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Volume 52 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay

JOSEPH T. CRISCENTI, Professor of History, Emeritus, Boston College

HISTORICAL WRITINGS IN THIS BIENNIUM continued the pattern noted in previous years. Works on the 20th century continue to exceed those on the 19th: nearly two-thirds of the publications annotated below focus on the 20th century, and two-thirds of these on the post-1930 years. Women historians are more in evidence than in the past, and they too prefer the 20th century to the 19th; their presence is most noticeable among Argentine historians, least among the Paraguayans. There has been a pronounced increase in contributions from foreign scholars, primarily concentrating on the 20th century. A smaller but nonetheless significant group is exploring numerous facets of Paraguayan history. Scholars interested in statistical data continue to encounter incomplete and unreliable census data, incomplete sets of accounting records, and poorly defined terms. Census takers and ledger keepers were not very meticulous, and like the lawyers they dealt with, some used ambiguous and contradictory language. A large number of reference works appeared.


For the past few years our understanding of Argentine political and economic developments between 1810-70 has been undergoing subtle changes as more documents become available and established interpretations are questioned. García-Godoy has assembled and has had translated an impressive collection of documents related to San Martín (item bi 89003226). The recently released Quiroga papers reveal the economic conditions that existed among the Interior Provinces and the nature of their relations with the Province of Buenos Aires (item bi 89003227). Two sets of documents for the Rosas period (items bi 91027523 and bi 89003232) illustrate the strain placed on the limited financial resources of the Province of Buenos Aires by the need to protect itself from the Indians on its southern and northern flanks and from a neighboring province, and its dependence on outside sources for horses for its own army. The memoirs of the famous Mariquita Sánchez describe economic conditions during the Rosas Administrations from another perspective (item bi 89001585).

The reasons for the independence movement and its goals are subject to constant review. In a challenging article Saguier theorizes that the Revolution of 1810 was a by-product of the economic and social changes wrought by fluctuations in the commercial cycle (item bi 89004670). The program of the saavedristas still is subject to dispute, but not that of the morenistas. Dürnhöfer republished Manuel Moreno's "Plan de Operaciones" and his version of the US Constitution (item bi 92007027). Salas notes that some revolutionaries favored a modified version of the English constitutional model (item bi 90001169). Dürnhöfer and Goldman (item bi 90003799) agree that the morenistas were Jacobins. González Bernaldo believes that the patriots created and governed an abstract State, and that their patria was the city of Buenos Aires (item bi 90003798). Chiaramonte (item bi 89004156) concedes that the legal documents of the period are characterized by ambigious and contradictory language, and attributes the creation of the Argentine nation to political decisions. Galmarini observes in another connection that the law often failed to reflect reality (item bi 89001161). Chiaramonte does not believe that a national sentiment existed prior to 1810, and Pomer (item bi 89003397) found none prior to 1870. Indeed, Pomer sees the "national state" as the artificial creation of a small porteño element that was influenced by European ideas (item bi 89004225). That they failed to create national unity, as Merchensky (item bi 89003235) maintains, could be attributed to the presence of the three federalist movements described by Torres Molina (item bi 89001555). The force for unity in the littoral might have been the financial dependence of the upriver provinces on Buenos Aires that Chiaramonte suggests existed (item bi 89003141).

An excellent general economic history of the pre-1870 years will be found in Cuccorese and Panettieri (item bi 92007026). Halperín Donghi assesses the potential consequences that the opening of Buenos Aires to free trade had (item bi 89014713). Bidut de Salas describes altogether too briefly the business world of three merchants located in Rosario and the importance of Rosario as a port prior to 1850 (item bi 91003064). Sábato studies the changes that took place in the free labor market of the city and province of Buenos Aires with the arrival of foreign investments (item bi 90010215). Cortés Conde's brillant study of the monetary and banking system that existed after 1862 suggests, by implication, that the nonexistence of a national monetary system or a single national currency was not an obstacle to economic progress in the provinces prior to that date (item bi 90010753). Minutolo de Orsi details the political and economic maneuvering of the revolucionarios a sueldo (item bi 89003385). Duarte unravels the complex relationship that existed between a presidential election and a revolutionary force in a province bordering a foreign country (item bi 90003657). Guerrino assesses the health of the soldiers and Indians (item bi 90007301).

Luna connects the pre- and post-1870 years in a sweeping survey of the growth and evolution of Argentine democracy from 1852-83 (item bi 90007319). An analysis of the Pellegrini Administration's handling of the financial problems of 1890-92 is found in Richmond's study (item bi 90010754). Bordi de Ragucci assembles the ideas of del Valle (item bi 90010752). Díaz Araujo (item bi 91003042) finds the cause for the Semana Trágica in the application of ideas acquired by European immigrants in industrial Europe to pre-industrial Argentina. Sabsay and Etchepareborda write an insightful history of the Yrigoyen and Alvear Administrations (item bi 90007287). Alén Lascano concentrates on the faction within the Unión Cívica Radical that helped Justo overthrow the Yrigoyen government (item bi 92006976). The views of one of Justo's partisans, Federico Pinedo, are summarized by Cirigliano (item bi 92007025). Selections from the Justo archives are now available (item bi 89001836). García and Rodríguez Molas have compiled documents that help clarify the military period that Justo inaugurated (item bi 91003039). Bou (item bi 89001128) discusses the European influences on the formation of the Popular Front, Ciria (item bi 89000774) the popular culture of the peronist years, and Reyes (item bi 89001719) the short life of the Labor Party. In a volume edited by Di Tella and Watt (item bi 91003023), experts describe British and US relations with Argentina and conditions inside the country. Greenberg highlights the intramural battles within the US Dept. of State over an American policy (item bi 90002760), while González de Oleaga stresses the Argentine policy of Spain (item bi 89013970). Quijada shows that the Spanish community in Buenos Aires was pro-Franco (item bi 90009814).

In a retrospective essay, Quiroga attributes the years of political instability that followed the overthrow of Perón to clashes between the industrial and agricultural interests (item bi 89003402). Rodríguez Lamas (item bi 89003400) and to some extent Smulovitz (item bi 90007309) instead stress the divisions within Argentine society and the unwillingness to compromise. Babini (item bi 92007014) testifies to the existence of a crisis within the Unión Cívica Radical, and Arévalo (item bi 88002928) to one in the Communist party. Bergstein documents the role of the Communist party in Córdoba in the cordobazo of 1969 (item bi 89003399). Orsolini (item bi 91003048) and Gasparini (item bi 91003031) substantially agree in their analysis of the Montonero program and its activities. Verbitsky (item bi 92007283) publishes the journalistic articles of the Montonero intellectual Rodolfo Walsh, and Nudelman (item bi 90010746) the speeches of Alfonsín. Halperín Donghi (item bi 88002606) summarizes the explanations advanced for the decade of terror (1973-80).

An economic history of the post-1870 years that incorporates the results of recent research remains to be written. A valuable study of the agrarian credit system was prepared by Castillo and Tulchin (item bi 92007024). Tulchin (item bi 88000310) argues that foreign market demands and the ability of the entrepreneur to meet them influenced the nature of social organizations. Vedoya notes that elimination of the Indian problem permitted modernization of the pastoral industry (item bi 90007296). His research convinced Míguez (item bi 92007100) that the agricultural sector is dynamic and adaptable to changing demands and technology. Guy found that modernization of a sugar refinery did not assure success (item bi 89003246). Gerbal de Blacha (item bi 90003109) and Rosenzvaig (item bi 89003230) study the sugar industry in the Argentine Northwest. Two studies (items bi 90005363 and bi 90005367) illustrate the pro-agricultural policies of the government in the 1930s, and another (item bi 90010388), the shift to a pro-industrial policy in the 1940s. Interestingly, Lattuada found that the liberal conservative parties and the large landowners then endorsed similar programs (item bi 90010384).

In labor history Korzeniewicz (item bi 90002712) finds more evidence that the labor force did adjust to changing labor conditions in the 1880s and 1890s, while Falcón (item bi 92007029) seeks to identify the views of the laborer on labor issues at the turn of the century. López tells the story of the short-lived Federación Obrera Regional Argentina (item bi 90007314). Zorrilla (item bi 90010763) and Godio (item bi 91003035) find significant differences between the labor leaders of 1910 and those of the peronist era. The role of the labor bureaucracy is studied by Pozzi (item bi 89000729).

The essays in Armus (item bi 91003044) provide an excellent introduction to urban history. In his important study of the middle cities, Scobie devotes more attention than others to cities outside the littoral (item bi 89001491). Lynch (item bi 89014714) succinctly describes the essential features of Buenos Aires in mid-19th century, and Osculati (item bi 89003671) embellishes that picture. Szuchman, the leading US authority on Argentine cities, subjects the city of Buenos Aires to microscopic examination (items bi 90004002, bi 88001268, and bi 90003962). Health and labor conditions, and social and cultural activities in the city after 1875 are discussed in a series of conference papers (items bi 90007289, bi 90007290, and bi 90007291). Hardoy studies conditions in Rosario between 1858-1910 (items bi 89004696 and bi 90009208). Ternavasio examines the effects of the Sáenz Peña law of 1912 on municipal elections (item bi 90009821). Vidaurreta calls attention to the composition of the population in two entrerriano cities (items bi 89004852 and bi 89001397).

The Comisión de Estudios sobre Inmigración has published a useful collection of the laws, decrees, and administrative rulings that were in effect between 1876 and 1941 (item bi 90007284). Devoto diagnoses the Italian community in the city of Buenos Aires between 1830-80, and the activities of mutual aid societies (items bi 89004157 and bi 90003801). Favero explains why the mutual aid societies were unsuccessful with their elementary schools (item bi 89014002). Nascimbene compares the illiteracy rate among the Italian and Spanish immigrants with the native population with significant results (item bi 89013999). Cacopardo and Moreno (item bi 89013998) find that the Italian immigrant who arrived after 1907 differed from his predecessor in important ways. What the immigrant faced and could expect is well illustrated in the family correspondence edited by Baily (item bi 89003231). Gradenigo calls attention to the Italian soldier in Argentina and Uruguay (item bi 89003406).

Studies of Jewish immigration to Argentina rely more on interviews than on documentation. An exception is the highly recommended study of the Jewish community by Mirelman (item bi 90010748). Ruppin reports his observations on Jewish assimilation, anti-Semitism, and Jewish agricultural colonies (item bi 92007242). Wolff (item bi 89001505) assesses Jewish contributions to the development of Argentina, while Kowalska (item bi 90008219) settles some issues about the Polish Jew. Jackisch (item bi 90007306) and Rojer (item bi 91003022) describe the German-speaking community and German Jews.

Contributions to Church history in the last biennium focus on the reaction of the Church to the heavy influx of immigrants and the incipient industrialization. Auza points out that some clergymen and Catholic laymen were not indifferent to the plight of the working class (item bi 91003024). The hierarchy was silent, Zubillaga states, because it could not agree on a strategy (item bi 90009816). Instead, Salesian priests and other Italian missionaries took an active interest in furthering the spiritual and material welfare of the immigrant. In Córdoba, the Church stressed religious education and sermons on Catholic doctrine first, and later, the improvement of the material welfare of the worker (items bi 89003383, bi 89000710, and bi 89014500).

Contributions to women's history in the last biennium have been meager. Auza found that women in the 19th century were preoccupied with educational and cultural issues (item bi 90010390). Lavrin explains that anarchists and socialists changed their views of women as more women entered the work force (item bi 89014619). Guy describes the socialist approach to the prostitution issue (item bi 88002547). Bianchi finds that Eva Perón was not really interested in women's issues (item bi 90005368). Recalde describes the conditions women faced at work and at home (item bi 90007310).

Numerous reference works appeared during the last biennium. There are bibliographical guides to the provincial library in San Juan (item bi 90010039), to books and articles by or about Ricardo Rojas (item bi 9127545), to books, articles, and miscellaneous publications on the Unión Cívica Radical (item bi 91027551), to the materials and publications on Perón and peronism in the Hoover Institution (item bi 90010102), and to the works written by the followers of Yrigoyen (item bi 89001126). An index prepared in 1857 to the records of the Spanish Embassy in Rio de Janiero is now available (item bi 90009213), as well as a biographical dictionary containing the names of Irishmen who were in Argentina prior to the 20th century (item bi 89001563). Vidaurreta indicates where collections of entrerriano newspapers may be found (item bi 89015151). Post-1943 educational policy is analyzed by Leonard (item bi 91027527). Vera de Flachs presents a well-rounded history of education in the Province of Córdoba (item bi 90010099). Halperín Donghi re-published some of his former articles and papers (item bi 89003389). Middlebrook presents a history of the Malvinas/Falklands War (1982) from the viewpoint of the Argentine military (item bi 91027528). The Comité Internacional de Ciencias Históricas has published an assessment of all scholarly publications on Argentina written 1958-86 (item bi 91003018).


The pre-1870 history of Paraguay continues to receive scholarly attention. Romero (item bi 90010766) has published a collection of documents on the Francia era, and Vargas Peña (item bi 91003061) has translated a rare book attributed to Vicente Pazos Kanki purportedly detailing Francia's little-known foreign policy objective to help Spain reconquer America. Fournial (item bi 90007297) sheds light on the influence of the French Revolution on Francia, while Cooney (see HLAS 50:2079) calls attention to a rival of Francia. Church-State relations before 1862 are skillfully analyzed by Heyn Schupp (item bi 92006960). Garavaglia (item bi 92006949) studies the effects of frontier conditions on the rural population, and Martínez Cuevas (item bi 89003398) looks at the grazing industry. Whigham sketches British efforts to open trade with Francia's Paraguay (item bi 89001500).

Baptista's suggestive but undocumented biography of Elisa Lynch indicates that more research is needed on this subject (item bi 89003395). Both Ganson (item bi 90003670) and Granada (item bi 90010764) pay tribute to the heroic Paraguayan women. Reber challenges the prevalent notion that the Paraguayan War caused the nation to lose most of its population (item bi 89000921).

For the post-1870 period there are several important contributions. Two doctoral candidates in the US have published their dissertations: Caballeros Aquino on the policies of Bernardino Caballero (item bi 92006876), and Miranda on the Stroessner regime (item bi 91003020). Seiferheld consulted US diplomatic papers to learn why the governments of Federico Chávez and Epifanio Méndez Fleias fell (items bi 92006964 and bi 89003386). The meddling of foreign governments in the domestic affairs of Paraguay and the rise of rebel groups is amply documented by Miranda (item bi 91003020). In two studies, Abente identifies the domestic international factors that contributed to the fall of the Liberal party in 1936 (items bi 89002768 and bi 89002726). Labor history benefits from the studies of Gaona (item bi 92006896) and Barboza (item bi 89003387).

The outpouring of works on the Chaco War continues, but there are encourging signs that military history will be written with the professional soldier in mind. Works by Tufari Recalde (item bi 89001486) and Vittone (item bi 89001504) are serious efforts at writing military history. At the unit level, both Saldívar (item bi 89001495) and Escobar Rodas (item bi 91027535) have written impressive accounts. Ramos (item bi 89001506) provides useful biographies of the generals and colonels he knew. That professional soldiers can differ on strategy, politics, and administrative procedures is made apparent in Alemán (item bi 91027532) and Franco (item bi 89003236). The reasons for the military's dissatisfaction with the peace treaty are fully explained in Escobar (item bi 89003388) and Granada (item bi 90010764). Both writers and Seiferheld (item bi 92006964) evaluate the importance of oil as a cause for the war and an obstacle to peace. Cooney and Whigham interview Harris Gaylord Warren, the leading US historian of Paraguay (item bi 89002721). Kallsen published a bibliographical guide to literature on Asunción (item bi 89003401).


Among the impressive additions to the historical literature of Uruguay are a volume in the Archivo Artigas documentary collection (item bi 90007279), an interpretation of Uruguayan culture (item bi 91027543), and instructive materials on the origins and development of the Jewish community in Uruguay (item bi 89001584).

The historical period that received the most attention was that following the Revolution of 1870. The Archivo Artigas volume and the documents unearthed in Spain by Vidal Rossi (item bi 89003404), reinforce the clarion call of Ramírez and others for a reappraisal of Artigas. Fernández Cabrelli (item bi 92005871) examines the role of the Masons in the independence period. In an important study, Santiago discusses the growth of an anti-militaristic element in the Blanco (National) Party (item bi 89001564).

In the post-1870 years the careers and political programs of several Colorado and Blanco leaders have been subjected to scholarly review. Reyes Abadie argues persuasively for a new appraisal of Lorenzo Latorre and his administration (item bi 89001844), and in a study of the family of Aparicio Saravia (item bi 91003019), he illustrates the influence family loyalty can have on a family with different national origins and party affiliations. Garat (item bi 90010747) focuses not only on the career of Luis A. de Herrera and the evolution of his ideas, but also on the intra-party challenges to his leadership. The interesting retrospective reflections of Wilson, member of a dissident party wing, on the goals and politics of the National Party were taped shortly before he died (item bi 90010755). Abal Oliú defends the claim of the National Party that it took the initiative in sponsoring social legislation (item bi 90010762). The opposite viewpoint is upheld by Anastasia and others (item bi 90010744), who have carefully analyzed what Batlle y Ordóñez wrote in his newspaper before becoming president. The conclusion that Barrán reaches in two scholarly studies (items bi 91027538 and bi 89003405) is that the two parties shared essentially the same principles, and this conclusion Abal Oliú (item bi 90010762) reluctantly accepts.

One of the reasons for the social legislation, as Rial implies (item bi 90010216), was the economic dislocation that existed at the beginning of the century. Additional economic and political problems appeared with the first World War and the Great Depression of 1929, and were a factor in bringing about the revolutions of 1933 and 1973. Only sporadic studies of the period appeared during this biennium. Castellanos (item bi 89003225) deemphasizes the economic situation and attributes the Revolution of 1933 to the alleged effects of the "simultaneous double vote law" of 1910. This interpretation finds scant support in Oddone's analysis of party politics prior to 1933 (item bi 90010042). The policies adopted by the Terra dictatorship to solve the problems it had inherited failed to win wide support. Ruiz describes the growing disenchantment with it among leftist elements, and the formation of the Popular Front (item bi 90010757). The socialist preaching of Vivián Trías (item bi 91003036) reached a growing audience, and Nardone organized the rural middle class into a political force (see HLAS 46:3424.) A decade later the "Tupamaros" or Movimiento de Liberación Nacional appeared. Fernández Huidobro (item bi 89003415) describes its origins and activities. The relations of the Tupamaros with the armed forces and their involvement in the golpe of 1973 are explained in Caula and Silva (item bi 92005870). A thoughtful assessment of the Tupamaro movement is presented by Alberto Sendic (item bi 90007320).

Several immigrant accounts appeared in the last biennium. Oxman interviewed the survivors of a Jewish agricultural colony that failed (item bi 900010023). Raicher records the Jewish reactions to both Uruguay and Israel (item bi 91027525). Seluja introduces the Lebanese of Uruguay (item bi 90010761), while Medina Pintado focuses on the German community there (item bi 91003017). Rodríguez Villamil contributes to women's history (item bi 90003972). Finally, three Uruguayan historians were honored during the biennium: Pivel Devoto (item bi 89002591), Carlos Real de Azúa (item bi 90010105) and Apolant (item bi 89004989).

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