A Marxist contribution to the history of Argentina


I have some minutes today, and will begin to post a very, very long answer to the notes by Pozzi et al. re: Argentine current events.

When I began drafting my comments, I discovered that there was so many factual evidence on the Argentine Left involved that the footnotes would take more place than the core of the message.

So, I decided to bluntly write down a brief history (in parts) of what is usually known -particularly outside Argentina- as the Argentine Left.

The history of our Left begins with the great transformation of Argentina through during the last quarter of the 19th. Century. Of course, as always in history, one has to explain what happened before. So that I will have to go back to 1810, only that I will do it briefly.

Let me display, first of all, a panorama of the country that the European migrants, who would start the first Left organizations in Argentina, saw as they landed at Buenos Aires. There is a saying in Latin America: "Brazilians come down from Portuguese, Mexicans come down from Spanish, Argentines come down from the ships". This is in many senses true, and nowhere more true than in the history of our Left. So, let us begin by what did these newcomers meet.


Nobody aboard the ships knew it by 1875, but the country the poor Italians and Spaniards were coming to was still smelling the smoke of civil wars, and was yet to witness the last battles of these wars. Both the overseas migration agencies and the local upper classes were particularly interested in closing this scenario to the eyes of the newcomers. And it was not hard to do.

The grim landscape was not apparent to those arriving to Buenos Aires. The city, as well as the now bourgeoning and dynamic town of Rosario some 200 miles upriver the Parana, was slowly acquiring the European outlook that still amazes visitors (even though now it is considerably frayed), and Buenos Aires in particular appeared as a very dynamic, modern agglomeration.

In fact, what the migrants were to witness and rehearse (but they did not know it for decades) was the final act of destruction of a country and the establishment of an economic semicolony of Great Britain. They were meant to replace the local, lazy, half-caste and good-for-nothing local populations, and to transform Argentina into a thrilling European, Civilized country. And the illusion, for newcomers, seemed to be very real indeed.

Let us look at some demographic data, for you to get a hold of the magnitude of the transformation. I will expose some more meaty facts on further postings.

a. The booming Pampas

In the city of Buenos Aires, the 1869 Census had counted 181,000 people, that of 1895 would count 675,000, and the Census of 1914 would show a city of almost 2,000,000. The growth of Rosario, departing from a humbler origin, would be equally impressive: 23, 90 and 225 thousand people. Some 35 miles to the South East of Buenos Aires, La Plata -which did not exist in 1869- was founded in 1884, reached 48 thousand people in 1895, and 122,000 in 1914. Bahia Blanca, the port 400 miles to the South West, on the southern tip of the Province of Buenos Aires, was a tiny outlier in 1869, verging the "frontera" with the Indian peoples, the station painfully reached the 1,000 people mark. In 1895, there were 9,000 already, and in 1914 there were 50,000.

Hundreds of agglomerations of more reduced sizes mushroomed during these breathtaking decades. But all of them were placed in the Humid Pampa, an area slightly larger than Texas and roughly encompassed by a crescent centered in Buenos Aires and with a radius of some 350/380 miles.

In fact, it was during these years that the now famous Pampa region was born as a historical, and thus geographical, reality. The vast expanse of grasslands that would turn into one of the largest breadbaskets and cattle raising areas of the first decades of our century was little more than a fact of physical geography before it was turned into a farm so constructed as to supply Europe with temperate climate agricultural commodities in exchange for manufactured goods, and... ideas.

b. The ebbing Inland Country

The actual size of Argentina was, at the beginning of this period, of some 700,000 square miles. About a half of what is now known as the Pampas, the whole Patagonia desert East of the Andes, and a large wedge of land to the West of the Parana and the Eastwards of the Andean foothills near Jujuy, Salta and Tucuman, were outside of the effective suzerainty of the Government at Buenos Aires.

They would really be incorporated to Argentina during the era that was opening. But what was to happen to the regions that up to now had constituted the core of the country?

Most of this area was dodged by the sweeping wave of modernization that was bringing immigrants to our shores. The waves would stop at the fringes of the Pampa region, and only some froth would fall into the historic provinces of the Northwest, Cuyo (on the West) and the Northeast.

These provinces would finally become the pariahs of the new order. Only a few cities in what was now to definitely become the Inland Country, as opposed to the rich Pampas and to Buenos Aires, would scratch some wealth in the new situation: Mendoza, Tucuman, or San Juan. Turning to demography again, even in these privileged towns the parallel with those in the Pampa region will prove dramatically that Argentina was entering the new century split in two.

Getting back to the Censuses, Mendoza was a town of 10,000 in 1869, reached 23 in 1895, and 60 in 1914; San Juan, poorer than Mendoza but equally enjoying a protective tariff for wines, slowly passed from 8 thousand to 12 and 19 thousand. Tucuman, the remaining "privileged" town, the economic capital of the Northwest, and fostered by protective tariffs on sugars and molasses, passed from 17 thousand to 40 thousand and 86,000 during the same period.

Even Cordoba, the largest city in Argentina after Buenos Aires during the 19th century (and, in fact, the largest city between the Andes and the Parana, and to the South of what is now known as Bolivia until 1750), grew at a slower pace than the new, booming, Pampean cities: 29,000 in 1869, 48,000 in 1895 (remember, Rosario had passed from 23,000 to 90,000 between both Censuses), 122,000 in 1914. And this even though Cordoba lies at the NW border of the Pampas.

A new country was being built. The immigrants had a prime role in this drama. But what kind of a country was this, what was the transformation going to transform?

This, the newcomers did not know. And, as I will show on further mails, the true story of what had happened in Argentina before they arrived was to be dutifully concealed from them. The struggles and feats of native Argentinians were to be brushed off history, and in some sense the persons themselves (just as the Israelis attempted to do with the Palestinians). The reasons why this did not happen will appear while my story is deployed. But we don't need to be as ignorant as our characters were. So, I will give a few sketchy ideas of the "hidden civil war", only that on the next posting. This one is too long already.




Here is the second installment.

Though the history of Argentine Left begins around 1875, today I will begin to write down a sketchy introduction to the history of the country these Leftists found, thought to be "discovering" and were in fact failing to recognize. This original misunderstanding will permeate all of the history of most of the Argentine Left and, alas, is still present as a barrier between the actual Argentine workers and that Left.

This sketch will take the form of a series of revolutionary failures, which are our heritage. We have not inherited the results of accomplished revolutions in Latin America (particularly in Argentina), but a mandate to fulfill the revolutionary tasks that our forerunners could not take to good end. Failure to discover this heritage-as-mandate is crucial to understand the true meaning of what is known as the Argentine Left, and goes a long way ahead in explaining why it has more often than not ranked with the most reactionary forces in the country.

1.- The failure of the generation of the Independence.

When, as a move within his general strategy, Napoleon invaded Spain and installed his brother Joseph as the new king of that country, he did not know that he was unleashing the forces of Spanish revolution against the French army. The Spanish reacted at the invasion very much in the same way the Polish reacted at the Russian (Red, but Russian) army in 1920.

The ideas of the French Enlightenment had been entering Spain for many decades before. The partial modernization of Spain under the first Borbons had spurred an interest for the great wave the Enlightened Despots were riding. This intellectual ferment found its material expression during the invasion of Napoleon. The Spanish aristocrats would indulge in the general French fad for years before the French Revolution froze their smiles in the trendy salons. But the seed had been cast.

And it was not the aristocracy, it was the Spanish people who brought the ideas up to materiality. The May, 2, 1808 popular upheaval in Madrid, murderously quenched by the French with a mass shooting that Francisco de Goya immortalized in one of the finest expressions of revolutionary painting, set the flame in motion.

The Spanish troops succesfully confronted the French, and obtained a great victory over the division commanded by Dupont at the doors of Andalucy, in Bailén, on July 19, 1808. Thus, Napoleon himself had to enter Spain in order to quell the insurrection. The resistence of the Spanish people, led by able and brave officers, some of military background, some of popular origin, was the first serious menace to his European system. The Spanish were not against the gains of the French Revolution. But they wanted, as the very French revolution had taught them, to obtain those gains by themselves, their way, and throug a vast patriotic Spanish movement of revolution and renewal, not through the granting of rights by a foreign invader.

The British version of the story gives almost no place to the struggle of the Spanish people, and places all of the merit in the help of the troops of Wellington during the latest stages of the struggle (1812). In so doing, it not only boosts Anglo national pride to dizzy heights, it also fulfills the most important role of dismissing the powerful and flashing appearance of popular Juntas (Spanish for Council... oh God, Spanish for "Soviet"!) that took over government and suzerainty from the King's family to the Spanish nation, and led the people during the struggle, particularly at the first stages of the upheaval which are the ones we are interested in.

If one does not recognize the role that the Juntas played, then one does not understand the history of Spanish American Independence wars. Because this Juntista movement is the direct link between the revolutionary struggles in Spain and in the American colonies, and the original source of Spanish American independence. The host of upheavals that electrified the Americans during 1810 ("when the Americans in Buenos Aires proclaimed their rights, the ones in the Eastern Bank [of the River Plate: part of the former Eastern Bank is now Uruguay], fueled by the same feeling, ... were forced to suffer a heavier yooke than ever ... but the patriotic fire electrified the hearts" wrote Jose Artigas to the revolutionary Junta of Buenos Aires on April 1811) was the consequence of two news from Spain: first, that Fernando the Seventh had been taken captive by the French (that Fernando was not at all in disgust was conveniently avoided, since this was a political artifice known as "the Fernando the Seventh Mask"), and second that popular Juntas had assumed the representation of the Nation and were fighting the French out of Spain.

Thus, the national war in Spain, that concealed a national revolution, was adopted by Americans as a way to seize national government in the name of the national revolution. And the program was a mighty and breathtaking one: to constitute, with Spain if possible and without Spain if need be, a great "Nation of Fatherlands" (Bolivar) in what was the now decomposing Spanish empire.

It was no little dream, indeed, and it moved hosts of the most humble people to war and struggle for the best of fifteen years.

Defeated the revolutionary Juntas in Spain by Fernando, who immediately stormed, put to prison, tortured and killed all the Liberals who had been fighting for him _and for the Constitution of 1812_ (that is, against all what he represented), there was no question as to how to achieve the goals of revolution in the former colonies of Spain: independence -not only from France, but from the Spanish reaction enthroned in Fernando, who passed from "el bienamado" (the well beloved) to "el felón" (the treacherous)- was an absolute need. There were Spanish liberals who, with no qualm, passed from Europe to America in order to fight the troops of reaction, the most noted ones being Mina in New Spain (1817) and San Martin in the Southern Cone. That Mina had been born near the Basque Country and San Martin in the town of Yapeyú, the capital of the then decaying Guarany Mission Territory, made no difference. Both would have subscribed the words by Mina: that the "family dissentions of the Royal Family of Spain and the Bayonne transactions [where Napoleon got the Borbons to cede the Crown to his brother Joseph, my note] ... reduced us to either be the vile prey of a foreign nation or to sacrifice everything to the defense of our rights. Thus placed between ingominy and death, this sad alternative showed the path of duty to all those Spaniards whom the tiranny of passed reigns had not been enough to entirely relax their love for the homeland... Spain was able, at last, to reconquer herself, and it was able to obtain the freedom of the King she had chosen for herself. Half the Nation had been engulfed by war, and the other half was still drenched in blood of the enemy and of Spaniards ... How to believe, then, that the famous Decree [by Fernando, ruling out the Constitution of 1812] given in Valencia on May 4, 1814, was to herald the reward that the ingrate was preparing to the whole nation? ... The satellites of the tyrant were busy only in destroying the result of so much toil: they were only interested in the subjugation of the overseas provinces ... and I was proposed to command a division against Mexico; as if the cause that the Americans were defending was diverse from the one that had exalted the Spanish people to glory ... as if the right of the opressed to resist opressors were a novelty, and as if I was designed as an executioner of an innocent people that felt the whole weight of the chains now overwhelming my fellow citizens". Mina passed to Mexico and fought bravely the Spanish troops there. In fact, he was a Liberal Spanish revolutionary fighting Royalist Spanish reaction. Our generation of Independence had to fight a civil war and, once reaction was finally anchored in Spain, an Independence war.

The whole building lay, however, on the assumption that a strong bourgeoisie would give solid social foundation to the task. The Spanish bourgeoisie itself being weak, what to say of their American counterpart? The revolutionaries of the Independence could not fulfill their dream, and the whole building was torn up by local mercantile bourgeoisies like that of Buenos Aires (made up by professional interlopers with foreign smugglers who made good money of introducing wares that were competing with local production and opposed any attempt at protecting manufacture and nationalizing the rents of the Buenos Aires Customs house), or by the encomenderos and the local aristocracies of Lima or Mexico City. Ironically, the suckers of Indian blood of La Paz and the up to then Alto Peru, took power from the Bolivarian troops led by Sucre only to establish a regime that achieved the unsurmountable feat of becoming worse yet than the Spanish colonial one. But they would name their country Bolivia. On his death, Bolivar would interject: "I have tilled the ocean".

All and each one of the Latin American countries are the product of the defeat of the great goal of all the revolutionaries of the Independence: the constitution of a unified nation on what had been the Spanish colonies in America, which would have eventually -as the Brazilian Abreu e Lima and the River Plate revolutionaries Moreno and Artigas expected- included the colonies of Portugal, thus recomposing the Iberian unity on America after petty dynastic quarrels and the British intervention succeeded in impeding it in Europe (in the Iberian Peninsula they were luckier than in France, beginning with the 1386 treaty and getting to an apex with the Methuen treaty).

The whole generation of the Independence had in mind this project. From San Martin to Bolivar, from Simon Rodriguez to Belgrano, from Mina to del Valle, from Bouchard to O'Leary, and even Iturbide...

The great Nation dismembered, the former provinces were torn by wars between those forces that had acted for the revolution, and the ones that had acted to blast it. This was particularly true for the River Plate.

So, there is a first legacy of struggle: the struggle for the Latin American National Unity. This banner has never been raised by the so called Argentine Left, and is not the only one. On the following posting, I will briefly sketch the struggles of the Argentine people during the 19th. Century that the Left ignored, even those developing in front of them.

But to begin with, this banner of Latin American Unity is essential. Because if the Left did not take it as of its own it is because, on this as on other matters, the Left was in agreement with the official version of migration to Argentina: the immigrants spelt progress, the natives spelt backwardness. The immigrants were destined to rule over the natives (save, of course, for the higher classes)... Then, Argentina would be an European outpost of civilization in a barbarious Latin America. This ideology risked becoming a justification of some kind of a River Plate Ulster (or Ulsters) by 1910/1915, Uruguay being the best example, but there were dreams in the area around Rosario, in the Jewish colonies of Entre Rios, in the Italian colonies of Santa Fe, and even in the La Boca neighbourhood, where "Leftist" Italian migrants from Genoa dreamt for a couple of crazy days with a "La Boca Republic" copying the Renaissance "Republics" of the Italian history.

See you later.



What's that, October 17th?

Did you write October 1917?

No. I wrote October 17th. October 17th, 1945. This date is as important for the history of the Argentine working class as October 1917 is for all the workers in the world.

It is the birthdate of the modern Argentine working class, and I believe that all revolutionaries will agree in that it deserves a conmemoration.

I will translate, for the list, an article of _Izquierda Nacional_ of October, 1998, by Jorge Enea Spilimbergo. [Lots of translator's notes in square brackets]


"The irruption of the workers changed the face of the country: The 17th of October of 1945 opened up the road for an Argentina that wanted to stop being a colony."


1945 was a hot year. Mercilessly encircled by its enemies, the military government that had come to power on June 4th, 1943, was losing height. Germany had capitulated on May, and Japan on August. This downfall -it was thought- would relentlessly drag along the Argentine dictatorship, a prolongation of the Axis. This way of thinking had not been the one that greeted the military. At the beginning, a sizable portion of our people saw in simpathy the fall of the government of Dr. Castillo (who was identified with the Conservatives, the fraud and the outrageous corruption of the "Decada Infame" [Translator's note: this is the name we give to the 30s in Argentina]). But the vast democratic middle classes (who were even expecting the military to break with the Axis and enter the War on the side of the Allies) were soon disillusioned. The military, as Castillo, were "neutralists", and not few among them viewed sympathetically the ideas of Fascism. The regime assumed a clearly authoritarian character, and its ideological reactionarism on educational issues, the protagonic role of right-wing nationalists in it [Translator: among other things, I owe the lists some postings on this particular current of political thought and action in Argentina], and the support of a "pre-Counciliary" Church helped alienate the largest part of the University students, who became the storm troopers of the large democratic middle layers.

These lived through national politics on alienated terms, as a chapter of the world struggle between "democracy" and "fascism", and they wanted the country to engage in the war. Only a few, such as the Socialist Manuel Ugarte and the men of FORJA [Translator: Fuerza de Orientacion Radical de la Joven Argentina, a group of patriotic and democratic middle class youth led by Arturo Jauretche, stemming from the old Radical Party of Hipolito Yrigoyen], while absolutely rejecting Fascism, watched the knots of imperialist subjection getting loose because of the war, and saw in it an opportunity to generate margins for autodetermination. In order to do this, however, neutrality was imperative. This moved the "democratic" powers (incidentally, the exploiters of Argentina) to launch a ferocious offensive.

'Old Argentina closes ranks'

The prowar and antidictatorial front was made up by the most noteworthy representatives of "democratic" imperialism, their local agents, the students and the middle layers, the landed oligarchy, fractions of the bourgeoisie who feared the "retaliations" of the Allies. It was an immense hurricane that isolated the military regime and was pushing it to the abyss. A "native" Nuremberg was looming in the horizon. Virtually all of the renowned traditional voices of the old Argentina joined in the struggle: the large newspapers ("La Nacion", "La Prensa", and "Critica" -- newspapers that people read as the Oracles at Delphi), the old SADE (Sociedad Argentina de Escritores, Argentine Association of Writers), the "Sur" cultural magazine, most artists and intellectuals, the Sociedad Rural and the Union Industrial Argentina, the political parties...

The latter were already prefiguring the Union Democratica [Translator: Democratic Assembly, the bloc that, sanctified by the American Embassy, mixed from the Communist Party to the recalcitrant _estanciero_ Santamarina against Peron in the 1946 elections], and meanwhile, as emigres in Montevideo, they claimed for a military intervention of the Allies against Argentina, the last bastion of the Axis. These requests were signed by the Communist and Socialist "Left", the Alvearista fraction of the Radical party [acquiescent with imperialist subjection] , the Progressive Democrats [a mildly conservative party of the middle classes in the port city of Rosario and its hinterland, with a fairly democratic record during the 30s], and a fraction of the Conservatives. All of them headed the massive demonstration of the "Marcha de la Constitución y la Libertad": Rodolfo Ghioldi (Communist) and Santamarina were arm in arm at the front line of the march. The downfall of the military regime seemed to be impending.

[Allow the translator to insert a personal collection of his father, who as a young Jew was among the most enthusiastics organizers of the "Marcha": by the early 70s he told me that when he looked at the immense crowd they had gathered, he commented to a friend of his "We will lose the elections"; "Why?"; "But don't you see how many foreigners are there here? on _their_ ranks, it's all Argentine borns"].

This tremendous social and political pressure that was apparently mobilizing "all of Argentina" trickled into Campo de Mayo, the main military base, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The internal unity of the Army rent in two. General Avalos put himself at the head of the conspiration and imposed President Farrell the immediate resignation and detention of Colonel Peron, who was the Vice-President and Secretario de Trabajo y Previsión [something like Secretary of Labor and Retirement]. The colonel was sent to the military prison of the Martin Garcia island [in the River Plate, some 40 kilometers off the Argentine side. In 1930, the coup d'etat that overthrew Yrigoyen had also imprisoned him there, and the same would happen, in 1962, with Arturo Frondizi --after the overthrow of Frondizi, the island came to be popularly known as the YPF island (both because of the Yrigoyen-Peron-Frondizi trilogy and the everpresent American oil companies, interested in destroying the Argentine State Oilfields (YPF is the Spanish acronym) behind the military coups: they finally succeeded after 1976 and, particularly, after Cavallo in 1989/90].

"Workers break in"

Everything seemed to have come to an end. The whole "democratic" arc was satisfied, but suddenly the unexpected irrupted into history. It took the form of a largely spontaneous, but unstoppable and contagious, reaction. The outskirts of the city and the popular districts stood up. Hundreds of thousands of workers deluged like streams to the Plaza de Mayo [Translator: the historic centre of the city, in front of the House of Government]. They formed indefatigable columns of marching people, that engrossed as they crossed street after street. They were not the "conscious" proletarians of the literature that the left (sepoy left) used to read. It was the actual working people, bursting into a presence that provided support to the government that, for the first time in the history of Argentina, had defended the rights of the oppressed, and not from the useless text of laws nobody followed and no government would enforce, but in day to day practice. The sopontaneity and the contagion were due to this very fact.

The old CGT [Confederacion General del Trabajo, General Confederation of Labor] acted behind of the events. People were already on the streets when the organization launched a general strike in what was doubtlessly a historic turning point. The voting was divided, and Libertario Ferrari, the General Secretary of the Asociacion de Trabajadores del Estado [ATE, Association of State Workers, the union I belong to] broke the tie. [To be absolutely precise, the general strike began one day before, when the sugarcane workers of Tucuman left their workplaces and forced the local CGT to carry the mandate to Buenos Aires, translator's comment]

The Communist Party, in a caricature that deserves remembering, depicted the march of the Argentine workers as the couple of a whore and a pimp, following a donkey cart, the donkey being incited by a carrot. Rodolfo Ghioldi, one of the main leaders of the CP, explained that the mobilization had gathered workers of peasant origin, devoid of political experience, attracted to Buenos Aires by the recent industrialization, the naivete of which was exploited by the "demagogues". This thesis would be later raised to academic status by the Italian sociologist Gino Germani [The introducer of positivist and empiricist sociology in Argentina, and the teacher of a whole generation of "Leftist" sociologists of the late 50s and early 60s]. In fact, what was taking place was just the opposite: the 17th of October welded in a formidable unity the old proletariat, originating in the European immigrants, and the new, that of the "cabecitas negras" [Translator: literally, "little black heads", the name of a very humble bird of Argentina, a denomination loaded with despective connotations that the oligarchs used to refer to these dark skinned "invaders" of the cities (and the middle classes adopted immediately to the point that it was even translated into everyday Buenos Aires Yiddish: "schwartze kepalech")], the workers that came from the Inland country. The "Socialist" yearbook of that year defined the Day of October as a "sad day for democracy".

Jorge Luis Borges, as for him, described the mass rally in the tale _La fiesta del monstruo_, where a gang of lumpens and rogues ride a truck in Berisso [By 1945, the town of the large slaughterhouses of the Swift Company, sixty kilometers away from Buenos Aires], advance towards Buenos Aires in a mist of insult and debased "lunfardo" [the argot of Buenos Aires], intercept a student wearing eyeglasses (what's more: jew), and pound and kick him to death. This is the vision that the intellectual 'élite' of the time had of their fellow countrymen. It was the same élite that mocked what they called the "patas en las fuentes" [when people reached the Plaza de Mayo, they refreshed their feet in the fountains after having marched for miles; "pata" means, in Spanish "leg of an animal" as opposed to the human "pie"; thus "las patas en las fuentes" means "the animals' legs in the fountains", there is a beautiful poem by Leonidas Lamborghini, written in the late 60s, that depicts the situation from the point of view of the workers]. They had walked 30 or more kilometers to gain a place in the country's politics, they refreshed their feet. It was not something for mockery, indeed. But this is how felt those élites towards the bearers of what Yrigoyen knew to define, 25 years ago, the "unheard pains".

The tremendous mobilization of October 17th reversed the situation in Campo de Mayo, and the -truly- democratic and patriotic command regained the fore. From the balconies of the Casa Rosada (the House of Government), Peron delivered a speech to the people gathered in the Plaza de Mayo. The road to the February 24th, 1946 elections was now open.

Today, in Argentina, where employment as well as unemployment fall upon people as an ubearable punishment, the reaction of our compañeros of 1945 is of the greatest affinity to us, and we understand it wholly, even better now than during the years of welfare that followed that day. But this time, things will have to be solved at a different level, that of socialism.

"The premiere of the Izquierda Nacional"

We in the Party of the National Left are proud that we saluted, at the very moment the events developed, the great mobilization of October 17th as the political victory of the Argentine working class it certainly was. The month was hardly finishing when, with the facts still hot, the publication _Frente Obrero_ (Workers' Front) boldly broke with the old Left, that had been against Yrigoyen, first, and against Peron later. Frente Obrero did not believe the newly emerging movement to be an incarnation of Nazi- Fascism in the River Plate, as the whole Left (Repetto, Américo Ghioldi (Socialist Party), Codovilla, and Rodolfo Ghioldi (Communist Party)) kept believing.

It was, on the contrary, the "unidad superadora" [Translator: well, in German it is _Aufhebung_, I do not know in English] of all of our great popular processes (the Independence wars, Federalism, Yrigoyenism), and it prefigured the incoming wave of national movements unleashed in the Third World as the World War II came to an end. It was, in fact, a forerunner (we are talking of 1945) that took place when the word "imperialism" had been deleted from the Lexikon of the Left, or, at most, implied "Fascism"... in the speaker.

The positions of the nascent Izquierda Nacional broke daringly with the old traditions of the sepoy Left, and they cost us the defamation and the ostracism we knew how to victoriously confront.

"Argentina 'changed for ever'"

Finally: October the 17th cast a powerful light on the irrepresentative character of the Argentine political system of those years. The deep articulation of that system was the old oligarchy. It had a "correct" right, an Alvearista center, and a "Left". When things turned critical, all of them closed ranks in the Union Democratica. This system, as we said above, was alienated from the country and was organized around the European war and the interimperialist struggle for the partition of the world: their existence and lifeworld spinned around the contradiction "democracy" vs. "fascism". But new forces had appeared in the country, forces that found no representation in that confrontation. The world crisis intensified a process of light industrialization, and the war generated a de facto protection -snce the Allies could not provide manufactured goods to the Argentine market. An inceptive national bourgeoisie, and its correlation of new workers; the industrialist fractions of the Army and the State; fractions of the middle classes bound to the domestic market; the impoverished towns of the Inland country... neither of them found the existing forces representative. Then they closed ranks behind Peron, that is, behind social justice, full employment and industrialization.

The Colonel (and his military backers), at their turn, had to radicalize their discourse when they found that the main fraction of the national bourgeoisie -ironically, the group that would "naturally" reap the benefits of their program of sovereign capitalism- defected. In order to survive the oligarchic-imperialist encirclement he had to find his supporters well down below, among the large working class and the popular majorities. So, the miliatary of 1943 shifted (Peron the first) from a paternalistic social justice to the mobilization of the oppressed majorities, without whom no national and patriotic program is feasible. With this people-Army alliance, a new bloc of power established itself in power for a whole decade. Argentina, as Maria Luisa Bemberg says in her admirable film _Miss Mary_ "changed for ever".

[A final translator's note: Maria Luisa Bemberg -recently deceased- was a member of the Bemberg family, one of the most outstanding examples of an oligarchic family. Among others, they owned the Quilmes Breweries that were expropriated by Peronism and given to the workers to manage (though not to own). One of the first measures of the "democratic" gorillas of 1955 was to return the breweries to the Bembergs, who OTOH were among the most conspicuous financial and commercial cornerstones of the oligarchic system. Maria Luisa, however, a fine artist and a feminist, was able to depict the climate of the 30s in the film _Miss Mary_ in a way nobody else has been able to. She had, besides, a very personal reason to understand how deep the impact of the events of October 17, 1945 had been: while Peron, just rescued from his prison in Martin Garcia island, was delivering a vibrant speech to the masses in the Plaza de Mayo (among which there seems to have been roaming a young Ernesto Guevara, according to at least two eyewitnesses), she was getting married to a Navy officer...].