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This article reports on the destruction of a theater set made by Antonio Berni at the Teatro del Pueblo in Buenos Aires. The report mentions the situation that artists were facing under the repressive measures of the G.O.U. (a group of Argentinian army officers known as the Grupo de Oficiales Unidos). The article is about contemporary conditions in Argentina, but it is of interest because it testifies to the bonds of solidarity that existed between the two AIAPE associations, on either side of the Río de la Plata, during those difficult years. It should also be remembered that Berni had enjoyed considerable influence among social realist painters in Uruguay ever since his exhibition in Montevideo in 1938.  


In November 1930, two months after the coup d’état that overthrew President Hipólito Yrigoyen and launched the long period of Argentinian institutional instability that was known as the Década Infame (1930–43), the Teatro del Pueblo was founded. The Teatro was a great shot in the arm for the arts which fostered a sense of renewal in the theater and provided support for a broad range of cultural activities. The theater became an instrument of resistance against the rise of fascism; more than just a place to stage performances, it was a redoubt where intellectuals could meet to craft aesthetic and political messages. The Teatro del Pueblo opened in February 1931, and was soon presenting plays by the likes of Nicolás Olivari, Álvaro Yunque, Roberto Mariani, and Horacio Rega Molina, as well works of universal literature by Shakespeare, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Tolstoy, and Jean Cocteau, among others. It was created and directed by the playwright Leonidas Barletta, whose sympathies lay with the independent left wing. Artists such as the printmaker Guillermo Facio Hebequer and the painters Antonio Berni and Emilio Pettoruti designed the sets for these plays and helped to illustrate the avant-garde magazine Conducta. Al servicio del pueblo. This independent theater, born in the 1930s, grew into a cultural phenomenon that had a profound impact throughout Latin America and especially in cultural circles in the Río de la Plata region.   


This document condemns the outrages committed by the GOU (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos) against culture. In 1943 the group was consolidated in Argentina as a “nationalist” organization whose objectives were to put an end to the long social conflict fueled by the fraud of the Década Infame and contain the labor movement that was hobbling the political left. Defended by the GOU, militarism, nationalism, and anti-communism were detrimental to many Argentinian artists and intellectuals. All this was condemned by the Uruguayan AIAPE in a gesture of solidarity with its homologous association in Argentina. 

Marina Garcia, Gabriel Peluffo
Archivo Joaquín Aroztegui