the turn of the century the Patagonian west was a hide-out for bandits
and outlaws who moved about freely due to the lack of law enforcement,
and the isolation and helplessness of the settlers. Moreover, the
scarce police in the area was more apt to compete with the outlaws
than willing to capture them.
The dangerous Andes
chain was not enough of a barrier to discourage the bandits who
continuously stole cattle. They knew all the passes and perilous
tracks through the mountains and glaciers, and put to use this knowledge
to sell the raids booty in Chile.
The aristocratic Buenos
Aires press demanded these bandits be arrested, since they openly
endangered the interests of the ranchers and settlers.
In the end, the alarming
demands only nurtured the stories on these outlaws, making them
famous in other lands, even in the American far west, where the
opposite process was taking place. The industrialization, trade
and social development were causing the extinction of the gun fighters.
America no longer had any tolerance for these criminals who were
being fought, expelled or hanged by the Pinkerton agency detectives,
hired guns and reward hunters who killed sheltered by the law.
Butch Cassidy - whose
real name was Robert Leroy Parker - was one of the most feared and
famous outlaws. He was the boss of the "wild gang". As
such, he had committed many crimes, and memorable bank and train
robberies that provided him thousands of dollars.
Having brought about
the downfall of many sheriffs, he felt his lucky star in the American
west was fading and dreamt of repeating his successes miles away
in the mysterious, remote and uncertain South America.
The choice of his new
destiny was greatly influenced by the news that Patagonia had a
scarce and incompetent police force and many cattle ranches owned
by Englishmen who were making an easy fortune. Butch and his friend,
Harry Longabaugh, a.k.a. "Sundance Kid", financed their
trip to Patagonia using funds from their spoils.
On their arrival to
Buenos Aires, they checked into the "Hotel Europa" and
immediately opened an account in the Bank of London. During their
stay, they had the chance to socialize with the American vice-consul