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Did he go to a brothel or was he going for a walk? The day Carlos Gardel was imprisoned


It happened 117 years ago. El Zorzal was 14 years old and was detained for almost a week in a Florencio Varela police station.

Malena Banos Pozzati

09/17/2021 5:33 PM

  • Clarí

  • Zonal

Updated 09/17/2021 18:08

White complexion, dark brown hair, beardless, straight nose, 1.60 tall, typographer by profession and 14 years old.

Rigorous fingerprint printing and signature:

Carlos Gardés


Years later he would change it for Gardel. 

Like every detail in the life of the greatest tango singer, even something as small as being detained in a police station gives rise to an anecdote.

To such an extent that in Florencio Varela it

is an anecdote repeated a thousand times: "Here they arrested the Thrush



And, as with any story that is now 117 years old (on September 17, 1904 he was released after almost a week in detention), there are several versions.

Some say that he had

run away from home

and was working or wandering with a "bad board", others slip that they found him red-handed (singing or doing other duties)

in a brothel on the old Avenida Touring


(now Camino General Belgrano).

The date is one: September 11, 1904, when I was less than 15 and had a lot of streets. 

In the biography written by the historian

Felipe Pigna

, a rebellious young man, a good student academically but "

unadapted to the discipline

and order of the classroom,"

is quickly painted in full

, according to the implacable report of the Pius IX School.

At the age of twelve, Carlitos was already asking for the house keys to go out and sing on dates that he previously scheduled, thus setting up small neighborhood tours in which

his future as a star emerged.

An anecdote but without a clear date reproduces the talk between the young man and a policeman from Abasto, who accused him of doing "dirty things."

And the rogue Gardel replied: "And what am I going to tell you, my curator? But

if you let me sing, I'll sing to you


So he put together a concert with the cap in the middle of the police station. 

Carlos Gardel at the age of 15, shortly after being imprisoned in Florencio Varela.

Photo: General Archive of the Nation.

As for the anecdote in Varela, for the specialist Ana Turón, (who in her city of residence, Azul, even has a library-museum with almost everything ever written about Gardel) the reasons for the arrest do not give rise to doubts. ,

"It was due to an escape from home," he assures. "In the police station registry

at no time is any brothel mentioned

and at that time a boy of that age was wearing shorts, he could not have entered a place like that. From that other place. version there are no real sources ".

Turón contextualizes the episode, about the end of the last presidency of Julio Argentino Roca, marked by a

heavy hand towards foreigners


Two years earlier the Residence Law had been enacted, with the aim of "cleaning" Argentina of the anarchist ideas that came from Europe together with the immigrants.

"Any foreigner at the slightest offense was deported. When they attribute a criminal past to Gardel, the moment must be taken into account to quickly deny that idea.

They would have quickly deported him to France,

" insists Turón. 

In Varela's police file there is a sympathetic furcio regarding Gardel's origin, eternally subject to discussions.

It is listed as "born in Toulouse", but far from being the town of La Plata, it is a deformation of Toulouse, perhaps the work of a police officer who did not understand or did not know the French city. 

The truth is that it was a Sunday and the possibility that in an act of adolescent rebellion he had robbed the school loses credibility.

For Turón, the reason that led him away from his home was much deeper: "I believe that Gardel was going through a crisis. He may well have had to do (and this is the terrain of absolute hypothesis) with some love disappointment or even having found out at that time his father was not dead. "

The police record of the arrest of Carlos Gardel, where it erroneously appears that he was born in Tolosa.

It so happens that Marie Berthe Gardés, better known as Doña Berta, Gardel's mother and also a central figure in Carlitos' life, had said for many years that she was a widow, to avoid the shame that being a single mother supposed at that time.

She even passed that story on to her son, who believed her for many years.

"It is not known when Gardel found out that his father was alive, but it was undoubtedly a traumatic moment. That could generate the distancing, the fight with his mother," the specialist conjectures.

And that elusive father figure reappears, but surrounded by mystery, in the same anecdote from the Varelense police station.

It so happens that Gardel entered the detachment on the 11th and left on the 17th - which accounts for the level of "lesson" reserved for the unruly boys, especially if they were foreigners - and was removed by "his father", according to the document. police

"Most likely it was Fortunato Muñiz, the partner of a close friend of Doña Berta. Fortunato was an employee of the Buenos Aires Police and was such a friend of Gardel's mother that it was supposed that he was the one who withdrew it. That would explain why There is no further information on that alleged father, because he was someone from the Police itself, "argues Turón.

At a time when life was going faster, childhood and adolescence were outside doors, child labor and running away from home abounded and were naturalized, the big question that remains is how Gardel got to Florencio Varela.

A relatively current image (from 2014) of the López Romero Development Society, which operates in the same place where the brothel was where Carlos Gardel was allegedly arrested.

"He was a walker by nature. He had been a ward in a priest's college and as soon as he left he freed himself, like a loose dog from the chain. He went out all the time, he will have started to walk, he will have met friends and that is how he arrived", imagine Turón.

The truth is that those six days that Gardel was in the shade for a lot did not serve as a lesson, since a few months later he left again.

He walked through Montevideo and different parts of Buenos Aires.

Despite his friction with the law, Turón points out that he had no criminal record outside of this admission to the police station and a complaint from his mother for finding his whereabouts in 1913.

The alleged criminal past would be linked not to Gardel himself but to his quasi-homonym: the Uruguayan Carlos Garder,

more leafy and eternal generator of confusion at a time when the term

fake news

was not yet invented 

but the data was checked in immense files and memories not always very sharp.  

Look also

A former councilor of Florencio Varela was sentenced to 13 years in prison for prostituting 15 and 16-year-old girls

The Lady with the Hair of Steel tells how she does to lift a man or drag a car with her hair

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2021-09-17

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