Thursday, March 20, 2008
Who was or is Gauchito Gil?
The picture above is of man named Antonio Mamerto de la Cruz Gil Núñez. Little Gaucho Gil is what Gauchito Gil stands for. Gauchito Gil was killed by the Police of the Province of Corrientes, Argentina, in the last years of the 19th century or sometime in the early years of the 20th century. For police forces of Corrientes and other provinces Gil was a bandit, a normal outlaw, thief, hooligan.
Today, Gil is a seen as a saint, a heroe and as a kind of neotropical Robin Hood who stole from the rich farmers and landowners and gave to the poor. Gil spent years fleeing and miraculously avoidng being caught by authorities. But one day, there was no escape. Gil fell victim of a bullets shot by a police man. As he fell, the legend goes, he looked his killer straighit in the eye and said that the officer's son whom the father had left dying at home, would be at the door to receive him. Then Gil died.
The policeman did his job, carried Gil's body to the police headquarters and went home. The foirst person he saw at the door, was his son that had been waiting for death for a long time. Itn is needless to say that the police officer was the first to believe that Gil was a saint. Today, under the name of Little Gaucho Gil or Gauchito Gil, he is venerated by 200,000 people every year who descend on the city of Mercedes in November to pay for graces received, to search for new graces and above all to thank the Heroe of Corrientes.
But devotion to the Little Gaucho popular saint is not limited to the pilgrimage to Mercedes. Throughout the year travelers along Argentina's national, provincial and country roads will see small and big red shrines, decorated with red flags, honoring the memory of Gauchito Gil. If Puerto Iguazu, by Iguassu Falls, is all you are going to see of Argentina, you can see a little Gauchito Gil shrine on the left side road the leads to the Falls. It is near the ITEC - Iguazu Technical Institute, a school associated with the Canadian Niagara College.