of these cities and towns that were representing urban life and public activities, first in the Greek Agora and then in the Roman Forum. Where you can see certain organization, spatial organization, other than the more loose Greek type. So when it comes to the first Cuban settlements, as I said, Columbus arrived first here in Baracoa, and Diego Velazquez founded Baracoa in 1511. There are different opinions, different scholarly statements about was it 1511, was it 1512, but it's most accepted that it was 1511. So Columbus arrived here. And if you follow the grid, you don't find that this is a perfect grid, but instead, a very loose one. Why? Because in Cuba we had both influences. We have the classical influence, and we also have shared the influence from Southern Spain and the Seville. So this is why you see this is a very loose grid that basically followed the contours of the geography of the place, either the river or the sea. So some streets kind of try to be parallel to the coastline, and this is why it's explained that Havana has in a way this similarity with Seville. So you see, Seville was, you know, by the [inaudible] River. And with presence of the Moors for eight centuries, as we know, and then Havana reflects this influence other than adopting its silhouette to this marine condition here, this curve, and that explains certain curves in the grid, which is not definitely regular, is not regular. It does not conform to the law of the Indies. And why am I saying this this way? Because I get a lot of people confused with this, even scholars, okay. So I'm clarifying this for the sake of it, because none of these cities, as you can see, they follow the statements of the law of the Indies that only came -- were issued in 1573. So by the time they came, all these cities existed, especially Havana. So, when you talk about the Indies in America, you can refer them to the foundations of other cities, but not to the cities that were founded and developed, laid out, before 1573, like these ones I'm showing you in Cuba. So, by the time you leave this room you will be convinced of this. So, this is Havana, this is the, this vibrant capital of Cuba, and everything was different here for a reason. Havana makes a difference when you compare it with the other cities in Latin America. It's not that I'm chauvinist, it's not that I'm Cuban, it's just that I'm going to show you why. Number one, Havana is a polycentric city. When you go to visit, when you go visit the rest of Latin American cities, you find a plaza mayor. In Mexico, in Lima, and Buenos Aires, but not in Havana, there's no plaza mayor in Havana. Instead, there's a system of pedestrian squares that are interconnected, and where you are not threatened by cars, by the way. And so, everything started in Havana with its importance and its importance derived from the, from its strategic geographic location, hence maps are important. So, as I told you, the Spaniards were doing a fantastic job, if you want to be cynical, getting all the riches from Mexico and Peru, but the ships would not go to Spain directly, they would stop at the harbor of Havana. And they would be there for around six months. There were two trips a year. So, in the meantime, these guys were, I mean, the crews were like the inhabitants, not permanent, but tourists or sort of in Havana. They needed accommodation, they needed food, they needed entertainment. So, they would stay in Havana and the other world powers, let's say, the British, the Dutch, the French, who were at that time the enemies of Spain, they were aware of this richness being stored in the harbor of Havana. So they would come to Havana and they would harass Havana and that happened for years. In 1538, the king of Spain commissioned Hernando de Soto, who is also a name familiar to you Americans, to come to Havana as the governor and also as the [inaudible] of Florida. He was briefly in Havana, building a fort to defend the city, the city from the pirates attacks. And he built a wooden fort that was destroyed by other pirates. So, as Havana became more important, the Spanish crown decided to provide Havana with more permanent fortresses. This is why they commissioned Spanish engineers, Sanchez and Colona, to build this, which is considered the most ancient bastion fortress preserved in America. Renaissance style, made out of coral stone just from the, from the reef, just from the shoreline. Those were the natural quarries then. And a perfect squaring plan, with a hole in the middle which is the first Cuban courtyard. And then, that determined the character of the space. This is the military parade ground now, trying to face the attacks from the pirates. Then, in 1555, Jacques de Sores, the French pirate, had harassed and burnt out Havana, so they say, we need a whole defenses system. But the Spaniards were lazy. So, the Spanish crown brought the Antonelli family here and, I'm talking about the time these maps were also down in, in Italy by Gastaldi and all these guys, Forlani, that I'm going to show you. And then they sent the whole Antonelli family, or the Spanish crown hired them because they had met them in Naples. At the time, Spain owned Naples and all the south part of Italy, thanks to the new pope that had been appointed in 1492, Rodrigo Borja. So, Havana was heavily fortified and the Spaniards started the most and the largest defenses system in America, building all these forts from 1589, the La Punta and El Morro. El Morro was finished by 1639 because of being bigger. And there was -- this old map shows you a lot. It shows you how precious Havana was, and how they tried to defend it. But you, at, I will show you that it was not enough. So, look at this chain here, from La Punta to El Morro, preventing enemy ships to come into the, into the harbor. And then look at how this old space was evolving, having the fortress and the primitive church that was there. So, this is another map from the lat 16, 16th century showing how the coast of Cuba was depicted. And then, as I told you, the fortresses themselves, the fortresses alone, there were not enough. Cuba was so wanted, Cuba was so pressured by these pirates, but not Cuba, but the riches that were stored there and the cities that were just coming out from it. So, they commissioned Cristobal de Roda, who was a nephew of Antonelli, to do what's considered the first master plan of Havana, back in 1603. That is documented at the General Archives of Seville. And then, this, this is only the remains of the walls where they were mapped, showing old Havana. Isn't this wonderful? So, this is also another map from 1691, and you notice that I have to jump in time, because I'm trying to summarize five centuries of history. So, this map shows the polycentric condition of Havana and the many squares that, that were having either churches and convents and all that. Then, this is Cuba Insula, but one of the fathers of modern cartography, Mercator, the Dutch mapmaker. So you see Cuba was in the map. And then going back to Havana, this is an illustration also of one of the most famous Squares, the so-called Old Plaza, or Plaza Vieja. And you say, why vieja? Why old? Because there was only, always a new one in the making. So this, at that time was named Plaza Vieja, Old Plaza, and this engraving shows the commercial character of this plaza. So, every plaza will have a very, very precise character. There would be the military parade ground for the army. There would be the commercial plazas of St. Francis of Assisi and the Plaza Vieja and there would be, of course, the cathedral square for religious activity. This is this is one of the things that makes Havana different, also, the porches which are Havana's trademark. Now, this is a Nolli Plan. As you know, a Nolli Plan is related to that famous plan of Rome to show public space. This is a technique that we architects use to test public space and this is a map of this area from Havana that tells you more about the territory. Here you find the oldest fortress, and the square, and the palaces that were built once this territory was transformed, which I'll show you in a minute. But then, look at the maps from these times. It's a very particularly couple maps that are very dear and famous in Cuba, which are, which were done by Coronelli. Vincenzo Mario Antonelli, sorry, Coronelli was a very famous mapmaker who, you know, got this image of Cuba which is more accurate than the former ones that I've shown to you. So, a turning point in Cuban history was, happened in 1762, was the seize of Havana by the British navy. They had been studying Havana carefully for centuries. They wanted Havana. And they wanted Havana for one reason. They were not thinking about the riches, only. That was the reason for the pirates and buccaneers, but not for the British Empire. They had a different vision. And the reason was focused on United States. So, 1762 they were here, and they were trying to do something that would give them some more power in America, in the US. So they seized Havana and they stayed in Havana for 11 months, which are still considered the most affluent period ever in economic times in Havana, just because of the free trade. Before that, the Spanish crown had a strong monopoly on commerce, so the British finished that and Cuba benefitted from, from it. So the British were there. There was a resistance, people fought them, but still, they took over and it's just that they had a very particular strategy. They knew that the port was, was very well guarded. So they could not enter that way. They came the other way. They came from the east, so they, they took over. And after that, they exchanged Havana, because they were not interested in the rest of the country, this is why I also insist on Havana. They exchanged Havana, according to the Paris Treaty, for Florida and the rest of the southern territories that were owned by Spain, New Orleans included. Why? Because the southernmost part that they had was Virginia. And so, they needed this [inaudible] zone to be protected and had it more geopolitical domain of the US, so that's the historical explanation. So, after the English left, Havana had proven to be vulnerable, so they started a second defenses system, according to the latest in technology. For that, they commissioned French, Silvestre Abarca and Agustin Crame, and they provided this plan for fortifying Havana exactly at the place where the English had come from. So this is the biggest fortress in America named La Cabana. And it was so big, that when the king of Spain got the invoice, he went to the window and, you know, there's, there's no way you can you can see the sea from Madrid. Madrid is just in the middle. So, after five minutes starting outside the window, people who were in the room asked, His Majesty, what are you staring at? And he said, well, if this has cost so much and you say it's so big, it should be seen from here. So they, they built these and they build also other fortresses like the Prince Castle, an [inaudible] fortress. But the most important transformation of Havana was not a military one, but a civic one, which proves how important is to be civilized and how important it is being urban. So, the former military parade ground now was turned into this first civic center, with the construction of these wonderful palaces that are shown here. They set the paradigm for the rest of the public buildings to be built around the main squares in Havana. Look at them. Look at their wonderful architecture, their monumental scale, it's still not overwhelming, it's still in the scale of a Caribbean island. So, Havana was turning monumental and it would be also this wonderful marine city that everybody admired, that everybody wanted to come to, wanted to travel to just like it is today. It's not because it's the forbidden fruit. So this is a map that I brought from our national library, also showing not only Havana, but also the whole Caribbean, showing Florida here and showing all the relationship that was happening at this very time in the 18th century at the time something bigger was going to happen and that was Humboldt's trip to Cuba. You know, Humboldt visited America in the 1800s, and he visited Cuba, and he was the one who clarified that America was South, Central, and North America, and that it was not Amerigo Vespucci who discovered America, but Columbus. And this is also important because this is the first modern atlas showing biodiversity, which at that time was not very well understood by people. Who would care about biodiversity in the, in 1800. Okay. But it's so important, so the next growth of Havana would happen after the first plan of expansion of any city in the whole America regions. And it happened between 1817 and 1819, by Antonio Maria de la Torre. This is also important for Cuba because this is the way that the Spanish engineer, on purpose or not, created this wonderful realm of the porches in Havana. You only find this in Bologna in Italy, I mean, you can, you can walk underneath here under, under the porches for miles. Why? Because they became commercial arteries, so they needed protection. Can you imagine living in our weather with such a harsh sun, sunlight, and the [inaudible] rain, you need protection. Porches are perfect for that and that was part of Havana and they became part of the ordinances that were imposed by 1861. But before that, we had this governor in Havana who was responsible for a very ambitious plan. And this is particularly significant just because his brother was a consul here in Washington, DC. So, he knew about Washington just because of that. He was a very illustrated person, he was a despot of course, and he was a megalomaniac who would name every building and everything that he would do after him, just after him. So he would build these fantastic buildings, you know, are named the Tacon theatre, that is still seen in Havana. You go to Havana tomorrow and you will see this building from 1840. It was finished by 1840, it's still within a wonderful theatre, the great theatre of Havana. But if you look at this map, it shows the expansion of the wars happening all around this neighborhood here, before the walls were demolished. At this time, they understood that the, that the walls were completely obsolete. And that nobody else ever attacked Havana again, so it means that the Spaniards spent a lot of money building something that were at some point considered useless. So, Tacon, and Tacon's ideas are considered the birth of monumental Havana, but he had the goal of bringing the troops eventually through here from this part of the city to the new, the newly constructed Prince Castle. So, he, he also had this vision, if we ever need to displace the troops, we can do it through my avenue, Tacon's avenue. Okay, so, the, the, the very birth of modern planning happened in Havana, with laying out of these beautiful neighborhoods, El Vedado, based on a grid, and The Walls District. They are both considered the most important urban initiatives ever in Havana and these are the examples that we can still learn from today. Just briefly, the grid of El Vedado shows a lot of wisdom, just because you can notice that it was rotated 45 degrees to the north. Why? That's the best way to catch the breeze and avoid the sun. And then also, the way green was introduced, you can take a look here, this is garden setback here, defining also the border between the public and the private land, very, very wise concepts at that time. Then, jumping in time, this is 1897. This is the best detailed map of Cuba I've ever seen and it was done by the US military and it was done in 1897. And, as you know, in 1898, the US troops were here in Santiago de Cuba fighting the Spaniards. And, fortunately, ending a 30 years war that Cuba held against Spain. This is the threshold of the 20th century, so I'm bringing a summary here of the growth of Havana. Just for you to have an idea, this is a wonderful map showing all the, the grids, the different grids colliding and, and the territories that had not been built. So all this was built between -- the rest was built between 1902 and 1958, but also, at the beginning of the 20th century, two US engineers were responsible for laying out this wonderful seaside promenade, the Malecon of Havana, very much according to this diagram here, to this old postcard. Initially, it had trees and lighting features, but the American pragmatism took them away and they were never there. Also, the US influence in Havana and in Cuba was particularly great along the 20th century and the former order brought by the grid was replaced by, by the influence of the so-called City Beautiful Movement [inaudible] and all that. So the suburbs were born in Havana, in contrast, with this more order neighborhood which is Miramar, laid out by Cuban Leonardo Morales and William O' Malley, US architect. So, it's a combination of both. You can see a lot of influence from Manhattan. Remember at El Vedado we had a grid that was a square, now we have a rectangular grid here, which is very much related to Manhattan in New York. And then, the 1920's were particularly important for, for Cuba and for Havana. Cuba was affluent because Cuba benefitted from the first world war, because of the peak of the, of sugar in the international market and there was a very ambitious public works plan that brought together the wisdom of Carlos Miguel de Cespedes and the entrepreneurship of both Americans and Cubans. This is a time when the Capitolio was being built, following the example and the inspiration of the US Capitol here in Washington. This is a time when Forestier, the French landscape architect, was invited to Cuba to produce this plan of embellishment of Havana with all these, sort of Parisian boulevards that, fortunately, were not built, otherwise Havana would have been sort of distorted and the Colonial grid, especially would have been affected. So, we had people from all over the world working in Havana at this time when, when the city was acquiring this very monumental appearance with this, the construction of the presidential palace, hotels, and open air cafes, especially The Paseo del Prado, one of the most important urban spaces in Havana, but one of the, also one of the best in the world. Designed by Forestier and Cuban architect Raul Ortero, based on the concept, on the Spanish concept of the elevated plaza, separating the traffic, the pedestrians from the vehicular traffic. This is an old postcard showing the condition of The Paseo del Prado and the tallest building that you can imagine was done by [inaudible] Americans. And then, the Havana electric railways. Good news for you, the Hershey train in Havana is still working. Yes, Hershey's chocolate, American Havana. This tells you a lot about the relationship of both countries. We had a wonderful tram system that is unfortunately gone. It was killed by the cars. But our inspiration is to, at some point in the future, take it back. So, this is also a tourist map of Havana, 1951, showing how all the free areas that I showed you before, now they are built. They were urbanized, so Havana was booming, also benefitting from the second world war. So there was a boom in construction, there was a boom in architecture, there was a boom in design, and yes, the mobsters were there too, so there was a lot of influx in, in Havana. There was a lot of money poured in Havana. And then, 1956, the National Board of Planning commissioned Town Planning Associates for doing, pilot plan of Havana. Town Planning Associates was led by Catalonian architect Josep Lluis Serp, then the dean at Harvard. Had this been built, this financial district in Old Havana, Havana would have never been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. So fortunately, it was not built. And it was not only the financial district here, it was also this artificial island for casinos and hotels, across [inaudible]. Yes, it would have been Las Vegas, instead of Havana. Fortunately, it never happened. So, this is a summary of the second half of the 20th century as several, now, plans for the city of Havana. Not a lot to say about them except for there were a couple of new campuses built in Havana, one for the schools of art, one for the technological careers, and then also another one showing how Havana survived the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989. So, we're moving to the future because we do believe that Havana is ready for a change. But not any change, but a sensitive one based on sustainable principles. And this is what led me to, in a way, conceive of a plan for the future of Havana while I was [inaudible] at Harvard 2001, 2002 that I kept on developing along the next years. This is a plan that can remap Havana, meaning that can bring Havana to the future, which I will go through briefly because you must be hungry. So, this is the main concepts and strategies that the plan is based upon. It's a very comprehensive plan. It's an independent plan. This plan follows the city needs and not the government's dictations. So, it was not commissioned by the government. Nobody paid a penny for it. It's a work of love that I did for the city of Havana. So, these are the concepts that the plan is based upon. The reinforcement of the polycentric city that you heard me speaking of, the redevelopment of the waterfront, but above all, for the first time, Havana enjoys a comprehensive plan and not only a partial plan or one done by military, or by government. It's been done by a team of individuals that I led, I was honored to lead this group, and it's exactly for the future. Some other lectures that I do, I start saying that I'm here to speak about the future. But here today, I've been here to speak about the past and also about the present and the future. And this is how the future may look for Havana, especially at the harbor area, which was always the economic engine for the city. For the first time in history, the city has a plan for this harbor for it to become a contemporary commercial sport harbor instead of an industrial harbor. So we want to leave the derelict harbor behind and move on. So you see how much opportunities are here for development, for new development. But not, you know, not high-rises but the scale of Havana. Let me clarify that this is an existing high-rise from 1959. So our new proposals are based on the scale of the city and we do believe that we don't need to go to build high-rises to achieve the right density and, most important, the right intensity. Urban intensity is achieved not through high rises but sensitive building that establish a dialogue with the people and with the streets. So, this is also another new map, another new plan for the very core of Havana, the most dilapidated part in fact, which is central Havana, where there's very little public space. And this is why you can appreciate here the difference between the existing condition and our proposal. This is also another sector of Havana, we have a plan for the whole city and for the, for all the neighborhoods for the first time in history. We, we've gone beyond that, because we do believe in democracy. And for the first time in history, there's a plan, this plan that has been consulted with the people, and not only the people of Havana, but people who've come to Havana from all over the world to share their ideas and their concepts, and because they do believe in the value of the master plan for the future of Havana. I'm proud to say that are several of them in this room, for which I'm very honored and happy. And I also hope that most of you, all of you, visit Havana and be part of this effort. We've tested the ideas of the master plan through public charrettes, public workshops, week-long charrettes, where we submit these ideas to the people. We consult with them, people participate and they are part of it. I can't remember, I'm saying that I am totally sure that this had never been done in Cuba. So, there's a combination here of things that I learned across the years through my trips, especially to Scandinavia, because we do believe that cities are for the people. Cities are the true repositories of history, but this is the, probably the highest achievement of our civilization, living in cities. And so, this is a map of Cuba. As you know, the magic has gone. It has a lot of information, but there's no beauty. There's no, this ancient beauty that we found in ancient maps is gone. So I know that this cannot be taken back just because of the digital age. And I know that now instead of using one of these maps that I still use, whenever I come to a city I ask for the map of the hotel I'm staying at, now we use, you know, in our phones, either in our phones or our computer, we use digital maps. We use Google Earth and all that, which is very useful. I also use it for when I drive. But, the magic is gone, we have to acknowledge that. And the art of the ancient maps is gone. I want to say something to finish the lecture that I wrote for the book I'm currently working on and it goes like, There's cartography of the world for sure, but will there ever be a whole cartography of our ever-expanding universe? There's cartography of place and there's cartography of time. Cartography of the human being and cartography of the cosmos. When the mapping of time and place converge, then the awareness of arriving at a sense of transcendental understanding of life and the world is achieved. A balance between the known and the unknown, yet ultimately, a self-contemplation of mankind's soul. Ultimately, when all cartographies merge into one, a great deal of the mystery of life will be revealed. A single point and yet an all encompassing spell stemming from the wonder of human life on planet Earth. Thank you very much. [ Applause ] I would welcome any questions. Please Mark. >> Could you go back to your first slide for a minute? >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: First slide? >> Yeah, the very first one. With the map of the world. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: Oh, the Waldseemuller. >> Yes. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: You want the Waldseemuller? Waldseemuller was, by the way, this sort of crazy monk, living in France, and putting together a group of scholars, and trying to figure out what do we publish next? And this is how Vespucci's letters and statements were published for the first time. And this is how America, the name, was branded, in a way. Any questions, please? Naomi please. >> How will the plan that you and your other group have developed be advanced in Cuba? >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: Well, good news, Naomi. When I was back in Cuba recently, I saw that some of the ideas of the master plan are already being implemented. So, it means that it seems to be happening in our lifetime, which is good news. Not many people are so lucky and then, you can ask me why, how is that? Well, as I said, we do a charrette every year. And we deliver a publication of our charrette to the office of the historian of the city. And then some people who know these are my ideas, they write an email to me and they say, oh, I saw this and I know they didn't give you any credit. And I say, you know what, I don't care, because while Havana is benefitting from this, I wouldn't care that they give me credit. It's not about ego, it's about the city. Please, this other lady over there. Please. >> You talked about urban density and that it's not composed of high-rises. So we hear what it's not composed of. Would you talk a little bit more about what it is composed of? >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: That's another lecture, my dear. But anyway, I, I am not saying I can't reply to that. There is an expanded mistake that urban density can only be achieved by building high-rises. I'm fortunate to be here in Washington, DC, a city that is a good example of that. I can also mention Madrid, London, Rome, Paris, you know, you've got seven, nine story, and the urban density is incredible. But when you build high-rises, the problem is that you start losing the quality of the adjacent spaces. And then, yeah, you live on the 29th floor and there are two cities in America, in the US sorry, that are probably the exception for that. I would say Chicago and New York, cities I love. Their urban condition is different and their synergy is different, their energy is different, and the idiosyncracies of both cities are different. And they are different and unique, which, which means that you should not imitate them, because if you imitate them, then you've got Hong Kong and you've got, you know, these Chinese crazy cities. You know, yeah, they're crazy and they are polluting the world, we know. And we should not allow that to happen. So, in a good way you have to blame the high-rises for this. You have to blame the skyscrapers, which are not efficient buildings as we know, which are not a good example of design in most cases. Take a look at the beauty of Washington, DC. Take a look at the beauty of the neoclassical buildings. Take a look at the other buildings that have been built in Washington, DC, especially in the mall area. They are fantastic. You know, this is something we admire. Why is Washington so special? Why is it so appealing? Because of it's European character, L'Enfant. Let's face it. The American cities are not so nice, the rest of them, I love Boston, I love San Francisco. I don't like Miami. I don't like it, because it's anti-urban. Miami is the, is the kingdom of suburbs. You cannot walk, you cannot rub shoulders, you cannot talk to people, and it's a complete, completely disconnected city. [Inaudible Question] Well, and then, well you've got the wonderful northeast cities which Washington is the southernmost part. Recently, I had a conversation with my oldest son, who is in delivering business, he's a software developer, but he loves architecture for a reason. And he said, you know what, I think that the best city in the US, in the north, we talk about the Northeast, we talk about the Northwest, we talk about the Midwest, which is lovely, because it has not been spoiled by skyscrapers, and we talked about Washington and he was reflecting about that and he said, you know father, I think that Washington is the, the most beautiful southern city in the US. And I said, well, but what about Charleston and Savannah? And he said, stop there. Let's leave it for now Washington, DC, okay. So, please. >> Did you allow for pedestrian areas? You didn't point them out, but I would assume that in Europe they're very prominent. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: You're right, you're right. We inherited that tradition. Havana, for example. >> [Inaudible] that Cuba will inherit from the rest of the Caribbean is the cruise ships. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: My darling, I have bad news for you. I have bad news for you. There are cruise ships in Havana weekly, twice a week. And they are these humongous city-like, like block size ships, not the scale of the port of Havana. So we advocate for sailing ships. I don't know if you are familiar with [inaudible] ship, are you? Good. Well, that's the size of vessels we would welcome in Havana, if I were the mayor, which is not going to happen. I don't want that. So any other question please? No more questions? >> Actually, I do have one. >> Okay. >> How would you say currently the Cuban architecture and the construction of Havana influenced the later construction of the cities in South America? If you can find any relationship at all. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: There is certainly a relationship, but still there are many differences, in the same way there are difference between the Cuban cities and their European precedents. I mean, if you go to Seville, if you go to Cadiz, you'll find a lot of similarities between those cities and Havana. You immediately recognize, if you go there you say, well, this is where I'm coming from. This is the very origins, but, but still there are so many difference and there's a reason for that. You know, number one, the labor that was taken to Havana, they had this DNA, so this is what they knew. They, they were very pragmatic. They had only their experience to build towns and cities in Cuba. And they had to use different materials. They had to use local materials. So, the carving you find in cities in Spain or certain sophistication is not the one that you will find in Havana. When it comes to older Latin American cities, let's say Cartegena Indies, well, you find their buildings, courtyard buildings for example, that could be one of the main similarities. At the urban level, you'll find there's a grid. And the grids of those Latin American cities are more perfected than the ones you find here, except for the grid of the city of Cienfuegos in Cuba, which is a neoclassical city, a 19th century, founded in 1819. It's a perfect grid, like the ones you find in any of the Latin American countries. Please. [Inaudible Question] A little bit louder, please? >> So what can you say about the challenges that Havana is going to face going forward with, say as it starts experiencing. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: The main challenge is the stubbornness of the, of the governing bureaucracy. Yeah, I speak my mind. People who are in this room, they know me. >> [Inaudible] for tourists. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: Yeah, infrastructure, upgrading infrastructure is one of the concepts in my plan. There was a time when Havana was a world example of modern infrastructure, very much thanks to the US. The US built in Cuba the most advanced sewage system in the world. They, they made an experiment and it worked. And that is still the one that Havana enjoys, but you know, it's a century old, my dear, so you need to renew it, same for the streets. You know, one of the things that the US intervention government did in between 1899 and 1902 was the repavement of the, of the stress of Havana. They used a very, then, advanced system of macadam. Are you familiar with the system? It's very, very good. So, you'll find some streets in Havana that still paved with the macadam system. And then there were other improvements that, that were introduced by the US government in all fields. For example, in education they brought teachers to study at Harvard and Cornell. And they introduced a lot of urban improvements. Yeah, probably last question, right? >> You mentioned the US government and you had a slide up there where, I guess it was an army map, of the late 19th century where it was covered up there. What, could you just describe what was underneath? >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: [Laughter] Underneath was a map of Cuba. Underneath the concept, you can guess. Remember that this was 1897 and the US was there in the next year. Teddy Roosevelt Riders. Okay. >> Thank you. >> Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez: Thank you. [ Applause ] >> This has been a presentation of the Library of Congress. Visit us at

Manuel Belgrano and the Consulate

The first and only Secretary of the Consulate, Manuel Belgrano, had to play with caution in assuming the leadership of that task the 3 June, 1794. Having been designated as perpetual secretary of the consulate, he wrote the guidelines that would follow in its efforts of economic development. These guidelines were supported by a document that has reached our days. The ideals of the Consulate and what could be achieved for the benefit of the viceroyalty, however, were far from desired.

However, instead of assuming a position of outright opposition, he adopted a tone of education, which included frequent praise and prostrations to the king and the authorities. The criticism was always, therefore, by the contrast between the situation he complained (apparently without accusing any person or body) and what the authorities should have done, which should ensure the general welfare, and who were therefore guilty by neglect or inaction. Afterwards the Belgrano's posting June the 3rd day was known as the Economist day in Argentina[1]


  1. ^ Ley 1066 Archived 2011-06-29 at the Wayback Machine.
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