Felicitas Guerrero

Felicitas Guerrero, born Felicia Antonia Guadalupe Guerrero y Cueto, was a wealthy Buenos Aires lady, considered in her time the "most beautiful woman in Argentina", whose life would end tragically, inspiring the imagination of various writers and achieving legendary status. Buenos Aires.

She was born on February 26, 1846 in Buenos Aires, she was the first-born of eleven children of the marriage formed between the Spanish, originally from Malaga, Carlos José Guerrero y Reissig and Felicitas Cueto y Montes de Oca.

His paternal grandparents were Antonio Guerrero from Malaga (d. 1818) and Antonia Reissig Ruano, aunt of the industrial businessman Eduardo Huelin Reissig and descendant of the Reissig lineage of Hamburg of the Germanic Empire, installed in Andalusia since the 18th century, who was a merchant. shipowner, as well as administrator of one of the fields of the Álzaga family, in the province of Buenos Aires. On the maternal side, she was the granddaughter of Manuel Cueto de la Mata and Catalina Montes de Oca.

Felicitas Guerrero y Cueto married on June 2, 1864​ with Martín Gregorio de Álzaga y Pérez Llorente, brother of Ángela Isaura​—remarried the same year with the landowner José Gregorio de Lezama—, and first-born of General Félix de Álzaga, in addition to being the grandson of the Basque-Spanish Martín de Álzaga, the last royalist mayor of Buenos Aires, who was a hero of the English invasions, but who was shot two years after the events that followed the May Revolution.

Felicitas had begged her parents not to grant Álzaga her hand, due to the great age difference with her suitor: she was 18 years old and he was 50. But her father refused, considering the union favorable, since her future husband had several tracts of land and great wealth.

Two children would be born from the marriage between Martín Gregorio de Álzaga and Felicitas Guerrero, but none would survive early childhood: Félix Francisco Solano de Álzaga Guerrero, who died at the age of three due to the yellow fever that devastated the city at that time. And Martín de Álzaga Guerrero who died at birth, the day after Felicitas was widowed.

On March 1, 1870, Martín de Álzaga died, when she was 24 years old and heavily pregnant, which she would lose the next day. Álzaga had named her heir to all her assets. Her beauty and her wealth were more than enough reasons for her to be one of the most sought-after women by various suitors, who shared evenings with her in the literary salons. Among them was Enrique Ocampo Regueira—great-uncle of the writer Victoria Ocampo—who knew her and had been dating her since before her marriage.

In November 1871, Felicitas and some friends who were at the ranch “Laguna de Juancho”—which had access to the sea and was located in the current district of General Madariaga—decided to travel to “La Postrera” in the current district of Castelli. ​, a stay that the deceased Álzaga had bought from the widow of Ambrosio Crámer and which was now Felicitas' inheritance.​

On the way, the group was surprised by a storm that suddenly darkened the sky, causing the coachman to lose his way. Felicitas Guerrero then made the carriage stop and suddenly a rider came to help them, telling her: "It's my stay, it's yours, lady." The man who had helped them was the young Samuel Sáenz Valiente, owner of the land where they had lost their way. Felicitas and her couple friends took refuge in that room. Samuel flattered her and served her with such chivalry that he caused the young widow to fall in love with him.

Shortly after, a rumor would begin to spread that the young woman had ordered a dress from Paris, and it would be from Felicitas' own mouth that Ocampo would hear about the confirmation of her feelings towards Sáenz Valiente and her refusal of the proposals. her. From that moment she would begin to suffer harassment from the jilted suitor.

In January 1872, Felicitas was very busy preparing for her wedding and the inauguration of an iron bridge of the Southern Railway over the Salado River, in the vicinity of her ranch "La Postrera." The railway company was owned by a wealthy British businessman and rural owner, Edward Lumb, with its first general manager being Edward Banfield, whose corporation was made up of British and Argentineans, with José Gregorio de Lezama being guarantors, and some of them also directors. , Ambrosio Plácido de Lezica, Federico Elortondo, Thomas Armstrong, George Drabble, Henry Harratt, John Fair and Henry Green.

The inauguration of the bridge was one of the main commemorative events of the Battle of Caseros, which had overthrown Brigadier General Juan Manuel de Rosas twenty years earlier. The bridge, which would bear the name of Ambrosio Crámer—a revolutionary unitary rancher from the Free South who had been beheaded by the Rosas federalists—was imported by engineer Luis Augusto Huergo from the United Kingdom and would extend about one hundred and seventy meters, being an important badge of progress. Felicitas had been named godmother of the work: since her late husband, Martín de Álzaga, had also participated in that anti-rosista movement.

On January 29, Felicitas arrived in time for her engagement party at the Barracas villa after shopping in downtown Buenos Aires. When she arrived, her aunt Tránsito Cueto told her that Ocampo was there and that he wanted to talk to her. Ocampo had been drinking at the "Confitería del Gas", located on the corner of the current Rivadavia and Esmeralda streets of the current Plaza Roberto Arlt, and had shown up at the villa insisting that he urgently needed to see her.​ Felicitas begged Tránsito to I would fire him with any excuse. She finally agreed and asked her aunt to tell Ocampo to wait for her in the guest room or at her desk.

After going up to her rooms to leave her belongings and put on the dress chosen for the party, Felicitas went down to greet her family and her fiancé and then appeared in the garden where the guests were. She asked to be excused since Ocampo was waiting for her, and her friend, Albina Águeda Casares y Rodríguez Seguí, offered to accompany her without success. Her brother Antonio Guerrero (14 years old) and her cousin Cristián Demaría (22 years old) would secretly escort her and listen through the garden window to protect her.

The meeting with Ocampo soon turned violent and he was heard shouting: "Are you marrying Samuel or me?" Ocampo pulled a .48 caliber Lefaucheux gun from his pocket. Felicitas tried to escape through the garden located between the mansion and the family oratory. —the current sacristy of the Santa Felicitas church—, but he shot her in the back, wounding her at the level of the right shoulder blade.

Ocampo ended up dead, without it being clear whether by his own hand or murdered by relatives of his victim. Some versions pointed to Demaría or Felicitas' brothers, or even to legitimate defense by a gentleman present at the party. After taking statements, the judge in the case, Dr. Ángel Justiniano Carranza, would declare it "suicide." Felicitas was assisted by doctors Manuel Blancas and Mauricio González Catán. The bullet had seriously damaged her spinal cord and several organs and she died the following morning, January 30, 1872.

Her body was buried in the Recoleta cemetery. On the day of her funeral, Ocampo was also buried there, and both processions met at the entrance of the place, since it was the cemetery of the wealthy families of the time.

The news of the event horrified Buenos Aires society. Having no surviving children, Felicitas' parents were the only heirs to the fortune that she herself inherited from her late husband. In her memory, they decided to build a church in the same place where she had died. This church still stands on the land that was the Guerrero family's farm, on 520 Isabel La Católica Street, between Brandsen and Pinzón, in front of Plaza Colombia, in the Barracas neighborhood. There is a myth that due to the tragedy of Felicitas' murder and the death of her son Felix, no one has wanted to marry or baptize her children in that church. In truth, the reason is that the church is not a parish, so it is not authorized to impart sacraments. It is common to see white ribbons tied to the bars of the church. These are requests for love entrusted to Felicitas.

The tragic and premature death of Felicitas Guerrero prompted her parents to undertake a task of solidarity and to pursue a different destiny than the large property where their daughter lived: "A congregation of Lourdista priests, who had arrived in these lands, contacted the Felicitas' parents, who donated this land to them so they could build a school and asked them, in return, to provide scholarships for children who did not have the resources to study," says Norma Demicheli, History teacher and person in charge of the guided tours of the Santa Felicitas Historical Complex. In addition to this study house, a dining room was built to be used by the workers of the thriving area in which, at the end of the 19th century, numerous industries were established given the proximity to the port and quick access to the south of the province.

For a few years now, these historic buildings can be accessed with guided tours, with an entrance at 1480 Pinzón Street. It is made up of: the Santa Felicitas Church, the old Álzaga Oratory, the 1893 Tunnels, and the Temple Hidden.

The story of Felicitas Guerrero has also been transferred to film and theater. In 2001, Alexis Puig directed the documentary “The Portrait of Felicitas.” Likewise, in 2009 the film “Felicitas” was released, directed by Teresa Costantini, also based on the life of Felicitas.

In 2015, “La bella en la cage de ella” by Rubén Mosquera was released, focused on Felicitas' last night before her murder. The play has returned to the stage frequently.

What happened around the death of Felicitas Guerrero is, to a large extent, an enigma. Her death makes up one of the most intriguing novels in Argentine history with clues that today would link her to a femicide that, at that time, no one knew, or wanted, to decipher. The truth is that her story and her mystique make up a large component of one of the most captivating and historical legends of Buenos Aires.

References and Photographs:


Balmaceda, Daniel; en Historias inesperadas de la Historia Argentina. Tragedia, misterios y delirios de nuestro pasado (Ed. Sudamericana, año 2011).

Calvo, Carlos; en Nobiliario del Antiguo Virreynato del Río de la Plata (Buenos Aires, año 1924).

Cutolo, Vicente; en Nuevo Diccionario Biográfico Argentino (Ed. Elche, Buenos Aires, 1968).

Herrera Vegas, J. y Jáuregui Rueda, Carlos; en Familias Argentinas (Ed. Callao 1823, Buenos Aires, año 2003).

Lozier Almazán, Bernardo; en Martín de Álzaga (Ed. Ciudad Argentina, Buenos Aires, año 1998). ISBN 987507-043-2

Pérez Calvo, Lucio Ricardo; en Genealogías Argentinas (v. I, p. 358, año 2000).

Puccia, Enrique Horacio; en Historia de la Calle Larga (Ed. Adrogué Editora, p. 286, año 1983).