Alberto B Martínez.

The Argentine in the twentieth century [microform] online

. (page 3 of 33)
Online LibraryAlberto B MartínezThe Argentine in the twentieth century [microform] → online text (page 3 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the isthmus, and were shipped anew at Puerto Bello for
Seville. Imports came by the same road.

There were, however, exceptions to this rule : either by
grace of provisional permits given by the King of Spain, or,
more frequently, through the contraband trade.

In 1617 the Province of Paraguay and the shores of the
Plata were divided into three Provinces ; Paraguay, Buenos
Ayres (erected into a bishopric in 1630), and Tucuman, which
were dependents of the viceroyalty of Peru. The captaincy
of Chili also extended over both sides of the Andes. The
Indians had to a great extent been divided among the
colonists en encomiendas — that is to say, in a species of
slavery ; but other Indians, who were still free, were formidable
enemies.

Early in the seventeenth century the Jesuits instituted
their first " reductions " in Paraguay, and organised in a
community the Guarano Indians of the country. These " re-
ductions," ravaged by the Mamelukes of Brazil, were replaced
by missions established on either bank of the Paraguay
River, and on the Uruguay to the south of Yguassu. The
order of Jesuits was suppressed in 1766.

The principal towns of the Argentine of to-day were
already established by the middle of the eighteenth century.
At that period, so Savary informs us, " The city of Buenos
Ayres contained about 4000 houses, all built of earth (adobe),
but covered with tiles, with the exception of some lifty
houses of brick. The inhabitants are rich, and owe their
riches to the extensive trade which they carry on, both at
home and abroad." After the advent to the Spanish throne
of the son-in-law of Louis XIV., France had the greater share
of this trade ; the King having conceded to a French com-
pany the monopoly of the Assiente — that is to say, of the
trade in negroes, until by the Treaty of Utrecht France was
forced to cede this monopoly to England.

The two principal articles of export were at that time
green hides for Europe and the Paraguayan TJiatd for Peru.

On the northern bank of the Plata the Portuguese had



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxix

founded the Colonia del Sacramento (1686), with a view to
competing with the Spanish ports. The Spaniards seized
this place once in 1724 and again in 1766 ; they founded
Montevideo in 1726. The quarrel between the two colonies
was only terminated by the Treaty of Madrid in 1750.

In 1748 Spain somewhat abated the severity of her laws.
In 1776 she freed the Argentine from the overlordship of
Peru, by creating the viceroyalty of La Plata, with Buenos
Ayres as capital. The population, which before this change
was only 37,000, rose to over 400,000 in a quarter of a century.
In 1780 was founded the colony of Carmen, the first
Patagonian settlement, the shores of Patagonia having been
first explored by the Jesuit Quiroga in 1746.

During the wars of the Empire the English seized Buenos
Ayres by surprise, but were expelled by a Frenchman, Jacques
de Liniers, whom the inhabitants had appointed viceroy.

The colonial period ended in 1810.

Such were the origins of the Argentine ; a time of
difficulties and impediments ; but in that period were laid
the foundations on which the Argentine civilisation reposes.

The second period is that of the formation of the Re-
publican State.

The first part of this period, that of the deliverance from
Spain, opens with the memorable day of the 25th of May
1810, when liberty was peacefully proclaimed at Buenos
Ayres. The revolution spread to C6rdoba and to Tucuman
it failed in Upper Peru, owing to the reverse of Goyen^che
in 1811, and in Paraguay, where the capitulation of Tacuary
took place in the same year. Belgrano, one of the heroes of
the War of Independence, renewed the ofiensive and once
more invaded Upper Peru — this time victoriously ; but the
Argentine troops were definitely driven from the country
after the battles of Vilcuapujio (1813), and Sip^-Sipe (1816).
On the east coast the capitulation of Montevideo in 1814 put
an end to the Spanish domination. On the west the brilliant
expedition of General San Martin, who crossed ^he Andes,
freed Chili, and struck the decisive blow by the capture of
Lima (1817-1821). The victory of General Sucre at Ayacucho
(1824) terminated the struggle. Argentine territory had
already been seven years free from the Spanish troops,
c



XXX THE ARGENTINE IN THE 20th CENTURY

The second part of this period, that of political con-
struction, was longer, far more laborious, and still more
bloody. Questions of race and party divided the inhabitants
Guachos of the Pampa, Creoles * and pure Spaniards, Federals
and Unitarians, disputed the power, while on the frontiers of
the Republic the Indians continued to disturb and alarm the
new State. Provinces seceded ; many constitutions were
drafted. In spite of his talen as a statesman, Rivadavia
was unable to obtain the universal acceptance of the Unionist
Constitution of 24th December 1826.

A war against Brazil, of which the notable fact was the
victory of Ituzaingo (1827), resulted in the recognition of
Uruguay as a free state.

The civil war broke out anew several times. The military
leader of the Buenos Ayres Federals, General Rosas, seized
upon the dictatorship in a time of disorder, exercising it
not without intelligence, but with a cruel despotism, and
he carried on a long war against Montevideo, which lasted
until General Urquiza, of the Union party (with Brazil and
Uruguay as allies) delivered his country by the victory of
Caseros (1852). The Constitution of the Argentine Re-
public was voted on 25th May 1853 ; but the end of the civil
war and the definite reunion of Buenos Ayres to the other
Provinces did not take place until 1860, the year of the
revision of the Constitution.

War and confusion are not usually propitious to progress.
However, the population in 1861 was estimated approxi-
mately at 1,375,000 ; it had increased to almost five times
what it was at the beginning of the century.

Buenos Ayres became definitely the capital of the
Republic in 1882, upon ceasing to be the capital of the
State of Buenos Ayres.

The third period is that of economic development. This
is the period of which our authors write. We may mention
it as beginning with the re-entrance of Buenos Ayres into
the Argentine Concert, and the revision of the Constitution
of October 1860. If it has not been free from political
acritations and international misunderstandings, it has none

* This word is here used to denote mixed blood ; in its proper use it denotes
a person of Latin blood born in tropical or semi-tropical America. — [Trans.]



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxxi

the less beon more pacific than the preceding periods, and
industry has enjoyed a security which in former years
was only too often disturbed by the regulations of colonial
trade, the attacks of the Indians, the civil wars, and the
Separatist policy. But there were still for twelve years
intestine troubles and dissensions.

It was only in 1882 that the political organisation was
completely constituted, when Buenos Ayres became the
Federal capital ; for from I860 to 1870 the Argentine was
forced to wage war against Paraguay, when it struggled,
in concert with Brazil, against the despotism of Lopez. The
Treaty of the 3rd of February 1876 gave it the greater
Chaco as far as Pilcomayo. The Chaco is pacified ; matters
are not the same now as when, in 1881, Crevaux was
assassinated there by the Tobas. General Riva efiected the
Argentine conquest of Patagonia (1879-1880), and the Indians,
feared so long by the planters, w^ere driven across the Andes.

In 1895 the difference which had arisen between the
Argentine and Brazil, with reference to the J^Iisiones frontier,
was settled by arbitration. By the Treaty of 23rd July 1881
was terminated a long quarrel with Chili in relation to
Patagonia ; the Argentine obtained possession of the country
as far as the line made by the Cordilleras and a portion of
Tierra del Fuego. Arbitration also, in November 1902,
settled the difference with Chili, no less irritating and of
equally long standing, concerning, the frontiers of the
Andes. No more serious causes of quarrel between the
Arcrentine and its neighbours remain. ^



The period of economic development is as yet of only fifty
years' duration : it is far from having reached the limit of
its evolution; but we may judge of the amplitude which that
evolution has already attained by means of statistics,* and
by them we may foretell what the future holds in promise.

The population, estimated in 1861 as being 1,375,000, had
by 1907 increased to 6,210,000. Immigration, varying from
one period to another according to the economic condition of

* The more recent figures cited in this Preface are taken, for the most part,
from The Statesman's Year-Booh.



xxxii THE ARGENTINE IN THE 20th CENTURY

the European nations and the Argentine Republic, reached
an annual average of 13,400 from 1860 to 1869 : between 1903
and 1908 it amounted to 211,000 (emigration not being
deducted.)*

The area cultivated in 1895, the date of the first serious
estimate, was 5,256,160 acres, of which 2,013,000 acres were
under wheat ;f in 1909 346 million acres were cultivated,
of which 14-8 millions were in wheat. These 34-6 millions
are only a small fraction of the 256 million acres which the
Argentine appears to contain.

The grain harvest, estimated in 1878-1881 at barely
400,000 tons, exceeded a million tons in 1895, and in
1907-1908 amounted to 5,523,900 tons, or 204,384,000 bushels.

Although the bovine and ovine races have not greatly
increased in numbers for the last twenty years, on account
of the transformations effected by agriculture,! the exporta-
tion of wool, which was 660,000 quintals in 1869-1870, was
nearly 2,000,000 in 1905, and it still amounted to 1^ millions
in 1907 ; the exportation of beef, reckoned in carcasses, was
more than 66,000 head in 1900 and 463,000 in 1907.

The first section of railroad was constructed in 1857. In
1865 the Republic possessed only 154 miles of railroad ; in
1908 there were 14,643 miles.

In 1865, the first year of which we have commercial
statistics, the foreign trade amounted to £11,300,000 ; in
1907, it reached £113,000,000, and in 1908 £127,600,000. For
several years there has been a very large excess of exports
over imports; in 1908 it would seem to have exceeded
£20,000,000.

These figures, to which our authors have added many
others, are eloquent. They tell us that man, whose labour
creates wealth, is four and a half times more numerous
upon Argentine soil than he was forty-six years ago ; that
immigration each year increases the number of workers ;

* This emigration amounted to an annual average of 93,000 between 1903-
1907; but tho deduction was not made in the years 1860-1869. In 1907 there
were 209,000 immigrants and 90,000 emigrants.

t The cultivated area was estimated at 849,000 acres in 1872.

X In 1875 an approximate estimate gave 1?>^ millions of horned cattle and
.^)7^ millions of sheep; in 1907 the figures amounted to 25,844,000 and
77,^580,000.



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxxiii

that cultivated soil, the chief instrument of wealth in an
agricultural country, has an area nearly seven times greater
than that of fourteen years ago ; that wheat, the principal
vegetable product of that soil, now yields harvests thirteen
times more abundant than those of thirty years ago ; that
the products of stock-raising have, on the whole, greatly
increased, despite the arrested development of certain forms
of production ; that the railways — the means of transport
of man and his produce, which did not exist half a century
since — now cover the land with a network of increasing
fineness, and are placing the Argentine in the first rank of the
nations in respect of the mileage of railroad per inhabitant ;
that foreign trade, which is one of the most characteristic
forms of popular activity, and that commonly mentioned
in illustrating a state's power of expansion, has multiplied
itself ten times since 1865.

These figures, taken together, form a picture which is not
only encouraging, but extremely flattering to the pride of
the Argentine people.

But the picture is not without shadows. The Indians
to-day amount only to thirty thousand in numbers; the
Guachos are gradually disappearing before the agricultural
settler ; and the political and moral unity of the country is
not yet fully accomplished. The Argentine, like most
of the Latin-American republics, has given itself a Consti-
tution based upon that of the United States ; but the popula-
tions of its Provinces had not the spiritual cohesion exhibited
by the British Colonies, and above all by New England,
which qualities set the seal on religious faith and the love of
liberty. European immigration has brought us composite
elements which are not yet amalgamated. Nearly all
immigrants have come to make money: the majority are
indifferent to public affairs, as we see on election days.
Others are only too inclined to attach themselves to coteries,
to cliques. In the relations between the local governments
and the central Government, the subordination of the
former is more remarkable than the harmony of their mutual
relations. The planters, intoxicated by their good fortune,
are not always so prudent as to regulate their undertakings
by their resources.



xxxiv THE ARGENTINE IN THE 20th CENTURY

When in 1890 I wrote an Introduction to M. Latzina's
book, the Argentine was in the full swing of speculation,
and apparently saw no limits to its development. "The
Argentines," I said, " resemble an enterprising merchant, who,
having opened shop in a well-frequented street, and having
borrowed money in order to start with a luxurious establish-
ment, finds himself greatly embarrassed for years, although
his business prospers, because his advances and his engage-
ments are larger than his takings. It is desirable that this
spirit of enterprise should be fed, so to speak, on diet,
or at least, according to regimen ; and on such conditions
equilibrium would be re-established." Indeed, it then seemed
that a crisis must occur; and it came, a few months later.
It was very long and very severe ; the Argentine learned
what it meant to lose its credit, and for twelve years it
suffered the disadvantages of a depreciated paper currency.

The country recovered, and speculation rapidly received
fresh impetus. Thanks to the excess of exports, gold became
plentiful ; it is no longer at a premium ; if interest — which has
decreased — still maintains itself at about 6 per cent., it is
because there is a great demand for capital. The budgets
still increase at a pace to alarm a prudent financier, in spite
of increased receipts. " If the Argentine does not wish to
compromise its lofty destinies," say the authors of the
present volume, " it is essential that it should maintain an
economical administration, careful of the public moneys, yet
open to all material progress. By so doing, it will inspire
confidence in men and in capital : the two elements which it
must still increase in order to become a sreat nation.



To the population born on Argentine soil were added,
between 3 857 and 1908, 3,338,000 immigrants of various
nationality;* 1,706,000 Italians, 670,000 Spaniards, 201,000
French and Belgians, 100,000 Austro-Hungaiians or Germans,

* On the other hand, 1,322,000 persons emigrated. The census of 1895 gave
886,000 foreigners not naturalised, of whom 493,000 were Italians, 199,000
Spaniards, 94,000 French, etc. To-day immigration consists especially of
Italians (127,578 in 1906), Spaniards (79,287), Russians (17,434), Syrians
(7677), Anstrians (4277), French (3698), etc.



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxxv

and 41,000 English. Thus the Latin races are greatly in
he ascendant : a fact which facilitates assimilation.

The Government should preoccupy itself largely with
this matter of assimilation : for the process is not complete.
There are two effectual means which it might employ, among
others, in order to assimilate its new recruits : ownership
of the soil and education.

These two means have produced marvellous effects in
the United States. The Homestead Law of the 20th of
May 1862 gave to every American over twenty-one years
of age, and to every person having declared, conformably
with the law, his intention of becoming a citizen, the right
to occupy gratuitously 160 acres of surveyed lands, or
80 acres only in districts more advantageously situated : if
the holder, after five years of residence, has cultivated a
portion of his holding, the full title is finally granted.
For such purpose the public lands have been surveyed and
divided into lots by the Government. The Government also
sells public lands by auction or treaty. Up to the month
of July 1905, it had thus alienated a total of 808,000,000
acres ; which explains how millions of families — Irish,
German, Scandinavian and others — have been more or less
definitely settled on the soil of that which was already or
which has since then become their native land. Here is
an example the Argentine Government would do well to
follow.

Education exercises an influence of another kind, which
is no less efficacious. The Americans of the United States
are well aware of this, and this is why they attach such
importance to the upkeep of the "common schools" and the
attendance of the pupils. The children of foreign parents
become Americanised in class and during play by contact
with young Americans. The English tongue becomes their
own language ; their manners of thought and their habits
are modelled on those of their comrades, whom they are
unconsciously proud to imitate. If the immigrant family
does not forget the memories of its old home, at least its
offspring, from the second generation, are rooted in the
American soil and have American minds.

The Argentine Government must endeavour to obtain a



xxxvi THE ARGENTINE IN THE 20th CENTURY

like result. For a long period primary instruction was in an
extremely neglected state in the Argentine Republic. How-
ever, the Constitution obliged the Provinces to secure such
instruction, the Federal Government to assist by finding a
third of the expense of the first installation of the schools.
But in spite of the Constitution, in 1874 there were only 1830
primary schools and 112,000 pupils. Progress has been accom-
plished : in 1905 there were 5250 schools, 14,118 teachers,
male and female, and 544,000 pupils. But as the population
between the ages of six and fourteen had increased to 827,000,
only 65 per cent, of the children were attending school, and
only one child in three was able to read and write. This is a
state of things that must be changed.

Secondary education, as far as numbers go, is in no better
case ; there are sixteen " colleges," with 4100 pupils. The State
Universities of Buenos Ayres and Cdrdoba and the three
provincial Universities of La Plata, Santa Fe and Parana,
with 3000 students, are relatively better.*

The three orders of instruction ought to work together to
form a national spirit and a moral unity ; but the Government
should not forget that primary instruction is the basis, and
that it is the only kind of instruction that can be bestowed
upon each generation in its entirety, and that the children of
each generation should be taught at an early age not only
the ideas necessary to the life of the individual, but also, by
means of the elements of national history, ethics, and applied
science, the knowledge and love of their native country.

The Argentine Republic as yet counts few men to whom the
exigencies of life leave leisure to consecrate themselves entirely
to letters or the sciences. It has some distinguished writers,
but they usually find a recompense for their talent in the public
press; for in Buenos Ayres more than 200 journals are
published. Men write as hurriedly as they act. It is to be
hoped that before long, with the increase of wealth, there
will arise men of science, who will find no lack of material
in the country, and men of letters, historians, novelists,
sociologists, etc., who will also never lack for matter in this

* The writer does not give the statistics of those who go abroad to study ;
the nninber is, of course, very considerable, especially of those who go to Paris.
—[Trans.]



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION xxxvii

busy, humming hive. Such men are necessary, because their
life-work goes far to make up the intellectual capital of a
nation, and even to form nationality itself.

In my introduction to M. Latzina's book, I glanced at the
whole continent of South America, and I remarked that
civilisation had scarcely penetrated the interior of this vast
continent ; that the density of its population was extremely
low ; that the economic, intellectual and political life of the
continent was concentrated, if I may so use the word, upon
its periphery ; that is to say, upon the shores which are in
touch, through navigation, with the rest of the world ; that
the Argentine Republic formed the southern portion of this
belt connecting Uruguay and Chili ; that this belt is wider
where the penetration of the interior is easier and the climate
more favourable. This belt has also been widened in
Southern Brazil by the construction of railroads. It is still
wider in the Argentine, because the network of railways is
more widely distributed, the soil is of even quality and
cultivable, and the climate temperate and favourable to
expansion.

For the purposes of this present Introduction, let us
imagine a vaster area — the whole earth, or, at least, the three
inhabited zones of the earth.

The torrid zone contains nearly a third of the land surface
of the earth, and only a quarter of its population ; the
density of population is thus below the average. Original
civilisations have existed in the torrid zone — for example,
Mexico and Peru before the arrival of Europeans — but these
existed on higher plateaus where the climate was not tropical.
There were civilisations in India and the East Indies, but
these were imported from the valley of the Ganges. There
are to-day intertropical countries which exhibit an active
economic life : India, Mexico, the Antilles and the seaboard
of Brazil. Nevertheless, in the greater part of the torrid zone
it would seem that the continuous high temperature saps
human energy, and also renders it to a great extent un-
necessary, by simplifying life, reducing as it does the number
of man's essential needs by facilitating the satisfaction of
those which are, like alimentation, strictly necessary.



xxxviii THE ARGENTINE IN THE 20th CENTURY

The temperate zone of the north is the most favoured of
all these. It contains nearly half the land surface of the
globe. It is also the most populated, and the average density
of population is far higher, for it contains about 1,207,000,000
inhabitants, or roughly speaking, three-quarters of the popu-
lation of the globe. Here it is that we find massed the four
great sources of the ancient and modern civilisation of the
world, which also correspond to the four great groups of
mankind ; China with Japan ; India, with the Deccan running
down to the torrid zone ; Europe, and the United States and
Eastern Canada. In the three first centres the density of
population is far greater than in any other large country.
In the fourth, the number of human beings (some 94
millions) and the density are far less ; but this centre has
become'one of the most important, by means of its activity of
production.

There remains the temperate zone of the south. In this
zone, the ocean occupies relatively the largest space. The
land emerges from it only at the termination of three
continents — America, Africa, and Australia, terminated by
Tasmania and New Zealand. Before the arrival of Europeans,
each of these divisions was absolutely isolated, without any
relations with the others, and inhabited by races entirely
savage. The coming of the Europeans who peopled them,
and the maritime commerce which ensued, have awakened
them to civilisation. In the case of America, we have seen
that free colonisation was not commenced until the nineteenth
century. In Africa, at the opening of the nineteenth century,
there were only a few ports occupied, and Australia was still
practically untouched. To-day, in the temperate zone of
the south, which comprises only a twelfth part of the land
surface of the globe, there are 24 millions of inhabitants,
nearly all civilised and of European descent. This population



Online LibraryAlberto B MartínezThe Argentine in the twentieth century [microform] → online text (page 3 of 33)