Publisher: AK Press
Released: July 15, 2016
At the very end of Rebellion in Patagonia, Osvaldo Bayer writes: “Time always tears down the curtain that tries to hide the truth. A crime can never be covered up forever.” He demonstrates that principle in this moving and nuanced study of strikes led by the powerful anarcho-syndicalist labor union FORA against the despotic landowners and industrialists of Argentina’s Patagonia region in 1921– 1922. The tale ends tragically, with thousands slaughtered, but Bayer’s detailed descriptions and first-person testimonies capture the beauty and heroism of the struggle. Banned and publicly burned in the 1970s, this is the book’s first English translation—with a new introduction by Scott Nicholas Nappalos and Joshua Neuhouser.
Praise for Rebellion in Patagonia
“The recovery of a historic struggle of the importance of Rebellion in Patagonia by Osvaldo Bayer is a decisive contribution to the social struggles of today. It offers not just a reconstruction of the past, but an example of what we, ordinary people, can do, and what we will continue to do, for our collective dignity.”
—Raúl Zibechi, author of Territories in Resistance: A Cartography of Latin American Social Movements
“Genocide against the militant left in Argentina did not begin in 1975 with Isabel Perón or the military dictatorship of 1976–1983. Disappeared people and hidden bodies were the norm even fifty years earlier, when the Argentine army’s murder of 1,500 agricultural workers was ordered by democratically elected, pseudo-progressive President Yrigoyen. The scandal was silenced until Osvaldo Bayer, journalist and historian, wrote this courageous investigative work (which also led to a 1974 whistleblowing film) in the middle of another of Argentina’s most repressive eras.”
—Frank Mintz, translator of the French edition, La Patagonie rebelle 1921–1922: Chronique d’une révolte des ouvriers agricoles en Argentine
"Based on five years of research and written in an idiosyncratic, almost hard-boiled style, the book recounts the history of a motley coalition of uneducated Chilote farmhands, exiled European anarchists, and renegade gauchos who went on strike in 1920. For two years, they rode across the cold plains of southern Argentina, seizing ranches, horses and arms from a comically corrupt aristocracy, and struggling to stay one step ahead of both the police and the nationalist paramilitaries. Their story is an epic of moral ambiguity and shifting alliances, and like a good epic it ends in betrayal and cold-blooded mass murder."
—John Farley, Full Stop
"Rebellion in Patagonia is not cheerful reading and might leave you asking ‘What can you do but weep?'... Despite the brutality, this is a very humane book because Bayer is determined to bear witness and writes with a clear grasp of what’s at stake."
—Kate Sharpley Library
"It is indeed daunting to say something new or meaningful of a book as widely read, commented and even filmed as Bayer's Rebellion in Patagonia. The English translation of this classic of anarchist literature can hardly be more timely or welcome in these present times of duress. The degree of detail, the vivacity of the narration, and the passion it conveys made it an instant, but heavily contested, success."
—Gregorio Alonso, Anarchist Studies Journal
Osvaldo Bayer is an author, journalist, and scriptwriter who was exiled from Argentina during the years of military dictatorship. His works include The Anarchist Expropriators and Anarchism & Violence. He currently lives in Buenos Aires.