Argentina in the 20th
- Huge rate of immigration (30% of the
population foreign born by early 1900s) -- more immigrants than
the United States, mainly from Italy and Spain (southeast
- Booming economy (based on exportation of
agricultural products -- especially beef and grain) thanks to rich
soil (las pampas) , foreign investment (capital), mainly from
Great Britain, and large supply of labor (immigrants).
- Very high rate of GDP, modernization
(especially in Buenos Aires) modeled after Europe (similar to the
"progress" in Mexico during the "Porfiriato")
- Importation of finished goods, industrial
products from Europe, USA, etc.
- Structural dependence on foreign capital
and foreign markets will make economy vulnerable.
- Most of infrastructure (railroads,
meat-packing houses, shipping lines, docks) built through foreign
- Saenz-Peña Reforms: Universal
suffrage in 1912 (men only)
- Very few people owned most of the land, but
no classic "peasantry" (and no agrarian revolution) as in
- Urban proletariat (working class) sets
stage for labor conflicts / strikes.
- 1919 "Tragic Week" takes place...general
strike crushed by military and police. Along with this was violent
campaigns against Jews, "communist", anarchists,
- Military, Church, Landowners main
institutions controlling power in Argentina.
- Democratic governments, dominated by the
Radical Party until 1930.
Argentina during the Great
- October 1929: Foreign investment curtailed.
Exports drop 40%. Inflation increased.
- President Yrigoyen becomes scapegoat,
violence, political instability, results in military coup in 1930.
End of democracy in Argentina, beginning of "infamous decade".
Period of harsh repression of political opponents, corruption,
- Conservative economic policies: state
intervention in the economy (no laissez-faire)
- Limit farm production, restrict imports
(except from Great Britain), began industrialization (Import
Substitution Industrialization -- ISI) as in other countries such
- Increase foreign capital to develop
Argentine industry (electric power, automobile, petroleum,
- Special trade agreement with Great Britain:
Roca-Runciman Treaty 1933 Britain guaranteed purchase of chilled
beef from Argentina, eased tariffs on cereals. Argentina eased
tariffs on British imports, agreed to spend earnings from British
market on British manufactured goods.
- Government reformed the banking and credit
- Government spending on developing
infrastructure and other public works programs (alleviated
- Crisis had passed by 1936 (unemployment
fell sharply, meat and cereal prices rose, etc.). Consumer
- 1930s also represented the growth of the
industrial bourgeoisie (middle class)
Juan Domingo Perón
- Military coup in 1943, Perón was a
junior officer, then became the head of the Department of Labor
(then secretary of Labor).
- Perón rose to
vice-presidency...pro-labor policies led to his arrest in
- Massive protest by workers led to his
release, then his election as president in 1946.
- Populist president (catered to various
sectors in the society -- working class, military, industrialists,
etc. --> did not include the large landowners.) Charismatic
leader (often gave speeches to large crowds).
- Policies favored industrial growth, growth
- Married to Eva "Evita" Perón, who
helped with his popularity, especially with the workers (the
"descamisados"). Also played an active role in fighting for social
justice, women's rights, set up charities to help the poor, etc.
(similar to Eleanor R.)
- Nationalized the railroads, central bank,
utilities, communication industries, etc.
- IAPI: Government program to regulate
agricultural production, bought commodities from farmers (at low
fixed prices) then sold them on world market (at higher
prices)...the profits were channeled into industrialization
- Social security programs, old-age pensions,
etc. (similar to FDR)
- Economic strategy (concessions to foreign
industry, less emphasis on industrialization programs, labor
productivity declined, printed more money to maintain govt.
spending) alienated some elements of his coalition of workers,
military, and industrialists.
- "Justicialismo" strategy: social justice,
but growing oppression of opposition. Heavy use of police to
intimidate opposition. Official labor union used to force
compliance with his policies.
- Attacked the Catholic church, took over
newspapers, imposed censorship.
- Eva Perón died in 1952, harming his
- Perón never did arm the descamisados
("shirtless ones", and as the military turned on him he fled into
exile in 1955.
- Long-term impact of "Peronism" in
Argentina. He returned in 1973, with his wife Isabela as
vice-president (he had wanted Eva to be VP but military would not
allow it). Died in 1974, Isabela became president, then overthrown
by military junta....leads to the "dirty war" in
The "Dirty War" or "La Guerra
- Actually began in late 1960s, and "ended"
- Not a real "war" but rather a horrible
campaign of violence and terror by the military government against
the people of Argentina.
- Officially known as the "war against
subversion". The Argentine government labeled as "subversive" many
people who fought for social justice or who questioned the
- "Desaparecidos": There were thousands of
people who simply "disappeared" during this time period, as they
were picked up by military death squads and never heard from
- Many young children were taken from their
parents, and many pregnant women had their babies taken away and
given to military, police, or government families.
- The mothers of the disappeared, and the
grandmothers, protested in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires each
week, carrying pictures of their missing children and demanding to
know what happened to them.
- The "Malvinas" or "Falkland Islands"
- With massive unrest in 1982, the military
government decided to reclaim these islands from the
- The islands were occupied by an Argentine
military force, and they did not expect Great Britain to
- The British launched a major attack against
the Argentine forces, and defeated them easily.
- This discredited the military government
even further, and it resulted in the end of the years of military
The Return of Democracy
- Raul Alfonsín elected as president
- Carlos Menem elected next, served two terms
as president (1st elected in 1989)
- Dismantled much of what Perón had
done (privatized the railroads and other
- Menem also pardoned the military leaders
charged with crimes in the Dirty War.