VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > E. Latin America and the Caribbean, 1914–1945 > 2. South America
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1914)
2. South America
a. Argentina
HIPÓLITO YRIGOYEN, leader of the Argentine Radicals, was elected president after an electoral reform (1912) granted the secret ballot and suffrage to all males over 18 years of age. Yrigoyen introduced modest social reforms (factory acts, regulation of hours, pensions, etc.), but eventually gave up efforts to win over the labor movement and turned to repression to control workers. Large landowners retained their dominance, and the patronage and corruption of earlier regimes persisted. Yrigoyen refused to give up neutrality during the First World War, although diplomatic relations with Germany were strained after the sinking of Argentine ships by German submarines (1917). Argentine supplied huge quantities of wheat and meat to the Allies.  1
Entrance of middle-class immigrants' children into universities fueled La Reforma, a movement for student participation in university governance and curricular reform. It began with student strikes in Córdoba and soon spread to campuses in Buenos Aires and La Plata. Yrigoyen supported the movement, which also inspired student political activity elsewhere in Latin America.  2
1919, Jan
SEMANA TRÁGICA (the Tragic Week). Police and the army opened fire first on striking workers and then on the funeral for those killed in the massacre. Perhaps thousands were killed in the worker riots that followed. In the aftermath, the “Patriotic League,” an anti-Communist, anti-Semitic nativist organization, aided in the identification and persecution of surviving strikers and supporters.  3
Argentina became an original member of the League of Nations, but withdrew from the assembly in 1921 on rejection of an Argentine resolution that all sovereign states be admitted to the League.  4
MARCELO ALVEAR, Radical candidate, elected president. His attempts at fiscal austerity caused a split in the Radical Party (1924). His presidency also witnessed a growing wave of conflicts between the federal government in Buenos Aires and anti-Radical governments in the provinces.  5
Yrigoyen was again elected to the presidency.  6
1930, Sept. 6
General José Uriburu forced Yrigoyen from office. Yrigoyen's assumption of wide personal powers had aroused much criticism, while the distress created by the world depression had provoked a demand for further relief measures. With Uriburu the landowning and big business and other conservative groups returned to power. This began the period (1930–43) known alternatively as either the “Conservative Restoration” or the “Infamous Decade.” Modeling themselves on the fascistic style of Mussolini's Italy, Uriburu and his followers used fraud and severe repression to decimate the radical Left. Although the Radical Party initially boycotted elections during the Infamous Decade, in 1936 they struck a deal with the conservatives (the Concordancia) for some power sharing.  7
Agustín Justo was elected president. The regime maintained a system of fraud and intimidation to ensure conservative victories in the elections. Political and social unrest continued and culminated in an unsuccessful radical revolt in the northeastern provinces (1933–34).  8
1932, Nov. 17
Carlos Saavedra Lamas, the foreign minister, published a proposed South American antiwar pact, which had already been accepted by several states. Argentina also resumed full membership in the League of Nations (1933).  9
The government launched a program of national economic recovery, which achieved some success. Part of this was the Roca-Runciman treaty with Great Britain, which was designed to safeguard Argentina's export markets by guaranteeing the purchase of British goods and ensuring the profitability of British firms in Argentina.  10
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.