Trade Rivalries in Argentina

Courtesy Reuters

THE supreme importance of European trade with the South American continent in the era prior to 1914 is nowhere better exemplified than in the economic and financial history of the Argentine Republic. Based on the stony pillars of racial kinship and cumulative financial investment, the relations between Argentina and the Old World seemed immovable. Thus when the Centennial Exhibition, held in Buenos Aires in 1910 as an epitome of the progress of the Republic, demonstrated the advance that had been made, it also served to bring into high relief the strength, variety, and intrinsic importance of Argentina's European connections.

To quote statistics of that epoch would but stress the financial and commercial side of the relationship; it would not, obviously, illustrate the relative importance of the intellectual and ethnic connections, or the means whereby they were maintained and fostered. These important factors of contact were not overlooked. The French and German medical schools, and to a lesser extent those of Italy and Spain, sent professors to lecture in Buenos Aires on their several specialties, while their commercial chemists saw to it that the latest serums and therapeutic material in general kept abreast of the professional propaganda when shipments to Argentina were concerned. French art and literature served, and still serve, to aid French exports in numerous ways. Italian and Spanish contributions to the intellectual life of Argentina were chiefly associated with the theatre, drama, comedy, and opera; leading companies made regular visits to Argentina and year by year earned important sums which were equivalent to a considerable addition to Italian and Spanish national exports. Indeed Germany, feeling that opportunities were being lost, also started a concerted effort to lead Argentine taste to a due appreciation of her drama and her music. Thus, between 1910 and the outbreak of war, full companies sang Wagner in Buenos Aires, German light comedy and operetta were presented with considerable success, and the first regular symphonic concerts were staged under German direction. Part and parcel though this may have

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