In 1880, General Julio Roca, the hero of the “Conquest of the Desert”, become president. The symbolism could hardly have been better: the Indian-fighter presiding over the Europeanization of a South American republic. (p. 71)
Argentina’s economic success in the 1880-1914 era was based on supplying agricultural goods to the north Atlantic industrial world. Argentina had a comparative advantage in producing meat and grain. Important technological advances had made it practical to ship foodstuffs the many thousand of miles from Buenos Aires to London and Antwerp. (i.e. steam vessels and frigoríficos) (pp. 71-72)
Bank of England Capital came from Europe (mostly England), investing in railroads, docks and utilities.
“Between 1857 and 1930 Argentina received a net immigration of 3.5 million, meaning that about 60 percent of the total population increase could be attributed to immigration. Of these immigrants about 46 percent were Italian and 32 percent were Spanish. The demographic effect of immigration on Argentina was greater than in any other major country of the Western Hemisphere. By 1914 approximately 30 percent of the population was foreign born.” (p. 72) “With the epic tide of immigration, the national population swelled from 1.7 million in 1869 to 7.9 million in 1914.” (p. 73)
Laborers who moved back and forth between the Argentine pampas and Italy or Spain became known as the golondrinas or “swallows.”GOLONDRINAS
The front page of El Sudamericano, the journal supporting the “reformist” faction of the “Generation of 1880.” Liberal politicians, later known as the “Generation of 1880,” were themselves members of, or very close to, the landowning class that produced Argentina’s riches. Second, they managed to control the army and the elections, resorting to vote fraud when necessary. (p. 80)
“[The “Generation of 1880”] operated a highly effective political machine. The most important national decisions were made by acuerdo, or informal agreement between the president and oligarchic power brokers. In this respect the Argentine liberals ignored one key aspect of the British/U.S. example—the central role of the legislature, which in Argentina had been rendered inconsequential in this period.” (p. 80.) El Acuerdo
THE OPPOSITION Three groups who opposed the dominance of the liberal politicians known as the “Generation of 1880”: 1.Newly prosperous landowners of the upper Littoral 2.Old aristocratic family, often from the far interior, who had failed to profit from the agro-export boom 3.Members of the middle class doing well economically, but excluded from political power Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical or UCR). “Radicals remained committed to the agro-export economy. They simply wanted a share in the political direction of their society.” (Skidmore & Smith, p. 80.) These three groups created the Radical Party, the full name of which is the Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical or UCR). “Radicals remained committed to the agro-export economy. They simply wanted a share in the political direction of their society.” (Skidmore & Smith, p. 80.) The Radical Party, or Unión Cívica Radical (UCR)
(Skidmore & Smith, pp. 76-77.) In 1910, the anarchists led demonstrations that filled the streets with protests. The police crushed the demonstrations, and Congress reacted by approving a new law (Ley de Defensa Social, or “Social Defense Law”), making easy the arrest and prosecution of labor organizers. (Skidmore & Smith, pp. 76-77.) Anarchists established the Federacíon Obrera Regional Argentina (FORA). FORA caught the workers’ imagination with its call for direct action. ANARCHISTS AND STATE REPRESSION OF WORKER DEMONSTATIONS AND STRIKES
President Roque Sáenz Peña, elected in 1911. He passed in 1912 an electoral reform law that called for universal male suffrage, the secret ballot, and compulsory voting. This was a shrewd attempt at co- optation by the oligarchy, but it did not work.
The Radical Party candidate, Hipólito Yrigoyen, won the presidency in 1916.
(Skidmore & Smith, p. 81.) In 1918-19, Argentine workers were aroused by the decline of their real wages. “Food prices rose sharply, stimulated by European demand, but wage increases lagged. Union leaders called a series of strikes in late 1918, and in early 1919 syndicalist organizations decided the time was ripe for a general strike—the syndicalist instrument for bringing down the bourgeois state.” (Skidmore & Smith, p. 81.)
The Strikes of 1918-1919, and their repression at the hand of the Argentine Patriotic League (Liga Patriótica Argentina) the Argentine Patriotic League (Liga Patriótica Argentina) (Skidmore & Smith, p. 81.) The UCR Yrigoyen government had begun with a genuine concern for the lot of the working class, following an apparent pro-labor stance in its interventions. However, the 1919 general strike convinced the Yrigoyen government that it had to act firmly. Others were worried as well, and an anti-labor “hysteria was promoted by a newly formed ultra-rightist civilian paramilitary movement, the Argentine Patriotic League (Liga Patriótica Argentina), which effectively exploited the middle- and upper- class fear of the popular challenge. League members took to the streets to attack workers; it was class warfare with a vengeance. Hundreds of demonstrators were shot.” (Skidmore & Smith, p. 81.)
Dominance of the Radical Party in the 1920s (Skidmore & Smith, p. 82.) The 1920s did not bring much success to labor organizers. Suffrage in Argentina in the 1920s was still limited. Not only were women denied the vote, but so too were half of the adult males because so many were still foreign citizens. Since the unnaturalized immigrants were more numerous among the working class, the limited suffrage tended to help the middle class at the expense of the lower class. “The practical result of all these changes was to leave the Conservatives far from power. The Radicals, building upon their popular base and employing machine tactics, displayed continuing electoral supremacy: Marcelo T. de Alvear became president in 1922, Yrigoyen was reelected in 1928, and the Radicals dominated Congress.” (Skidmore & Smith, p. 82.)
THE MILITARY TURNS BACK THE CLOCK THE COUP: On September 6, 1930, a coalition of military officers and civilian aristocrats ousted President Yrigoyen, claiming his government was illegitimate. They then set up a provisional government. URIBURU AND THE SEMIFASCIST CORPORATE STATE: General José Uriburu wanted a semifascist corporate state. Uriburu and his supporters “envisioned a ‘functional democracy,’ where the elected legislators would represent functional (or “corporate”) interests, such as ranchers, workers, merchants, and industrialists. The theory was that a vertical structure would reintegrate the political system with the economic system, so that the political arena would once again reflect the distribution of economic power. It was also…a formula for stopping class-oriented politics.” JUSTO AND THE RETURN OF THE OLIGARICH SYSTEM: General Agustín Justo wanted to return to the oligarchical system of the pre-Sáenz Peña reform days. These officers thought if Yrigoyen and the Radicals were removed from politics, then power would revert to the aristocrats and the specter of class struggle would disappear. JUSTO ESTABLISHES THE CONCORDANCIA TO RULE: In 1932, General Agustín Justo became president. He created a pro- government coalition of parties called the Concordancia, Justo hoped to form a broad, national government that would give him the authority to respond to the socioeconomic effects of the world depression. (See Skidmore and Smith, p. 83.) General Agustín Justo General José Urburu
Understanding the Argentine Military Nineteenth-century liberals wanted a strong professional army to crush caudillos and provide order for economic growth. The liberals who defeated General Juan Manuel de Rosas in 1852 and seized power “believed that a professional army was indispensable for Argentina’s development. They wanted a well-trained military to crush provincial caudillos and to provide the order necessary for economic growth. Argentine-German military connection. Seeking to strengthen their armed forces, the Argentines looked to Europe for their models. In 1899 General Roca and his colleagues negotiated the visit of a German mission to train staff officers in modern military technology. That collaboration with Germany was to last forty years.” Professionalization = high degree of institutional autonomy. The increased professionalization of the military led to a higher degree of institutional autonomy. Promotions were based on seniority and mastery of new technology, not on political favoritism. The president did not control promotions. Instead, an all-military committee made up of army division commanders and chaired by the highest-ranking general determined promotions. (See Skidmore & Smith, pp. 81-82.) As a means of social upward mobility, the military engendered intense loyalty. However, it also engendered suspicion of outside politics and politicians. “The increased emphasis on merit opened military careers to aspiring sons of the middle class.” “Successful recruits who made their way up the hierarchy forged a strong allegiance to the military as an institution. The reverse side of this loyalty was a deep suspicion of outsiders, especially politicians. By 1930 officers concluded that the only way out of the political mess was to revise the rules of the political game.” (See Skidmore & Smith, pp. 81-82.)
In 1937, the Radical Party leader, Roberto Ortiz, Justo’s successor, stopped electoral fraud and thereby allowed the Radicals to win control of Congress. (p. 84) Roberto Ortiz Ramón Castillo
1943: Military Coup (Golpe) In 1943, ambitious officers overthrew President Ramón Castillo in a military coup. They dissolved the Congress, that target of their oft-expressed scorn. The ascendant military officers, led by the first provisional president, General Arturo Rawson, grandly announced, “Now there are no political parties, but only Argentines.” (p. 85)
Juan Perón Juan Perón put into practice corporatist principles. Argentina would now be organized according to functional groups: industrialists, farmers, workers. The government would act as the final arbiter in case of conflict among groups. A Five-Year Economic Plan was issued, and a powerful new foreign trade institute (Instituto Argentino de Promoción del Intercambio or IAPI) was given state monopoly over the export of key agricultural crops. Argentina now began the most state-directed economic policy thus far seen in twentieth- century Latin America. Perón made urban workers his most important political ally, flanked by industrialists and the armed forces. On of Perón’s common political tactics was to encourage strikes which the government then settled in favor of the workers. Real hourly wages jumped 25% in 1947. Labor’s share of the national income increased by 25% between 1946 and 1950. The losers were owners of capital, especially the landowners, since the government trade monopoly (IAPI) bought most of their products at low, fixed prices. (p. 86)
Perón, the Populist Perón had campaigned for the presidency on a nationalist and populist note. “Argentina was a country of fat bulls and undernourished peons,” said Perón in 1946.
In 1948 Argentina nationalized the British-owned railways. Also nationalized was the leading telephone company (from U.S.-controlled ITT) and the French-owned dock facilities. In July 1947 Perón paid off Argentin’a entire foreign debt, accompanied by a “Declaration of Economic Independence.” (pp. 86-87.)
The Populist policies of Juan and Evita Perón with them tremendous support, especially among the working class.
1949 brought the first foreign trade deficit since the war. Inflation rose 31%. Perón ran into economic realities that had remained hidden during the first few postwar years. World prices for Argentina’s exports were dropping; prices for imports, especially manufactured goods, were rising. Peronist policies also compounded the problem. IAPI, the government foreign trade institute, had set unrealistically low prices for agricultural goods. The objective was to keep down food prices in the cities, but the effect was also to discourage production, thus hurting exports. (p. 87.)
Modeling pose at age 20. Evita being decorated by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco on June 9, 1947. With Paraguayan President Federico Chaves.
Evita became ill with cancer. She fought the disease and continued her exhausting schedule. Above, Evita, near death, votes in 1952. She died that July.
Political rally in support of Evita being the vice presidential candidate in the election of 1951. The military block Evita’s nomination, refusing to accept that a woman might succeed to the presidency and therefore become their commander-in-chief. Evita was bitter about the decision.
Evita died in July 1952. The outporing of grief was astounding.
A 1953 calendar released by the Eva Perón Foundation offers twelve images of Evita, looking glamorous in some, pious in others. The foundation took control of charities away from Argentina's elite women and put it in the hands of the lowly born Evita. She considered it her greatest social coup. Courtesy of the Hoover Institution Archives.
In order to regain economic growth, Perón believed he had to reverse some of his nationalist and redistribution policies. Workers were asked to accept a two-year wage freeze. Perhaps because of the need to ask for sacrifices in the name of financing much-needed investment, the Peronist political strategy became more radical. (p. 88.) After 1949 Perón moved to win control over the army by promoting political favorites. There was also a new program to indoctrinate cadets with Peronist teachings and to dress up the lower ranks with flashy uniforms. Perón knew he had opponents within the army, and in 1951 they attempted a coup against him. He easily suppressed them, but the germ of discontent remained alive. (p. 88.)
"Tu, niño argentino, has nacido en un feliz momento histórico de la Patria. Tu vivirás en una Argentina donde, la riqueza y los bienes, son de argentinos y no están más que a tu servicio. ¡Cuida estas conquistas! ¡Acreciéntalas! ¡Defiendelas!, y recuerda a Perón, él nos dió una Patria Libre, Justa y Soberana."
In 1951, the Perón government expropriated the leading opposition newspaper, La Prensa. In 1954, Peronist radicals took on the church. Divorce was legalized, and all parochial schools were placed under government control. Several famous cathedrals in Buenos Aires were burned by Peronist crowds. The Vatican retaliated by excommunicating the entire governmental cabinet, including Perón. The president vowed to mobilize his masses against the “conspirators” who menaced Argentine independence. (pp. 87-89)
Anti-Peronist General, Pedro Aramburu, 1955- 1958 In September 1955, military conspirators made Perón resign and go into exile. In November, the hard-liners in the military installed General Pedro Aramburu as provisional president. The Peronist party was outlawed, and all Peronist propaganda became contraband. The military would essentially govern Argentina from September 1955 to February 1958, and even in the following years it would exert considerable political influence. (pp. 89-91)
The Radical Party split into two parties: the “Popular Radicals” (more fanatically anti-Peronist) and the “Intransigent Radicals” (more flexible towards the Peronists). President Arturo Frondizi, 1958-1962. (from the Intransigent Radical Party) financing for new industry was to come from abroad, while at home the extensive state intervention in the economy was to be reduced. Hoping to attract foreign investment, Frondizi decided to accept the foreign creditors’ extreme medicine: a huge devaluation, stiff controls on credit, cuts in public spending, tough wage limits, elimination of subsidies on public services, and dismissal of redundant public employees. (pp. 91-92) Frondizi had an ambitious program to accelerate industrialization while also stimulating agricultural production, thereby boosting export earnings. Much of the
In many ways, Frondizi’s policies were contradictory: he was trying to launch a major economic development program while at the same time cutting back in order to satisfy foreign creditors. His political policy also had contradictions. He owed his election to Peronist support, and he was clearly hoping to coax Peronist voters over to his side. Yet the military was deeply suspicious of this conciliatory policy, and Peronist did not like Frondizi’s economic policies. Frondizi was committed to carrying out the IMF-prescribed “shock treatment,” to jolt the economy into adjusting domestic prices to international prices. The inevitable effect of these policies was a sharp shift in income. The real income of industrial workers dropped by 25.8 percent in 1959, while the real income accruing to beef production rose 97 percent in the same year. This was the reversal of Perón’s economic policies of Justicalismo. (p. 92)
In the elections of March 1962, the Peronist party led all parties in total votes, with 35 percent. The UCRP and UCRI tried, but failed, to form a coalition.
Despite fierce public opposition, some of Frondizi’s economic policies began to bear fruit. The economy grew, and inflation was brought under control. However, labor and the Nationalist left never forgave Frondizi for subjecting them to economic hardships and selling out to foreign investors. In the election of 1962, the Peronists were allowed to run their own candidates under the banner of their recently legalized party. The result was that they won the most votes. Furious, the military made Frondizi annul the election results. Realizing that Frondizi was not going to be able to co-op the Peronists, the military removed the President from power on March 29, 1962. Into the presidency stepped the constitutional successor, Senate President José María Guido. (pp. 92-93) José María Guido
In July 1963, the military held another election with the Peronist Party banned. The winner, Arturo Illia, was from the Popular Radical Party. Illia redirected economic policy towards expansion, granting generous wage increasing and imposing price controls. These measures helped to swing Argentina into the “go” phase of the “stop and go” economic patter (alternately stimulating and contracting the economy) it had exhibited since the war. In the congressional election of March 1965 the now legalized Peronist party won 30.3 percent of the vote, as against 28.9 percent for the Illia Radicals. The military again grew worried of a Peronist comeback, and in June 1966 the military intervened again. Illia was unceremoniously ejected from the Casa Rosada. Once again the officers had removed a Radical government unable either to court or to repress the Peronist masses. (pp. 93-94) Arturo Illia
Revista Análisis - 1966 The Establishment of a Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State The military coup of 1966 differed from most of the previous coups in that it was more repressive. Proclaiming the advent of “the Argentine Revolution,” General Juan Carlos Onganía sought to implant a new kind of regime—a bureaucratic-authoritarian state. (p. 94) General Juan Carlos Onganía
The Establishment of a Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State The military leaders of Onganía’s “Argentine Revolution”: Shut down Congress Ousted opponents from the universities Suppressed the labor movement, since the increase in investment was to be provided in part by a decline in real wages. Dismissed politicians from positions of authority Forged alliances with Technocrats Technocrats, whose policies were to bring economic prosperity Foreign investors Foreign investors, whose capital was sought to spur economic growth See Skidmore & Smith, p. 94.
The military government for a time co-opted some labor leaders, but in 1969 labor protest erupted. During a street protest in Córdoba troops opened fire, killing some tens of protestors and bystanders. A howl of protest went up in the country. The military repressed dissent. (p. 95)
Soon there was a shocking rise in political violence, such as clandestine torture and execution by the military government and kidnapping and assassinations by the revolutionary left. The Onganía coup began in violence, and all normal legal guarantees were suspended. The labor policy soon came to depend on coercion. This had happened before, but now there was a difference. The left decided to reply with its own violence. (p. 95)
Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP) PEOPLE'S REVOLUTIONARY ARMY (ARGENTINA) Civil War A deadly toxin had entered the Argentine body politic. There was now a revolutionary left, committed to traumatizing the nation by violence against those they identified as the oppressors: the military and the police, along with their collaborators, the well-trained executives of the multinationals. Civil war had broken out. (Skidmore & Smith, p. 95.) The Onganía government was by all standards a political failure. Although it brought off postwar Argentina’s most successful economic stabilization program, it failed to create a broad-based political coalition which could make possible genuine planning for the future. (Skidmore & Smith, p. 95.)
Héctor J. Cámpora 25-05-1973 13-07-1973 Roberto M. Levingston 08-06-1970 23-03-1971 Alejandro A. LanusseAlejandro A. Lanusse 23-03-1971 25-05-1973 Pacto Social Social Contract
Perón was elected president with 62 percent of the vote in September 1973. This time he succeeded in nominating his wife, Isabel, as vice president. In July 1974, Juan Perón. Isabel Perón became La Presidente. (pp. 96-97)
Isabel Perón La Presidente One advisor who had tremendous influence was Isabel’s minister of social welfare, José Lopéz Rega, a man known for his militantly right-wind Peronist views. (p. 97) In 1975 inflation rocketed to 335 percent. Lopéz Rega
Héctor J. Cámpora 25-05-1973 13-07-1973 Raúl Alberto Lastiri 13-07- 1973 12- 10-1973 Juan Domingo Perón 12-10- 1973 01- 07-1974 María Estela Martínez 01-07- 1974 24- 03-1976 Jorge Rafael Videla 24-03- 1976 29- 03-1981 Roberto Eduardo Viola 29-03-1981 11-12-1981 Leopoldo F. Galtieri 11-12-1981 17-07-1982 Reinaldo B. Bignone 01-07-1982 10-12-1983 Raúl R. Alfonsín 10-12-1983 08-07-1989 Carlos Saúl Menem 08-07-1989 05-05- 1995 Carlos Saúl Menem 05-05-1995 09-12- 1999 Fernando De la Rúa 09-12-1999 20-12-2001 Adolfo Rodríguez Saá 22-12-2001 30-12-2001 Eduardo Duhalde 01-01-2002 25-05-2003 Néstor C. Kirchner 25-05-2003 Actual
1976: Military Coup led by Jorge Rafael Videla Human rights groups say up to 30,000 people were killed. The Dirty War
In March 1982, General Leopoldo Galtieri, President of Argentina, chose to stake his government’s fate on the Falkland Islands controlled by the British but long claimed by Argentines, who called them the Malvinas Islands. (p. 100)