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Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, is the second largest country in South America, constituted as a federation. It borders Paraguay and Bolivia to the north, Brazil and Uruguay to the northeast, the Atlantic Ocean in the east, and Chile to the west and south.
Yrigoyen's administration and the Radicals
Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when the Radicals, led by Hipólito Yrigoyen, won control of the government through the first national elections made at universal suffrage. 745,000 citizens were allowed to vote, of a total population of 7.5 million (immigrants, who represented much of the population, were not allowed to vote); of these, 400,000 abstained themselves. Yrigoyen, however, only obtained 45% of the votes, which did not allow him a majority in Parliament, where the conservatives remained the first force. Thus, on 80 draft laws proposed by the executive, only 26 were voted by the conservative majority. The moderate agricultural reform was refused by the Parliament, as well as a tax on interests and the creation of a Bank of the Republic (which was to have the missions of the current Central Bank).
Despite this conservative opposition, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina's expanding middle class as well as to social groups previously excluded from power. Yrigoyen's policy was to "fix" the system, by enacting necessary reforms which would enable the agroindustrial export model to preserve itself. It alterned moderate social reforms with repression of the social movements. In 1918, an estudiantine movement started at the University of Cordoba, which eventually led to the University Reform, which quickly spread to the rest of America.
The Tragic Week of January 1919, during which the Argentine Regional Workers' Federation (FORA, founded in 1901) had called for a general strike after a police shooting, ended up in 700 killed and 4,000 injured. General Luis Dellepiane marched on Buenos Aires to re-establish civil order. Despite being called on by some to initiate a coup against Yrigoyen, he remained loyal to the President, at the sole condition that the latter would allow him a free hand on the repression of the demonstrations. Social movements thereafter continued in the Forestal British company, and in Patagonia, where Hector Varela headed the military repression, assisted by the Argentine Patriotic League, killing 1,500.
On the other hand, Yrigoyen's administration enacted the Labor Code establishing the right to strike in 1921, implemented minimum wages laws and collective contracts. It also initiated the creation of the Dirección General de Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF), the oil state company, in June 1922. Radicalism rejected class struggle and advocated social conciliation.
Meanwhile, the Radicals continued Argentina's neutrality policy during First World War, despite the United States' urge to push them into declaring war to the Triple Alliance. Neutrality enabled Argentina to export goods to Europe, in particular to Great Britain, as well as to issue credit to the belligerent powers. Germany sank two Argentine civilian ships, Monte Protegido on April 4, 1917 and the Toro, but the diplomatic incident only ended with the expulsion of the German ambassador, Karl von Luxburg. Yrigoyen organized a Conference of Neutral Powers in Buenos Aires, to oppose the United States' attempt to bring American states in the European war, and also supported Sandino's resistance in Nicaragua.
In 1922, Yrigoyen was replaced by his rival inside the UCR, Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear, an aristocrat, who defeated Norberto Piñero's Concentración Nacional (conservatives) with 458,457 votes against 200,080. Alvear brought to his cabinet personalities belonging to the traditional ruling classes, such as José Nicolás Matienzo at the Interior Ministry, Ángel Gallardo at Foreign Relations, Agustín P. Justo at the War Ministry, Manuel Domecq García at the Marine and Rafael Herrera Vegas at the Haciendas. Alvera's supporters founded the Unión Cívica Radical Antipersonalista, opposed to Yrigoyen's party.
During the early 1920s, the rise of the anarchist movement, fueled by the arrival of recent emigres and deportees from Europe, spawned a new generation of left-wing activism in Argentina. The new left, mostly anarchists and anarcho-communists, rejected the incremental progressivism of the old Radical and Socialist elements in Argentina in favor of immediate action. The extremists, such as Severino Di Giovanni, openly espoused violence and 'propaganda by the deed'. A wave of bombings and shootouts with police culminated in an attempt to assassinate U.S. President Herbert Hoover on his visit to Argentina in 1928.
In 1921, the counter-revolutionary Logia General San Martín was founded, and diffused nationalist ideas in the military until its dissolution in 1926. Three years later, the Liga Republicana (Republican League) was founded by Roberto de Laferrere, on the model of Benito Mussolini's Black shirts in Italy. The Argentine Right found its major influences in the 19th century Spanish writer Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo and in the French royalist Charles Maurras. Also in 1922, the poet Leopoldo Lugones, who had turned towards fascism, made a famous speech in Lima, known as "the time of the sword", in the presence of the War Minister and future dictator Agustín P. Justo, which called for a military coup and the establishment of a military dictatorship.
Yrigoyen was re-elected in 1928, defeating the Antipersonalistas' candidate, Leopoldo Melo, who was also supported by the Confederation of the Right-wings, formed after a gathering organised by Julio Argentino Roca, Jr..
The Infamous Decade of the 1930s
n 1929, Argentina had the world's 4th highest per capita GDP. These years of prosperity ended with the Crash of 1929 and the ensuing worldwide Great Depression. In 1930, a military coup, supported by the Argentine Patriotic League, forced Hipólito Yrigoyen from power, and replaced him by José Félix Uriburu. Support for the coup was bolstered by the sagging Argentine economy, as well as a string of bomb attacks and shootings involving radical anarchists, which alienated moderate elements of Argentine society and angered the conservative right, which had long been agitating for decisive action by the military forces.
The military coup initiated the period known as the "Infamous Decade", characterised by electoral fraud, persecution of the political opposition (mainly against the UCR) and pervasive government corruption, against the background of the Great Depression.
The collapse of international trade led to industrial growth focused on import substitution, leading to a stronger economic independence. Political conflict increased, marked by confrontation between right-wing fascists and leftist radicals, while military-oriented conservatives controlled the government. Though many claimed the polls to be fraudulent, Roberto Ortiz was elected president in 1937 and took office the next year, but due to his fragile health he was followed (de-facto in 1940; de-jure in 1942) by his vice-president Ramón Castillo.
At the beginning the Second World War in 1939, Argentina managed to keep its policy of neutrality as during the previous war, despite the pressures of the USA that was looking for the entry of South America to the conflict.
The Revolution of '43 (1943-1946)
After the 1943 coup, Pedro Pablo Ramírez Machuca took power. He had been attached to the Kaiser's army 1911-13, had a German wife, and was attached to the Italian army from 1930 to 1932. Ramirez sympathized with the axis powers but did not declare war.
In 1944 Ramirez was replaced by Edelmiro Farrell, an army officer of Irish-Argentine origin who had spent two years attached to Mussolini's army in the twenties. His government continued to maintain a neutral policy.
The Peronist's Government (1946 - 1970)
In 1946, general Juan Perón became president; his populist ideology became known as peronism. His popular wife Eva Perón played a leading political role until her death in 1952. Perón established censorship by closing down 110 publications between 1943 and 1946. During Juan Perón's rule, the number of unionized workers and government programs increased. His government followed an isolationist foreign policy and attempted to reduce the political and economic influence of other nations. Perón expanded government spending.
(1970 - 2010)
There are four major regions: the fertile central plains of the Pampas, source of Argentina's agricultural wealth; the flat to rolling, oil-rich southern plateau of Patagonia (until the border with Chile in the Chico river); the subtropical northern flats of the Gran Chaco, and the mountain range along the border with Chile.
The Argentine Constitution mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. The political framework is a federal representative democratic republic, in which the President is both head of state and head of government, complemented by a pluriform multi-party system.
Executive power resides in the President and the Cabinet. The President and Vice President are directly elected to four-year terms and are limited to two terms. Cabinet ministers are appointed by the President and are not subject to legislative ratification.
Though declared the capital in 1853, Buenos Aires did not become the official Capital until 1880. There have been moves to relocate the administrative centre elsewhere.
Provinces of Argentina
Flora & Fauna
Argentine culture has significant European influences. Buenos Aires, its cultural capital, is largely characterized by both the prevalence of people of European descent, and of conscious imitation of European styles in architecture. The other big influence is the gauchos and their traditional country lifestyle of self-reliance. Finally, indigenous American traditions (like yerba mate infusions) have been absorbed into the general cultural milieu.