PACHECO, JORGE

1761 - 1833 from Argentina


soldier and colonist, was born in Buenos Aires on 25 April 1761. At twenty, he began a military career as a second lieutenant in the cavalry taking part in several campaigns against the Indians. In 1799 he is known to have been a captain based in Montevideo and fighting the Churrua Indians. Pacheco supported the Revolution of May in 1810 as a captain of militia. But as a result of all his activities he became impoverished, with the newly independent Buenos Aires government owing him about 100,000 pesos. It could not pay this.

In 1819, Pacheco was introduced to Louis VERNET, who began to lend him money. By 1821, Vernet had lent him a total of 2,000 pesos, so on 11 April, Vernet formally agreed to support him financially until he could collect what government owed him, half of which would then belong to Vernet. This association between Pacheco and Vernet was to lead to Vernet's life's work in the Falklands. Pacheco was married to Dionisia Obes, sister-in-law of Bernardo BONAVÍA, who had commanded the Spanish garrison on the Falklands on several occasions. Through them, Pacheco and Vernet learned of all the wild cattle in the Falklands - and Vernet was in the business of slaughtering wild cattle for hides.

When it appeared that Pacheco would never get any money from the Buenos Aires government, he, with Vernet's close collaboration, petitioned for the right to slaughter the wild cattle and seals on East Falkland, as a business speculation, to rescue himself from poverty and give his six children a future. Pacheco made this petition on 23 August 1823 and the Buenos Aires government granted it to Pacheco on 28 August. The very next day, Pacheco did a business deal with a British immigrant Robert SCHOFIELD, who was to manage, more accurately mismanage, the expedition to the Falklands.

On the 18 December 1823, when the expedition was about to sail, Pacheco petitioned for an actual grant of land on East Falkland on which to raise sheep, and for a retired militia officer, Pablo Areguati, whom the expedition had engaged, to be granted the title of commander of East Falkland. This position was to be without salary, but would enable him to form a militia from the expedition's men, and thus get respect from the workers themselves and the captains of visiting ships. Areguati was of Guarani Indian orirgin, from a settlement protected and educated by the Jesuits (until their expulsion for helping the Indians in 1767). He was made 'mayor' of the settlement of Manisovi, in what is now the province of Entre Rios and appointed a militia officer by General Belgrano in 1811 during local warfare with Paraguay. Pacheco also requested cannon, so the expedition could defend itself against pirates.

The grant of land was made the same day - subject to a proper survey of the land concerned. It was later (in January 1828) specified as three parcels, each of ten square leagues. But the request to make Areguati a 'commander' was not granted, nor were cannon supplied. Despite this, Argentine myth-makers have transformed this petition and its unsatisfactory reply into the appointment of Areguati as governor of the Falklands. Mario Tesler, Argentina's leading historian on the Falklands, included Areguati in an article in the newspaper Clarin entitled: 'Gobernadores Que Nunca Fueron' (the governors who never were). This clearly states that Areguati's appointment was only requested, but not granted.

The 1824 expedition was a disaster. One ship, the Rafaela, left Buenos Aires towards the end of December, equipped to go sealing. It was never heard of again. A second ship, the Fenwick, arrived in the Falklands on 2 February 1824. This had Areguati on board. His letter dated 12 February to Pacheco described their difficulties. Only five thin horses had survived the voyage, and these could not cope with the difficult ground. The expedition had no gunpowder with which to hunt, and were living off rabbits they had caught. Schofield followed in March, but turned to drink. The expedition collapsed after a few months and everyone lost their investment. In August of 1824, the last of the expedition got back to Buenos Aires and were paid off. As Pacheco had no money, Vernet had to assume his portion of the loss.

To recover this lost investment, Louis Vernet launched another business association to exploit the seals and cattle on East Falkland. For this, Pacheco ceded the rest of the use of East Falkland granted to him in August 1823 to this new association (Vernet considered that half of this had belonged to him from the very beginning). The contract was dated 31 December 1825.

After many difficulties, Vernet established a tiny working settlement in the Falklands. He obtained the grant of almost all of East Falkland in January 1828, and via a complex deal took over the rest of Pacheco's 30 square leagues then too. Despite the difficulties which Vernet's association with Pacheco had caused, they remained good friends until the very end, with Vernet even looking after him on his deathbed.

Writing to his friend Krumbhaar on 27 December 1832, Vernet said: 'my worthy old friend Dn Jorge Pacheco is ill ... and now takes up all my attention'. Adding to the same letter on 7 January, Vernet wrote:

My friend Don Jorge Pacheco expired on the 5th instant aged 73 years much lamented and respected by his numerous friends. It was for the important services which he had rendered the country that he obtained in 1823 the first grant of cattle and some lands on East Falkland Island in which I was concerned one half in consideration of having supported his family from 1819 until 1823 (He was not concerned in the grant of 1828). He was a much respected military officer during the greater part of his life, and latterly a member of the house of representatives.

No information is available on Pacheco's service in the House of Representatives, which Argentine historians appear to be unaware of - or at least never mention. But there is no reason to doubt Vernet on this. In an account written in April 1837, Vernet stated that Pacheco acknowledged owing him 7,000 pesos in his will. So we can assume that Pacheco never got any financial benefit at all from the Falklands enterprise. He never went there, nor did he hold any official position there.

Authors

PJ Pepper