Osvaldo Bayer

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Osvaldo Bayer. Linz am Rhein, 1999

Osvaldo Bayer (Santa Fe, February 18, 1927) is an Argentine writer and journalist. He lives in Buenos Aires, and in Linz am Rhein, Germany, where he went into exile in 1974 during the presidency of Isabel Perón. Bayer remained in exile in Germany throughout the "National Reorganization Process" dictatorship (1976–1983).[1][2]


Osvaldo Bayer is a self-defined "ultra-pacifist anarchist”. He was born in the capital city of Santa Fe, and grew up in Bernal, and in the mostly German populated Belgrano neighborhood in the capital city of Buenos Aires.[1] His parents, lived in Rio Gallegos the experience would later become inspiration for his Patagonia rebelde’’, a historical reconstruction of the legendary strikes that severely marked the political process in the Argentina of the 20th Century. The essay would eventually be brought to the screen as a fiction film directed by Héctor Olivera. The release of the film would ultimately derived in Osvaldo Bayer’s exile during the presidency of Isabel Perón.[1]

After having worked for an insurance firm and on the merchant marine as an apprentice helmsman,[1] he studied history in the University of Hamburg, Germany, from 1952 to 1956, and became there a member of the Socialist Students’ League.[1]

Returning to Argentina afterwards, he dedicated himself to journalism, investigation, and history of Argentina, as well as writing film scenarios. He also studied medicine a year, then philosophy at Buenos Aires. According to him,

Disgusted by local socialist policies, he turned towards the Federación Libertaria Argentina (FLA), having already been acquainted to anarchist literature during his time in the German Socialist Students' League.[1]

Furthermore, he founded the Department of Human Rights in the School of Philosophy and Humanities of the University of Buenos Aires.[1]

He worked in the newspapers Noticias Gráficas, Clarin and Esquel, a local newspaper in the Patagonese town of Esquel. In 1958 he founded La Chispa ("The Spark"), "the first independent newspaper of Patagonia".

A year later, he was accused by Pedro Aramburu's military regime of diffusing strategic information, and forced by the National Gendarmerie to quit Esquel.[1] Thereafter, Bayer was from 1959 to 1962 general secretary of the Press Syndicate. Immediately after being expelled from Esquel, he was hired by the national daily Diario Clarín, where he became Chief of Politics' section. He had, under his direction, the journalist Félix Luna, who founded in 1963 the history magazine Todo es Historia, to which Bayer collaborated.[1]

In 1963, he was arrested for 63 days by General Juan Enrique Rauch, then Minister of Interior[citation needed] under José María Guido's government, appointed by the military[1] and little-son of Colonel Federico Rauch, for having unsuccessfully proposed during a debate in the library of Rauch (Buenos Aires Province) a plebiscite in order to rename the town to Arbolito, the nickname of the Ranquel (a tribe close to the Mapuche) who had allegedly killed the German militar in battle in 1829. Rauch was qualified by Bayer as guilty of genocide.[citation needed]

During María Estela Martínez de Perón's regime, Bayer was threatened several times, due to the content of his work, and mainly of his book La Patagonia rebelde, on the crushing of a rural workers uprising in Patagonia during the early 1920s, under Hipólito Yrigoyen's rule. He was therefore forced to exile himself to Berlin in 1975, while the "Dirty War" was beginning. In 1980 or 1981, Bayer attempted to organize a charter flight to Argentina that would bring a group of prominent Latin American and European intellectuals, including Osvaldo Soriano, Julio Cortázar, and Gunter Grass to Argentina as a protest against the dictatorship. Cortázar's refusal to participate reportedly torpedoed the plan.[3] Bayer only returned to Argentina after Raúl Alfonsín's 1983 election and the transition to democracy.

Bayer's best-selling first book, on the Italian anarchist Severino Di Giovanni, was proscribed by President Raúl Alberto Lastiri (1973), as was La Patagonia Rebelde, his second work, by Isabel Perón; others were burnt by the military after they took power in 1976. Francesco Rosi, who directed the Christ Stopped at Eboli, planned to make a film adaptation of his book on Di Giovanni, but renounced the project after the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, saying it was not the time to make a film on a terrorist.[1]

Transition to democracy[edit]

He was nominated Doctor Honoris Causa on 20 April 2003 by the Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires for his work in the fields of human rights, literature and journalism. On this day, he alluded to his forced exile, stating that:

Bayer is today involved in the struggle for Indigenous rights. Fifteen days after having been declared "Illustrious Citizen of Buenos Aires" by the mayor Aníbal Ibarra, he was declared persona non grata by the Senate (an initiative of Eduardo Menem) for having proposed the unification of the Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia, as the "first step for a common Latin-American market".[5]

As of 2008, he collaborates with the newspaper Página 12, founded Jorge Lanata. He is the author of the scenario of the film La Patagonia Rebelde, adapted from his book and realized by Héctor Olivera, which won the Silver Bear Award in the 1974 Berlin International Film Festival. He also wrote the screenplay of the 1988 film La Amiga, a drama on the dictatorship.


  • Severino Di Giovanni, el idealista de la violencia. Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires (1970).
  • La Patagonia rebelde (tomos I y II). Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires (1972).
  • La Patagonia rebelde (tomo III). Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires (1974).
  • Los anarquistas expropiadores y otros ensayos. Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires (1975).
  • La Patagonia rebelde (tomo IV). Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, 1975, Berlin.
  • Exilio. Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer y Juan Gelman, editorial Legasa, Buenos Aires (1984).
  • Fútbol argentino. Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires (1990).
  • Rebeldía y esperanza. Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, Grupo Editorial Zeta, Buenos Aires (1993).
  • Severino Di Giovanni, el idealista de la violencia (reedición). Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, Editorial Planeta, Buenos Aires (1998). ISBN 987-580-092-9
  • En camino al paraíso. Ensayo. Osvaldo Bayer, editorial Vergara, Buenos Aires (1999).
  • Rainer y Minou. Novela. Osvaldo Bayer, Editorial Planeta, Buenos Aires, (2001).


Excerpt from "Los cuentos del timonel".


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Fernando López Trujillo, An Interview with Osvaldo Bayer, Argentine Public Intellectual and Social Historian, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, Vol. 5 - No. 2. Fall, 2001 (English)
  2. ^ “Los Cuentos del Timonel” (2001). Documentary film, biographical sketch on Osvaldo Bayer. Germany, 1999.
  3. ^ http://elnosoyloquedeberia.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/el-cuento-de-por-que-osvaldo-bayer-estaba-enojado-con-cortazar-un-post-que-calienta-el-fuego-del-dia-de-los-derechos-humanos-que-ya-saben-es-el-viernes/
  4. ^ Spanish:Hace 27 años empezaba esta dictadura que hizo desaparecer a tantos queridos amigos y que a uno lo obligó a irse del país. Yo no voy a perdonar nunca a la dictadura por tener que irme por escribir La Patagonia Rebelde. Con un cambio absoluto y total también para mis hijos y mi mujer. Pero esto no es nada comparado con aquellos que perdieron la vida o sus hijos. Ninguna persona con un mínimo de sentimiento humanitario puede soportar una cosa así (...) Recibir este premio que uno nunca soñó. Cuando yo tuve que irme, el brigadier de aviación que estaba en Ezeiza me dijo: usted jamás va a volver a pisar tierra de la Patria. Y hoy no sólo piso tierra de la Patria, sino que me dan un premio
  5. ^ Osvaldo Bayer, Después de anoche, sólo me queda Marlene, Página 12, 4 June 2007 (Spanish)

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