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Carlos Gardel

Location:
Uruguay

Tango, Gardel, TacuarembĂł

Everywhere you go in TacuarembĂł the name and face of Carlos Gardel can be seen. But who was he? And, more importantly, where exactly was he born?

The name ‘Carlos Gardel’ is synonymous with the word ‘tango’. Born in 1887, he grew up in Buenos Aires, and his songwriting and baritone voice made him a legend, acquiring him the nickname ‘El Mago’ (‘The Magician’). He toured the world but died prematurely in 1925 in an airplane crash in Medellin, Colombia, fortifying his iconic status across the continent.

Three countries make claims to Gardel being their own: France, Argentina and Uruguay. Argentina certainly became his home, and most of the world has accepted evidence that relates to his birthplace having been in Toulouse, France, but Uruguay strongly disputes this. Valle EdĂŠn, near TacuarembĂł, has a museum dedicated to proving his birth here, holding a range of apparent documentary evidence and quotes from the man himself stating his Uruguayan nationality and TacuarembĂł birthplace.

The story goes that his supposed father, Colonel Carlos Escayola, had an affair with his 13-year-old sister-in-law, Maria Leila (who may, in fact, have been his own daughter with his wife’s mother!), and with whom he had a child, “Carlitos”. Due to Escayola’s prominence as Tacuarembó’s police chief, a political leader and landowner (he designed the Teatro Escayola in Tacuarembó), the story was kept quiet throughout Gardel’s life. In the 1960s, researchers began looking into his history and found evidence of his “true” birthplace in Tacuarembó.

In 1996, Uruguay declared June 24 as being ‘Carlos Gardel Day’, and in Tacuarembó, there has been the Fiesta Gardeliana in December since 2008. Whatever you come away believing, it’s all good fun.



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By Emma Jones

Emma Jones, 30, is from London, and recently spent nine months enjoying travelling and writing in South America.�Her favourite...

21 Mar 2011


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