Courtesy Reuters

Argentina: the Thirteen-Year Crisis

THE Argentine Revolution of June 4, 1943, marked a new phase in a crisis -- political, economic, and even moral -- that has been growing worse without apparent solution for more than 13 years. For several months now the United States has been watching the government of General Pedro P. Ramírez with mingled disapproval and bewilderment, just as for the last several years it had been watching the government of Ramón S. Castillo. To most Americans, Argentina is a riddle.

The internal change which Argentina has been undergoing is one of the most significant in the country's history. The political crisis we have been witnessing is a surface phenomenon, and will not be solved until the deeper issues are settled. In the interests of understanding, let us forget for a moment what is obvious in the present de facto government -- the unfriendliness to the United States, the Fascist bent of the military -- and look at the situation out of which it arose. The Ramírez revolution is a product of the critical 1930's. And the 1930's are the product of a profound social change in the structure of Argentine society.

Argentina has two major parties, the Unión Cívica Radical, or Radical Party, and the Partido Demócrata Nacional, or Conservative Party. The parties historically represent different classes, different policies and different interests. Until 1916, all governments were Conservative, and elections were controlled. The 19th century Conservative governments represented the landholding class, particularly the landholders of the richest and biggest Argentine province, which is Buenos Aires. The landowners, who held seignorial tracts running into the hundreds of thousands of acres, grew wealthy on the rise of land values, and lived by their trade with Europe, most particularly with England. They stood for free trade, cheap money, easy credit. They were against tariff barriers and against the industrialization of Argentina. For them, the nation's colonial position as a producer of foodstuffs and raw materials, and consumer of manufactured products, was the La Prensa was one of the outstanding free-trade organs of the world.

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