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When there are many steamers and sailing-ships in port
the shipping rates fall ; the exporters hurry to makjg
contracts with the shipping lines, and in order to be in time
to avoid surcharges, they demand a large number of good s
wagons of the railways, which the latter naturally cannot
always produce. The law states that the railway companies
must maintain a goods service equal to the normal demands
of the trafiic ; and the demands created by the accidental
causes we have mentioned are not normal.

On the other hand, if the shipping contracts are high,_or
the prices in the consumers' market low, the buyers will be
unwilling to despatch their cereals to the ports of embarka-
tion, and the railway companies can do nothing to_dear_their
stations of large quantities of accumulated grain, which they
cannot forward, since the buyers will not give the order for
their despatch.

During a recent harvest both these phenomena were
observed ; on the Southern Railway the harvest was abundant
in quantity and good in quality, but only a small numberjof
steamers were lying in the terminal port (Engineer White
Harbour) ; every exporter in the district wanted to ship at
once, but the railway could carry only what it was capable
of carrying in a normal period.

It was another affair in the districts served by the
Central Argentine and the Buenos Ayres and Rosario
Railways. Here the wheat was scanty and of poor quality,
and the buyers had sent very little to their port of embarka-
tion — Rosario. They preferred to send their purchases to
the grain-elevators of Buenos Ayres, where, by means of
blending the central with the southern wheat, a special grade
of flour was produced, superior to that produced in the
districts served by the above two companies.

The best solution of this question of the responsibility of |
the railway companies toward the despatchers would be a
rule that the railways should be obliged to despatch in the
course of a day only the amount of produce sent to the
stations during the same lapse of time. But the exporters
arc generally Argentines, while the railways are usually in


foreign handsj so that this solution, though equitable, would
not be regarded with much favour, and it is probable that
the railway companies will be called upon to remedy this_
situation, so unfavourable to Argentine commerce, at their
own co^

Let us now see how far the railways have responded to
the increase of agricultural productions.

According to the official statistics, in 1895 the Argentine
Republic contained 8760 miles of railways, and the merchan-
dise transported by the various railway companies during
that year amounted to 9,811,100 tons. In 1907 the railway
systems had increased to a total length of 14,000 miles,
while the produce carried during the preceding year amounted
to 28,394,500 tons. These figures represent an increase of
rather more than 59 per cent, in railway mileage, while the
transports had nearly trebled in twenty years.

According to the same authorities, between 1897 and the
end of 1907 the rolling stock and the capacity of the goods
cars increased in the following proportions : —


Number of Cars.

Capacity in Tons




























From these figures we obtain the increase in the number
of cars of produce and their contents in tons ; but it is more
to the point to know how their rolling-stock is utilised.
According to M. Lahitte, the normal distance travelled by
a goods car is 6210 miles in a year; but to judge by the
statistics its actual record is always in excess of this figure,
since in 1902 the distance travelled exceeded 8910 miles per
car. It is evident, therefore, that the rolling-stock has been
run to its utmost capacity ; but it is also evident that in
practice the cars have not been loaded to their utmost
capacity, as the normal load is 4*37 tons per car, while the
average load actually carried has been hardly 170 tons.


It follows accordingly that, in spite of the distance travelled
per "car, the companies have only profited to the extent of
39 per cent, of the capacity of their rolling-st9ck ; but we must
not forget that there is always a difference between theoretical
capacity and effective capacity, which varies according to
the nature of the load. This fact is further explained when
we add, as we must, that out of a hundred cars sixty-nine make
the journey loaded while thirty-one go or return as "empties,"

We see from these data that although the Argentine ■
railw"ays possess more than enough rolling-stock for the
rapid transport of all agricultural products to their ports
of embarkation or destination, yet in practice, on account
of the abnormal character of the traflBc, the railways only-
very imperfectly perform the services which they ought_to \
perform, while the fault can hardly be imputed to them. j

•^ But this trouble will disappear as soon as th e large \
buyers of cereals, in place of "expecting everything from the ;
railway companies in the matter of rapid transport, while
they themselves wait to despatch their crops until the inter-
national prices are favourable, finally decide to build the .
granaries and warehouses which they now demand of the j
railway companies. To simplify the task of these companies, ;
elevators should be erected at the stations which serve the
important agricultural zones, so that the cereals could be
graded before loading them on special cars, which would j
then transport them to the elevators of the principal ports, '
whence they would glide into the holds of vessels specially
prepared for the trade. But all this would require materials ,
and plant which the country does not so far possess; yet j
with the rapid agricultural progress of the Argentine, the '■
plan should be easy of accomplishment.

As will be seen by the data we have given, the method ;
of despatch is quite unlike that practised abroad. While jn {
Europe the railway depots only receive goods for immediate }
transit, the Argentine grain-merchant expects the depot to ^
serve him for a warehouse until the moment he receives '
a telegram and requires the railway to transport to the ;
port of embarkation, without delay, the large quantities of li
grain accumulated at the stations. !



Immigration is a vital prolilom for the Argontinc — Tahlo of tho population per
Province and per Territory. Its sparsity — The oscoplioiial situation of
the Argentine as the objective of European emigration — The poor resultK
hitherto obtained through default of colonisation — The faulty diviBion of
the public lands — History of immigration in relation to coloiiiKation — The
nationality of immigrants.

THE economic and financial orcranisation of the Ar<]jentine
being now assured, and peace without and within being
established, while at the same time tlie revolutionary spirit
of the bad old days has gradually disappeared, the great
problems which the country has to face to-day are piTncipally
tTiose dealing with the development_iiL_agricultural alid
Industrial production and its outlets.

*" But among these problems none is more vital to the
future of the Argentine than the problem of filling the vast
gaps of empty territory with new elements of population.

Here, according to the last official data, are the figures
relating to the distribution of the population in the Provinces
and National Territories : —


Area in sij. miles

Population in iyo8

of Buenos Ayres

and Capital



„ Santa Fe ...



„ C(5rdoba ...



,, Entre Rios



,, Corrientes



,, Tucuman



,, Santiago de I'Estero



„ Mendoza ..



„ Salta



,, Catamarca



,, San Juan ...



,, San Luis ...



,, La Rioja ...



,, Jujuy

Carry forwanl.







Area in sq. miles Population in igo8

Brought forward,
Territory of the Pampa
,, ,, Misiones ...

,, ,, Neuquen ...

,, ,, Rio Negro

,, ,, Chaco

,, ,, Formosa ...

„ „ Chubut

,, ,, Santa Cruz

,, ,, Las Andes

,, ,, Tierra del Fnego


















•f -1,742


" 1,245





The above fifjures prove more eloquently than any other
argument that the supreme necessity of the Argentine people
at the present time is an increase of population. The
territory of the Republic has an area of more than 1,130,000
square miles, and its population amounts to no more than
5,792,807, which gives a density of 5-1 persons per square
mile. One should"also recollect, in order to grasp the true
significance of these figures, that of those 5,792,807 in-
habitants, 157,963 inhabit the 43,000 acres which form the
site of Buenos Ayres; so that only 4,634,844 remain to
people the rest of the country, a fact which still further
lessens the density of the population.

This density varies in different regions aud in different
Provinces ; thus the eastern or coastal region, formed by_the
Federal Capital and the Provinces of Buenos Ayres, Santa
F6, Entre Rios, and Corrientes, has 17-08 inhabitants to the
square mile, while that of the centre, which comprises
Cordoba, San Luis, and Santiago de I'Estero, has only 5:^.
As we penetrate further inland the density grows still less,
until in the western or Andean region, formed by the
Provinces of Mendoza, San Juan, La Rioja, and Catamarca,
the figure is barely 2-7. In the northern region, embracing
the Provinces of Tucuman, Salta, and Jujuy, there are 5;23
inhabitants per square mile.

But it is in the National Territories — in one of which
more than one important European people could find room
to spare— that we find the lowest density. There the desert
reigns in all its desolation. The Territory of El Pampa,
whence so much wealth has been drawn of late years, and


whose area is 56,200 square miles, contains barely 52,000
inhabitants ; that of Rio Negro, wliose area is 45,000 sciuarc
miles, contains but 16,000, while in the Territory of Santa
Cruz, situated on the shores of the Atlantic, in which there
are important ranches, and which might contain a numerous
pastoral and maritime population, there are only 1742 souls
to its 58,890 square miles. All these figures prove that the
Argentine is, without metaphor, a desert nation, and that
for the present and for a long time to come, its peopling will
constitute its great national need.

To this affirmation we must add another no less certain :
that in the normal order of human events, and in accordance
with the economic and sociological laws that govern European
nations, there is no country in the world which assures the
labourer who establishes himself upon its soil of such
perspectives of wealth and welfare. All things compete to
make it a paradise of immigration : the softness and variety
of its climate, the richness of its soil, the extent of its
territory, the enormous inland waterways which cross it,
and the facilities of communication with the European
consumers of its produce, with whom the Argentine is
connected by one of the most reliable ocean traffic-ways in
the world.*

The United States, which have hitherto been the objective
and centre of attraction to which men of initiative have
converged from all parts of the world, are beginning to
experience all the troubles familiar to European nations as
the result of an excessive population.! It is for this reason

* The distance of nearly 7200 miles from Buenos Ayres to the French ports
is crossed by the great transatlantic liners in from eighteen to twenty-one days.
The Argentine Parliament has voted a law authorising the Government to give
a subsidy of £400 monthly to any company adopting the refrigerator system and
undertaking to make the voyage to Lisbon or Vigo in fifteen days.

f The population of the United States is hardly yet excessive ; the country
is very much more than self-supporting, and many States and Tcriitories are
sparsely settled. The real source of trouble is that many of the national
resources are locked up in the hands of Trusts or private owners; and the
effect of railway combinations and of produce trusts all over the country is
resulting in a state of affairs similar to that produced by a lack of communica-
tions and also an effect similar to that of over-population. It is obvious that
both causes make for emigration, as the English immigrant in Canada, who
finds all the best locations occupied by Americans, has cause to know. — [Tranb ]


that they are striving, by all the means in their power, to
restrain the stream of immigration that pours upon their

Australia, which was also only recently one of the great
centres of immigration, has during these last few years
suffered terrible economic shocks, of which the effect has
been to divert the stream of new arrivals.* Moreover as a
rival of the Argentine, Australia has two causes of inferiority :
her rigorous climate, which exposes the country to violent
extremes of temperature, passing from intolerable heat to
a bitter cold, and, on the other hand, a distance from the
European countries to which she exports her products
double that between the banks of the Plata and Europe.

Having thus made it clear that the Argentine Republic
IS in an exceptional position to attract and to support a
large European population, the time has come to measure
the distance travelled, and to note the progress realised, so
that we may see whether the results obtained are in pro-
portion to the perfect adaptation of the soil to immigration.

Without being too pessimistic, we are forced to recognise
that all efforts hitherto made by the Argentine to increase
its population have hitherto remained without appreciable
effect, t

ir Colonisation, that is, the peopling of the country, was
inaugurated in the Argentine by the initiator of all tme
progress — Rivadavia — who founded the first colony"^
Santa Catalina. This work was intelligently and en-
thusiastically continued by Mitre and Rawson, in 1863T"it
was then vigorously pushed by Sarmiento during" hi~s
extremely progressive administration; but as a matter_5
fact, in spite of all these efforts, colonisation has not given

* Here again the trouble is partly due to the back-blocks being taken up by
large settlers, and still insufficient means of transit.— [Trans.]

t It is one of the disadvantages of immigration from a very poor country where
there is no political oppression, that immigrants will return to it, after saving
money in a country where money is cheap and the standard of living higher, as
the work of a few years will establish them comfortably in their native country
This is especially true of Italian emigrants. The evil will doubtless be


come by a measure comparable to the "Homestead Act" of the United
States, in conjunction with national loans of capital or of farms as going
concerns, to be bought by payment at a low interest, which would result in a
population of peasant owners in comfortable circumstances.— [Tkans ]


the results that were expected of it. To explain this lack
oTsucces^, we must suppose that the work has not been
promoted according to the indications of science and
experience, and that a variety of events, uncontrollable by
the human will, has thwarted the praiseworthy intentions of
the Government. Otherwise it is impossible to account for
the fact that the Republic contains less than 6 million
inhabitants, whereas its soil would support 100 millions.

To attain the primordial object of peopling the country,
the Argentine has had at its disposal, among others, one very
important means — the public lands— a means which other
nations in similar circumstances have employed with ex-
cellent results, but which in this case has unhappily not
produced the same happy effect, being manipulated by
inexperienced or thoughtless hands,

« Various laws have been voted in the Argentine, tending
to augment the population by means of colonisation. All
systems have been tried successively, and one and all have
failed. " This f ailurej' says M, Eleodore Lobos, in an extremely
instructive volume published under the modest title, " Notes
on the Land Laws" {Annotations sur la legislation des terres),
" is an incontestable fact, and must be attributed not only^to
economic, administrative, and political conditions, but also
to the freedom with which the soil has been divided into lots
01 enormous area, and the obstacles opposed to the easy and
secure acquisition of small properties. In other terms, our
poTiticians have effected the very reverse of a rational
colonisation, and have established a system of large
properties instead of subdividing the land between the
colonists according to their productive capacities.

This error was recognised by the Government more than
fifteen years ago; but the influence of speculators, who profit
from this short-sighted policy, has been more powerful than
all attempts at reform.

" To understand the matter," says the same author, " we
have only to see with what indifference to the public weal
the executive, during the last twenty-five years, has disposed
of ~^,81T,000 acres of uncultivated soil, which formed part
"koi the national domain. The laws voted were impotent to
prevent the disposal of these public lands in large parcels,


so that the disposal of these lands failed to draw the
population which these vast domains could supjTort."

The real beginning of Argentine immigration was when
the tyranny of Rozas was overthrown on the 3rd _o_f
February, 1852_,and a regular Government established, which
voted a fiindamental law of which the object was "to
cherish the general welfare, and to secure the a<lvantages of
liberty to every citizen, to posterity, and to all people of
the earth who desire to live on Argentine soil." From this
moment a powerful current of European immigration set in ;
turned aside from time to time by tinancial crises, plagues,*
and war ; but never completely arrested. Industry, commerce,
and agriculture, which had so far slumbered, received a con-
siderable stimulus from this new source. In a single year
more immigrants entered by the port of Buenos Ayres than
had for many years entered the whole country.

The public administration did not take the trouble to
keep an exact record of the number of immigrants before
the year 1853; and between 1854 and 1870 we have simply
the number of new arrivals, without any further details.
Only since 1870 have the official statistics classed the
immigrants according to nationality, and only since 1 881
have they recorded other details, such as sex, age, profession,
education, etc.

During the last six months of 1854, 2524 persons entered
the country; in 1855, 5912; in 185fi, 4672; in 1857, 4951,
in 1858, 4658; and in 1859, 4735; or 27,452 in six years:
that is, far more than had entered during two centui-ies of
colonial life.

In the decade formed by the years 1860-1869, the
number of immigrants increased to 134,325; in the yejirs
.. 1870-1879, to 264,869; but the highest figures, no less than
/u' 1,020,907, were " reached betwe-en 1880 and 1889. But we
must confess that during this decade certain artificial means
were employed to recruit the popuhition in Europe; sucli
means as gratuitous passages, which brought to the Argentine
a number of useless people, unfitted for any productive
task whatever.

* Tho term used, flmu.r, would probably include yellow fever, drought,
locusts, cattle disease, bad harvests, etc., etc. — [Tkans.J


Dui'ing the following decade, 1890-1899, which saw the
terri51e banking smash and the loss of public credit, as a
result of every kind of excess, the immigration diminished
slightly — to 928,000 persons — and at certain moments emigra-
tion also made itself felt, in such proportions that it amounted
to a veritable exodus. The departure of those who failed
to make money in the Argentine or find the work they
sought amounted to 552,172, the largest figures that have
so far been recorded.

Unhappily this double stream of immigration and emigra-
tion has continued up to the present. Thus, in 1900-1904,
601,682 immigrants entered the country; but, on the ether
lianB, o84,000 emigrants left it. Such figures as these
denote a grave disorder in the assimilative faculty of a
nation. Matters were no better in the three years 1905-1907,
since although 781,796 immigrants entered from P^urope
and from Montevideo, 324,687 emigrants left during the
same period, leaving a total of only 457,108 in three years.

In the previous period, from 1900-1904, the diminution
of the current of immigration was explained by various
causes: in the first place, by bad harvests, the suspension
oF important public and private undertakings, the fear 'of
war over the frontier question, the dearness of living, the
difficulties experienced by the immigrant in settling in the
national or private colonies: the excessive price of land and
the high rents in the more promising agricultural districts,
tKe insecurity of life for man and beast, the abuses of the
authorities, especially in districts remote from the centres
of population, and the tardy, costly, and faulty nature of

But since tliis period many of these causes have dis-
appeared, thanks to the splendid harvests of the last few
years, and to the period of rai)id economic expansion upon
which the Republic has entered. It is difficult, under these
conditions, to explain the still existing lack of immigration,
which denotes a disorder of the assimilative faculties of
the country,

^ Among the causes likely to prevent immigration there
is ofie which must not be too closely insisted upon: the
_iucreasing cost of living. But it is tlie European mode of


life that is dear, while in the country districts existence
costs next to nothing, as the colonist himself produces
practically every alimentary necessity.

We must also note that every year numbers of harvesters
arrive from Europe, earn good wages, save money, and return
to their native countries directly after the harvest.

In 1905, 1906 and 1907 the migratory movement was
represented, as we have seen, by 781,795 immigrants and
324,687 emigrants. If we allow that each of these latter
took away with him a sum of £80, as the Department of
Immigration has calculated, it follows that from this cause
alone nearly £10,000,000 left the country during this period
of three years.

Here are some figures taken from an official publication
dealing with the migratory movement, which relate both
to immigration and emigration, and show which European
countries have chiefly contributed to the current of immigra-
tion. Italy and Spain, as will be seen, furnish the greatest
number of immigrants.

iTnmigratioii and Emigration.




Excess in favour of





















Immigration from

1857 to 1908.







English .












Other Nationalities



Total 3,178,456

As we have already observed, one of the causes which
impede emigration is to be found in the faulty distribution
of the soil, the obstacles which the agricultural immigrant

Online LibraryAlberto B MartínezThe Argentine in the twentieth century [microform] → online text (page 10 of 33)