Rebellion in Patagonia

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Rebellion in Patagonia
Directed byHéctor Olivera
Produced byFernando Ayala
Screenplay byHéctor Olivera
Fernando Ayala
Osvaldo Bayer
Based onLos Vengadores de la Patagonia Trágica
by Osvaldo Bayer
StarringHéctor Alterio
Luis Brandoni
Federico Luppi
José Soriano
Fernando Iglesias 'Tacholas'
Music byÓscar Cardozo Ocampo
CinematographyVictor Hugo Caula
Edited byOscar Montauti
Distributed byTricontinental Film Center (United States)
Release date
13 June 1974
Running time
110 min.

Rebellion in Patagonia (Spanish: La Patagonia rebelde) is a 1974 Argentine drama-historical film directed by Héctor Olivera and starring Héctor Alterio, Luis Brandoni, José Soriano and Federico Luppi. It was written by Olivera with Osvaldo Bayer and Fernando Ayala, based on Osvaldo Bayer's renowned novel Los Vengadores de la Patagonia Trágica ("The Avengers of Tragic Patagonia"), which was based upon the military suppression of anarchist union movements in Santa Cruz Province in the early 1920s.

It was entered into the 24th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear.[1]


Workers in Patagonia, influenced by anarchist ideas, demand improvements in hotel pay and conditions. After employers initially agree to workers' demands, which are supported by workers in other sectors and areas, the regional governor, under pressure from local employers, order the paramilitary police to intervene to suppress union and political activity, despite the protests of a local judge. In response to such harassment, a general strike is declared, paralyzing the ports and wool production for export. The national Radical Civic Union government supports the workers' rights, and the workers call for union recognition and improvements to the conditions of agricultural workers. Employers reject the demands and bring in replacement workers, but the convoys are attacked by armed strikers who shoot down the soldiers guarding them. Workers use arson and sabotage to disrupt production and take hostages. More fighting erupts between armed police and strikers.

An army- and judge-led mediation attempt commissioned by President Yrigoyen condemns police partiality and the exploitative nature of the company store system. After six weeks, the strike is settled in the workers' favour with the first ever collective agreement for Patagonian rural workers and they hand in many of the weapons they seized from the rural estates. Employers are outraged by having the unfavourable terms imposed on them by the government and respond with selective sackings and denial of service at company stores. Workers respond with boycotts and the president dismisses the governor. More importantly, landowners refuse to implement the pay rise specified in the agreement.

With workers planning another strike to enforce the terms of the agreement, employers, backed by Chile and Britain, successfully force the government to round up union leaders and militants. Another general strike is called in response. While strikers take hostages to defend themselves, bandits take advantage of the unsettled situation to raid isolated estates.

The army is ordered to restore order in such a way as to permanently remove the threat of rebellion due to socialist or anarchist ideas, which they do by using acting in force, opening fire on strikers without warning and carrying out summary executions, especially of the leaders and even of delegations acting under a flag of truce, some of whom are made to dig their own graves. Others are tied naked to fences or made to run the gauntlet. The strikers, to whom the army had previously acted sympathetically, are caught by surprise. Armed landowners participate in the suppression of the strikers, identifying the leaders.

After the slaughter, the previous agreement is annulled and wages are reduced. The film ends with oligarchs congratulating the lieutenant colonel in charge of the massacre during a celebration and singing For He's a Jolly Good Fellow in English.



  1. ^ "Berlinale 1974: Prize Winners". Retrieved 3 July 2010.

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