PRESIDENCIA ROQUE SAENZ PENA
In the Argentinean north lies the Chaco region, with around a million inhabitants. The first Europeans to arrive in Chaco were Italians, and the beginning of the 20th century saw the arrival of the first Croatians, who were largely Dalmatians from Brač, Hvar, and the vicinity of Imotski. They cleared woods in order to create large farms where cattle graze day and night, as was said in a book.
The second largest city in Chaco is Presidencia Roque Saenz Pena, and it got its name after the Argentinean president from 1910. There is around 76,000 people living there, and a number of them are of Croatian descent. Even though hardly any still speak Croatian, they still have a sense of belonging to their homeland. In a central location in the city lies the Paseo Republica de Croacia boardwalk, and it contains the Chapel of Our Lady of Međugorje, the Croatian national crest, and a monument with three plates bearing Croatian family names.
Saenz Pena, Chapel of Our Lady of Međugorje
Joža Vrljičak from Buenos Aires and Branka Bezić Filipović
FOR OUR CROATIAN IMIGRANTS,
WHO MADE CHACO GREAT,
WITH THE HONESTY, HARD WORK
AND COMPROMISE WITH THIS HOLY SKY THAT GENEROUSLY EMBRACED THEM
May 5th 2001
From left to right: Branka Bezić Filipović, Estefania Plantić Varela, Alejandro Varela, Mirta Slavich and Joza Vrljičak
Three memorial plates bearing Croatian family names, at the Croatian boardwalk in the town of Presidencia Roque Saenz Pena, unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Croatians