Chapter 4. The Argentine National Flag Conclusion

Since the first flag found before 3000 BC, flags were stated as a device by which its authority was recognized. From the first national flag to nowadays, as soon as a new nation is born, it must publicly define its flag which contributes to distinguishing one nation from the other nations of the world.

A flag can be defined as an insignia made of a rectangular piece of cloth, insignea from where visual referents indicate the nature of the entity to which the flag belongs, being a political or social non-verbal communication media between its users. In this way, the flag works as a sign, allowing the instantaneous recognition of friends and enemies and as being a totem of each community.

Besides, flags are also symbols, emblems of the meaning people placed on them and from where to fight and die for and an object to be conquested as if it were endowed with greater value. Therefore, a flag symbolizes, and is seen as, the nation in itself, by condensing all sentiments with the nation. Therefore, flags promote certain national sentiment on behalf of the Ideological State Apparatus. First, a religious dimension or sentiment can be found as if the flag means more than death, where flag questions and involves people in practice of sacrifice and death. Besides, the central attraction of a flag floating in the air may consist of the apparent visibility of the invisible, produced by the wind, expressing the nation’s soul awakening. Second, a representation of a social organization is portrayed by the flag, where the flags´s metaphor is a symbolic structural mandate of the nation which structures political experience, especially in establishing collective identities. For that reason, a flag gives the sense of unity to a nation as a discursive totality, in a process where social experiences are always mediated by such symbolization. Besides, a flag is understood as a symbol that may stimulate the membership to the national group, bringing cohesion and the emotion of being part of something, even in dissidence.

In Argentina, the flag has been used in extreme life and death situations, as a background of any dictatorship’s discourse, by the Army or the military governments that appropiated this symbol and as well as subsequent attempts to associate it to different sectors. However, even though such association of the flag endures in people’s mind, it is possible to find the flag inside almost any social expression of Argentine, in schools, in sport, in political and religious meetings, in commercial and in high and low socio-economic levels everyday life, as if Argentine flag were also the incarnation of the best of the nation.

Furthermore, the main components of the Argentine flag are the colours (white and light blue) and the presence or absence of a sun, two attributes that have been changed in different moments of the Argentine history since its creation in 1810 by Belgrano as a means of political expression.

The origin of the colors of the flag could be associated with Catholicism since the light blue and white colours are present in the Virgin Mary’s robe, could be attributed to the Band of the Order of King Charles III from Spain or could be a copy of the colours used in the shield of Buenos Aires city. Besides, it could represent the image of the seaboard where the sky is the upper band, the horizon is the white one and the sea or river the lower one. In this case, the colour and the space they occupy would represent Buenos Aires and it would be discrimination against the inhabitants of the inland of the country where the only colours found are in their skies.

In the case of the sun, it could represent an attempt to seduce native people as they considered them as “sons of the sun”, a discourse of the Masonry functioning as a symbol of clarity against darkness, a traditional idea of energy and state power

The mentioned changes made to the flag were around some main axes which were the selection of the light blue or blue colour pertaining to the flag, the marginalization of the civil society from the official flag with the sun and last the sun’s expression, the shape of the rays. Besides, a shield has been introduced in the place of the sun as well as legends.

In the first place, the words light blue, blue and blue-light blue show a dispute among Unitarians and the colour of the State of Buenos Aires while the Rosas´ dark blue flags represent a Federal government.

In second place, the flag portrayed everlasting debates regarding the fact of having in Argentina one or two flags, that is to say, first and second class Argentines, from where the sun’s inclusion or exclusion differentiate Argentine’s activity. The free use of the flag for everybody is typical of the Republican identity while a restrictive use of the flag with a sun pertains to a Nationalist identity. Third, political expressions and how power is exercised can be found in the sun’s face but there is no a clear pattern of their uses.