Alberto B Martínez.

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amounts to 1'5 per cent, of that of the globe ; its density,
therefore, is below the average.

It is, however, the zone in which the population has
relatively increased most rapidly since the beginning of the
nineteenth century, for at the outset it certainly did not
count a million inhabitants. The Australian and African
divisions have owed their good fortune to gold, and in a


lesser degree to wool ; but gold mines are a source of wealth
which is exhausted by exploitation. In Australia, where
he extent of arable lands is limited, immigration has at
present practically ceased. In Africa the soil is little suited
to culture, and immigration to the Transvaal has been re-
cruited rather among Asiatic coolies than among free workers
of European race.

In this southern temperate zone, the Argentine Republic
is the State which has the most numerous population : that
in which the population has known the greatest increase, and
in which economic conditions promise the widest development
in the near future. The perfecting of refrigerating pro-
cesses will certainly facilitate the exportation of meats, and
it is to be hoped that the interests of trade, under the
necessities of the food supply of the labouring classes, will
finally overcome the obstacles which the European producers
oppose in the way of imports. The demand for wheat, like
the demand for meat, may vary according to the year and the
protective legislation of the nations ; but in general we may
say that it will increase rather than decrease, because the
population of Europe, and especially of Central and Western
Europe, is for ever increasing in numbers and in density, so
that already it cannot suffice to itself by producing its ali-
mentary needs from its own soil, and in proportion as it
becomes wealthier it will consume more white bread and more
butchers' meat. The United States and Canada continue to
export wheat; but the rapid increase of the urban and
industrial population of the United States will assuredly limit
this exportation to a very great extent in the twentieth

The Argentine Republic, where the harvest is due in
January, so that its wheat arrives in the European markets
by March, is the country destined to profit the most by these
advantages. It must learn how to make use of them wisely,
practising a policy of peace and concord, increasing its powers
of stability by the development of the sentiment of nation-

* The consumption of -wheat in the United States averaged 200 million
bushels between 1871 and 1875, and 531 million between 1903 and 1907. The
exportation averaged 62 million bushels between 1871 and 1875, and 122
million between 1903 and 1907.


ality, and by inspiring confidence both in foreign capitalists
and in immigrants by accumulating capital of its own, and
by learning to retain, in spite of success, the foresight which
warns of perils and the prudence wliich avoids them.


Member of the Institute,
Administrator of the College of France.


THIS book, intended to make known in Europe the present
situation and the economic future of the Argentine
Republic, comes at an opportune moment to fulfil its mission
of popularisation.

During the last ten years of the nineteenth century the
Argentine has suffered all the misfortunes and known
all the disasters that can affect a rural and agricultural
people. The locust, coming from the Tropics, devoured the
crops ; anthrax, imported from Europe, decimated the
cattle ; the threats of a war with Chili imposed enormous
expenses and exhausted the national revenue ; finally, a
commercial and industrial crisis, and domestic disturbances,
consequent upon the general misfortune, completed the tale
of calamities which put the vitality of the nation to the test.
But as there is no night so long that it has no dawn, all
these shadows fled away. Our quarrel with Chili was sub-
mitted to arbitration, and the decision of His Majesty the
King of Great Britain not only terminated a cause of differ-
ence of fifteen years' duration, but re-established fraternal
relations between the two Republics. The rural plagues
were attacked and vanquished by measures which experience
indicated as preventive of recurrence ; commercial and
industrial prosperity returned; the tranquillity of the
interior was assured ; and the general welfare increased. To
accentuate still further this beneficent reaction, the immense
and fertile plains of the pampa, open to the activities of the
agriculturalists, began to produce abundant harvests, which
struck the European markets with amazement, and diverted
towards the Argentine a current of gold which was estimated
t more than £20,000,000, and a stream of immigration,
which, in the year 1904, brought 125,000 workers, and which
promises to be even greater in the present year.

The Argentine Republic has issued triumphantly from
its lengthy and severe ordeal ; it has emerged richer, stronger


and more confident of its own destiny than at any other
period of its history ; and the increase of its revenues and
the rapid growth of its prosperity have secured the attention
of the great financial centres of Europe.

Public curiosity being thus awakened, many people
have inquired : What is the Argentine ? How far is the
development of its wealth a sound and durable process ?
What is the probable future of its people ? Is it a meteor
that flashes brilliantly through space, or a star rising upon
the economic and political horizon ?

While some content themselves with asking such ques-
tions and awaiting their reply, M. Lewandowski, the repre-
sentative of one of the greatest credit establishments in
France, wished to gain some practical experience of the
phenomenon. He took the most certain, most practical
means ; took steamer, crossed the ocean, and landed in the
Argentine. With the learned collaboration of Seiior Alberto
Martinez, one of the most competent of men in matters of
statistics and finance, he made a profound study of economic
questions, and the present book is the outcome of their
common observations.

This book should be read by all those who are not
convinced that the word Europe sums up all humanity ; but
who take the pains, on the contrary, to follow the develop-
ment of all other nations; understanding how necessary it is
for the great nations to observe the progress and evolution
of the younger peoples. Thus they avoid the risk of being
surprised by the sudden apparition of great economic or
political forces which they had not foreseen, or by which they
had not known how to profit.

South America suffers from a prejudice that we cannot
unhappily disclaim as being unjustified. The directing
classes in France, as in all other European nations, with the
exception of a small commercial and financial circle, seem to
have been kept in intentional ignorance of all things relating
to the nations of the new continent. The Argentine, Chili,
Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, — countries separated one from
another by enormous distances — are none the less, for the
generality of Europeans, more or less one and the same thing ;
that is, they form a kind of a geographical nebulosity, which


is kiiown as South America. The post-office employes of
Buenos Ayres have often occasion to smile when they read
the addresses inscribed on the envelopes of letters dispatched
by the learned and scientific bodies of Europe, and Argentines
residing abroad continually find food for reflection in the
questions asked them by persons occupying the highest

Yet for the old world there is every incentive to study
more closely the development of these new peoples. It is
enough to point out that the Argentine to-day occupies as
significant a position as that held by the United States at the
beginning of the nineteenth century ; and that its continued
evolution will undoubtedly, before the end of the present
century, give it an importance equal to that of the United
States at the present time.

In a conversation with Mr Roosevelt and his Secretary of
State, Colonel John Hay, I had occasion to make this very
remark, and the President replied, with the rapidity of
judgment and the affirmative tone which are so characteristic
of his mind : " In less time than that ; you will find fifty
years enough ; for you will profit by all our experience and
all the human progress efiected during the nineteenth

The shadow of discredit which has hitherto lain upon
South America is explained by the continual anarchy to
which the majority of its peoples have lent themselves since
the immense colonial empire of Spain threw off its fetters in
the first quarter of the last century, in order to break up into
fifteen separate republics. This anarchy and disorganisation,
compared with the orderly spirit of progress which has
reigned in the great republic of the North, have given rise to
the belief, to-day general, that the so different destiny of
these States was due to the special qualities and aptitudes of
the Anglo-Saxon race, which the Latin races lacked.

This belief results from a superficial and incomplete
examination of the facts, and has gained easy acceptance,
even in works of a more or less scientific nature, such as
The Psychological Latvs of the Evolution of Peoples, in
which the author cites, with regard to the Latin races and
the peoples of South America, a number of inaccurate and


prejudiced facts, which have been gathered from the writings
of a dyspeptic and ill-tempered journalist. Such data have
caused M. Gustave Lebon to deduce psychological laws which
are hardly favourable to the South American races.

If we wish to gain some idea of the true causes of this
diversity of destiny between the peoples of North and
South America, we must study the origin of each and the
particular form which colonisation has assumed in each
case ; forms imposed by the force of historic facts rather
than by the will of man.

The Anglo-Saxons arrived in the American coasts and
founded, in the first half of the seventeenth century, such
cities as Boston, Charleston, Philadelphia, etc., when America
had already been discovered and explored by the Spaniards
a century and a half before. These colonies were formed of
groups of families who had abandoned their mother-country
to seek a new one, where they could live and labour free
from the persecutions of religious and political intolerance.

When these colonies attained a certain fame, the surplus
of the overflowing populations of Europe was naturally
attracted by these virgin and fertile lands, relatively near at
hand though across the ocean. Thus there formed a current
of immigration which rapidly peopled America and utilised
the great natural resources of its enormous territory. In
this way was gradually formed a new people, which was to
a certain extent a development of the various nations from
which it originated, and which preserved their customs and
their political and social habits.

These colonists began by buying land of the native tribes ;
but, increasing in numbers and in strength, they found it
more convenient to rob them, thus forcing the Red Indians
to retreat towards the north and west ; and for reasons of
self-respect, or on account of religious principles, no deliberate
attempt was made to mingle with the indigenous population.

This form of colonisation, whose prime cause was to be
found in persecution, not in the execution of a preconceived
plan, resulted in the existence, at the end of the eighteenth
century, of thirteen colonies peopled exclusively by men of
the white races, originally natives of the countries of
Northern Europe, who had transported to this new soil their


manners and customs, their social and political laws, their
liberal traditions and their economic system, so that from
the moment they declared themselves independent, they
were able immediately to form a single nation, united by all
the ties which make for the cohesion of a people,*

To attain such progress, to reach the summit on which
they rest to-day, the United States had only to persist in the
same path, to follow the same groove, and the incontestable
merit of this people and of its great statesmen is that they
have been faithful to the principles of liberty and equality
which they inherited from their ancestors, the venerable
" conscript fathers " ; principles which they ratified in the
admirable Constitution whence this vast political organism
has derived its cohesion, its vitality, and its strength.

How different were the origins of the peoples of Latin
America ! The Spanish sailors did not cross the ocean like
the passengers of the Mayflower, or the companions of Penn,
seeking solitary shores, known though distant, where they
might establish a home, there to live and labour in peace and

The Spanish navigators, as brave as they were audacious,
launched themselves into the unknown, guided only by their
own genius, in order to discover a world, to conquer new lands,
new subjects, for their country and their king ; and in the
pursuit of that heroic dream they performed exploits which
to this day amaze us by their audacity.

These were the famous conquistador es, whom one of their
descendants, Jose Maria H^redia, has celebrated in the
admirable lines : —

" As from the natal charnel-heap a flight

Of falcons : sick of purseless pride at home
By Murcian Palos pilots and captains come
With brutal and heroic dreams alight :
* The late Signor Pellegrini, in his anxiety to defend the Latin races, is not
strictly impartial. At the time of the Declaration of Independence the
population of the States was very largely English (with a substratum of Dutcli
in New York) but of different periods ; and these different periods preserved
their own traditions. The difference between the New England Quaker and
the Kentucky trapper, or the Virginian fox-hunting squire, and the Dutch
patroon or Highland crofter, was as great as any to be found among the
Latin races, if not greater, and was largely a difference of arrested periods as
well as a racial and a social difference. The result was that Federalism was
accomplished peacefully only by the genius of Hamilton. — [Tr.'^ns.]


They seek the fabulous ore that comes to birth

And ripens in Cipango's distant mines.

And the trade-wind their long lateens inclines
Toward the dim limits of the Western earth."

These first colonisers of Spanish America — soldiers,
missionaries, officials, adventurers, men without family —
seized upon a whole continent, which they discovered and
conquered at the price of unheard-of exertions. They
parcelled out the land, subjugated the native tribes, reducing
them to servitude in their famous encomiendas, or putting
into experimental practice, as in the Jesuit missions, theories
of collectivism, which is to-day regarded as a modern
invention. It was a true feudal system that arose in the
new world.*

If, on the one hand, the native races were initiated into
the doctrines of Catholicism in exchange for their liberty and
independence, they did not, on the other hand, receive from
their masters any political instruction, but preserved their
habits of submission and passive obedience to their chief,
which constituted their sole political tradition.

When, therefore, the day of emancipation arrived, and
this enormous colony, in arms against its oppressors, declared
itself independent, and divided itself into several Republics,
the great mass of the population consisted of Indians con-
verted to Christianity, and half-breeds, who preserved their
habits unchanged and had no ideas, no traditions, other than
that of government by individual might.

Only in the urban centres did the white race, with its
conception of political institutions, predominate. And when
the new Government wished to organise itself in an in-
dependent manner, the two tendencies and traditions, which
correspond to two distinct mentalities, violently clashed,
and began that long struggle, not wholly terminated even
to-day, of which the history is the history of anarchism in

Another factor that also procured this conflict was the
colonial political economy of Spain, which was not only

* It must be remembered, in comparing North with South America,
that the former also had its period of extensive slavery, its plantations worked
by convict labour, and for a period an almost feudal system. — [Trans.]


a mistake, but a mistake of the period ; an error which
closed the whole continent to commerce, shut it away from
the outer world, and maintained these masses of humanity
in ignorance and isolation, in order to exploit them simply
as a machine, or as an element of wealth for the service of
their masters.

The problem which confronted the politicians of South
America when they found themselves face to face with this
new people, whom they must of necessity organise, was
thus very different from, and far more difficult than the
problem which the founders of the North American Union
had to resolve.

These native masses obeyed with all their might and
with the utmost enthusiasm so long as it was a question
of fighting against the foreign troops and of winning their
independence ; but, victory once assured, guided by their
leaders, the caudillos, most of whom were white, they
revolted against the tendencies which began to show them-
selves among the Europeans of the cities, and in many places
succeeded in dominating over them by force of numbers,
thus preventing all political and administrative progress,
and maintaining, as their form of government, the personal,
arbitrary, and irresponsible power of a leader, that is, of
the caudillo.

The written Constitutions which these people had
established upon declaring their independence, and which
were inspired by the Constitutions of the United States or
the Swiss Republic, were thus reduced to a dead letter, as
they were in complete contradiction to the political habits of
the mass of the populace, and required, for their application,
a political education which the peoples of South America did
not possess. A whole century had to elapse before immigration,
material interest, and the influence of civilisation, were able
slowly to modify the political mentality of these peoples, by
reinforcing and popularising the principles of government,
extirpating the elements and suppressing the causes of the
anarchy which had so long disturbed them.

Among the nations which experienced these beneficent
influences, the Spanish colony known as the Viceroyalty of
the Rio de la Plata, to-day the Argentine Republic, was


quite specially favoured. Its territory, composed of immense
prairies, the celebrated Argentine " pampas," stretching from
the sea-coast and the river littoral, offered the unique wealth
of their fertility and their climate. There were no mines
of gold or silver to arouse the greed of adventurers ; they
came to these regions only to traverse them, and so to proceed
immediately to the gold-bearing regions of the distant

Moreover, the first colonists who established themselves
on the banks of the Plata, repulsed and expelled by the
natives, were forced to abandon a certain number of cattle
and horses, which found in these prairies an admirable
opportunity to live and multiply in freedom, until finally
they formed the immense herds of wild cattle and horses,
whose hides became the principal wealth and the chief article
of commerce of these regions.

Although the Rio de la Plata had no commercial relations
with the outside world, and was only able to trade with
Cadiz, the immensity and the solitude of its shores favoured
a contraband trade ; to such a degree that English, Dutch,
and Portuguese smugglers came from all parts to exchange
their manufactured articles for the hides of these wild herds. —
This it is that explains how Buenos Ayres was able from the
outset to become a great commercial centre, in which the
trades dependent upon stock-raising quickly occupied the
first place.

Commercial activity, the development of communication
by sea, the fertility of the soil, the climate — all contributed
from the early days of emancipation to attract European
immigration. This immigration, like that which peopled the
America of the north, was composed of families who came to
settle, to form new homes, to labour. These families, follow-
ing the example of their predecessors in the United States
and for the same causes, did not mingle with the native
tribes, but struggled against them, and forced them to
abandon their lands and fly to the south, until at last, after
a long and cruel struggle, they almost completely disappeared.

This immigration increased year by year, and to-day the
great majority of the population of the Argentine Republic —
a population now exceeding 5 millions — is of European origin.


That this immigration, which flows from all the nations
of Europe, has been the chief agent of the present prosperity
of the Argentine, and is the condition of its future greatness,
is an incontestable fact. One of our leading statesmen has
declared, of America, that " to govern is to people " ; and this
aphorism has remained a fundamental principle of government.
To recognise the full force of this assertion, we must reflect
that these unusually fertile prairies, situated in a privileged
climate, near the sea-coast or on the banks of enormous rivers,
navigable even by transatlantic steamers, need nothing but
human labour to transform them, with less eff'ort and at less
expense than anywhere else in the world, into immense fields
of wheat or maize, or pastures of lucerne, covered with herds,
able to produce bread and meat enough to feed all Europe.

Accordingly the agricultural production of the Argentine
Republic is limited only by the number of hands which lend
themselves to its exploitation ; in which we have a repetition
of the very phenomenon which has served as the foundation
of the development of the United States.

Under these conditions the progress of the Argentine
Republic is a necessary and inevitable fact, which extra-
ordinary circumstances might for a time retard, but which
nothing could finally arrest ; except, indeed, one could restrain
the daily exodus of fresh swarms from the human hive,
which abandon the old soils, exhausted by production, to
seek out the fertile, virgin, and unpeopled areas of the globe.

Hitherto this exodus has been directed principally to
the United States ; attracted thither by a host of special
and favouring circumstances. But the time is rapidly
approaching when North America in turn will find herself
populated to the saturation point, and will no longer be able
to receive the hosts which benefited her formerly. The
laws of the United States are already beginning to impose
conditions upon immigration which are constantly becoming
more severe ; and these laws are imposed by the two great
political forces — the superior social classes and the lower
classes of the people.

The upper classes, Anglo-Saxon in origin, fear that con-
temporary immigration, coming as it does from peoples of
alien race, from the south or east of Europe, may modify or


enfeeble those great moral and political qualities to which
they attribute the greatness and prosperity of their nation.
On the other haud, the federated workers see in these new
arrivals, healthy and vigorous, but having fewer needs, a
source of dangerous competition, which may have a disastrous
influence on conditions of labour and payment.

The stream of irrigation which is now setting in towards
the United States, and which amounted in numbers to
800,000 in the year 1904, must necessarily therefore, as time
goes on, turn aside in other directions, and as it will nowhere
meet with more advantageous circumstances than in the
Argentine, it will flow thither as it flows already, but in
greater and greater numbers, resulting in a development of
wealth and power superior to any hitherto known.

Some persons, however, formulate certain reservations
as to the consistency and the political and social value of
nations formed by these human inundations, composed as
they are of men of different races, having neither the same

Online LibraryAlberto B MartínezThe Argentine in the twentieth century [microform] → online text (page 4 of 33)