ARGENTINALOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENERGY AND POWER
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
CAPITAL: Buenos Aires
FLAG: The national flag consists of a white horizontal stripe between two light blue horizontal stripes. Centered in the white band is a radiant yellow sun with a human face.
ANTHEM: Himno Nacional, beginning "Oíd, mortales, el grito sagrado Libertad" ("Hear, O mortals, the sacred cry of Liberty").
MONETARY UNIT: The peso (a$) is a paper currency of 100 centavos. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos, and notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos. The rate of exchange is about a$0.34722 (or us$1=a$2.88) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Anniversary of the 1810 Revolution, 25 May; Occupation of the Islas Malvinas, 10 June; Flag Day, 20 June; Independence Day, 9 July; Anniversary of San Martín, 17 August; Columbus Day, 12 October; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include Carnival (two days in February or March) and Good Friday.
TIME: 9 am = noon GMT.
Shaped like a wedge with its point in the south, Argentina, the second-largest country in South America, dominates the southern part of the continent. Argentina is slightly less than three-tenths the size of the United States with a total area of 2,766,890 sq km (1,068,302 sq mi); the length is about 3,650 km (2,268 mi) n–s and the width, 1,430 km (889 mi) e–w. To then Argentina is bounded by Bolivia; to the ne by Paraguay; to the e by Brazil, Uruguay, and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the s and w by Chile, with a total boundary length of 9,665 km (6,006 mi).
Argentina lays claim to a section of Antarctica of about 1,235,000 sq km (477,000 sq mi). Both Argentina and the United Kingdom claim the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), with the United Kingdom exercising effective occupancy. In 1978, Argentina almost went to war over three Chilean-held islands in the Beagle Channel. The case was referred to papal mediation; on 29 November 1984, the two countries signed a treaty that confirmed Chile's sovereignty over the three islands.
Argentina's capital city, Buenos Aires, is located along the eastern edge of the country on the Atlantic coast.
Except for the mountainous western area, Argentina is for the most part a lowland country. It is divided into four topographical regions: the Andean region, Patagonia, the subtropical plain of the north, and the pampas. The Andean region, almost 30% of the country, runs from the high plateau of the Bolivian border southward into western Argentina. Within the Andes there are over 1,800 volcanoes, about 28 of which are still considered to be active. Patagonia comprises all the area from the Río Negro to the southern extremity of the continent, or about 777,000 sq km (300,000 sq mi). Rising from a narrow coastal plain, it extends westward in a series of plateaus. In most places, the altitude range is 90–490 m (300–1,600 ft), although it may rise to 1,500 m (5,000 ft). Patagonia is a semiarid, sparsely populated region. It includes the barren island of Tierra del Fuego, part of which belongs to Chile. A portion of the Gran Chaco, covering the area between the Andean piedmont and the Paraná River, consists of an immense lowland plain, rain forests, and swampland, little of which is habitable.
The most characteristic feature of Argentine topography, however, is the huge expanse of lush, well-watered level plains known as the pampas. Stretching from the east coast estuary, Río de la Plata, the pampas spread in a semicircle from the Buenos Aires area to the foothills of the Andes, to the Chaco, and to Patagonia, forming the heartland of Argentina, the source of its greatest wealth, and the home of 80% of its people.
The major Argentine rivers, which originate in the Andean west or the forested north, flow eastward into the Atlantic Ocean. The Paraná, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Alto Paraná rivers all flow into the Río de la Plata, which reaches a maximum width at its mouth of 222 km (138 mi), between Uruguay and Argentina. The highest peaks in Argentina are Mt. Aconcagua (6,960 m/22,835 ft), also the highest mountain in South America; and Mt. Tupungato (6,800 m/22,310 ft). There is a region of snow-fed lakes in the foothills of the Andes in western Patagonia. Many small lakes, some of which are brackish, are found in the Buenos Aires, La Pampa, and Córdoba provinces.
Argentina's climate is generally temperate, but there are great variations, from the extreme heat of the northern Chaco region, through the pleasant mild climate of the central pampas, to the subantarctic cold of the glacial regions of southern Patagonia. The highest temperature, 49°c (120°f), was recorded in the extreme north, and the lowest,–16°c (3°f), in the southern tip of the country. Rainfall diminishes from east to west. Rainfall at Buenos Aires averages 94 cm (37 in) annually, and the mean annual temperature is 16°c (61°f). Light snowfalls occur occasionally in Buenos Aires. Throughout Argentina, January is the warmest month and June and July are the coldest. North of the Río Negro, the winter months (May–August) are the driest period of the year. The wide variations of climate are due to the great range in altitude and the vast extent of the country. In the torrid zone of the extreme north, for example, the Chaco area has a mean annual temperature of about 23°c (73°f) and a rainfall of about 76 cm (30 in), whereas Puna de Atacama has a temperature average of 14°c (57°f) and a rainfall of about 5 cm (2 in). The pampas, despite their immensity, have an almost uniform climate, with much sunshine and adequate precipitation. The coldest winters occur not in Tierra del Fuego, which is warmed by ocean currents, but in Santa Cruz Province, where the July average is 0°c (32°f).
More than 10% of the world's flora varieties are found in Argentina. The magnificent grasslands have figured prominently in the development of Argentina's world-famous cattle industry. Evergreen beeches and Paraná pine are common. From yerba maté comes the national drink immortalized in gaucho literature, while the shade-providing ombú is a national symbol.
Many tropical animals thrive in the forests and marshes of northern Argentina; among them are the capybara, coypu, puma, and various wildcats. In the grasslands and deserts are the guanaco, rhea, and many types of rodents. The cavy, viscacha, tuco tuco, armadillo, pichiciago, otter, weasel, nutria, opossum, various types of fox, and hog-nosed skunk are common. The ostrich, crested screamer, tinamou, and ovenbird are a few of the many species of birds. Caimans, frogs, lizards, snakes, and turtles are present in great numbers. The dorado, a fine game fish, is found in larger streams, and the pejerrey, corvina, palameta, pacu, and zurubi abound in the rivers.
Spanish cattle on the pampas multiplied to such an extent that the role of wild cattle herds in Argentine history was the same as that of the buffalo herds in the US West. Argentina is richly endowed with fossil remains of dinosaurs and other creatures.
The principal environmental responsibilities are vested in the Ministry of Public Health and the Environment; the Subsecretariat of Environmental Planning in the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works; and the Subsecretariat of Renewable Natural Resources and Ecology within the Secretariat of State for Agriculture and Livestock. In 1977, the Metropolitan Area Ecological Belt State Enterprise was created to lay out a 150-km (93-mi) greenbelt around Buenos Aires, with controls on emission and effluents as well as on building density.
The major environmental issues in Argentina are pollution and the loss of agricultural lands. The soil is threatened by erosion, salinization, and deforestation. Air pollution is also a problem due to chemical agents from industrial sources. The water supply is threatened by uncontrolled dumping of pesticides, hydrocarbons, and heavy metals. Argentina has a renewable water supply of 276 cu km. In 2002, some 97% of all city dwellers and over 70% of rural dwellers had access to improved water sources.
In 2000, about 12.7% of the land area contained forest and woodland. In 2003, about 6.6% of the total land area was protected. Argentina has four natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Los Glaciares, Iguazu National Park, Peninsula Valdes, and Ischigualasto/Talampaya National Parks. There are 14 sites designated as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance.
According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 32 types of mammals, 55 species of birds, 5 types of reptiles, 30 species of amphibian, 12 species of fish, and 42 species of plants. Endangered species in Argentina include the ruddy-headed goose, Argentinean pampas deer, South Andean huemul, Puna rhea, tundra peregrine falcon, black-fronted piping guan, glaucous macaw, spectacled caiman, the broad-nosed caiman, Lear's macaw, the guayaquil great green macaw, and the American crocodile.
The population of Argentina in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 38,592,000, which placed it at number 31 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 10% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 27% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–2010 was expected to be 1.1%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory, although reducing fertility among adolescents was a government priority. The projected population for the year 2025 was 46,424,000. The population density was 14 per sq km (36 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 89% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.25%. More than one-third of all Argentines live in or around Buenos Aires, the capital city, which had a population of 13,047,000 in 2005. Other estimated metropolitan area populations in 2000 were Córdoba, 1,592,000; Rosario, 1,312,000; Mendoza, 988,600; La Plata, 838,600; and San Miguel de Tucumán, 837,000.
The majority of the population descends from early Spanish or Italian immigrants. Approximately 10% of the people are of indigenous Indian or mestizo descent.
Migration to Argentina from Spain and Italy has been heavy in the past. Under the rule of Juan Domingo Perón (1946–1955), immigration was restricted to white persons, exceptions being made for relatives of nonwhites (Japanese and others) already resident. More recently, immigrants from across the border in Paraguay have numbered at least 600,000; Bolivia, 500,000; Chile, 400,000; Uruguay, 150,000; and Brazil, 100,000. Some 300,000 illegal aliens were granted amnesty in 1992. Foreigners, on application, may become Argentine citizens after two years' residence. A total of 16,738 were naturalized in 1991, of which 13,770 were from other American countries. In 2000, Argentina's refugee population was estimated at 2,400. Few Argentines emigrated until the 1970s, when a "brain drain" of professionals and technicians began to develop. In the mid-1980s, some 10,000 of the estimated 60,000 to 80,000 political exiles returned home.
Of much greater significance to Argentina has been the tendency for workers in rural areas to throng to the cities. This had particular political and economic overtones during the Perón regime. Perón's encouragement of workers to move to Buenos Aires and surrounding industrial areas drained rural areas of so many persons that agriculture and livestock raising, the base of Argentina's wealth, suffered severely. Moreover, the inability of the economy to absorb all of the new urban masses led to a host of economic and social problems that still besiege the nation in the 21st century. Both the federal government and provincial governments have since vainly entreated aged workers to return to rural areas.
There has been a significant increase in asylum claims in recent years, beginning in the latter half of the 1990s. As of the end of 2004, there were 3,910 refugees and asylum seekers. Of the 990 asylum seekers, 428 received counseling and assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Most asylum seekers were from neighboring countries, but there were also more than 30 other nationalities from Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 2005 estimates were that there were 0.4 migrants per 1,000 population.
Argentina's population is overwhelmingly European in origin (principally from Spain and Italy); there is little mixture of indigenous peoples. An estimated 97% of the people are of European extraction and 3% are mestizo, Amerindian, or of other nonwhite groups. The pure Amerindian population has been increasing slightly through immigration from Bolivia and Paraguay.
The national language of Argentina is Spanish. Argentine Spanish has diverged in many ways from Castilian, showing the effects of the vast influx of foreigners into Buenos Aires, as well as of Spaniards from Andalucía, Galicia, and the Basque provinces. First- and second-generation Italians have added their touch to the language, and French settlers have contributed many Gallicisms.
The outstanding phonetic feature of Argentine Spanish is the yeísmo, in which the ll and y are pronounced like the z in azure. The meaning of many Castilian words also has been modified. The Porteños, as the inhabitants of Buenos Aires are called, rely heavily upon a variety of intonations to express shades of meaning.
English has become increasingly popular as a second language, especially in metropolitan areas and in the business and professional community. There are pockets of Italian, French, and German immigrants speaking their native languages. Some Amerindian languages are still spoken, including a version of Tehuelche in the pampas and Patagonia, Guaraní in Misiones Province, and Quechua in some parts of the Jujuy and Salta provinces.
Statistics submitted by nongovernmental organizations in 2001 indicate that the Roman Catholics continue to claim the largest number of members, at about 88% of the population. Protestants accounted for about 7% of the population. About 1.5% of the population are Muslims and about 1% are Jewish. These statistics, however, simply refer to reported membership and do not indicate active religious practice.
Argentina retains national patronage, a form of the old Spanish royal patronage, over the Roman Catholic Church. Under this system, bishops are appointed by the president of the republic from a panel of three submitted by the Senate; papal bulls and decrees must be proclaimed by the president and sometimes must be incorporated into an act of the Congress. The government also provides the Catholic Church with certain subsidies. However, the constitution does provide for freedom of religion and the government encourages tolerance and understanding between social and religious groups.
The Secretariat of Worship in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Worship is responsible for overseeing relations between religious organizations and the government. According to the National Registry kept by the secretariat, there are about 2,800 religious organizations in the country representing about 30 different religious denominations or groups. Certain Catholic holidays are officially observed; however, the law allows for up to three days of paid leave for those observing Jewish or Islamic holidays. Associations that promote interdenominational understanding and cooperation include the Argentine Jewish-Christian Brotherhood (an affiliate of the International Council of Christians and Jews), the Argentine Council for Religious Freedom, the Foundation for Education and Peace, and the Federation of Arab Entities.
Some members of non-Catholic faiths have reported discrimination in employment through the military and the federal ministries, but these reports have not been substantially verified. Anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim attitudes have surfaced in some social circles, but a number of nongovernmental ecumenical groups are working toward greater levels of understanding and acceptance through all faiths.
Argentina has the largest railway system in South America, with 34,091 km (21,204 mi) of track (167 km electrified) as of 2004. Although railroads link all the provinces, the three provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santa Fe contain about one-half the total track and are the destinations of about two-thirds of all goods carried. The seven major railroads and all other lines belong to the state and are administered by Argentine Railways. Until 1947, when Perón bought them at a price exceeding their real value, the railroads were mainly under the control of British interests. Since then, they have been in decline and have regularly run up large deficits. A major problem is that the railway system uses three incompatible track gauges (standard: 1.435-m; broad: 1.676-m; and narrow: 1.000-m and 0.750-m), which severely restricts system interoperability, and forces virtually all interregional freight traffic to pass through Buenos Aires. The railroads' share of merchandise transported has declined steadily since 1946.
A five-year railroad modernization and rationalization plan was initiated by the military government in 1976, but the general decline of the railway system was not halted, and the number of passengers carried dropped from 445 million in 1976 to about 300 million in 1991. The subway system in Buenos Aires, completely state-owned since 1978, consists of five lines totaling 36 km (22 mi).
The continued deterioration of the railroads has resulted in a sharply increased demand for road transportation, which the present highways cannot handle. By 2001, the nation had 215,434 km (133,871 mi) of roads, of which 63,553 km (39,492 mi) were paved. In late 1969, a tunnel under the Río Paraná was opened, connecting Santa Fe with the nation's eastern region. The road system is still far from adequate, especially in view of Argentina's rapidly increasing automotive industry. In 2003, the total number of registered vehicles reached 6,873,000, including 5,380,000 passenger cars and 1,493,000 commercial vehicles.
The main river system of Argentina consists of the Río de la Plata and its tributaries, the Paraná, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Alto Paraná rivers. There is a total of 10,950 km (6,800 mi) of navigable waterways, offering vast possibilities for efficient water transportation. The river system reaches Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, and regions of Brazil and Uruguay. The La Plata estuary, with its approaches and navigation channels, is the basis of the entire river system. The La Plata ports (Buenos Aires and La Plata) account for more than half of all maritime cargo, including more than two-thirds of all cargo transported on the river system. The Paraná is easily navigable up to Rosario, but the 171-km (106-mi) stretch between Rosario and Santa Fe has considerably less depth and is less suitable for oceangoing vessels. Up-river from Santa Fe, the Paraná rapidly loses depth and is navigable only by small ships.
The port of Buenos Aires handles about four-fifths of the country's imports and exports, and it is the focus of river traffic on the La Plata system. Other major ports are Rosario, Quequén, Bahía Blanca, Campana, and San Nicolás. Most port storage facilities are owned and operated by the government. In 1961, the State Merchant Fleet and the Argentine Overseas Navigation Fleet were merged to form the Argentine Maritime Lines. This state company carries approximately one-half of all Argentine overseas freight. In 2005, the merchant marine consisted of 26 vessels with a total GRT of 149,007.
Buenos Aires is the most important air terminal in South America. The four principal airports include Aeroparque and Ezeiza, both at Buenos Aires, Catarata Iguazu at Iguazu, and El Plumerillo at Mendoza. In 2004, there were an estimated 1,334 airports and landing fields, of which only 144 had paved runways as of 2005. The government line is Aerolíneas Argentinas. However, there are other major Argentine airlines and many foreign lines operating in the country. In 2003, the total scheduled civil aviation services flew 113 million freight ton-km and carried 6.03 million passengers on domestic and international flights.
Before the Spaniards arrived, about 20 Amerindian groups comprising some 300,000 people lived in the region now called Argentina. They were mainly nomadic hunter-gatherers, although the Guardant practiced slash-and-burn agriculture.
Spaniards arrived in Argentina in 1516. They called the region "La Plata" (literally "silver") under the mistaken impression that it was rich in silver. Colonists from Chile, Peru, and Asunción (in present-day Paraguay) created the first permanent Spanish settlements in Argentina, including Buenos Aires in 1580. In 1776, Río de la Plata became a vice-royalty, with Buenos Aires as the main port and administrative center.
During the early colonial period, there was little interest in Argentina. The region had no mineral wealth, and Spaniards overlooked the fertile soil and temperate climate of the region. As a result, Buenos Aires had a population of only about 25,000 at the time of the viceroy's arrival. The Spaniards could not afford to ignore Buenos Aires by the late 1700s, when the city was growing rapidly thanks to illegal trade financed by British interests. Goods were smuggled to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands. Spain worried about British and Portuguese expansion and sought to control trade and collect more taxes from the growing commerce.
In May 1810, following the example set by Spanish cities after the capture of King Ferdinand VII by the French, Buenos Aires held an open town meeting (Cabildo Abierto). A junta was elected, which deposed the viceroy and declared itself in authority. On 9 July 1816, a congress of provincial delegates in San Miguel de Tucumán signed a declaration of independence, and in 1817, Gen. José de San Martín led an army across the Andes to liberate Chile and Peru.
After independence, Buenos Aires was a major force in the region, and strongmen (caudillos) from the surrounding provinces attempted to curb its power. The internal power struggle lasted until Juan Manuel de Rosas became governor of Buenos Aires Province. He imposed order and centralism from 1835 until 1852, when the forces of Gen. Justo José de Urquiza defeated him. A new constitution was adopted in 1853, and Urquiza was elected president in 1854. The struggle for power between Buenos Aires, the hub of commercial activity for the country, and the provinces that provided the raw materials, continued through the late 1800s. It was not until 1880, when the city was named the federal capital, that regional peace was achieved. By then, Argentina was becoming a modern nation, with new railroads and roads under construction. Thousands of European immigrants flocked to the country each year looking for a better life. Buenos Aires alone grew from 90,000 people in 1851 to 1.3 million by 1910, when the city was called the "Paris of South America."
Social conflicts always had been part of Argentina's history, but they intensified during the late 19th century as the gap between the wealthy classes and the poor widened. The National Party, under the leadership of Gen. Julio Roca (who served two terms as president, 1880–86 and 1898–1904) and supported by the military and landowners, dominated the nation. To combat this powerful coalition, a middle-class party called the Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical) was formed. The Radicals stressed democratic practices and attempted to expand the political system beyond its elite-restricted boundaries. The Radicals' efforts came to fruition in 1916, when Hipólito Yrigoyen was elected president for a six-year term. But little changed for the working classes. Most workers could barely afford to feed their families during this time, despite the tremendous affluence of the upper class. Workers who sought to improve their working conditions were suppressed. A violent army attack against striking metalworkers in 1919 came to be known as "La Semana Trágica" (The Tragic Week). Yrigoyen sat out for a term, and was reelected president in 1928, but he did not last long. An economic crisis precipitated by the world depression led to a military coup in 1930.
For the next 13 years, Argentina was ruled by the old conservative oligarchy. The military-landowner alliance brought both economic recovery and political corruption, as well as the exacerbation of social tensions. Particularly divisive was the matter of Argentina's foreign relations. While opening Argentina to trade with Europe improved the economic picture, many felt that the leadership had sold out to foreign interests. Argentina's careful neutrality toward the Axis powers masked considerable Fascist sympathies, further dividing the nation.
Another military coup in 1943 brought to power an even more Axis-sympathetic group but also launched a new era in Argentine politics. Argentina had undergone an industrial expansion, accelerated by the war. This expansion led to the formation of a large blue-collar workforce, which in 1943 came under the direction of the military head of the Labor Department, Col. Juan Domingo Perón. Perón used his new constituency to build a power base that allowed him in 1946 to be elected president, while his supporters won majorities in both houses of congress. Perón, it was later reported, allowed many Nazi German leaders to hide in Argentina.
Perón made sweeping political, economic, and social changes. His ideology was an unusual blend of populism, authoritarianism, industrialism, and nationalism. His strong personal appeal was buttressed by the charm of his wife Eva ("Evita"), a woman of modest upbringing who captivated the masses with her work on behalf of the poor. Peronist rhetoric stressed the rights of descamisados (literally "shirtless"), the poor of Argentina.
Perón sought to establish a foreign policy that allied Argentina with neither the West nor East, while acting as protector of weaker Latin American nations against US and British "imperialists." He coined a new word to describe his approach—justicialismo (roughly translated as "essence of justice." After reelection in 1951, Perón became increasingly dictatorial and erratic, especially after the death of Evita a year later. Economic hardship led to reversals in policy that favored the old oligarchy. Newspapers were shut down and harassed. Perón legalized divorce and prostitution, and began to incite violence against churches. Finally, a military group took over in September 1955.
For the next 20 years, Argentina felt the shadow of Perón. From exile in Spain, Perón held a separate veto power. Under the military's watchful eye, a succession of governments attempted unsuccessfully to create a new political order.
The first of these efforts came from Gen. Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, who repressed Perón's followers and declared their party illegal. After two years of provisional government, elections were held. Rival factions of the old Radical Civic Union competed in a contest won by Arturo Frondizi of the more left-leaning UCRI. With the initial support of the Peronistas, Frondizi attempted to balance that support with the military, which grew nervous at the mention of Peronism. Frondizi curbed inflation through an austerity program and increased Argentina's petroleum production by extending concessions to foreign companies. These economic measures helped increase political tensions, and in the elections of 1961 and 1962, Peronist candidates, running under the banner of the Justicialist Front (Frente Justicialista), won sweeping victories. A military junta removed Frondizi from the presidency in March 1962 and annulled the elections, thus denying governorships to the supporters of Perón. Divisions among the military leaders kept the nation in a state of tension until mid-1964, when new elections were held. Dr. Arturo Illía of the rightist UCRP won the presidency. Illía's administration was beset by rising government debt, inflation, labor unrest, and political agitation, but was most seriously threatened by the military. The chief of the armed forces, Lt. Gen. Juan Carlos Onganía resigned in November 1965, after Illía appointed a Peronist sympathizer as war minister.
In June 1966, following election victories by the Peronist faction, the military leaders installed Onganía as President. Onganía dissolved the nation's legislative bodies and suspended the constitution. Onganía announced a revolutionary program to restore economic prosperity and social stability, saying that only after this restoration would the democratic system be reestablished. Inflation was cut by means of rigid wage controls, and by the end of 1969, the economy was growing at a rate of 7% annually. His economic policies were overshadowed, however, by growing political tension. With the help of the military, strict controls were imposed on the press and all means of mass communication. Students led in denouncing these repressive policies, and in the early months of 1969, violence erupted in Córdoba and Rosario.
Dissatisfaction mounted early in 1970, and acts of terrorism increased. Several groups were active, some of which claimed to be Peronist, others Marxist, still others claiming to be both. The most serious incident was the kidnapping and killing of former President Aramburu by a Peronist group. Although President Onganía stiffened in response to the disorder, it was becoming clear that Argentina would never be stabilized without the participation of the Peronists. For his part, Perón encouraged these groups from abroad.
In June 1970, a junta of high-ranking military officers removed Onganía, and began to move toward democratic reform. Under two ensuing military governments, preparations were made for elections that would include the Peronists, now organized as the Justicialist Liberation Front (FREJULI). In general elections held in March 1973, the winner was Dr. Héctor J. Cámpora, whose un-official slogan was "Cámpora to the presidency; Perón to power." Cámpora was elected president with 49% of the vote, while FREJULI won a congressional majority and 11 of the 22 provincial governorships. However, Cámpora, who assumed office in May 1973, was no better able than his predecessors to cope with a rising tide of terrorism, much of it from extreme Peronist factions. After a consultation with Perón in Madrid, Cámpora announced his resignation, effective in July.
Perón, who had returned to Argentina in June 1973, ran for the presidency and took 61.9% of the vote in a special election in September. His running mate was his third wife, María Estela ("Isabel") Martínez de Perón, a former exotic dancer. There was no magic left in the elderly Perón. He cracked down on the very terrorist groups he had encouraged, but the economy sagged. When he died in July 1974, his widow succeeded to the presidency.
Isabel had none of Evita's appeal, and her administration plunged Argentina more deeply into chaos. The first year of Isabel Perón's regime was marked by political instability, runaway inflation, and a renewal of guerrilla violence. In September 1975, Perón vacated her office for 34 days, ostensibly because of ill health. During her absence, the military strengthened its position. In March 1976, she was arrested in a bloodless coup, and a military junta consisting of the commanders of the army, navy, and air force took over. The leading member of the junta was Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla, who became president.
The junta dissolved congress, suspended political and trade union activity, and mounted a concerted campaign against leftist guerrillas. For seven years, the military attempted to "purify" Argentina by imprisoning, torturing, and executing leftists, Peronists, trade unionists, and members of other political parties deemed divisive. Military officers also kidnapped the babies of the "disappeared" and gave them to officers or released them to adoption agencies. Meanwhile, they attempted a complete liberalization of the economy, including the privatization of banking and industry. However, the military was never able to solve the problem of inflation, which remained in triple digits for most of this period.
In March 1981, Gen. Roberto Viola succeeded Videla as president, and in December, Lt. Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri took over. Troubled by economic woes and lacking any political support from the general populace, the military turned to foreign affairs in an attempt to gain support. In April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, claiming sovereignty over them, but in the ensuing war with the United Kingdom, Argentina's armed forces were routed, surrendering in June. The defeat led to Galtieri's resignation, and a new junta was formed in July under Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone. Liberalization measures during the remainder of 1982 led to strikes and antigovernment demonstrations, including a one-day general strike in December in which 90% of the work force reportedly took part. In addition to demands for a return to civilian rule, more and more Argentines demanded to know the fate of at least 10,000—and perhaps as many as 30,000—persons who had "disappeared" during what came to be known as the "dirty war" of 1976–83. Official government figures for the "disappeared" stand at 10,000, but human rights groups believe it is much higher.
In elections for a civilian president held in October 1983, the upset winner was a human rights activist from the People's Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical del Pueblo—UCRP), Dr. Raúl Alfonsín. After taking office in December, Alfonsín called for a new inquiry into the "disappearances" and ordered the prosecution of former junta members. In December 1985, five were convicted, including Lt. Gen. Videla. The legacy of the "dirty war" preoccupied the Alfonsín government. The president saw the need to close the 50-year cycle of military intervention and political instability by building a stable democracy. However, the political reality of Argentina could not be changed by wishes. The human rights trials of leading military officers irked the military, and in April 1987, an abortive military uprising spread to a number of bases. Although Alfonsín refused to yield to the rebels, he soon afterward retreated from his position, getting approval from congress for a law that would limit the trials to a few superior officers, thereby accepting the defense of "taking orders" for the lower-ranking officers.
The Alfonsín administration also acted to halt rampant inflation with the "Austral Plan" of mid-1985, which froze wages and prices and created a new unit of currency, the austral, to replace the beleaguered peso. The initial success of the plan was weakened by a resurgence of inflation and labor intransigence over wage demands. With the failure of the Alfonsín administration to stabilize the economy or bring military leaders to justice, Argentines sought change from an old source: the Peronists. In May 1989, Carlos Saul Menem, running under the Justicialist banner, was elected with 47% of the popular vote. Because the Alfonsín government was in such dire straits, the president resigned in July and Menem was immediately installed. This was Argentina's first transfer of power between democratically elected leaders in more than 60 years.
Menem abandoned his party's traditional support of state enterprises; he cut government spending and generally liberalized the Argentine economy. He also pardoned and released top military leaders involved in human rights violations. In May 1995 after he successfully changed the constitution, following a first term marked by economic success and political stability, Menem was reelected to a second four-year term. He weathered Argentina's 1995–96 economic recession with the aid of Domingo Cavallo, the minister of economics and architect of the anti-inflation plan. Despite the economic successes, many Argentineans grew tired of Menem and alleged corruption in his administration. Menem also could not keep his private "playboy" life apart from politics, and began showing the traits of a caudillo by pressing for changes to the constitution so he could run for a third term in 1999. His bitter party rival and critic, Eduardo Duhalde, prevailed and represented the Justicialists in the 1999 presidential election. For Duhalde, a downturn in the economy came at a bad time. In 1999, Argentina entered a recession and saw its GDP decline by 3%. Unemployment reached 14%. Menem didn't help his party's cause. He seemed more intent in undermining Duhalde, while actively campaigning for a third term in 2003.
In the meantime, Fernando de la Rúa Bruno, the mayor of Buenos Aires, had balanced the city's budget and even managed to increase and improve services. A leader of the Unión Cívica Radical, de la Rúa aligned his party with a new political movement called Front for a Country in Solidarity (FREPASO), an amalgamation of several center-left parties. De la Rúa's conservatism and successes in Buenos Aires got the attention of voters. He provided a sharp contrast to the excesses of the bon vivant Menem. A serious president would take the country's problems seriously, his aides stressed. The campaign worked. In October 1999, voters gave de la Rúa 48.5% of the vote. Duhalde received 38.1%.
After taking office, de la Rúa declared a national economic emergency. By March 2000, he had pushed through Congress a new budget that sliced in half the fiscal deficit and new laws to weaken the bargaining power of unions. While the Alianza held on to a slim majority in the lower Chamber of Deputies, the Senate remained under Justicialist control. Partially because of his inability to restrict spending by provincial governors and because he had little maneuvering space to adopt policies that could stimulate growth, de la Rúa could not overcome the economic crisis and the government was eventually forced to devalue the national currency. Social and political chaos ensued with the economy going into its worst recession in decades. After his party lost the mid-term elections in 2001, President de la Rúa popularity continued to fall and the economic situation became unbearable. After protests turned violent in Buenos Aires in December 2001, looting and chaos erupted, followed by police repression. De la Rúa was forced to resign. After a few weeks of political instability, the Senate chose Eduardo Duhalde, who had been elected to the Senate in the 2001 midterm election, as a temporary president. Duhalde governed until May 2003, when Néstor Kirchner, elected in April, was inaugurated president. Although former president Carlos Menem obtained the plurality of votes in the first round among a handful of other presidential candidates, the former president withdrew less than a week before the runoff when it became clear that Kirchner, who came in second with 22% of the vote, would win by a landslide. Kirchner was a little-known governor from the southern province of Santa Cruz, but he successfully captured the growing anti-Menem sentiment. In addition, Kirchner was widely seen as Duhalde's favorite and many expected him to carry on Duhalde's policies.
In the end, the 2003 presidential election turned out to be a contest between the two Perónist rivals, Menem and Duhalde. Although Duhalde's candidate became president, Menem's withdrawal prevented Kirchner from winning a majority of votes in the runoff election. With his legitimacy weakened and his independence of Duhalde under doubt, Kirchner became president of a country in the midst of an economic, social and political crisis. The economy shrank by 14% in 2002 and official unemployment remained at 25%. With a mounting foreign debt and financial obligations to foreign lenders difficult to meet, President Kirchner opted for a radical economic reform package. Argentina opted to default on its foreign debt and called on creditors to renegotiate on terms much more convenient to Argentina's interest. In the end, Kirchner got away with his initiative and successfully lowered Argentina's foreign debt by renegotiating it. Disappointed creditors were forced to choose partial payment or no payment at all. Although the move made Kirchner very popular domestically, Argentina's credit abroad was severely hurt. Almost no foreign investment has entered Argentina since the country defaulted on its past debt.
Yet, because Argentina's exports had been strong and because the country continued to rely on a weak national currency to make its exports more competitive, the economy grew rapidly under Kirchner's administration. The economic recovery, deemed as unsustainable in the long term by many economists, was sufficiently strong to reduce unemployment and improve the president's approval ratings. Kirchner and the Peronist Party went on to win an absolute majority in congress in the 2005 mid-term legislative elections. Kirchner's wife, Cristina Fernández (Cristina Kirchner) won a Senate seat representing the province of Buenos Aires, the most populous in the country. Her victory over Duhalde's wife highlighted the absolute control the Kirchner political machine exerted over the Peronist Party.
Although the economy continued to do well relying on strong exports, some signs of inflationary pressures emerged in early 2005. Price control schemes and a more active intervention in the economy by the central government underlined Kirchner's strong mistrust of free trade policies. The president's decision to attract foreign investment from Venezuela's Hugo Chávez government put Argentina at odds with the United States. But the strong nationalist discourse by the Argentine leader helped boost his popularity at home. Whether or not Kirchner would run for reelection or step down in favor of his wife Cristina was undecided as of mid-2006, but either way, it was felt that the Kirchners were likely to remain in power after the 2007 presidential elections.
Argentina's government is ruled by its 1853 constitution, although that document has been suspended many times. The basic structure is federal and republican. In 1949, the Perón government adopted a new constitution, but the subsequent military government expunged that document. Some modifications in the original constitution were subsequently made by a constituent assembly that met in October 1957. In July 1962, a system of proportional representation was adopted.
The constitution provides for a federal union of provinces that retain all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the constitution. There is a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, but the president is powerful within this arrangement. The president can draw up and introduce his own bills in Congress, appoint cabinet members and other officials without the consent of the Senate, and possesses broad powers to declare a state of siege and suspend the constitution. The president is commander-in-chief of the army, navy, and air force and appoints all major civil, military, naval, and judicial offices, with the approval of the Senate in certain cases. The president is also responsible, with the cabinet, for the acts of the executive branch and has the right of patronage (control over appointments) in regard to bishoprics. The president and vice president are directly elected for a four-year term and cannot be reelected beyond a second consecutive term. They or their parents must be native-born citizens. Voting is compulsory for all citizens 18 to 70 years of age.
The constitution calls for a National Congress consisting of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. The 72 senators are directly elected, 3 from each of the 23 provinces and the Federal District of Buenos Aires. The term of office is set at six years, with staggered elections every three years for one-third of the membership. The Chamber of Deputies is the result of direct elections for 257 seats. Seats are allocated to each province in proportion to its population, but less populated provinces are over-represented. The deputies' term of office is four years, with one-half of the membership being elected every two years. The Chamber of Deputies is authorized to receive the budget and initiate fiscal legislation and has the exclusive right to impeach officials before the Senate.
The most recent suspensions of the constitution were between 1966 and 1973, and then again from 1976 until 1983. During the most recent suspension, a military junta performed the executive, legislative, and judicial functions. Since the resumption of civilian government in 1983, there has been an uneasy relationship between the military and the government. The controversial trials of military leaders led to serious questions about the credibility of the judiciary and mild sentences for the accused. Revisions to the constitution were approved in August 1994. During political crisis of the late 1990s, the military was unwilling to step back into political life signaling a consolidation of democracy and civilian rule in Argentina.
Political party activity in Argentina has been sporadic, given the frequency of military takeovers and the many years during which parties have been banned. Still, several parties reformed in the 1980s and continued to be active in the 1990s and into the 21st century.
Traditionally, the alignment of Argentine political parties has been along socioeconomic and religious lines. The landowners, the high clergy, and the more conservative lower class supporters have formed an alliance that defends the church and the status quo. On the other side have been the advocates of change: merchants and professionals who resent the preeminence of the aristocracy and who tend also to be anticlerical. This second group has supported separation of church and state and decentralization. However, in modern times, new parties have emerged to represent the working class, small farmers, and intellectuals.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Radical Party in Argentina was either the governing party or the chief opposition. The Radicals were committed to the expansion of Argentine politics to the middle and lower classes, and a transformation of the nation's economic and social life. This party was as close to a mass-based party as Argentina had ever had. The core was middle class, but the party was also supported by upper- and lower-class elements. Only radical by the standards of Argentine politics, it occupied a middle ground between the Conservatives and the Socialist left. However, with a heterogeneous membership, tensions and schisms were frequent. The party split into the Radical Intransigent Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical Intransigente—UCRI), which formed the major support for Arturo Frondizi in 1958, and the People's Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical del Pueblo—UCRP), led by Ricardo Balbín. The UCRP was somewhat more nationalistic and doctrinaire than the UCRI, but shifting policies made the differences difficult to define. Balbín's party survived into the 1980s as the Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical—UCR). After the military stepped down in 1983, that party was one of the few viable political entities in Argentina, and emerged victorious in the 1983 elections. However, with the failure of the Alfonsín administration, the UCR found itself again in its old role as loyal opposition. The UCR regained the presidency in 1999 with de la Rúa, but his dismal performance and his early departure sent the UCR into its worst crisis in history. In the 2003 presidential election, the UCR official candidate only captured 2.3% of the vote. In the 2005 mid-term elections, the UCR recovered somewhat, but it remained far below its historic strength.
The Conservatives dominated Argentine politics from about 1874 to 1916 and again from 1932 to 1945 when they were known as the National Democrats. This era of Argentine politics was known as the "Concordancia." The Conservatives were the chief spokesmen for the landed interests, from whom they drew their main support. During the Perón regime, the right lost most of its influence. In 1958, conservative parties banded together to form the National Federation of Parties of the Center (Federación Nacional de Partidos del Centro). Years of military rule in the name of conservatism yielded no mass-based conservative parties, mainly because the military professed a disdain for partisan politics. Currently, there are several small right-wing parties, the largest of which is the Union of the Democratic Center (UCD).
Although leftism in Argentina has a long tradition, it was dealt a serious blow during the 1976–83 military governments. Those governments were committed to the extermination of all leftist influences. This meant the jailing and "disappearance" of leaders of the socialist and communist movements. In addition, Peronism preempted much of the ideological appeal of these parties, as well as their traditional working-class constituencies. The earliest leftist party was the Communist Party, founded in 1918 by Juan B. Justo, who split from Yrigoyen and the Radicals. The Communists were never terribly revolutionary, but concentrated instead on the trade union movement. In the 1970s, Argentine leftism was thrown into confusion by the appearance of several substantial "urban guerrilla" movements. The Trotskyist People's Revolutionary Army (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo—ERP), the Montoneros, and the Peronist Armed Forces (FAP), among others, became major players on the Argentine political scene, if only because of the dramatic impact of their actions. Their presence may well have hastened the return of Perón in 1974, but their persistence became a major justification for the military repression that followed. Refusing to make any distinction between a leftist and a terrorist, the government decimated the Argentine left.
Peronism defies political classification, and it was still alive in Argentina in the early 2000s. Peronism went underground for nearly two decades after the coup of 1955. Operating under the names Popular Union Party, Populist Party, and Laborite Party, a variety of Peronist organizations put up candidates wherever possible. The movement was alternately wooed, tolerated, or repressed, depending on the degree to which the military was involved. In 1973, elections were held in which the Peronists were allowed to field a candidate, Hector J. Cámpora, representing a coalition of various Peronist factions and other smaller parties. This coalition, the Justice Liberation Front (Frente Justicialista de Liberación—FREJULI), took 49% of the vote. Under Cámpora's successors, Juan Perón and Isabel Perón, FREJULI remained the governing coalition until the March 1976 coup, after which political activity was suspended until 1980. A "reform" movement led to infighting that crippled the party in the 1983 elections.
In 1989, Carlos Menem's victory was accompanied by solid legislative majorities in both houses of the legislature. The Justicialist Party (JP) had 122 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 27 seats in the Senate. In the elections of May 1995, the party took 132 of a total 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 38 of a total 72 Senate seats. In 1999, the JP suffered a set back in the Chamber, but retained control of the Senate. In 2001, the JP regained seats in the Chamber reaching a total of 116 and increased its hold of the Senate where it controlled 66 seats, two short of a majority. In the 2003 and 2005 parliamentary elections, the Peronistas remained the dominant party in both chambers. Yet, in 2005, Kirchner created an alternative Peronist party (the Front for Victory) that won about one-third of the seats up for election. President Kirchner commanded the loyalty of the large majority of all the Peronist factions that won seats in Congress in 2005.
Argentina's party politics have been contentious and vicious over the years, with various sides coalescing in order to defeat rivals. One notable exception was the formation in July 1981 of the Multipartidaria, an alliance among Argentina's five leading parties—FREJULI, the UCR, the Democratic Christian Federation (Federación Demócrata Cristiana), the Movement for Integration and Development (Movimiento de Integración y Desarrollo—MID), and the Intransigent Party (Partido Intransigente). Claiming the support of about 80% of the voters, this opposition alliance began to negotiate with the military concerning a return to constitutional government, and in July 1982, political parties were formally permitted to resume their activities.
In April 1994, the Front for a Country of Solidarity (Frente del País Solidario or Frepaso) was formed. A center-left group, it has won widespread middle-class support by campaigning against government corruption. It defeated the UCR for second place in the 1995 legislative elections when it gained a representation in the Chamber of Deputies of 29 members. In 1999, Frepaso joined the UCR to create the Alianza (alliance) to elect UCR candidate Fernando de la Rúa. He was elected with 48.5% and assumed the presidency in December. The Alianza has a slim majority in the lower house of Congress, but the Justicialists remain in control of the Senate. The Alianza proved to be short-lived. With the resignation of Vice President Carlos Álvarez in 2000, the Alianza fell apart. With de la Rúa resignation in 2001, a new leftwing movement emerged led by former Radical Party deputy Elisa Carrió. Her Alternative for a Republic of Equals (ARI) won 8 seats in the Senate and 17 seats in the Chamber in 2001 and Carrió placed fourth in the 2003 presidential election. It remains to be seen if ARI will remain a political party beyond the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2003.
Despite the political and social crisis, the Peronista and Radical parties continue to dominate Argentinean politics. In the 2001 midterm election, the Peronistas regained ground in the Chamber and Senate. De la Rúa's demise dealt a severe blow to the Radical Party. In the 2003 presidential election, the Radical Party candidate obtained fewer than 3% of the vote, but two formerly Radical Party militants running as an independent and in a leftist coalition collected more than 30%. The Peronist party also faced the 2003 election in the midst of a division. The three Peronist presidential candidates obtained more than 50% of the vote combined, showing that party's continuous domination of Argentine politics.
Argentina is a federation of 23 provinces and the federal capital of Buenos Aires. During the 19th century there was a bitter struggle between Buenos Aires and the interior provinces, and there has long been an element of tension regarding the division of powers between the central government and provincial bodies. The federal government retains control over such matters as the regulation of commerce, customs collections, currency, civil or commercial codes, or the appointment of foreign agents. The provincial governors are elected every four years.
The constitutional "national intervention" and "state of siege" powers of the president have been invoked frequently. The first of these powers was designed to "guarantee the republican form of government in the provinces." Since the adoption of the 1853 constitution, the federal government has intervened over 200 times, mostly by presidential decree. Under this authority, provincial and municipal offices may be declared vacant, appointments annulled, and local elections supervised. Between 1966 and 1973, all local legislatures were dissolved and provincial governors were appointed by the new president. A restoration of provincial and municipal government followed the return to constitutional government in 1973. After the March 1976 coup, the federal government again intervened to remove all provincial governors and impose direct military rule over all municipalities. Since 1983, representative local government has been in force again.
Until 1996, the president appointed the mayor of Buenos Aires, and by law, the president and congress controlled any legislation that affected the city. Constitutional reforms that year led to an elected mayoral position, and a 60-member Poder Legislativo (legislative power). The members are elected by proportional representation to four-year terms.
Justice is administered by both federal and provincial courts. The former deal only with cases of a national character or those to which different provinces or inhabitants of different provinces are parties. The Supreme Court, which supervises and regulates all other federal courts, is composed of nine members nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Other federal courts include nine appellate courts, with three judges for each; single-judge district courts, at least one for each province; and one-judge territorial courts. The federal courts may not decide political questions. Judges of the lower courts are appointed by the president.
Provincial courts include supreme courts, appellate courts, courts of first instance, and minor courts of justices of the peace (alcaldes) and of the market judges. Members of provincial courts are appointed by the provincial governors. Trial by jury was authorized by the 1853 constitution for criminal cases, but its establishment was left to the discretion of congress, resulting in sporadic use.
A 1991 law provides a fund for compensating prisoners who were illegally detained during the 1976–83 military dictatorship. In 1992, a system of oral public trials was instituted in order to speed up the judicial process while improving the protection of procedural rights of criminal defendants.
In practice, there is not a truly independent judiciary. The courts lack power to enforce orders against the executive and federal judges who actively pursue charges of police or military corruption. In 1989, President Menem, in a court-packing maneuver, expanded the number of Supreme Court justices from five to nine. In 2003, shortly after taking office, President Néstor Kirchner signaled his intention to remove some of Menem's appointees and to strengthen the judiciary by undoing some of Menem's moves that turned the Supreme Court into a political ally of the president rather than an autonomous power of the state. Formal and informal constitutional accusation against Menem-appointed Supreme Court justices between 2003 and 2005 allowed Kirchner to appoint new justices who were considered friendly to his regime. Thus, the autonomy and independence of the Supreme Court continued to be weakened by the executive's decision to influence the appointment and tenure of justices.
The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence. The government respects these provisions. The constitution prohibits torture; however, police brutality remains a serious problem. The judicial system is subject to delays, resulting in lengthy pretrial detention.
The Argentine armed forces in 2005 numbered 71,400 active personnel, with no formally established reserves. The Army of 41,400 was organized into 3 corps and included mechanized infantry, engineer, and artillery battalions. Equipment included 200 main battle tanks, 150 light tanks, 74 reconnaisance vehicles, 105 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 422 armored personnel carriers, and 1,701 artillery pieces. The Navy had 17,500 personnel including 2,500 Marines and 2,000 naval aviation personnel. Equipment included 3 tactical submarines, 5 destroyers, 8 frigates, and 14 patrol/coastal vessels. The naval aviation arm had 11 combat capable aircraft including 6 fighter ground attack and 5 antisubmarine warfare aircraft, in addition to 4 maritime patrol aircraft and 7 antisubmarine warfare helicopters. The Air Force numbered 12,500 personnel with 104 combat-capable aircraft that included 13 fighters and 91 fighter ground attack aircraft. Paramilitary forces included an 18,000 member gendarmerie and the 13,240 member Prefectura Naval (Coast Guard). In 2005, the defense budget totaled $1.75 billion. In that same year, Argentine military forces were deployed in five countries or regions as UN peacekeepers.
Argentina is a charter member of the United Nations, having joined on 24 October 1945; it belongs to ECLAC and all the non-regional specialized agencies, such as IAEA, FAO, IFC, UNIDO, UNESCO, WHO, ILO, and IMF. It is a member of the World Bank and joined the WTO on 1 January 1995. Argentina also belongs to the OAS and many other inter-American and intergovernmental organizations, such as the Cartagena Group (G-11), G-15, G-19, G-24, G-77, IADB, LAES, and LAIA. The country is a nonregional member of the African Development Bank and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Argentina has been an active member of Mercosur (Southern Common Market), the economic and strategic alliance formed by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, with Chile and Bolivia allied as associate members. It is also part of the 19 member Río Group and the South American Community of Nations.
Argentina belongs to the G-6, the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), and the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL). The country also holds a seat on the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which was originally established in 1999 as the Special Commission for the Elimination of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (UNSCOM). Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1990–91 Gulf War. The United States designated Argentina as a non-NATO ally in January 1998. Argentina has participated in UN peacekeeping and administrative efforts in Kosovo (est. 1999), Western Sahara (est.1991), Cyprus (est. 1964) and Haiti (est. 2004). The country is a signatory of the 1947 Río Treaty.
In cooperation on environmental issues, Argentina is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, Convention of Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, the London Convention, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.
Argentina has one of the most highly developed economies and most advantageous natural resource bases of Latin America, but political instability and conflicts among various sectors of the economy have delayed the realization of this potential. The delay has likely been lengthened by the four-year recession that turned into an acute financial crisis in 2001–02 that reduced Argentina's per capita income from $7,330 in 2001 (the highest in Latin America) to $2,700 in 2002 (the sixth-highest), and left an estimated 54.3% of the population below the poverty line. It may have set a modern record for the amount of wealth lost in the shortest period of time.
Argentina's economy had weathered repeated blows to its prospects for sustained growth during 1980–2005—deep recession and slow growth that accompanied hyperinflation in 1989 (4,924%) and 1990 (1,344%), a recession in 1995 following the devaluation of the Mexican peso, nonstop recessions from 1999 that followed the successive impacts of the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the Russian financial crisis in 1998, and the Brazilian financial crisis in 1999, all raising the question of the viability of emerging markets like Argentina's, and finally the global slowdown caused by the United States recession from the beginning of 2001, aggravated by the aftereffects of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, which in particular put a chill on foreign investment flows. However, the factor that seems to have pushed the Argentine economy over the brink was a tough policy by the administration of US president George W. Bush with respect to IMF rescue packages. Public doubts were expressed by the US treasury as to Argentina's ability to repay its debts and there was public discussion about a willingness to allow an "orderly default." Unpopular steps taken by the government—tax increases (January 2000, April 2001, and August 2001), spending cuts, a "zero deficit" target, and restrictions on bank withdrawals to preserve the peso's convertibility to the dollar—proved of no avail in stopping the decline in investor and consumer confidence, evidenced in widening spreads on Argentine bonds, massive withdrawals from the banks, a halt to investment and a slowdown in production, with a consequent decline in revenues, and a hopelessly worsening debt situation. The IMF had agreed to a standby agreement in December 2000, and to its enhancement in March 2001 when it became apparent that the original targets were not going to be met, but no agreement on a third arrangement could be reached at the end of 2001, as street violence broke out and the country went through an extraordinary five presidents in two weeks. It was the third president who actually took the step of defaulting on payments due on $132 billion of bonds in late December 2001, and it was the fifth who broke the one-to-one peg of the peso to the dollar in January 2002, which plunged to a low of us$1 = ec$3.87 in June 2002. With the devalued currency, external debt jumped from 56% of GDP to over 130%. In November 2002, Argentina also defaulted on payments due to the World Bank.
Prior to 1970, Argentina suffered serious deficits in trade balance, but with increased exports, favorable trade balances were achieved during the 1970s. In 1974, increases of 7.6% were registered for agriculture, 7.5% for commerce, and 22.3% for construction. However, the average increase of annual GDP registered only 40% from 1977 to 1987. During the period between 1988 and 1999, average annual growth reached 4.4%, due largely to successful economic planning and political stability. On 23 January 2003 the government entered into a nine-month agreement with the IMF supported by loans of $6.87 billion with the explicit understanding that a longer term arrangement would be concluded following the presidential election in April 2003. The winner, Nestor Kirchner, a Peronist from Patagonia and not widely known, promised a $3-billion public works program but without deficit spending.
Twenty years earlier in 1982, the peso had so depreciated that the government decided to redenominate the currency, which it did in 1983, at 10,000: 1. Also in 1983, Argentina received a stabilization loan from the IMF to compensate for the effects of inflation and recession. As a condition for the loan, the government agreed to reduce the inflation rate to 165% in 1983. By autumn, however, inflation was running at an annual rate of over 900%; the inflation rate for the whole of 1983 was 434%, the highest in the world. Thereafter, it rose without interruption until it reached some 1,200% in mid-1985. At that time, the government introduced the Austral Plan—a bold attempt to halt inflation by freezing wages and prices, revaluing (and redenominating) the currency, and resolving to finance public spending with real assets only (not by printing money); under this plan the annual rate for 1985 was cut to 385%. By the end of 1986, the rate had been cut further to 82%; by early 1987, however, inflation had begun to surge again, and it was expected to exceed 100% by the end of the year.
In July 1989, President Carlos Menem of the Justicialista Party took office at a time when the economy was entangled in a hyperinflationary spiral. In 1991, President Menem unveiled an innovative stabilization/reform program, which was implemented successfully. The cornerstone of the stabilization/reform plan was to link the peso to the dollar at a fixed rate of 0.99 pesos per dollar (under the 1991 "Convertibility Law"), and requiring congressional approval for devaluation. In 1992, economic policy continued to focus on structural adjustment involving a strategy of cleaning up the fiscal accounts. The reforms took on a four-pronged approach: fiscal revenues were strengthened through a broadening of the VAT and an enhancement in revenue enforcement; administrative reforms included a substantial cut in public payroll and revamping of national fiscal accounting; the use of the Central Bank's rediscount window to finance deficits of provincial governments was curtailed; and public enterprises were privatized. Both revenue enhancements and expenditure cutbacks sharply reduced the inflation rate
After three years of swift growth, the devaluation of the Mexican peso on 20 December 1994 pushed the Argentine economy into a severe recession, but economy minister Domingo Cavallo took an austere line and refused to devalue the Argentine currency in 1995, even though the economy shrank by 4.4% in that year. However, the economy began to recover in 1996, and by 1998 the inflation rate held at about 1%, one of the lowest rates in the world. Even though inflation was low in 1999, a recession brought the realization that high consumer prices were not the only roadblock to economic development. Negative growth also reflected poor labor policies and a lack of capital in 2000.
The country has to a large degree overcome its dependence on imported machinery and finished products, but in their place there has grown a great external demand for parts and raw materials that are assembled or finished within the country. Basic industries, such as iron and steel, petroleum and petrochemicals, aluminum, plastics, and electrical equipment are being established, but these will continue to require extensive raw material imports for some time, or even permanently, because of the absence of certain minerals, such as bauxite (which is needed for aluminum production).
In 2004, the economy expanded by 9.0%, up from 8.8% in 2003, and from a dramatic -10.9% in 2002; in 2005, the GDP growth rate was estimated at 6.7%, while the GDP per capita (at purchasing power parity) grew to $13,600. The inflation rate was reduced to 4.4% in 2004, but was estimated to have grown again to 8.8% in 2005. The unemployment rate was on a downwards trend after 2002, and in 2005 it looked like it was brought back under control (at 11.7%). All of the provinces in Argentina achieved a consolidated fiscal surplus of 5.8% in 2004, with the tax burden growing however, to almost 28%.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Argentina's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $537.2 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $13,600. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 8.2%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 11.8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 10.5% of GDP, industry 35.8%, and services 53.7%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $253 million or about $7 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.2% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $109 million or about $3 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.1% of the gross national income (GNI).
The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Argentina totaled $81.2 billion or about $2,142 per capita based on a GDP of $129.6 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 0.1%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 30% of household consumption was spent on food, 17% on fuel, 15% on healthcare, and 15% on education. It was estimated that in 2005 about 38.5% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.
As of 2005, Argentina's labor force was estimated at 15.34 million. According to 1996 estimates (the latest year for which data was available), the labor force was divided as follows: 18.5% in manufacturing, 2.2% in agriculture and mining, 18.1% in commerce, 10.3% in transport and communications, 9.5% in public administration and defense, and the remainder in other sectors. As of September 2005, Argentina's unemployment rate stood at 11%, down from 25% in 2001.
Unions in Argentina came into their own during the reign of Juan Perón, who used the labor movement as a vehicle to achieve and hold dictatorial power. He built the General Confederation of Labor (Confederación General del Trabajo—CGT) from a disjointed membership of about 250,000 into a highly centralized organization of 6 million workers encompassing every aspect of the Argentine economy. Although the labor unions won tremendous benefits in the form of higher wages and improved working conditions as a result of Peron's support, these advances were built on a political rather than on a sound economic foundation, and the fortunes of the CGT waxed and waned with those of Perón and his followers, as well as with successive governments. As of 2005, an estimated 35% of the workforce belonged to a union.
The national minimum wage is set at $215 per month which does not provide a living wage for a family. However, most workers earn considerably more. The average salary in the formal sector is around $550 per month. The legal workweek has a maximum of 48-hours, at 8 hours a day. Overtime hours worked in excess of those limits are subject to overtime rates of pay. Children under the age of 14 are legally prohibited from full-time work, as they are required to attend school. However, child labor continues to be a problem, particularly in the informal or underground economy. Children between the ages of 14 and 18 are allowed to work, but only for limited hours and only in a limited number of occupations, and only if they have finished compulsory schooling, which usually ends at 15. There are extensive occupational and health and safety laws but they are not fully enforced because the government has inadequate resources. Cases of very poor labor conditions are known to exist in plants employing illegal aliens.
Agriculture and agro-industry in Argentina focus on the production of cereal, oil grains and seeds, sugar, fruit, wine, tea, tobacco, and cotton. Argentina is one of the greatest food-producing and food-exporting countries of the world, with an estimated 35,000,000 hectares (86,500,000 acres) of arable and permanent cropland, or 12.8% of the land area. Agriculture and animal husbandry have traditionally supplied the nation with 70–95% of its export earnings, and the landowners have alternated the two activities in accordance with prices on the world market. As of 2004, agriculture made up 10% of the GDP. Agricultural products also accounted for 43% of exports by value. One of the most important factors in Argentine agriculture is the advanced degree of mechanization; in 2002, an estimated 300,000 tractors and 50,000 harvester-threshers were in use.
The principal agricultural region consists of the humid pampas, one of the world's greatest reaches of arable land. Argentine agriculture is virtually coextensive with this region, although efforts have been made to spread it into other areas. Citrus fruit, tobacco, cotton, and sugarcane are cultivated outside the pampas.
Wheat is the leading crop. Argentina accounted for about 61% of all wheat produced in South America in 2004 and was the world's fifth-leading wheat exporter. The area harvested in 2004 was estimated at 5.74 million hectares (14.18 million acres), and production at 14.5 million tons. Argentina is the sixth-largest corn-growing country in the world. The area harvested in 2004 was 2.33 million hectares (5.75 million acres), and production was 15 million tons. Barley is favored as the grain of greatest yield and resistance to disease; types for feed and beer are grown in the pampas areas having soil unfavorable or a climate too rigorous for wheat. Harvests amounted to 659,000 tons per season in the early 1970s; in 2004 production was 1,004,000 tons.
Rice is a major crop, with a 2004 production of 1,060,000 tons on plantings of 169,200 hectares (418,000 acres). Argentina was once one of the world's biggest producers of flaxseed (linseed); production in 2004 was 29,000 tons (1.5% of world production), down more than 90% from the early 1990s. Most of the crop is exported in the form of linseed oil. The province of Tucumán dominates the sugar-raising industry, which dates from 1646; sugarcane production in 2004 was 19.3 million tons. To control overproduction, the government formed the National Sugar Co. in 1970 and forbade the construction of new sugar mills through the end of the decade.
Cotton growing dates from 1909 and is concentrated in Chaco province. In 2004 the production of cotton fiber was 112,000 tons, down from 432,000 tons in 1996. Sunflower seed oil is a major industrial plant product; 1.8 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of sunflowers were harvested in 2004, producing 3,100,000 tons of sunflower seeds. Tobacco is raised in several northern provinces, especially Misiones; production in 2004 was an estimated 118,000 tons. Soybean production, only 78,000 tons in 1971–72, increased to 7.1 million tons by 1985–86, and to 31.5 million tons in 2004, 15% of world production.
Fruit growing has developed rapidly since the 1940s. Estimates for 2004 fruit production (in tons) were apples, 1,262,000; oranges, 770,000; lemons and limes, 1,300,000; peaches and nectarines, 272,000; and grapefruit, 170,000. The output of bananas was 400,000 tons in 1974, 10 times the 1961–65 average; it fell to 144,000 tons in 1978 and rebounded to 280,000 tons in 1992 before declining to 180,000 tons in 2004.
The province of Mendoza is the center for the nation's vine-yards. In 2004, grape production was 2.36 million tons. Argentina is one of the world's leading producers of wine, exporting 159,826 tons in 2004, or 2% of the world's total wine exports.
Argentina is one of the world's preeminent producers of cattle and sheep, possessing approximately 3% of the entire world's stock of the former and 1% of the latter. Livestock and meat exports play an essential part in the nation's international trade. Annual meat exports (including meat extracts) were 598,900 tons in 1978, but fell to 394,900 tons in 1981 and 301,390 tons in 1997 before rising to 1,183,000 tons in 2004. Because of extremely favorable natural conditions, Argentina, with about 50.8 million head of cattle in 2004, is one of the world's leading cattle-raising countries.
Cattle were introduced into Argentina by Pedro de Mendoza in 1536, and these cattle, together with those brought by other explorers, quickly became wild and began to multiply on the lush grasses of the pampas. There was no attempt to control the vast herds; when the inhabitants wanted meat and hides, they would merely kill the animals at random and take the desired parts. The most important single advance was the invention of refrigeration, which enabled ships to transport meat without spoilage. The policy followed by foreign-owned meat-packing firms of purchasing cattle by quality rather than weight led to the introduction of new breeds and selective crossbreeding, which have brought the cattle industry to its present advanced state.
Argentine pastures cover an estimated 142 million hectares (350.9 million acres) and are most productive in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba, Entre Ríos, and Corrientes. The most important beef-producing breeds are Shorthorn, introduced in 1823; Hereford, 1858; Aberdeen Angus, 1879; and in recent years, zebu and Charolais.
The dairy industry has shown steady development. In 2004, the following quantities were produced: milk, 8,100,000 tons; cheese, 260,000 tons; and butter, 55,000 tons. The most important dairy breeds are Holstein-Friesian, Jersey, and Holando Argentino. Córdoba, Santa Fe, and Buenos Aires are the three major dairy provinces. Argentina's dairy sector has received the most investments in recent years, especially foreign investments. Egg production was 300,000 tons in 2004. The number of chickens in 2004 reached 95 million.
In sheep raising, Argentina ranks second in South America after Brazil, with an estimated 12.5 million animals in 2004. Before World War II (1939–45), Argentina accounted for 14% of the world's wool production, but in the 1970s, its production declined; the wool clip (greasy basis) was 60,000 tons in 2004. In 2004, production of mutton and lamb was 51,700 tons. Patagonia has approximately 40% of all the sheep in Argentina.
Total meat production was 3.9 million tons in 2004, of which 2.7 million tons consisted of beef. Beef exports for 2004 were valued at over $1 billion.
In 2004, Argentina had 3.6 million horses, placing it among the top 5 countries in the world. Argentine horses, especially favored as polo ponies and racehorses, have won many international prizes. Other livestock in 2004 included 3 million pigs and 4.2 million goats. In 2004, Argentina accounted for nearly 5% of the world's production of cow hides. Argentina is South America's largest producer of honey, with an output of 80,000 tons in 2004.
In a country that is among the world's leaders in meat production, fishing has not been able to develop as an industry of any significance. In recent years, the government has tried with some success to induce the public to eat more fish in order to export more beef, one of the country's largest earners of foreign exchange. Since 1970, the government has offered fiscal incentives to encourage the modernization of the fishing industry. The catch has increased from 475,043 tons in 1982 to 1,256,000 tons in 1996 before falling to 916,246 tons in 2003.
The most favored saltwater fish are the pejerrey, a kind of mackerel; the dorado, resembling salmon but of a golden color; and the zurubí, an immense yellow-and-black-spotted catfish. The principal species in the 2003 catch were Argentine hake (36%), Argentine shortfin squid (15%), and grenadier (11%).
Argentina established a 322-km (200-mi) territorial sea limit in December 1966. In 1982, the government moved to protect Argentina's coastal waters from foreign exploitation, declaring that only 16 foreign vessels would be allowed in Argentine waters at any one time.
Argentina's forests, estimated at some 50.9 million hectares (125.8 million acres), or about 18.6% of the total area, constitute one of its greatest underexploited natural resources. Of the 570 species of trees sold in international commerce, Argentina possesses 370, but of these it exploits only about a dozen species. A major factor in the industry's lack of development is the great distance of most forests from the markets and the resultant high cost of transportation. In the Río Paraná Delta, the woods currently exploited are softwoods, such as the elm and willow, used in the cellulose and container industries; in the Gran Chaco, white quebracho, used as a fuel and in the refining of coal, and red quebracho, from which tannin is extracted; in Misiones Province, several varieties, including cedar for furniture manufacturing; in the Salta-Tucumán region, cedar and oak; and in Patagonia, araucania, pine, cypress, larch, and oak.
The most important tree is the red quebracho, which contains 21% tannin, the extract used for tanning. Argentina possesses four-fifths of the world's supply of this wood. Many quebracho trees now being used are from 200 to 500 years old, and trees younger than 75 years are of little commercial use. Since the trees are not being replaced, it is estimated that the quebracho forests will eventually be exhausted.
Production of roundwood was 9,307,000 cu m (328,500,000 cu ft) in 2003. Exports of forest products totaled $280.7 million that year.
Argentina is an important regional producer of minerals, including primary aluminum, mine lead, copper, and zinc, and silver and gold.
In 2003 the value of nonfuel mineral production totaled $1.1 billion, of which copper concentrate alone accounted for $467 million.
Argentina was the third-largest Latin American producer of aluminum in 2003, producing 271,932 metric tons; one of six Latin American producers of mine lead and zinc, ranking second to Mexico in lead; and the fourth-largest producer of silver in Latin America.
Mine copper production in 2003 totaled 199,020 metric tons, up slightly from 2001's output of 191,566 metric tons, but down from 2002's level of 204,027 metric tons. Almost all copper production was from Minera Alumbrera, operating from the Bajo de la Alumbrera open pit mine, in Catamarca Province, since 1998.
Gold production in 2003, mostly from the Bajo de la Alumbrera and the Cerro Vanguardia mines, totaled 29,744 kg, down from 32,506 kg in 2002. The country's total silver mine output for 2003 was 133,917 kg, down from 152,802 kg, in 2001.
In 2003, zinc mine production totaled 29,839 metric tons, down from 2001's total of 39,703 metric tons. In that same year lead mine output totaled 12,079 metric tons down slightly from 12,334 metric tons in 2001.
In 2003, Argentina produced 545,304 metric tons of crude boron materials, ranking third in the world, after the United States and Turkey; the 1999 and 2000 totals were 245,450 and 512,624 metric tons, respectively. Among other industrial minerals, output in 2003 for limestone was 8,119,879 metric tons; dolomite, 320,116 metric tons; crushed quartzite, 284,503 metric tons; crushed quartz, 100,000 metric tons; talc, 1,759 metric tons; bentonite, 128,406 metric tons; diatomite, 24,946 metric tons; feldspar, 88,427 metric tons; crude gypsum, 387,936 metric tons; kaolin, 10,653 metric tons; and salt, 1,156,023 metric tons. The country also produced marble, clays, celestite, sodium carbonate, asbestos, barite, and vermiculite. Asphaltite, fluorspar, mica, manganese, and antimony are found mainly in the northwest. There are also deposits of lithium, beryllium, and columbium.
Despite a shortage of energy resources, production of electric power has steadily increased since 1958, after more than a decade of neglect. In 2002, electrical energy production totaled 81.151 billion kWh (48% thermal, 44% hydropower, 6.6% nuclear and 1.4% other). In the same year, consumption of electricity was 81.270 billion kWh. Generating capacity was 27.558 million kW in 2002. The government places great emphasis on the development of hydroelectric projects and nuclear power, even though installed capacity exceeds projected demand. The final stage of the Yaciretá-Aripe project on the Paraná River, with an installed capacity of 3,200 MW, was completed in 1998.
In 1974, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to install a nuclear-powered electric generating plant. (As of 2006, the only other South American country to use nuclear power was Brazil.) The Atucha power station in Buenos Aires Province has a capacity of 357 MW; Embalse (648 MW) in Córdoba Province started up in 1983. Construction of a second 692-MW reactor at Atucha began in 1980; one reactor there was operating but a second had not yet come online as of 2006.
The modern petroleum industry dates from 1907; after 1940, it became necessary to supplement domestic production with large-scale imports of foreign fuels. In 1958, ownership of all crude oil and natural gas was taken over by the state, and petroleum was then placed under the control of the state oil corporation, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF). Production of crude oil fell from 25.6 million tons in 1982 to 22.3 million tons in 1987 but rose to 37.7 million tons in 1995. Production in 1998 totaled 847,000 barrels per day; it dropped to an estimated 756,000 barrels per day in 2004. In 1978, foreign-owned companies were allowed to drill for oil, after decades of policy changes on the role of foreign companies. In August 1985, the Alfonsín government announced more liberal rules on foreign-company participation; in 1987, YPF's influence was reduced. In July 1993, Argentina privatized YPF via the largest initial stock offering on the New York stock exchange (more than $3 billion). Large deposits have been found in the San Jorge Gulf near Comodoro Rivadavia. Production rates have exceeded the rate at which depleted reserves have been replaced by new discoveries, however. Proven reserves as of end 2003 were put at 2.7 billion barrels.
In conjunction with petroleum extraction, the significant natural gas industry, which is completely run by the private sector, has rapidly expanded. As of 2002, Argentina had the third-largest proven natural gas reserves in South America, exceeded only by Venezuela and Mexico. Production in 2004 totaled 44.9 billion cu m (1,603 billion cu ft), compared with 5.3 billion cu m (187 billion cu ft) in 1969 and 9.8 billion cu m (356 billion cu ft) in 1982. At the end of 2004, proven reserves were at 0.61 trillion cu m (21.4 trillion cu ft). Argentina has a network of over 9,900 km (6,150 mi) of gas pipelines. Since 1997 Argentina has exported natural gas to Chile, which is its major gas export customer.
A major coal deposit in Santa Cruz Province is estimated to contain 552 million tons of coal, nearly 80% of the nation's total. Production as a whole was reported at 330,000 tons in 2002, down from 505,000 tons in 1988.
Córdoba is Argentina's major industrial center. It is the center of metalworking, especially for motor vehicle production. Argentina's other principal industrial enterprises are heavily concentrated in and around the city of Buenos Aires. The plants are close to both the many raw materials imported by ship and the vast productive area of the pampas. The major industries in Buenos Aires are food processing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, and steel. Other industrial areas include Rosario, with important steel-producing plants and oil refineries, tractor and meat-packing plants, and chemical and tanning industries; Santa Fe, with zinc- and copper-smelting plants, flour mills, and dairy industry; San Miguel de Tucumán, with sugar refineries; Mendoza and Neuquén, with wineries and fruit-processing plants; the Chaco region, with cotton gins and sawmills; and Santa Cruz, Salta, Tierra del Fuego, Chubut, and Bahía Blanca, with oil fields and refineries.
During the 1960s, the average annual growth rate of industry was 5.9%; during the 1970s, it fell to only 1.8%. In the early 1980s, industrial production went into recession, declining by 16% in 1981 and by 4.7% in 1982. The sharp cutback in imports due to the foreign debt crisis spurred local manufacturing to growth of 10.8% and 42%, in 1983 and 1984, respectively; 1985 brought a sharp plunge of 10.5%, but 1986 saw a growth of 12.8%, aided by the "Austral Plan." In all, the 1980s saw an average annual growth rate of -1.0%. From 1988 to 1998, manufacturing grew by an annual average of 3.6%, and in 1997 alone by 9.2%, but in 1998 that rate fell to 1.6%.
Industry accounted for 16% of GDP in 2001; it was 20% of GDP in 2002, and was expected to be at least 25% of GDP in 2003. Industrial goods represented approximately 31% of exports in 2002. Seasonally adjusted manufacturing production fell 6.9% from August 2001 to August 2002, and nonseasonally adjusted manufacturing production registered a 4.5% decrease.
Packing and processing of foodstuffs is the oldest and most important industry in Argentina. Beginning in the last part of the 19th century, the great frigoríficos, or meat-packing plants, were founded to prepare beef for export to Europe. In recent times, the Argentine government has entered directly into the meat-processing enterprises, which for many years were under British ownership. The textile industry was also developed quite early, making use of wool from the vast herds of sheep and the cotton from Chaco Province. In addition to these traditional products, a variety of synthetic fibers are now produced.
Portland cement is the country's leading construction material. A major chemical industry produces sulfuric, nitric, and other acids and pharmaceuticals. The most important center of this industry is San Lorenzo on the Río Paraná. The petrochemical industry is related to the increasing production of oil and has received special benefits from the government. In 1985, exports of petroleum fuels exceeded imports for the first time, and by 1999 Argentina was self-sufficient in oil and gas. Natural gas annual output growth should reach 3.4% for the next decade. Output of petroleum fuels reached 800,000 barrels per day in 1999; at the same time, new oil reserves were found in Río Negro Norte. In 2002, Argentina had 10 oil refineries with a total capacity of 639,000 barrels per day.
In 1961, a giant integrated steel mill began production at San Nicolás. Dependent on steel is the automobile industry, which experienced fairly sustained growth during the 1960s and 1970s. Production rose from 33,000 units in 1959 to 288,917 in 1980. Motor vehicle production peaked at 450,000 in 1998, falling back to around 300,000 in 1999. There were 235,577 automobiles produced in 2001, a 31% decrease from the 339,632 units produced in 2000. Tractors, motorcycles, and bicycles also are manufactured. Argentina also produces electric appliances, communications equipment—including radios and television sets—motors, watches, and numerous other items.
Industry continues to restructure to become competitive after decades of protection. Capacity utilization rates have increased substantially and companies are now focusing on modernization and expansion of their plants to meet both domestic and foreign demand. New technologies are being adopted, work forces pared, and management is focusing on just what its clients want. Output of cement, trucks, machinery, plastics, petrochemicals and other chemicals all rose, while production of basic metal goods held flat or rose off a low base in the 1990s. A recession that began in 1998 was exacerbated by the economic crisis of December 2001, with Argentina's default on its foreign debt, devaluation of the peso, and conversion of dollar debts and deposits to pesos. Industrial production began to increase in late 2002, however, and the best-performing sectors were textiles, automobile tires, and oils.
In 2004, industry made up 35.8% of the economy, and was bested by services, with 53.7%; agriculture accounted for 10.5% of the GDP. The industrial production growth rate was 7.5% in 2005, underperforming the overall economic growth rate, and signaling that targeted policies are needed for troubled industries. Some of the policies implemented by the government included import licenses for footwear, toys, washing machines, paper, bicycles, and tires. In September 2005, President Kirchner announced that the launching of the automobile free trade agreement between Argentina and Brazil was postponed until 2008 (from the predicted January 2006 date), to allow more symmetry in bilateral trade flows to be established.
Argentina has five scientific academies: an academy of agronomy and veterinary science (founded in 1909); an academy of exact, physical, and natural sciences (1874); an academy of medicine (1822); and the National Academies of Sciences of Córdoba (1869) and Buenos Aires (1935). Numerous agricultural, medical, scientific, and technological research institutes exist in Argentina, including, as of 1996, some 51 operated by the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (founded in 1958) and 27 by the National Institute of Industrial Technology (founded in 1957). Research and development expenditures in 2003 amounted to 0.4% of GDP. Argentina has 47 universities and colleges offering training in basic and applied sciences. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 28% of college and university enrollments.
In 2002–03, Argentina had 715 researchers and 166 technicians per million people actively involved in research and development (R&D). Spending on R&D was approximately $1.6 million, with about 43.3% coming from government sources, 28.8% from higher education sources, 2.5% from private nonprofit organizations, and 24.2% from private business. In 2002, high technology exports amounted to $583 million or 7% of the country's manufactured exports.
Many leading mercantile firms have their head offices in Buenos Aires and branches or agents in the other large cities. Department stores, retail shops, and specialty shops in Buenos Aires are on a par with similar establishments in most world capitals. The number of supermarkets and large outlets is increasing as consumers are becoming accustomed to such establishments and are seeking the greater convenience and lower costs that these places afford. Industrial equipment and machinery is primarily sold through agents or trade fairs.
Business hours are generally from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday–Friday, with a one-hour lunch break. Stores are usually open from 9 am to 9 pm, Monday–Saturday; banks are generally open on week-days from 10 am to 3 pm. Travelers checks are not widely accepted at business establishments. Domestic demand absorbs most of the nation's industrial production.
Many industrial products imported prior to 1960 are now produced in Argentina. Argentina removed virtually all nontariff barriers to trade in 1991 and reduced tariff rates. The only nontariff barrier is the tariff/quota system applicable to auto and auto parts imports. The Argentina/Brazil auto agreement establishes preferential market access treatment for both countries.
A surge in imports during 1991/92 shifted the trade balance from a large surplus to a deficit position. The strong increase in imports is explained by several factors: first, the dynamic growth of the domestic economy which resulted in greater import demand; second, the reduction of import tariffs and elimination of nontariff barriers which released pent-up demand for imports; and third, the real appreciation of the peso which made imports much less expensive since the local currency cost of these goods rose by much less than the accumulated inflation since the beginning of the Convertibility Plan. Because exports contributed only 10% to GDP, increased foreign sales had little impact on aggregate growth, skewing the balance of payments report.
The creation of NAFTA was viewed as an extremely positive development and presented Argentina with the possibility of acceding to NAFTA as either a member of Mercosur or alone. The government remained fully committed to seeing the creation of Mercosur (a common market incorporating Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay) through its completion (on 1 January 1995). Argentina's exports and imports more than doubled at comparable rates in six years, between 1992 and 1998; but the de-valuation
|Italy-San Marino-Holy See||930.8||311.6||619.2|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
of the Brazilian real in 1999 was expected to significantly lower export revenues.
For the last few years of the 1990s, Argentina experienced a significant recession. In late 2001, Argentina's economic meltdown came to a breaking point, and the country was forced to default on its $155 billion foreign debt, the largest such default in history. The resulting devaluation of the peso and the move from a fixed to floating exchange rate regime has proved disastrous for Argentina's trade situation. The peso, which was pegged to the dollar for most of the last decade, has fallen to trading less than two to the dollar, encouraging exports but making imports prohibitively expensive.
Agricultural products from Argentina, including animal feed, vegetable oil, oil seeds, wheat, maize, and produce, make up the majority of the country's commodity export market (31%). Other important exports are petroleum, and motor vehicles and parts. The top 10 exports for 2000 are as follows:
In 2005, exports reached $40 billion (FOB—Free on Board), while imports grew to $29 billion (FOB). In 2004, the bulk of exports went to Brazil (15.4%), Chile (10.4%), the United States (10.2%), China (8.7%), and Spain (4.4%). Imports included intermediate goods, capital goods, consumer goods, and fuels, and mainly came from Brazil (36.2%), the United States (16.6%), Germany (5.7%), and China (4.3%).
Until 1952, Argentina's foreign-payments position was excellent, owing mainly to its large exports of basic commodities, principally agricultural products. In that year, however, because of widespread crop failures and unfavorable terms of trade, export value decreased sharply while imports remained high. The Argentine deficit was met by foreign credits, with dollar shortfalls partially covered by large credits from the Export-Import Bank, the IMF, and US banks. Over half of the foreign exchange earned was used
|Balance on goods||16,447.0|
|Balance on services||-1,541.0|
|Balance on income||-7,669.0|
|Direct investment abroad||-774.0|
|Direct investment in Argentina||1,020.0|
|Portfolio investment assets||-95.0|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||-8,064.0|
|Other investment assets||-4,448.0|
|Other investment liabilities||-4,539.0|
|Net Errors and Omissions||-1,729.0|
|Reserves and Related Items||10,720.0|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
during the 1950s and 1960s to service the external debt. The strict economic controls enacted in 1967 helped curb the inflationary trend and thus stabilized the nation's economy. After a decline during the early 1970s because of the international financial crisis, Argentina registered a surplus between 1973 and 1979, but after 1981, the current account was in deficit because of heavy debtservicing costs.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Argentina's exports was $26.7 billion, while imports totaled $20.3 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $6.4 billion. In view of the liberalization of trade policies and the real appreciation of the peso, the current account deficit deteriorated sharply since 1990. This was more than offset by a large influx of foreign capital that was enticed by the government's new economic program. Since 1991, the decline in interest rates internationally and the lack of attractive alternatives for foreign direct investment helped to generate a massive inflow of foreign capital, much of which was actually owned by Argentines but held abroad. A debt restructuring plan in early 1993 permitted the investment of reserves by eliminating the threat of seizure. Nevertheless, Argentina's external public debt increased in 1995 to almost $80 billion, due to new borrowing in capital markets and lending from international financial institutions. In 1998, external debt reached $133 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Argentina had exports of goods totaling $26.6 billion and imports totaling $19.2 billion. The services credit totaled $4.3 billion and debit $8.40 billion.
Exports of goods and services reached $36 billion in 2004, up from $33 billion in 2003. Imports increased from $18 billion in 2003, to $27 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently positive in both years, deteriorating however from $15 billion in 2003, to $9 billion in 2004. The current account balance was also positive, decreasing from $8 billion in 2003, to $1.5 billion in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (including gold) reached $14 billion in 2003, covering more than nine months of imports.
In 1935, the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic was established as a central reserve bank, having the sole right of note issue, with all capital held by the state. The bank acts as the fiscal agent of the state. Its board of directors is appointed by and responsible to the government. The bank administers banking laws, regulates the volume of credit and interest rates, supervises the securities market, and applies government laws and decrees regarding banking and foreign exchange. Legislation in August 1973 increased its control over the commercial banking system. The National Mortgage Bank, founded in 1886, is the most important institution for housing credit. Other institutions include the National Development Bank, the National Bank for Savings and Insurance, and the Cooperative Credit Bank.
The Central Bank took advantage of the recovery in economic activity and relatively high rate of monetary growth in the early 1990s to further the restructure the financial system, and to strengthen it so that it would be able to withstand even severe external stocks. In late 1996, a schedule was implemented gradually to raise Minimum Liquidity Requirements (MLKs) from the current (1997) 17–20% by March 1998.
In late 1996, the role of the deposit insurance system (DIS) was broadened to allow support for troubled banks before they went bankrupt. Parallel to these measures, the Central Bank continued to encourage concentration in the financial system through mergers and acquisitions. By 2000, there were 120 financial institutions left, out of a total of 300 existing in 1990. Nine banks in 2000 owned 67% of all deposits, including public sector banks Nacion and Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (accounting for 28% together); foreign owned Banco Río and Banco Frances; and the privately owned Argentinian Banco Galicia. Total assets in 1999 added up to $15.6 billion, reflecting a growth of 7% from the previous year. Total deposits added up to 25% of GDP.
In 2001, after three years of debilitating recession and overspending by the government, Argentina was forced to default on its $155 billion debt, the largest such default in history. The old fixed currency regime was abandoned after years of high inflation, and the architect of that original regime, Domingo Carvallo, was brought in to construct a new one. He decided to peg the Argentine peso to the US dollar and the euro when the two currencies achieved parity. However, the Argentine people were not convinced by this new scheme, and the policy did not achieve its intended results. Political upheaval resulted, with three interim presidents holding office before Eduardo Duhalde took office. He was defeated in April 2003 in a runoff election against Néstor Kirchner.
The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $15.7 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $73.2 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 25%.
The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange is one of 23 markets that form the Buenos Aires Commercial Exchange, which has over 12,000 members and is often confused with the Stock Exchange. The Commercial Exchange, founded in 1854, established the Stock Exchange, which the government subsequently separated from it. The Commercial Exchange now includes a grain market, a foreign currency exchange, a general produce exchange, and the securities exchange. There are also stock exchanges in the cities of Córdoba, San Juan, Rosario, Mendoza, and Mar del Plata, although more than 90% of stock transactions are conducted on the Buenos Aires exchange.
Between late October and early December 1996, Argentine asset prices rose under the influence of a favorable international financial environment, evidence of a recovery in domestic economic activity, and the decision of the government to deepen labor market deregulation. Between 22 October, and 5 December 1996, the Merval Stock index rose 15%, Bocon (peso-denominated) bond prices increased by 8%, and Brady bonds surged 7% (floating rate bond), 8% (discount bond), and 12% (par bond). From 1996 to 1999, while market capitalization rose from $45 million to $115 million, average daily market turnover fell from a high of over $650 million to about $200 million. As of 2004, there were 104 companies listed on the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange. Market capitalization as of December 2004 stood at $46.432 billion. The Bolsa Indice General was up 17%, from the previous year at 56,639.1.
In 1984, about 200 insurance companies were in operation in Argentina. Although various legal restrictions have been placed on foreign insurance companies, many retain offices in Buenos Aires. The insurance market is regulated by the Superintendent of Insurance of the nation, which is a branch of the Ministry of Economy.
The Argentine insurance market is characterized by a relatively large number of insurers with no single organization dominating the industry. From 1994 to 1997, there was a reduction in the number of insurers as some closed operations or were liquidated. Observers believe that there will be further reductions in the number of insurance companies as consolidation of the industry and the quest for economies of scale and critical mass continues. Observers expect the Argentine life market to develop significantly, especially under stable currency conditions. In 2003, direct premiums written totaled $3.293 billion, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $2.365 billion. Argentina's top nonlife insurer that same year was HSBC Buenos Aires with gross written nonlife premiums of $167.2 million. The country's top life insurer that year was Origenes Retiro, with gross written life premiums of $87.4 million.
Beginning in 1970, Argentina's budget picture steadily worsened. By the late 1970s, deficit spending annually ranged from 10–14% of GDP, and topped 15% in the early 1980s, when public expenditures consumed some 40% of GDP. By the late 1980s, hyperinflation and depletion of reserves necessitated a public finance reform. Since 1991, the government has considerably narrowed the deficit gap through structural reform efforts. Stricter controls on public spending and more efficient tax collection methods resulted in an overall public sector accounts deficit of only about 1% of GDP, compared to a deficit equivalent to 21.7% of GDP in 1989. The deficit grew marginally worse in the late 1990s, reaching 5% of GDP in 1998. Although tax enforcement has improved, evasion
|Revenue and Grants||42,826||100.0%|
|General public services||23,660||38.7%|
|Public order and safety||2,499||4.1%|
|Housing and community amenities||818||1.3%|
|Recreational, culture, and religion||95||0.2%|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
is still a major problem. Continued heavy expenditures and low tax revenues threatened to generate a deficit in 1999 and 2000. In 2001, Argentina defaulted on its record $155 billion external debt, the largest such default in history.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Argentina's central government took in revenues of approximately $42.6 billion and had expenditures of $39.9 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately $2.6 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 69.7% of GDP. Total external debt was $119 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2002, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues in were a$42,826 million and expenditures were a$61,070 million. The value of revenues in US dollars was us$13,981 million and expenditures us$19,893, based on a official exchange rate for 2002 of us$1 = a$3.06326 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 38.7%; defense, 3.2%; public order and safety, 4.1%; economic affairs, 5.4%; environmental protection, 0.2%; housing and community amenities, 1.3%; health, 4.9%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.2%; education, 4.1%; and social protection, 37.9%.
In 2005, the principal national taxes included personal income tax (in seven brackets ranging from 9–35%), wealth tax (0.5%), value-added tax (21%; up from 18% in 1994), and excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, perfumes, jewelry, precious stones, automobile tires, insurance policies, gasoline, lubricating oils, and other items. There is no inheritance tax. Corporate taxes are levied at 30% for domestic and foreign companies. Provincial and municipal governments impose various taxes.
The Perón regime abolished in large measure the traditional system of exports and imports. Through the use of multiple exchange rates and through control of Argentine agricultural exports by the Argentine Institute for the Promotion of Exchange, Perón was able to obtain goods from producers at low prices and sell them abroad at great increases, employing the difference to promote the development of industry. In 1959, this cumbersome system of import permits and multiple exchange rates was abolished.
The government employed surcharges on imports to promote the growth of Argentine industries. Special import benefits were allowed to industries and regions regarded as significant contributors to the national economy. The petrochemical, cellulose, and steel industries have shared in these benefits, which include exemption from customs duties and exchange premiums on imports of machinery, spare parts, and raw materials. A common MERCOSUR auto policy of a 20% tariff applies to automobiles, as well as a quota system that will probably be eliminated by 2006. Duties of 11% were applied to raw materials and medicines and a duty of up to 30% was applied to electronic appliances. The average Common External Tax rate is 17%, but was reduced to 2.5% in 2001. There are valued-added taxes (VAT) levied on goods delivered and services performed in Argentina as well as on imported goods and services. The standard rate is 21%. A 10.5% rate applies to public transport and capital goods, while a 27% rate is applied to some services provided by utilities and telecommunications services. There are also advanced VATs of 10% or 5.5% on goods imported for resale. A customs administration fee of 0.5% is also charged.
Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay officially established a customs union (MERCOSUR) on 1 January 1995 with a common external tariff (CET) covering 85% of traded goods, but excluding capital goods, information technology, and telecommunications equipment.
The government signed the Uruguay Round Agreements in December 1993 and congress ratified the Agreements at the end of 1994. Argentina was a founding member of the World Trade Organization. In the 1990s, Argentina nominally eliminated all non-tariff trade barriers, but customs practices remain cumbersome and time consuming. Argentine beef was exported to the US market in 1997 for the first time in 50 years.
During the 19th century, Argentina offered a favorable climate for foreign investment and the basic development of the nation's transportation system and shipping facilities was financed with British capital. This system placed ownership of extensive properties in foreign hands, arousing the resentment of Argentine nationalists, who advocated a policy of reducing dependence on outside interests. The organization of a national petroleum agency, YPF, in 1922 was one of the first important steps in implementing that policy. The high point in the drive for nationalization came during the Perón era, when railroads were purchased from foreign owners and numerous state-owned enterprises were established. These measures led to substantially reduced foreign investment.
In 1958, President Frondizi negotiated contracts with a number of foreign companies, allowing them to join YPF in the exploitation of Argentine petroleum. He promoted a bill designed to attract foreign capital under close government supervision. As a result, foreign companies invested over us$387 million between 1959 and 1961, of which more than half came from the United States.
Between 1961 and 1966, direct foreign investment declined, with the question of foreign ownership constantly entering the political picture. After the military coup, President Onganía declared that his government would renew an "open door" policy and would provide legal guarantees to investors. Net capital inflow continued to grow through the late 1960s.
In the 1970s, government policies toward investors underwent a significant reappraisal. Foreign direct investment, according to a law enacted in 1973, required specific congressional approval if foreign capital exceeded 50% of the total in a company. Profit remittances and capital repatriation were limited and new foreign investments were prohibited in several major areas, including national defense, banking, mass media, agriculture, forestry, and fishing.
In the 1980s the economy was caught in the dynamics of the second oil shock and the third world debt crisis, fighting recurrent bouts of hyperinflation. In 1985, the austral replaced the peso at 1:1000, and then in 1991, the Menem administration replaced the austral with the new Argentine peso at 1:10,000, inaugurating the Convertibility Plan (designed by economy minister Domingo Cavallo) whereby every peso would be backed by at least one dollar in reserves. A currency board was created to maintain the peso's virtual 1:1 equivalency to the dollar.
In December 1989, the government eliminated all restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of Argentina, adopting a single foreign exchange market. By Decree 1853 of 8 September 1993, the government established an extraordinarily open foreign investment regime. Foreign companies could invest without registration or prior government approval on the same terms as national firms in virtually every sector, the few exceptions being real estate in border areas, air transportation (later lifted), ship building, nuclear energy, uranium mining, and some fishing. Foreign portfolio investment in the companies listed on the Argentine stock exchange required no government approval. The Argentinean-US Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), signed in 1991, came into full effect in 1994. The treaty provided for national treatment in virtually all sectors of the Argentine economy, although national treatment did not prevent numerous contentious and time-consuming investment disputes, particularly with provincial governments. Incentives were provided for investments in mining, shipbuilding, iron and steel, petrochemicals, forest industries, silo construction, wine, and maritime fishing. Corporate taxes were equal for foreign- and Argentine-owned companies. Argentine Law 24331 of 1994 authorized the federal government to create one free trade zone (FTZ) in each province and four others in border areas. FTZs, offering tax-free and duty-free importing and exporting, were located at Córdoba, La Plata (the most important, opened in 1997), Mendoza, Santa Fe, and Comodoro. Capital inflows were strong. Privatization generated a large source of US dollars. More than 60 state-owned enterprises were sold, most to foreign investors, raising about $10 billion in direct sales and more, counting cancelled debt and promised post-acquisition capital investments.
Accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) in Argentina was an estimated $5.3 billion in 1980 rising only to $6.56 billion in 1985 and to $8.77 billion in 1989. However, under the liberalized investment regime, accumulated FDI reached $25.7 billion by 1995 and $36 billion by 1997. The rise in market capitalization on the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange (the BCBA, accounting for 95% of transactions on Argentine exchanges in equity shares, corporate bonds, and government debt instruments) was also dramatic, more than doubling from $18.6 billion in 1990 to $44 billion in 1993. Argentina does not keep records of foreign investment, but an accepted estimate is that total direct and portfolio foreign investment from 1990 to 1996 was about $49 billion
In 1997, annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow was over $9 billion, but fell to $6.85 billion in 1998 as the effects of the Asian financial crisis were felt. In 1999, FDI inflow soared to $24.1 billion, including about $15 billion from US investors, with most going to telecommunications, energy, petrochemicals, financial services, food processing, and motor vehicle manufacturing sectors.
In 2001–02, the Argentina economy went through the worst implosion in its history, much of it connected with the government's effort to attract foreign investment. In 2000, FDI inflow continued at a near-record total of $11.15 billion but then plummeted to $3.18 billion in the global economic slowdown in 2001. After the abolishment of the convertibility system in January 2002, FDI inflow fell $2.2 billion.
In terms of portfolio investment, the total market value of companies on the BCBA, which through the vagaries of the Mexican peso crisis in 1995 and the Asian financial crisis in 1997 was only 3% ahead of the 1993 value in 1998 ($45.3 billion), jumped to $83.9 billion in 1999, then to $165.8 billion in 2000, peaking at $203.5 billion in January 2001, a 4.5% increase since 1998 and an 11-fold increase since 1990. A rough estimate is that about half of the transactions on the BCBA are by foreigners. In 2001, average daily trading was $200 million (up from $11 million in 1990), 70% in government bonds, 20% in equities, and 10% in corporate bonds. In 2001, portfolio investment in Argentina by US investors amounted to $4.5 billion, 83.5% in debt instruments ($3.2 billion in long-term debt bonds and $344 million in short-term debt) and 16.5% in equity ($744 million). In 2002, although in pesos the market value of companies on the BCBA had risen to 250 million pesos, with the fall of the value of the peso to more than three to a dollar, total market capitalization of listed companies was only $75 million, of which all but $15 million was accounted for by three Spanish companies.
Argentina's economy, at first benefiting from the tie to the US dollar in quelling hyperinflation and attracting records levels of direct and portfolio investment, was then hurt by the tie, first when interest rates were raised in the United States in the late 1990s, making Argentina's borrowing costs and export prices uncompetitive, and then from 2001, when the dollar tie served a means of importing the US recession into Argentina's already contracting and heavily indebted economy. Government efforts to stem capital flight and shore up investor confidence in 2001 were caught between violent popular protests and a hardening of IMF policy. After five presidents in two weeks in December 2001 (the third one carried out the default and the fifth one abandoned the convertibility system on 7 January 2002, allowing the peso to float), with widespread bankruptcies and debt repayments far outpacing new loans, the economy became even more dependent on foreign investment as a means of economic recovery.
The largest sources of FDI in Argentina have been the United States (36%, 1994–2000) and Spain (11.9%). Other important sources of FDI have been France (11%), Chile (9.8%), Italy (7.1%), the United Kingdom (6.2%), Canada, and Japan. The major destinations for FDI from 1999 to 2002 were the oil industry, telecommunications, supermarkets, the automotive industry, energy, construction, banks, insurance, chemicals, and the food industry.
Although Argentina remains a net recipient of FDI, Argentinean firms have recently begun making substantial outward investments regionally, in Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The peak year for the outward flow FDI was 1997, $3.65 billion up from $1.6 billion in 1996. In the recession that gripped the economy from 1998, outward FDI fell to $2.3 billion in 1998, to $1.3 billion in 1999, and $1.1 billion in 2000, according to the latest available UNCTAD estimates
The United States and Spain remain the largest investors in the Argentinean economy, but the pace of investment is dwindling as compared to other years. Thus, the stock of US foreign direct investments decreased from $11.2 billion in 2002, to $11.0 billion in 2003. In 2003 and 2004, five US power companies abandoned the Argentinean market due to continued losses. Other US firms have substantially written down the value of their investments. On the other hand, public and private companies from China have signed letters of intent to invest almost $20 billion over the next coming decade, in transportation, mining, construction, telecommunications, and tourism.
Argentine economic policy has undergone several cycles of change since the 1940s. During World War II (1939–45), the demand for Argentine beef and wheat boosted the country's exchange reserves to their highest point in history. Under the Perón regime (1950s), however, declining terms of trade and increasing state benefits and subsidies, as well as Perón's attempt to industrialize Argentina at the expense of the agrarian sector, disrupted the nation's economic system. Although inherently a wealthy country, Argentina, with a crushing foreign debt and a shattered economy, was nearly bankrupt.
When Perón fell in 1955, steps were taken to fund foreign obligations with long-term provisions for Argentine repayment and to create a climate favorable to private investment. Complicated multiple exchange rates were abolished, and massive financial assistance was extended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other foreign agencies. Staggering deficits in the railroads and other state enterprises were a constant problem. The government sought to turn over some of these to private hands, and it also encouraged livestock raising and agricultural production, the chief earners of foreign exchange.
The government abolished many of the state subsidies and at the same time tried to hold wages steady. The austerity program fell hardest on the workers, who saw wages increase sluggishly while prices skyrocketed. They sought political solutions to the economic problems through crippling strikes, which in turn robbed the government of the increased production on which it was relying for a solution to the economic crisis. Between 1960 and 1966, the problems continued, with the government fluctuating between economic nationalism and liberal policies designed to seek foreign investment. Inflation, unemployment, and commercial failures reached new highs. Economic strife formed the backdrop for the military coup of 1966 and the suspension of the constitutional government. Despite widespread opposition, steps were taken in the late 1960s to turn over some state enterprises to private owners; other measures sought to put state-owned businesses on a paying basis.
The 1970s brought a resurgence of economic and political instability. The return to constitutional government—and especially the return of the Perónists to power in the late 1960s—brought a period of increased labor influence, extraordinary wage demands, accelerating inflation, and huge government deficits, largely financed through short-term borrowing. The government's Three-Year Plan for Reconstruction and Liberation, announced in December 1973 during Juan Perón's presidency, called for more equitable distribution of income, elimination of unemployment and underemployment, better regional distribution of wealth, and extension of government housing, health, welfare, and education programs and services.
Perón's death in July 1974 and the subsequent political instability aborted this program and led to an economic crisis. In 1978, a medium-term economic adjustment plan, based on free-market principles, was announced. It included regular devaluations of the peso, cuts in public investment, and return of some state enterprises to private ownership; but instead of improving the nation's economic performance, the new policies led to triple-digit inflation and increasing unemployment. In the fall of 1982, the government began to negotiate with the IMF for a standby loan and committed itself to an austerity program, consisting of cuts in government spending, higher interest rates on bank loans to the private sector, and continuing regular devaluations. Additional financial controls, including a temporary ban on the issuance of new import licenses, were imposed the following autumn.
The "Austral Plan," launched in June 1985, was an attempt by the government of President Raúl Alfonsín to break out of the stagflation that characterized the economy since 1982. The combination of a wage-price freeze, a new currency pegged to the dollar, and a commitment to austerity in public spending was initially successful in curbing inflation, although somewhat at the expense of development. Since then, the government has attempted to manage price and wage increases and has offered several public corporations for sale. Multilateral assistance to Argentina totaled $6.3 billion between 1962 and 1986, of which 51% came from the IDB and 41% from the IBRD.
In the 1990s, the industrial sector's performance was excellent, in particular the food processing, construction, and automotive industries. Demand for consumer durable goods was strong as a result of ample credit availability. Construction activity was boosted by infrastructure projects associated with the privatization. Sweeping privatization and a wave of investment, both foreign and local, modernized old industries and nourished new ones. Farmers started to plant more profitable products, such as garlic, fruit, and olives. A new mining code brought foreign investment to a long-neglected sector. Oil and gas output doubled, attracting investment in petrochemicals, while Mercosur encouraged a boom of car exports. A recession in 1999 caused capital flight and high interest rates. Consumption was slow to pick up, and unemployment remained at around 12%. It was estimated that nearly 40% of the workforce was employed in the black market.
A combination of Argentina's fixed exchange rate, which made its currency uncompetitive, and continuing fiscal deficits led to the country's economic collapse and default on the bulk of its $141 billion in foreign debt in December 2001. The IMF at that time refused to grant Argentina an emergency $1.3 billion loan. By 2003, the government had suspended the last remaining controls on bank savings, and eased capital controls. The 2002 devaluation of the peso by 2003 had led to growth in exports and a rise in local products being substituted for imported ones. There was a good harvest that year, industry revived, and tourism rebounded as increasing numbers of foreign tourists visited Argentina's resorts. A standby agreement with the IMF that began in January 2003 was reviewed in June, and resulted in the release of $320 million.
2005 was expected to be the third year of continued growth, following the deep 2002 recession. This economic expansion was expected to moderate by 2006 and 2007, as the gap between actual and potential output was narrowing. Consumption, driven by higher real incomes, was one of the main growth engines. Investments were projected to be another big contributor, although they were expected to slow after 2007. Export and import values were expected to even out as the economy fell back into its prerecession tracks.
The election of Hipólito Yrigoyen as president of Argentina in 1916 initiated a series of profound changes in the nation's social structure. The Radical-controlled legislature enacted a series of economic and social measures, including a measure to establish retirement funds. Despite differences between Radical leadership and labor, limited social welfare measures were continued until 1930, when Yrigoyen was expelled from office. The Conservative regime in power for the next 13 years took little cognizance of demands for social benefits.
The next major advance in the creation of social and economic benefits was made during the government of Juan Perón, who assumed power in 1946. The 44-hour workweek that had been enacted in 1933 was for the first time put into effect. New provisions established salary increases, paid holidays, sick leave, job tenure, and many other benefits. By 1945, a National Social Security Institute administered social insurance programs and the pension system. In the early 1950s, these measures continued and were extended also to the rural sector. The failure of the Argentine welfare system to live up to Perón's promises helped to bring about his overthrow in 1955. During the 1960s, the pension funds were often diverted for other purposes, and there was a general breakdown in the system. By 1970, many of the persons eligible for welfare payments received none at all, and the secretary of social welfare under the Levingston administration, charged former government authorities with misappropriating millions of pesos.
Most of the social legislation enacted during the Perón years has remained on the statute books. The pension laws, updated in 1993, mandates that workers pay 11% of their wages into a pension fund, and this amount was supplemented by an 16% contribution from the employer. Work injury coverage is funded solely by the employer. Unemployment benefits were introduced for construction workers in 1967 and were expanded to include all employed persons in 1991. Both public and private sector employees are covered by workers' compensation, which is being expanded to cover domestic workers and others previously excluded from the system. There is also a prenatal allowance, and grants for marriage, birth, and adoption.
Although guaranteed equality under the constitution, women are fighting for equal advancement and pay in the labor force. Despite the government's efforts, discrimination against women in the workplace and sexual harassment continue to be important social problems. Women are more likely to work in unskilled, low paying jobs, even though, on average, they are more highly educated. Although prohibited by law, women earn less than men for similar work. Domestic abuse and violence against women are recognized as serious social problems. It was estimated in 2004 that one-fourth of the women in Argentina were victims of domestic abuse. A battered women's shelter and 24-hour hotline are operated by the city of Buenos Aires.
The National Council on Children and Families is working to develop child protection programs and legislation. Handicapped access to public places is specified by law aimed at eliminating barriers to the disabled, and a constitutional amendment recognizes the ethnic and cultural identities of Argentina's indigenous people. Reports of torture and brutality by police persist.
In the field of health and medical care, Argentina compares favorably with other Latin American countries. National health policy is determined by the Department of Public Health, an agency of the Ministry of Social Welfare. In 2004 Argentina had an estimated 301 physicians, 80 dentists, 42 pharmacists, and 239 nurses per 100,000 people. Nutritional requirements are comfortably met and, in 2000, 79% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 85% had adequate sanitation. Health and medical services for workers are provided by clinics of unions, and employers are usually required to provide free medical and pharmaceutical care for injured workers. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 8.4% of GDP. In Argentina the private sector plays a role in the provision of health services, ensuring social security through organizations called Obras Sociales. Funding for health services comes from employee payroll taxes and contributions.
In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 15.18 per 1,000 live births. As of 1999, an estimated 7% of all births were classified as low birth weight. As of 1998 maternal mortality was estimated at 38 per 100,000 live births. The overall death rate in 1999 was 7.6 per 1,000 people. Approximately, 74% of married women (ages 15–49) used contraception.
Of the major infectious diseases, smallpox, malaria, and diphtheria have been virtually eliminated and poliomyelitis has been greatly reduced. The incidence of tuberculosis in 1999 was 55 per 100,000 people, down 47% from 20 years earlier. In the same year, one-year-old children were immunized against the following diseases: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 88%; and measles, 99%. Life expectancy averaged 75.91 years in 2005.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.70 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 130,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 1,500 deaths from AIDS in 2003. Argentina reported the second-highest incidence of AIDS cases (41 per million) in South America during the mid-1990s. HIV spread rapidly throughout Argentina via intravenous drug use soon after the first cases of HIV infection were reported.
Economic collapse in late 2001 left at least 50% of the population below the poverty line. In early 2001, it was estimated that about 17.7% of all households lived in substandard housing units. In 2005, it was estimated that 30% of the population lived in inadequate housing.
Houses in Argentina reflect the Italian and Spanish ethnic backgrounds of the population. Except for marginal rural dwellings and urban shanty towns, concrete, mortar, and brick are favored as the principal construction materials. Wood is generally considered less durable and feared as a fire hazard.
Education is free, secular, and compulsory for all children at the primary level (ages 5–14). In 1993 Argentina switched from seven years of primary and five years of secondary education to a system known as EGB, consisting of nine compulsory years divided into three-year stages. This is followed by a three-year "multimodal" course of study offering either general or specialized training. In 2003, about 60% of children ages three to five were enrolled in preprimary school programs. At last estimates, primary school enrollment was about 94% (1991) while secondary school enrollment stood at about 81% (2002). The academic year runs from March to November.
Private, foreign, and religious schools are permitted, but they must conform to a nationally prescribed pattern of teaching in the Spanish language.
The Ministry of Education supervises the National Council on Technical Education and the National Administration of Middle and Higher Education. The Consejo Nacional de Evaluación y Acreditación Universitaria (CONEAU), established in 1997, oversees the external evaluations of all universities. In 2003 public expenditure on education totaled about 4% of GDP.
Traditionally, university students have played an active role in campus policy, based in part on the concept of university autonomy established in the Córdoba reform movement of 1918. Student organizations have also been outspoken in national politics, denouncing the policies of the military government in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Argentina has over 46 officially accredited universities. The largest is the University of Buenos Aires. All institutions of higher learning had a combined total enrollment of 1.9 million students as of the 2001. The adult literacy rate for 2003 was estimated at about 97%, with an even distribution between men and women.
The National Library was founded in 1810 and has occupied its present site in Buenos Aires since 1902; in 2002 it had about 1.9 million volumes. The libraries of the University of Buenos Aires have combined holdings of over 2.5 million volumes, while the library of the National Congress has two million volumes. The Catholic University of Argentina, with five campuses, has a combined collection of 90,000 volumes. The National Academy of Medicine has a library with 50,000 volumes in Buenos Aires and the Museum of Ethnography in Buenos Aires has a specialized collection of 100,000 volumes. The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange Library has a collection of 12,000 books, along with more than 200 periodicals, CD-ROMs and videotapes, covering the topics of the stock market, finances, and economics. The National Teachers Library is an initiative of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, designed to serve as a national reference center for knowledge and data management within the education system. There are thousands of public and school libraries and innumerable private libraries.
The National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires contains modern Argentine, American, and European works, as well as paintings attributed to old masters, paintings of the conquest of Mexico executed 300–400 years ago, and wooden carvings from the Argentine interior. Also in Buenos Aires are the National Historical Museum; the Isaac Fernández Blanco Museum of Hispanic-American Art, which contains an interesting and valuable collection of colonial art; the Mitre Museum and Library, containing the manuscripts, documents, printed works, and household objects of Gen. Bartolomé Mitre, which constitute a unique record of Argentine political development; the Natural Science Museum; and the Municipal Museum. There are several important historical museums in the provinces, including the Colonial and Historical Museum at Luján and the Natural History Museum of the University of La Plata, which is world-famous for its important collections of the skeletons of extinct pre-Pliocene reptiles (for which the Argentine pampas form one of the richest burial grounds).
In 2003, there were an estimated 219 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 178 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people. Internal telegraph facilities and some international circuits to nearby countries are wholly government operated.
As of 1999 there were 260 AM and an unspecified number of unlicensed FM radio stations. There were 42 television stations the same year stations. Many of the stations are privately owned. In 2003, there were an estimated 697 radios and 326 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 82 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 112 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. The number of secure Internet servers in 2004 was about 386.
Buenos Aires is one of the principal editorial centers of the Spanish-speaking world, with more than 50 publishing houses. Numerous literary magazines and reviews, as well as books, are published. Press coverage in Argentina is one of the most thorough in the hemisphere, with over 150 daily newspapers published throughout the country. At least three news agencies were operating in 2005: Noticias Argentinas, coordinated by a group of privately owned newspapers; TELAM, run by the state; and Diarios y Noticias, owned in part by Grupo Clarin. The major international news services were also represented.
La Prensa is probably the most famous newspaper in Latin America. Throughout the early days of the Perón regime, La Prensa battled the dictatorship, but it was finally taken over forcibly by Perón and given to the CGT, the dictator's central labor organization. The provisional government of Gen. Eduardo Lonardi returned La Prensa to its rightful owner, Alberto Gainza Paz, and it resumed publication in February 1956. In 1969, the Onganía government imposed siege regulations on the press, and in August of that year, two weekly papers were closed down. After the 1976 coup, no formal censorship was introduced, but some journalists were arrested for "subversive" articles. With the restoration of democratic government, harassment of the media stopped.
The largest dailies, with their estimated daily circulation figures in 2004, included: La Nación, 250,000 (down from 630,000 in 2002); Clarín, 300,000 (down from 560,000 in 2002); Diario Popular, 140,000; El Cronista, 65,000; La Voz del Interior, 100,000; La Gaceta,55,000; El Día (La Plata), 55,000; and El Litoral, 37,000. The Sunday edition of Clarin had a circulation of about 300,000, down from the one million copies reported in 2002.
Argentine organizations fall into the following main categories: agricultural, business and industrial, social and cultural, and political and humanitarian action. The Argentine Agricultural Association, established in 1866, with a membership predominantly of owners of large ranches (estancias), occupies itself mainly with the improvement of agricultural and livestock production. The Argentine Association of Cooperatives and the Argentine Agrarian Federation also represent rural interests. The Milk Industry Center and the Argentine Meat Industry Union are based in Buenos Aires.
Social and leisure organizations are found in almost every community of any size. The Athletic and Fencing Club in Parque Palermo, a suburb of Buenos Aires, has extensive recreational facilities. The Argentine capital also sponsors numerous clubs in the delta region. At the other social extreme is the exclusive Jockey Club of Buenos Aires, with a wealthy membership. There are several yacht clubs. The Automobile Club operates a chain of service and rest stations throughout the country, giving travel information and selling gasoline at a slight discount.
Many intellectuals belong to the Argentine Writers' Society. The Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, Argentine Academy of Letters, the National Academy of History, and the National Arts Foundation support and encourage activities in the arts and humanities.
Industrialists and business leaders participate in the Argentine Industrial Union, which originated in 1887 and was reestablished in 1977 through the merger of the Argentine Industrial Confederation and the General Confederation of Industry. The leading chambers of commerce in 1993 were the Argentine Chamber of Commerce; the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Production of the Argentine Republic; the Chamber of Foreign Trade of the Federation of Trade and Industry; and the Chamber of Exporters of the Argentine Republic. Argentina also has a committee with the International Chamber of Commerce. There are three national consumers organizations and a regional office for the Consumers Association of Mercosur is in the capital. There are professional associations representing a wide variety of fields, including dozens of medical and health associations.
Youth organizations supporting a variety of political and social interests include: the Federation of Argentine University Students (FUA, founded in 1918), the Argentine Youth Hostel Federation, Argentine Student Tourism Association, Youth of the Popular Socialist Party, Youth of the Radical Civic Union, Communist Youth Federation of Argentina (FJCA), the Latin American Youth for Democracy (JULAD), Scouts de Argentina, and Associación Guías Argentianas (Girl Guides). There are also organizations representing the Special Olympics and both the YMCA and YWCA. Organizations focusing on the rights and role of women include Equal Rights for Argentine Women, the Foundation for Women's Equality, and the Foundation for Women's Research and Studies.
Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Caritas, Friends of the Earth, and the Red Cross have organizations within the country.
The government promotes tourism through the National Tourist Bureau, with headquarters in Buenos Aires. Visitors from all countries are required to have a passport to enter Argentina, although Australians and New Zealanders must also have a visa. There are no required vaccines to enter Argentina.
Mar del Plata, on the southern Atlantic coast about 400 km (250 mi) from Buenos Aires, is the most popular ocean resort. The delta of the Río Paraná, forming a series of inland waterways, is a center for pleasure boats and launches. Córdoba, with its fine colonial cathedral, and nearby Alta Gracia attracts many visitors. San Carlos de Bariloche, at the entrance to Nahuel Huapi National Park in the Andean lake region of western Patagonia, has become famous as a summer and winter resort, with some of the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. The Iguazú Falls, in the province of Misiones, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, is a major tourist attraction. Mendoza, situated in a fertile oasis below the towering Andes, offers such historical attractions as the Cerro de la Gloria, with its monument to San Martín, and the Historical Museum, with its collection on San Martín.
The most popular sport is football (soccer). Tennis, rugby, basketball, and golf are also played. Opportunities for gambling include a weekly lottery, football pools, horse racing at the Palermo and San Isidro tracks (in Buenos Aires), and the casino at Mar del Plata, whose profits go to the Ministry of Social Welfare.
In 2003, about 2,995,000 foreign tourists visited Argentina, 65% of whom came from other countries in South America. Receipts from tourism were estimated at $2.4 billion. As of that year, there were 174,629 hotel rooms with 417,995 beds.
The US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Buenos Aires in 2005 at $228 per day. Expenditures at other locations averaged $175 per day.
The most famous Argentine is José de San Martín (1778–1850), known as the Protector of the South, who was principally responsible for freeing southern South America from the Spanish yoke.
The tyrannical dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793–1877) ruled Argentina from 1829 to 1852. The political tactics and the pen of the statesman and essayist Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–88) did much to undermine him. While in exile, Sarmiento wrote some of his best works, including Facundo, the story of a rival caudillo. The most literary of Argentina's statesmen was Gen. Bartolomé Mitre (1821–1906), who was president from 1862 to 1868. Mitre, the founder and owner of the newspaper La Nación, wrote several important historical works and biographies. The most famous Argentine political figures of modern times have been Juan Domingo Perón Sosa (1895–1974) and his second wife, Eva Duarte de Perón (1919–52), known as "Evita." Perón's third wife, María Estela ("Isabel") Martínez de Perón, was vice-president during 1973–74 and, after her husband's death, president from 1974 to 1976.
José Hernández (1834–86), one of the first Argentine literary figures to use the uncultured language of the gaucho in his writings, is the author of Martín Fierro, considered the greatest of gaucho poems. Ricardo Güiraldes (1886–1927) kept the "gauchesco" spirit alive in his novel Don Segundo Sombra, a spiritual study of an Argentine gaucho. A less romantic view of these hardy horsemen of the pampas appears in the writings of Benito Lynch (1885–1951). The works of the poet Leopoldo Lugones (1874–1938) form a panorama of all Argentine life and landscape. José Mármol (1817–71) gave a good description of life in Buenos Aires under the tyrant Rosas in his novel Amalia, and Enrique Rodríguez Larreta (1875–1961) wrote the first Latin American novel to win international fame, La gloria de Don Ramiro, a reconstruction of Spanish life during the reign of Philip II. The leading contemporary writer of Argentina is Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), best known for his essays and collections of tales such as Historia universal de la infamia. Other world-famous writers are Julio Cortázar (1914–84) and Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914–1999). Outstanding in the visual arts are the sculptor Rogelio Irurtia (1879–1950) and the painters Miguel Carlos Victorica (1884–1955) and Emilio Pettoruti (1892–1971). Argentina's foremost composers are Alberto Williams (1862–1952), founder of the Buenos Aires Conservatory; Juan José Castro (1895–1968); Juan Carlos Paz (1901–72); and Alberto Ginastera (1916–83). Ástor Piazolla (1921–92), is regarded as the world's foremost composer of modern tango music. A bandoneon player, his compositions incorporated jazz and classical music with the traditional tango in a style called nuevo tango. In Argentina, he is regarded as "El Gran Ástor" ("The Great Ástor"). Piazolla is credited with having redefined the music of tango singer Carlos Gardel (1890–1935). Another important Argentine musician is pianist Martha Argerich (b.1941), who avoids the limelight but is recognized as one of the great piano virtuosos of the 21st century. Pianist and composer Lalo Schifrin (b.1932) composes music for film, television, and video games. He has won numerous Grammy Awards and Oscar nominations.
The most famous Argentine scientist, Bernardo Alberto Houssay (1887–1971), was awarded the 1947 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on diabetes; French-born Luis Federico Leloir (1906–87) won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1970. Notable philosophers include Alejandro Korn (1860–1936), whose work marked a reaction against positivism, and Francisco Romero (1891–1962). Carlos Saavedra Lamas (1878–1959), an authority on international law, received the Nobel Prize for peace in 1936. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (b.1931), a sculptor and professor of architecture, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his work in the Argentine human-rights movement.
Argentina continues to claim the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), held by the United Kingdom, and a sector of Antarctica as dependencies.
Alexander, Yonah, (ed.). Combating Terrorism: Strategies of Ten Countries. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.
Calvert, Peter. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Latin America. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.
Corrales, Javier. Presidents Without Parties: The Politics of Economic Reform in Argentina and Venezuela in the 1990s. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.
Garretón, Manuel Antonio, and Edward Newman, (eds.). Democracy in Latin America: (Re)constructing Political Society. New York: United Nations University Press, 2001.
Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.
Heenan, Patrick, and Monique Lamontagne. The South America Handbook. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2002.
Lewis, Colin M. Argentina: A Short History. Oxford: Oneworld, 2002.
Plotkin, Mariano Ben. Mañana es San Perón: A Cultural History of Perón's Argentina. Wilmington, Del.: SR Books, 2003.
Romero, Luis Alberto. A History of Argentina in the Twentieth Century. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.
Shields, Charles J. Argentina. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers, 2003.
Streissguth, Thomas. Argentina in Pictures. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2003.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Thomson Gale
|Official Country Name:||Argentine Republic|
|Region (Map name):||South America|
|Language(s):||Spanish (official), English, Italian, Germany, French|
|Area:||2,766,890 sq km|
|GDP:||284,960 (US$ millions)|
|Number of Daily Newspapers:||106|
|Circulation per 1,000:||61|
|Total Newspaper Ad Receipts:||1,136 (US$ millions)|
|As % of All Ad Expenditures:||35.00|
|Number of Television Stations:||42|
|Number of Television Sets:||7,950,000|
|Television Sets per 1,000:||212.7|
|Number of Cable Subscribers:||6,034,700|
|Cable Subscribers per 1,000:||163.1|
|Number of Radio Receivers:||24,300,000|
|Radio Receivers per 1,000:||650.0|
|Number of Individuals with Computers:||1,900,000|
|Computers per 1,000:||50.8|
|Number of Individuals with Internet Access:||2,500,000|
|Internet Access per 1,000:||66.9|
Background & General Characteristics
Argentina is the second largest country in Latin America after Brazil, with a total area of 2.8 million square kilometers. It is a federal republic made up of 23 provinces and the city of Buenos Aires, home of the federal government. The total population according to the 2000 national census is 36 million, of which 13 million live in the city of Buenos Aires and surrounding suburbs. Argentines are Spanish speakers, mostly Catholic (around 87 percent of population; 35 percent practicing), have a very high literacy rate (96 percent of population), and a fairly large middle class. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 was $281 billion and per capita GDP was $7,686. At the end of 2001, the country entered a severe economic crisis that led to a sharp depreciation of the currency (previously pegged to the dollar), a high increase in the unemployment rate to 23 percent as of July 2002, a banking crisis that included the freezing of individual accounts, and the fall of two presidents in just a few weeks.
Argentines are avid readers of newspapers, having the highest newsprint consumption in Latin America according to UNESCO. Data on newspaper circulation differs depending on the source, with the World Bank reporting 138 newspapers per 1,000 individuals in 1994, UNESCO showing 123 in 1996, and the Buenos Aires Press Workers Union (UTPBA) recording 56 newspapers for the same number of people in the year 2000. Although the national market is shared fairly even between newspapers printed in the city of Buenos Aires and those printed in the interior provinces, the national press is concentrated in the former. Those newspapers printed in the interior are primarily part of provincial circulation. Newspapers of national circulation do not tend to include matters that are mostly of provincial concern, a void filled by several local papers. The city of Buenos Aires has at least 12 major national newspapers and the provinces a few hundred local newspapers.
The 10 largest national newspapers—which may vary depending upon the source referenced—are: Clarín (800,000 circulation; 1.2 million on Sundays); La Nación (500,000 circulation; 800,000 on Sundays); Ámbito Financiero (300,000 circulation); Crónica (300,000 circulation); Diario Popular (300,000 circulation); Página 12 (150,000 circulation); La Prensa (120,000 circulation);El Cronista (100,000 circulation); Buenos Aires Herald (100,000 circulation); and Olé (100,000 circulation).
The most influential national newspapers are Clarín and La Nación, both based in the city of Buenos Aires. The one with the highest circulation in the country is Clarín, founded by Roberto Noble in 1945. It is considered the most widely read newspaper in Spanish-speaking Latin America. It belongs to a multimedia conglomerate that owns two radio stations (Mitre and FM100), two television channels (cable channel Multicanal and open air Canal 13 ), the newspaper Olé (the only major daily dedicated entirely to sports news), and shares in at least three provincial papers as well as in the news agency DYN. It employs approximately 900 people and publishes supplements on culture, sports, economics and world affairs, as well as a Sunday magazine and occasional books on specific topics. On a weekday it has on average 52 pages and on weekends 71 pages. Clarín 's editorial tendency is considered to be moderate center-left.
The second largest paper, La Nación was founded in 1870 and has been one of the most influential newspapers in the country's history. It has 500 employees and has bureaus all over the country. La Nación owns parts of the main national company dedicated to the commercialization of newsprint and has shares in at least two provincial dailies and in the news agency DYN. In the last few years it has invested over $100 million in the modernization of its operating plant, including color editions and faster printing mechanisms. On weekdays it has on average 18 pages in its main section, and 8 additional pages for regular supplements. On Sundays it has 24 pages in its main section in addition to special supplements and a magazine. La Nación is considered to have a center-right editorial position.
The newspapers Ámbito Financiero and El Cronista are the largest ones dedicated to economic issues. They are considered the best source for daily financial activity and analysis of the local markets, including articles by well-known economists. Neither one is published on Sundays. Ámbito Financiero owns a smaller newspaper,La Mañana del Sur, that is sold in three southern provinces. It has innovated by establishing plants in the interior of the country to speed up the publishing process and improve circulation. El Cronista was founded in 1908 and was one of the largest and most influential newspapers in the decades between 1930 and 1950. Its editorial opposition to the last military government (1976-83) generated numerous threats to its journalists, including the kidnapping and "disappearance" of its director, Raúl Perrota. Since the year 2000 El Cronista is wholly owned by the media group Recoletos from Spain, which is itself owned by the Pearson Group, editor of the Financial Times.
The newspapers Diario Popular and Crónica are considered sensationalists and are known to compete for the same readership, which comes mostly from the popular sectors. The first one is a left-leaning paper that emphasizes crime and catastrophic news and includes supplements for the suburbs of Buenos Aires, where it is published. The second one is a nationalist paper with an anti-U.S. and anti-England perspective (particularly following the 1982 war with England), and it is published in three daily editions.
The main leftist newspaper in Argentina is Página 12, which began its publication in 1987 and rapidly gained a niche within the intellectual and progressive readership. Página 12 has been consistently critical of government policy. Many well-known leftist intellectuals and journalists contribute or have worked for this newspaper. It has an innovative style, mixing humor and irony with a literary flair in covering the news. On weekdays it has an average of 36 pages. The newspaper includes weekend supplements on culture, media, economics, and foreign affairs.
The only major foreign language newspaper is the Buenos Aires Herald, founded in 1876 and published in that city. It is written in English with editorials in both English and Spanish. It played an opposition role to the military government that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983, which led to recurring threats that resulted in its editor, Graham Yoll, leaving the country in exile.
The provinces of Argentina, where more than half of the country's population lives, are home to several newspapers that provide a wealth of local news. According to the Argentine Association of Newspapers from the Interior (ADIRA), provincial newspapers, with 90 percent of the share, dominate the newspaper market outside the city of Buenos Aires and surrounding metropolitan area. The four largest provinces are those of Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe, and Mendoza. In the province of Buenos Aires, where the large cities of La Plata and Mar del Plata are located, there are about 150 newspapers; in Cordoba, home of the second biggest city in the country, there are at least 16 newspapers, including the biggest regional newspaper in the country, La Voz del Interior founded in 1904. In Santa Fe there are 12 newspapers, and in Mendoza there are three newspapers of which Los Andes, founded in 1882, is the most important.
The smaller province of Entre Rios has a large number of newspapers, at least 22, but the most famous one is Hora Cero. The province of La Pampa has 3 newspapers, including one of the oldest in the country, La Arena, founded in 1900. Another provincial newspaper with a long history is La Gaceta from Tucumán, founded in 1912. The province of Santa Cruz is the home of at least 9 local newspapers; the provinces of Chubut and Tierra del Fuego have 7 newspapers each; the province of Formosa has 6; Rio Negro has 5; the provinces of Corrientes, Jujuy, Misiones, and San Juan have 4 newspapers each; Catamarca, Chaco, La Rioja, Salta, Santiago del Estero, and San Luis have 2 newspapers each; and the province of Neuquen has only one big local newspaper.
The history of the press in Argentina is deeply intertwined with the rich and convoluted history of that land. Its origins can be traced back to colonial times. The first newspaper edited in what is now Argentina was La Gazeta, a monthly publication of eight pages that began in the year 1764. During the first decades of the following century several publications began to propagate the ideas of the independence movement, such as the Correo de Comercio or La Gazeta de Buenos Ayres. Some others like the Redactor del Congreso Nacional had an important historical role in publishing the transcripts of the convention that declared independence in 1916. In the years that followed independence, the antagonist relations between the port city of Buenos Aires and the interior, which eventually evolved into a civil war, promoted the emergence of various provincial newspapers such as La Confederación from the province of Santa Fe. Under the control of Governor Rosas (1829-32; 1835-52) from the province of Buenos Aires, we find the first period of widespread censorship, including the closing of newspapers and the killing of several journalists critical of the government.
The period of peace and growth following the civil war begins in 1870. It is at this time that La Nación andLa Prensa, contemporary newspapers, began their publication. President Bartolome Mitre founded La Nación. During the decade of the 1880s, coinciding with Argentina's frontier wars, many newspapers with high nationalist, militaristic, and expansionist content began to be published. In the 1920s the new press tended to be run by some of the conservative forces in control of the government. At that time newspapers like El Cronista and Noticias Gráficas began to be published. In the year 1945, when Juan Peron entered the political scene, several newspapers of more populist tendencies were initiated, including today's largest newspaper Clarín. President Peron (1946-52; 1952-55) exerted strong pressure against the independent media, including censorship and the closing of the opposition newspaper La Prensa. In 1951, during Peron's second term as president, television was first launched in the country, 21 years after the establishment of the first national radio station. After a military government that deposed Peron, a wave of repression was initiated against the prior president's supporters in the media. Under a subsequent regime, the state news agency Telam was founded in 1959. During the 1960s numerous leftist publications were started, including the magazine Panorama and the newspaper Crítica.
As of mid-2002, after four years of recession and a drastic financial crisis, the short-and medium-term economic prospects for media corporations, as well as for most other businesses, seem bleak. Newspapers have recently hiked prices by at least 20 percent (to $1.20 pesos), pressured by a corresponding drop of about 50 percent in advertising demand. Financial difficulties have also led national newspapers to reduce their personnel by almost 20 percent and to undertake a general reduction of salaries. The situation of the two largest newspapers, Clarín and La Nación, is particularly difficult because in recent years they proceeded with a series of investments that required substantial capital, which led them to acquire large dollar debts. These liabilities in foreign currency became major a problem after the Argentine peso depreciated sharply to less than one-third of its previous value within the first six months of 2002.
In light of the serious financial situation faced by the local news media, Congress is debating a law limiting the share of foreign companies in cultural enterprises. According to the bill, foreigners will have a 20 percent limit in the share of national media companies. The purpose of the new law is to prevent foreign companies from capturing a local market, where many companies face serious cash shortages and are near bankruptcy. One big newspaper, La Prensa, which had a circulation short of 100,000, has recently started free distribution, hoping to increase readership and advertising revenue.
Newspapers from the interior of the country were also hit hard in recent times. Not only did the increasing costs of foreign imports and the freezing of local credit hurt them, but they also had to suffer a 100 percent increase in the price of newsprint (mostly of national origin). The organization that brings together these provincial newspapers (ADIRA) has recently called for the mobilization of journalists in defense of what they see as a threatened profession.
In the year 2000 the government of Fernando de La Rua was facing a serious budget deficit and decided to increase the value added tax applied to cable television from 10.5 percent to 21 percent, an increase that was not extended to print media. The Inter-American Press Society (SIP) recently asked the Argentine government to abolish the added value tax on newspapers given the tenuous financial situation of the press and the excessive burden of the rates in place. The same source accused the government of having the highest tax rates in the region.
According to the press organization FLAPP (Federación Latinoamericana de Prensa en Periódicos ), advertising revenue during the year 2001 was approximately $2.8 billion. Half of that advertising money is spent on television, 37 percent is spent in newspapers, almost 5 percent in magazines, over 6 percent in radio, and the rest in newspaper supplements. Although figures have not been released yet, there is a consensus that investment in advertising dropped significantly in 2002.
Ownership of media companies is fairly concentrated. This has generated numerous complaints and threats of new regulations, but in practice Congress has been reluctant to pass new legislation. The "Clarín Group " is the biggest conglomerate, controlling the newspaper of the same name in addition to shares in two major provincial newspapers, the sports daily Olé, cable channel Multicanal, open air channel Canal 13, radio Mitre, radio FM100, part of the news agency DYN, the press Artes Gráficas Rioplatense S.A., the publishing company Aguilar, the magazine Elle, the TV studio Buenos Aires Television, and other investments, such as a cellular company in the interior of the country.
The second largest media company is La Nación S.A., which runs the newspaper of the same name and is partial owner of the national satellite Paracomstat. The two major groups are associated in several commercial ventures. In 1978 they started Papel Prensa S.A. with the goal of producing newsprint. The company now produces 165,000 tons of paper a year, covering a major part of the local market. Both groups are also partners with the Spanish "Correo Group" in a company called CIMECO, which owns the regional newspapers La Voz del Interior and Los Andes, each one dominant in their local markets (83 percent and 73 percent of provincial circulation respectively). Clarín Group and La Nación S.A. also have shares in the news agency DYN.
Argentina has three other important media groups also located in the city of Buenos Aires: Atlántida Press,Crónica Group, and Ámbito Financiero Group. The editorial group Atlántida has been an important player in the magazine business for several decades. It owns eight magazines (El Gráfíco, Gente, Teleclic, Para Ti, Chacra, Billiken, Plena, and Conozca Más ), part of a TV channel Telefé, and radio stations Continental and FM Hit. The group Crónica has, in addition to the newspaper of the same name, the magazines Flash and Ahora, the TV news channel Crónica TV, the television studio Estrella, and the newspaper El Atlántico from the biggest coastal city, Mar del Plata. The group controlling Ámbito Financiero also publishes the Patagonian newspaper, Mañana delSur, and owns a TV channel in the province of Rio Negro. Another major consortium led by Eduardo Eurnekian (owner of radio stations America and Aspen) had been a major player in the media business until recently, but it has recently sold off its shares in the television stations America 2 and Cablevisión and the newspaper El Cronista (to a Spanish company). A new upstart player includes the group led by journalist Daniel Hadad, who runs the financial newspaper Buenos Aires Económico, a radio station, and the television channelAzul TV.
In the interior of the country we find several smaller media groups built around local newspapers. The group El Día in the city of La Plata publishes the newspaper of the same name in addition to the national newspapers Diario Popular and the news agency NA. The groupNueva Provincia from the city of Bahia Blanca has the newspaper of the same name, the magazine Nueva, and shares in the national television channel Telefé and in a local FM station. The group Supercanal from the province of Mendoza controls the newspaper Uno in addition to a television channel and at least three radio stations. The group Territorio from the province of Misiones owns the newspaper of the same name and the cable company in the provincial capital. In the province of Salta the group El Tribuno has the newspaper of the same name, which is also popular in the province of Jujuy, and shares in local TV channels. The group Rio Negro from Rio Negro province owns the newspaper of the same name and the provincial cable channel. The groups Territorio, El Tribuno, and Rio Negro also have shares in the news agency DYN.
Antitrust legislation was passed in 1997 under the name "Law to Defend Competition." It restricts and regulates monopolies or oligopolies across the country as well as determines the possible merging of different companies. The law provides monetary fines, penalties, and even jail sentences for those found breaking it. This legislation mandated the creation of a National Commission to Defend Competition, an agency independent of the executive branch. Because most of the large media conglomerates were created in the years after deregulation in 1991 and prior to this law, they cannot be forced to dismember now, but future mergers need to correspond to the regulations of the new law.
The two main workers' organizations in the press are the Buenos Aires Press Workers Union (UTPBA) and the Argentine Federation of Press Workers (FATPREN), itself a national labor organization composed of over 40 individual unions. Industrial relations have been difficult, particularly over the reform of severance packages and the deregulation of the health funds run by the unions. Since the health fund system opened up, many press workers have left the poorly performing press union fund for other competing organizations, reducing an important source of revenues and political power. Unions provide individual journalists with legal counseling in case of conflict with management or in judicial matters.
Sometimes union disputes have become violent. In May of 2000 several armed groups invaded eight distribution centers for the provincial newspaper La Gaceta from Tucumán, hitting employees and burning the Sunday edition of the paper. Many reports associated the incident with an internal conflict. The newspaper had been involved in a labor dispute with members representing the street newspaper vendors (canillitas ) over the reduction of commissions given to the workers. However, there was no judicial finding on whether the incident related to such a dispute, or if it was in response to other crime-related news published in the paper.
The constitutional reforms of 1994 incorporated several provisions upholding freedom of expression and codifying state-press relations. Article 14 of the Constitution establishes that all inhabitants of the Argentine Republic have the right to "publish their ideas in the press without prior censorship…" and Article 32 specifies that… "The federal Congress cannot not pass laws that limit freedom of the press or that establish over them a federal jurisdiction." The right to confidential press sources is specifically protected by constitutional Article 43. Article 75 section 19 of the same Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate broadcasting media.
Argentina has incorporated into the Constitution several international treaties that deal specifically with press rights. A document that has been important in cases related to freedom of the press is the American Convention on Human Rights or "Pact of San José, Costa Rica," which establishes the following rights:
Article 13. Freedom of Thought and Expression
- 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice.
- 2. The exercise of the right provided for in the foregoing paragraph shall not be subject to prior censorship but shall be subject to subsequent imposition of liability, which shall be expressly established by law to the extent necessary to ensure: (a) respect for the rights or reputations of others; or (b) the protection of national security, public order, or public health or morals.
- 3. The right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods or means, such as the abuse of government or private controls over newsprint, radio broadcasting frequencies, or equipment used in the dissemination of information, or by any other means tending to impede the communication and circulation of ideas and opinions.
- 4. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 2 above, public entertainments may be subject by law to prior censorship for the sole purpose of regulating access to them for the moral protection of childhood and adolescence.
- 5. Any propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to lawless violence or to any other similar action against any person or group of persons on any grounds including those of race, color, religion, language, or national origin shall be considered as offenses punishable by law.
Article 14. Right of Reply
- 1. Anyone injured by inaccurate or offensive statements or ideas disseminated to the public in general by a legally regulated medium of communication has the right to reply or to make a correction using the same communications outlet, under such conditions as the law may establish.
- 2. The correction or reply shall not in any case remit other legal liabilities that may have been incurred.
- 3. For the effective protection of honor and reputation, every publisher and every newspaper, motion picture, radio, and television company, shall have a person responsible who is not protected by immunities or special privileges.
In the year 1992 the president of the country, Carlos Menem, filed a suit against journalist Horacio Vertbisky for desacato —in this case disrespect to the president of the country—a common restriction to press freedom across many countries in Latin America. The journalist took the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH ), who ruled in favor of Vertbisky and demanded that the Argentine government take action. In friendly terms the Argentine government agreed to change its stance and nullified the law in the year 1993.
In addition there are provisions in the Penal Code and the Civil Code as well as Supreme Court decisions that regulate the work of journalists and freedom of the press. The Penal Code has typified the crimes of "slander" (calumnias ) and "insult" (injurias ). In Article 109 it states, "Slander or false accusation of a crime that results in public action is punishable with a prison term of one to three years." Article 110 reads, "Anyone that dishonors or discredits another will be given a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000 Argentine pesos or jail term of one month to one year." When an individual feels that he has been a victim under these rules, he can file a suit. The effect of these articles extends to those who publish or reproduce these declarations made by others and to those who are considered as authors of the original statement. Articles 114 and 115 specify that editors in news organizations that publish such statements can be forced by the plaintiffs to publish the judicial sentence or extend some retribution for the offenses. And a safety valve was introduced in Article 117, which allows offenders to avoid penalties if they publicly retract before or at the same time they respond to the legal suit.
The articles in the Penal Code related to "slander" and "insult" have generated controversy with civil libertarians because such provisions have been used in many occasions to punish news organizations. As of 2002 the federal Congress is debating a bill that would restrict the extent of these articles by excluding those individuals who have become involved in issues of public interest (i.e., government officials) and by reducing or eliminating the liabilities of news organizations that publish such statements. In a publicized case, the news magazine Noticias was fined $60,000 dollars for having published reports of political favoritism involving President Menem and an alleged love affair.
The Civil Code also has provisions that protect an individual's honor. If someone is found guilty of "slander" or "insult," the court can establish an amount of money to be paid in compensation to the victim. As of the middle of 2002, there is a bill in the Senate that would modify Article 1089 of the Civil Code to limit its reach. The intended bill is similar to the project to reform the Penal Code, in that it excludes those individuals who have become involved in issues of public interest, and it eliminates the liabilities of news organizations that publish such statements.
The Supreme Court of Argentina ruled in 1996 in a legal case against journalist Joaquin Morales Sola over statements published in his book Asalto a la Ilusión that the person filing the suit needs to prove that the information contested is false and that the party publishing the statements knew they were untrue. This position, known as the doctrine of "real malice," is similar to the arguments advanced by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan in 1964.
A few years before this case, the Argentine court had issued another ruling with important implications for the press. This is the case known as "Campillay," which started after three major newspapers published an article that attributed certain crimes to the recently detained Julio Campillay, an ex-police officer. The newspaper articles included an almost literal copy of the police reports without specifying the original source. The ruling against the newspapers established that to avoid litigation, press reports needed to specify the appropriate source, use a corrected verb tense to avoid imputing the crime to the alleged offenders, or leave the identity of those implicated in an illegal act unknown.
The press has also been affected by Supreme Court rulings and civil code regulations over the right to privacy. Article 1071 of the Civil Code protects the right to privacy, and allows judges to impose financial penalties and force public retractions to those found guilty of having violated another person's right to privacy. The most famous ruling on this matter came on December of 1984 in a case originated after the national magazine Gente published a front-page photo of Ricardo Balbin (ex-presidential candidate and leader of the political party UCR) dying in the intensive care unit of a hospital. The court found that because the picture had been taken without the permission of the family, and because it was not a public event, the magazine was in fault and had to pay compensation to the wife of Mr. Balbin.
Many press organizations have complained against recent Supreme Court decisions that they see as unconstitutional and contrary to international treaties, such as the "Pact of San José, Costa Rica," mentioned before. In one case the highest court found journalist Bernardo Neustad guilty for comments made on his television show Tiempo Nuevo by one of his guests, who implicated a local judge in controversial (i.e., illegal) activities. The journalist, the television channel, and the guest who made the comments were all fined heavily. In another case the Supreme Court refused an appeal by journalist Eduardo Kimel, who in 1999 was found guilty of insulting a former judge in his book La Masacre de San Pedro, which narrates the killing of five priests during the military government. The journalist was given a jail sentence in addition to a fine of $20,000 dollars.
Another legal provision that affects free speech is the "defense of crime speech" (apologia del delito ). It is a judicial term for a free speech violation that involves the diffusion and promotion of crime. It is usually very difficult to prove, but it has been used against politicians, former military or police personnel, and others for comments usually reproduced in the media.
The courts have had mixed responses to the use of hidden cameras, a growing modality in investigative journalism for television. Sometimes the courts have used them as key evidence, but on other occasions they have not taken such filming into consideration. Many well-known television shows like Telenoche Investiga use hidden cameras, which have been very useful to uncover widespread evidence of corruption in many segments of public life. At the moment the country lacks regulations regarding the use of hidden cameras.
The labor law regulating working conditions for journalists is called the Estatuto del Periodista, and it was originally enacted in 1945. It has provisions for working hours, vacations, severance pay, and seniority, among other issues. The number of working hours established under this statute is 6 a day, with overtime pay equal to double the regular hourly rate. Vacation time starts at 20 days a year (5 more than most other workers) and increases with seniority. In regard to severance payments, journalists enjoy a special clause that provides them with a better compensation than most other workers, originally included to protect an allegedly unstable profession.
The actual implementation of this statute, among other things, has been severely undermined by the severe economic situation of the last few years. The only part that until recently had been regularly respected was the severance pay provision. Until recently journalists in Argentina were receiving a sum equal to 10 months of work plus an extra month for each year of work, but now even that seems to be disregarded. In a case involving the lack of enforcement of this provision, a judge sided with the firing of the journalist by the press company, which paid a severance amount equal to a typical worker. Forced reductions of salaries have also been challenged legally. So far, they have not been overturned.
In regard to a journalistic code of behavior or "Ethics Committee," Argentina lacks both. There is disagreement among the different actors in the press with regard to the establishment of a code of ethics for the profession. The Association of Press Entities of Argentina (ADEPA ) has come out strongly against any such rule, which it sees as a violation of press freedom. However both major newspapers, Clarín and La Nación, have in place a code of ethics that apply to their writers and editors. Some of the main requirements imposed by it include:
- A clear differentiation between advertising sections and news sections to avoid misleading readers and suggestions of editorial endorsement.
- News articles should clearly differentiate between personal opinion and factual reporting, using editorial pages to present individual perspectives on issues.
- Journalists must avoid slander and insult, and must respect the privacy of individuals.
- Reports on crime should not assign culpability until after a judicial sentence on the case.
- Journalists are entitled to preserve the anonymity of their sources of information.
- Journalists cannot receive outside monetary compensation for publishing newspaper articles.
- According to the law, the name and photographs of minors involved in judicial proceedings cannot be published, nor can those of rape victims.
- It is forbidden to offend or insult people because of their race, religion, and color of their skin, or political ideas.
The most dangerous time to be a journalist in Argentina was certainly under the military government that controlled the country between 1976 and 1983. According to the Buenos Aires Press Workers Union (UTPBA ), during that period a total of 84 journalists were kidnapped and disappeared. The military rulers exercised explicit censorship in all of the media and pushed many press organizations to close. At least 10 national newspapers were shut down, and those that survived were subject to government controls. The military had a tight grip over all of the state media, including all national television channels. The media's inability to openly address the widespread human rights violations in the country and the disinformation spread during the military conflict with England in 1982 are two of the most grotesque cases of state censorship in this period.
The process of democratization initiated at the end of 1983 brought about a radical change in freedom of the press, including the dismantling of the state censorship apparatus and increasing access to government information.
Currently Argentina does not have governmental institutions dedicated to censoring press material before it is published. Nevertheless political pressures, by interest groups or government officials, have allegedly surfaced on occasion, such as in the control over state advertising funds, apparently helping to soften or to avoid certain news. Publications that include pornographic material are required to have a plastic cover with a warning sign prohibiting their sale to minors below the age of 18. The Federal Broadcasting Committee (COMFER ) supervises and controls radio and television, including language and time of broadcasting, but it does not affect printed media like newspapers and magazines.
Argentina currently lacks any specific laws over journalist access to public government information. If a public agency were to refuse information to reporters, they could initiate a legal case, which would require proof of public interest in the information requested and of the arbitrary nature of the decision made by the public official. If a judge finds merit in the petition, a judicial order can force the agency to release the information. There are no laws limiting speech by government officials. There is currently a bill being debated that would expand on the issue of state information, including the forced declassification of government information after 10 years.
In regard to data about an individual that the state may have, the constitutional reform of 1994 introduced the right of habeas data. According to Article 43 of the Argentine Constitution, any individual can have access to information about himself that is in public registries or databases as well as in some private databases. In case of untruthfulness or discrimination, the individual affected can demand the nullification, correction, confidentiality, or actualization of such information. In addition, the state cannot alter the secrecy of confidential sources for journalists.
In the decades that followed the return of democracy, intimidations, threats, and violence diminished but did not go away completely. In many cases the local police or corrupt public officials were the alleged agents undertaking the repression of investigative journalists. The Buenos Aires Press Workers Union (UTPBA ) reported 1,283 cases of violent aggression toward journalists between 1989 and 2001. The years with the highest number of reported abuses were 1993, with 218 cases and one murder, and 1997, with 162 cases and also one journalist killed.
Since 1993 newspapers have called attention to the murder of three journalists: Mario Bonino, José Luis Cabezas, and Ricardo Gangeme. The first victim in the 1990s was Mario Bonino, a journalist for the newspapers Sur and Diario Popular and a member of the press office of the UTPBA. He was found dead in the Riachuelo River four days after disappearing on his way to a seminar in November 1993. The judicial official in charge of the investigation found that the journalist had died under suspicious circumstances. According to Amnesty International, the death of Bonino occurred in the context of an increased campaign of threats and intimidation against journalists. Soon before his death, in the name of the UTPBA, he had denounced the death threats received by journalists in the province of San Luis. More recently, on April 19, 2001, the television show Puntodoc/2 presented footage where a former police officer from the province of Buenos Aires implicated other police agents in the killing of Bonino. The case remains open.
The brutal assassination of photojournalist José Luis Cabezas in January of 1997 is the most famous case of violence against the media in recent times. The 35-year-old magazine news photographer was found handcuffed and charred in a cellar near the beach resort of Pinamar. He had been shot twice in the head. A few days after his death, thousands of journalists, citizens, politicians, and members of human rights groups wore black ribbons while marching through the streets of Buenos Aires in silence as a sign of protest to the murder. As a journalist for the magazine Noticias, Cabezas had recently photographed reclusive Argentine businessman Alfredo Yabran, accused of having Mafia ties. Mr. Yabran committed suicide in May 1998, after a judge ordered his arrest in connection with the murder of Cabezas. In February of 2000, 8 out of 10 persons accused in this crime received sentences of life in prison. Three of those with life sentences were members of the Buenos Aires police department.
The more recent case involves the murder of Ricardo Gangeme, owner and director of the weekly El Informador Chubutense from the southern city of Trelew, on March 13, 1999. He received a gunshot as he arrived home. The journalist, who had previously worked as an editor at Radio Argentina and as a reporter for the Buenos Aires newspaper Crónica, was known for investigating corruption in government and business, and had reported threats to the police. Prior to his murder Gangeme wrote about irregularities in three legal suits involving the directors of the Trelew Electrical Cooperative. Six months after Gangeme's murder, the judicial official in charge of the investigation determined the arrest of six people allegedly involved in the killing. The arrested were associated with the administrative board running the city's electricity cooperative, which had been accused of corruption by Gangeme.
According to the Argentine Association for the Defense of Independent Journalism (PERIODISTAS ):
…1997 was the year of the greatest regression in press freedom in Argentina since the restoration of democracy in 1983. If in previous years, repressive bills on press freedom and lawsuits against journalists presented by government officials threatened the consolidation of a right won with great difficulty, in 1997 the murder of photographer José Luis Cabezas, the proliferation of attacks, threats and insults against journalists, official treatment of the press as a political rival and the encouragement by President Carlos Menem to attack the press by saying that citizens had 'a right to give (the press) a beating': all helped put freedom of thought and expression in a serious predicament.
There are also several reports from PERIODISTAS and the UTPBA that in the last few years reporters have been physically attacked or seriously threatened by a variety of social actors such as police officers, union activists, politicians, agitators, party militants, public officials, and individuals associated with the prior military regime. In one case in the province of Santa Cruz, the radio station FM Inolvidable was attacked four times (including a firebomb) after reporting on the drug trafficking and car robberies in the port city of Caleta Oliva.
In addition there is the case of illegal spying on journalists by state agencies. One case that gained notoriety in recent years involved the illegal spying on reporters by the intelligence services. According to reports in Página 12 and Crónica, during 1999 the Air Force's intelligence services, concerned about investigations by journalists on the privatization of the country's airports, initiated an illegal inquiry that included spying on eight journalists from major newspapers. Following a judicial investigation, five members of the military were arrested and charged with plotting the illegal search.
The state had a dominant role over the media between the years of 1973 (when General Peron returned to power) and 1983 (when the military government fell, and elections were called). From 1973 to 1976 television was in the hands of the government, run during that time by the Peronist party (Partido Justicialista ). The state took an aggressive stand to gain control of television, confiscating private channels and taking advantage of license expirations. The government also moved to organize a state media bureaucracy that had under its jurisdiction the news agency TELAM, National Radio and its 23 affiliates in the interior of the country, 36 other radio stations, the National Institute of Cinematography, the national television channel (Canal 7 ), and four other television channels. Poor management and large financial losses characterized these agencies throughout this period.
The military government that took power in 1976 also extended its grip over state media, seeking to perpetuate the control they had already imposed in other areas of Argentine public life. Struggles within the different branches of the armed forces led to a division of control over media outlets. In this regard, the presidency exerted control over Channel 7, the army over Channel 9, the air force had Channel 11, and Channel 13 was shared among them. An important technical development during this period came in 1978, with the hosting of the soccer World Cup. The improvements made for the event included direct satellite communication with over 400 broadcasting units within the country and the move to color television, which formally started in May of 1980. Another related event during this period was the passage of a broadcasting bill, "Law 22,285" in 1980, which opened the door for the slow introduction of a private role in television and radio. In particular, the law sought to prevent businesses involved in printed journalism from expanding into broadcasting media and also to restrict the creation of national television networks. Under this law, one channel (Canal 9 ) was privatized in October of 1982. The first private owner was Alejandro Romay and his company TELEARTE S.A.
The new democratic period began at the end of 1983 following the election of Raúl Alfonsin from the UCR party. During his government drastic changes occurred in the areas of freedom of the press and stopping the violent attacks of the preceding era. On the legal front the new democratic government did not alter the status quo, and no important media privatization projects were undertaken under this government.
The next president, the Peronist Carlos Menem, was elected in 1989 and again in 1995. He introduced major changes in the regulations of television and radio, privatizing several state television channels, permitting the creation of national networks and introducing greater foreign participation. While on the one hand Menem benefited private ownership of the press, on the other hand he had a very contentious relationship with journalists. Public encouragement by President Carlos Menem to attack the press by saying that citizens had 'a right to give (the press) a beating' is one example. According to the independent organization PERIODISTAS, by the end of 1997:
…The decision of a private TV channel to pull two of its shows because of pressure from the government created a new type of threat against freedom of expression: that of media owners who have other business interests. In the case of the programs Día D led by journalist Jorge Lanata, and Las patas de la mentira produced by Miguel Rodríguez Arias, the main shareholder of the América TV channel which aired the programs is also in one of the groups bidding in the privatization of 33 domestic airports. Information on the cancellation of the journalists' contracts was communicated by people close to government before it was announced by the channel authorities.
The media companies that had been part of the state for decades were reorganized by an executive decree in January of 2001. The government created a new multimedia state company, Sistema Nacional de Medios Públicos Sociedad del Estado, that merged with other smaller agencies. In the process it dissolved the state companies that ran the television channel ATC, the news agency Telam, and the Official Radio Broadcasting Service, whose functions are now part of the new state conglomerate. In 2002 another decree placed a government official to oversee the restructuring of this state company.
Accusations of political uses of advertising money by the state have surfaced in a number of occasions in the last few years. The agencies running the advertising decisions of the state have been political appointees (i.e., "partisan allies") of the administration in place. The board running the state multimedia company has ample powers to determine the allocation of advertising for every sector of the executive branch, including state-dependent companies. There is no auditing agency or independent control mechanism over decisions made regarding state advertising. Allegations of pressures to withdraw state (federal and provincial) publicity funds have grown, including some that eventually led to the filing of legal suits. The main victims have apparently been the poorer media organizations in the interior of the country that many times are heavily dependent on these funds to make a profit. Such allegations have surfaced in the provinces of San Luis, Mendoza, Chubut, La Rioja, Santa Cruz, and Rio Negro.
The relationship between governors and the media has been controversial in many provinces. In the province of Salta, the main newspaper El Tribuno is owned by the governor. This has led to questions about press independence in that area of the country. In the province of Santiago del Estero a serious dispute between journalists and provincial political party "machines" has grown in the last few years. A judicial ruling from an allegedly friendly provincial judge ruled against the newspaper El Liberal and ordered the payment of monetary compensation to the women's branch of the local Peronist party. This is the third such judicial ruling, which carried a penalty of $600,000 from 11 different criminal counts. According to Danilo Arbilla, president of the Inter-American Press Society (SIP), "we are surprised that public agencies from Santiago del Estero and from the federal government have not acted on this matter yet, given their knowledge that this is clearly a campaign directed by the provincial administration, which uses a judicial system of little independence, to punish a news media organization for criticizing the public administration and their political activities." The controversy started after El Liberal from Santiago del Estero reproduced reports, published in the newspaper La Voz del Interior from the neighboring province of Cordoba, that were critical to the women's branch of the dominant Peronist party run by the governor's wife. Since then, political groups allegedly connected to governor Carlos Juarez have responded with distribution and working barriers against both newspapers.
The relationship between legislators and the media turned sour in the year 2000 after newspapers reported on a bribe scandal in the Argentine Senate. This halted progress on an important bill protecting press freedom, which had been demanded by journalists for some time. A judge investigating the scandal said that it appeared that government officials bribed senators of the opposition Peronist party, as well as some of its own senators, to vote for a controversial labor reform bill. These allegations rocked the De La Rua administration, which had been elected with a mandate to fight corruption a year before. One of the 11 legislators called to answer questions before a judge was Senator Augusto Alasino, who was forced to give up his job as leader of the opposition Peronist Party in the upper house. In an apparent effort to get back at the press, Alasino later introduced a bill rejecting "the unlimited use of freedom of expression." The bill never passed.
As of mid-2002 the president of the country had a radio show on the public station Radio Nacional. The show, called Dialogando con el Presidente, was broadcast twice a week for two hours.
Attitude toward Foreign Media
Foreign correspondents need an accreditation provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This credential, renewable every year, is issued by the ministry after a specific request by the media company hiring the journalist. The Association of Foreign Correspondents in Argentina has a special agreement with the government, and requests for such permits can be processed at its office instead of the government's agency. To be able to work inside governmental buildings such as the National Congress or the president's office and residence, a special accreditation provided by the respective institutions is required. According to this foreign press association, in Argentina there are around 150 foreign correspondents, half of which are Argentines working for foreign media companies.
The current government of Argentina does not review or censor cables or news sent abroad by foreign journalists working in the country. The last time some type of censorship mechanism was imposed was during the last military government (1976-83), when the state checked on foreign correspondents' activities as part of their overall objective of controlling the news flow. There are no established procedures for government relations with the foreign press. The holding of a special presidential press conference for the foreign media on a monthly occasion is now a not-so-regular event.
Foreign ownership of media companies started to increase with the withdrawal of state companies and the slow deregulation of the market that began after the election of Menem to the presidency. In 1989 the government dropped the 10-year residency requirement for receiving a broadcasting license. In regard to the newspaper business, companies from Spain have made important inroads in the market. The Spanish group Recoletos has recently acquired 100 percent of shares in the leading financial newspaper El Cronista and the magazines Apertura, Information Technology, and Target. The Spanish group Correo is a partner with the two leading Argentine newspapers in a company called CIMECO, which owns the regional newspapers La Voz del Interior and Los Andes, each one dominant in their local markets (83 percent and 73 percent of provincial circulation respectively).
An Argentine investor sold the first privatized television channel, Canal 9, to the Australian company Prime Television for $150 million in 1997. Two years later the Spanish company Telefonica bought it for $120 million. And in 2002 it was bought by an Argentine consortium. Another foreign player in broadcasting is the Mexican group CIE Rock & Pop, which currently owns eight radio stations.
In light of the serious financial situation faced by the local news media, Congress is discussing a law limiting the share of foreign companies in cultural enterprises. According to the new project, foreigners would have a 20 percent limit in the share of national media companies. The bill passed the Senate, but it still needs the approval of the lower chamber.
Argentina has three major news agencies, one of which belongs to the state. A board appointed by the government, which often seems to reflect political interest more than professional aptitude, controls the state agency Telam. Recently the state multimedia company that runs Telam has entered a major restructuring, and the future of the agency is uncertain. The other two big national agencies, DYN and Noticias Argentinas (NA), are run by major newspapers. The former is partly own by the two biggest newspapers Claín and La Nació, and the latter belongs to the group that controls Diario Popular. They are both national agencies that supply information to national and provincial media.
Two other smaller news agencies are the Agencia de Diarios Bonaerenses, based in the province of Buenos Aires, and the Agencia Informativa Católica Argentina, which is a Catholic Church agency focusing on news related to religious and church matters. There are also news agencies run by universities, such as the University of La Plata (AIULA ) and the University of Lomas de Zamora(ANULZ ). These two agencies are run by journalism students and are self-financed with their revenues from selling information mainly to newspapers and local radios.
Major foreign news agencies with bureaus in Buenos Aires include: ANSA (Italy), Associated Press (United States), Bloomerang (United States), EFE (Spain), France Presse (France), Reuters (UK), United Press International (United States), and Xinhua (China). Some other foreign press news organizations in the country include: Deutsche Press (Germany), Europa Press, Bridge News (United States), BTA (Bulgaria), Milliyet (Turkey), Pravda (Slovakia), Vatican Information Service, Inter Press Service, Novosti (Russia), Agencia Latinoamericana de Informacion, Prensa Latina (Cuba), Zenit, and Duma (Bulgaria).
As of 2002 about 10 million Argentines own television sets. According to the World Bank, Argentina has the highest rates of cable television subscribers in Latin America, with 163 per 1,000 individuals in 1998. The country has 46 channels of open television: 2 belong to the state, 11 to provincial governments, 4 to national universities, and 29 are private channels. Only 7 cities have more than one local TV channel: Buenos Aires, Tucumán, Rosario, Mendoza, Cordoba, Bahia Blanca, and Mar del Plata. The city of Buenos Aires has 5 national channels of open broadcast TV. One of these, Canal 7, is the only state-owned channel that broadcasts all over the country. Provinces have at least 2 channels of open TV that rebroadcast programs from the national stations. In addition there are 4 national cable channels and over 100 other cable channels that rebroadcast national and foreign shows.
Argentina has approximately 260 AM radio stations and 300 FM stations. Of these, 32 are located in the city of Buenos Aires. The number of illegal radio stations has increased dramatically in the last 20 years. It is calculated that there are over 1,000 unlicensed radio stations. To counter the increasing number of clandestine radio stations, the government has recently extended a large number of licenses and has also begun a program to facilitate the legalization of existing stations. Argentina has approximately 650 radios per 1,000 individuals.
According to the main umbrella organization for private media businesses in Argentina, CEMCI (Comision Empresaria de Medios de Comunicación Independientes ), radio and television generate employment for 35,000 people, offering one of the highest wage rates in the country.
In 1989, soon after President Menem came to power, he modified press law 22,285 first passed under the military government and began the deregulation of broadcasting media. After this four television channels that used to be state-owned were privatized. This was the first major privatization of television channels since 1982. In 1999 the government of Menem also introduced important changes to the legislation affecting broadcast media. Radio and television regulations were affected by an executive decree (1005/99), whose main provisions were: (1) to increase the number of licenses given per business nationwide from 4 to 24, and maintain the limit of 1 per district and type of service, (2) to allow the creation of national networks, (3) to permit the transfer of licenses, (4) to drop the 10-year residency requirement for receiving a license, and (5) to give television and radio stations benefits regarding their own publicity.
The subsequent government of De La Rua limited the total number of television licenses issued to 12 out of those 24. It intended to limit the possible reach of such a network to only half of the country, which has 24 provinces. In regard to radio station licenses, the government now increased the prior limits to 4 as long as it accounts for no more than 25 percent of the local offer. In order to have 2 radio stations belonging to the same group, a minimum of 8 radio stations have to be in place in that locality. In practice the transfer of licenses is complicated to track down, since limitations were dropped and in some cases licenses are requested after the transfer has been in effect.
The Federal Broadcasting Committee (COMFER ) is the government agency in charge of regulating radio and television, including language and time of broadcasting. The COMFER issues licenses to broadcast within the available frequencies, regulates transfers of licenses, and determines their expiration. First established in 1972, it is the agency in charge of enforcing the broadcasting law 22,285/80, the regulating executive decree 286/81, and complementary laws across the nation. The COMFER has a Supervision Center in the city of Buenos Aires and 32 delegations across the country, as well as an Assessment Area. A main task is the control of broadcasting material that is considered to be harmful to children. The broadcasting law 22,285 determines the agency's reach into areas such as the content of the transmissions (section 14), the use of offensive language (section 15), audience protection (section 16), protection of minors (section 17), participation of minors (section 22), advertising (section 23), time limits for commercials (section 71), and free broadcasting (section 72). The executive decree 286/81 also regulates advertising (articles 4 and 5) and the broadcasting time for protection of minors (article 7) among other matters.
In the application of the law, the COMFER can issue sanctions (i.e., infraction fees) and control the revenues that would come in the application of the federal broadcasting law. In practice, if the agency finds a violation through one of its monitoring centers across the country, it needs to start a file recording the alleged infraction. If the problem refers to the content of a broadcasting show or commercial, it goes to the Assessment Area, where the file is analyzed according to regulations and if a breach is confirmed, it is forwarded to the Infractions Area of COMFER. If the file arose in respect to direct violations (films with inappropriate rating for the time of broadcasting, advertising on medicines, advertising overtime, transmission of gambling events, etc.), it is forwarded to a different unit (Dirección de Fiscalización ), and if the breach is confirmed, it is also sent to the Infractions Area. This latter office is the one required to notify the individual with the license and to present the appropriate documentation of the case. The alleged offender can appeal to the Judicial Directorate of COMFER.
Until recently COMFER had been receiving close to $140 million from tax collections earmarked to them. According to regulations, 25 percent of what television provides has to be invested in cinematography, 8 percent of revenues go to support the National Institute of Theatre, and the rest goes to the National Treasury. The government financially supports national radio and public television from other tax resources.
Electronic News Media
According to official figures, Argentina has 7.5 million telephone lines and 4 million active cellular phones. In 1999 the number of Internet users was calculated to be 900,000, which is equivalent to 2.5 percent of the population. The proportion of Internet users in the population is similar to that found in Brazil and Mexico. According to the World Bank, Argentina has 28 Internet hosts per 10,000 individuals.
On the legal front, Internet press continues to be regulated in a similar fashion as the press in general. Regarding Internet privacy, the Argentine Federation of Press Workers (FATPREN ) has opposed a bill being debated in Congress because of its position against a provision that would allow employers to check employees' e-mail messages.
All major media organizations have Internet Web sites. These press sites provide users with a variety of news, information, and entertainment. Several include up-to-the-moment news together with access to their editorials, archives, live radio, or television. Some of these sites include:
- Agencia Diarios y Noticias (DYN) (http://www.dyn.com.ar/)
- Ambito Financiero (http://www.1.com.ar)
- Buenos Aires Herald (http://www.buenosairesherald.com/)
- Clarín (http://www.clarin.com)
- Cuyo Noticias, from the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan, and San Luis (http://www.cuyonoticias.com.ar/)
- El Cronista (http://www.cronista.com/)
- El Día, from the city of La Plata (http://www.eldia.com.ar/)
- La Gaceta, from the province of Tucumán (http://www.gacenet.com.ar)
- La Nación (http://www.lanacion.com.ar/)
- Olé, a sports news site (http://www.ole.com.ar/)
- Página 12 (http://www.pagina12.com/)
- Parlamentario.com, a site with legislative news (http://www.parlamentario.com/)
- Periodismo.com, which includes links to over 20 radio stations (http://periodismo.com.ar/)
- La Razón (http://www.larazon.com.ar/)
- Río Negro On Line (http://www.rionegro.com.ar/)
- TELAM, the state news agency (http://www.telam.com.ar/)
- TELEFE Canal de television (http://www.telefe.com.ar/)
- TN24horas.com, from Todo Noticias cable channel (http://www.tn24horas.com/)
- La Voz del Interior from the province of Cordoba (http://www.lavozdelinterior.com.ar/)
- El Zonda, from the province of San Juan (http://www.diarioelzonda.com.ar/)
Education & TRAINING
Educational institutions in Argentina offer undergraduate as well as graduate degrees in journalism and in communication studies. There are also several colleges that provide technical training for people interested in a career in journalism. Media companies have been recruiting students with journalism degrees, but it is not a common requirement for entering the profession. Generally speaking all educational entities provide students with training in writing for the press and speech for public broadcasting. In addition, classes also provide students with a more general education in the social sciences.
All major universities offer graduate degrees in journalism. In addition, since 1999, the two major newspapers have began to offer a one-year masters degree. La Nación has a program in association with the University San Andrés, and Clarín has a program in association with University Di Tella and Columbia University in New York. Students of these educational institutions enjoy the opportunity to intern in these very influential newspapers for six months. Most other educational institutions have also established internships with a variety of media organizations. Internship opportunities provide students with the chance to write stories for newspapers as well as to participate in live broadcasts.
Some of the universities offering degrees in journalism include: Universidad de Buenos Aires; Universidad Abierta Interamericana; Universidad Argentina de la Empresa; Universidad Argentina John F. Kennedy; Universidad Catolica Argentina; Universidad de Belgrano; Universidad de Morón; Universidad de San Andrés; Universidad Nacional de La Matanza; Universidad Nacional de La Plata; Universidad Nacional de Luján; Universidad Nacional de Quilmes; Universidad Nacional de Lomas de Zamora; Universidad Austral; Universidad Nacional de Córdoba; Universidad Nacional de Tucumún; Universidad Catolica de Salta; Universidad Nacional de Rosario; Universidad Nacional de Entre Rios; Universidad Nacional de San Luis; and Universidad del Museo Social Argentino.
In addition there is a state-sponsored Institute of Higher Education in Broadcasting (ISER ) founded in 1951 and run by the Federal Broadcasting Committee (COMFER ). Based in the city of Buenos Aires, the institute has three radio studios (two FM), two television studios, editing rooms, and a computer lab.
Argentina has two major awards targeted to the press and show business. The Konex foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to stimulate cultural, educational, philanthropic, social, and scientific activities, awards yearly prizes to journalists, the press and broadcast media. There is also a yearly event organized by the Association of Television Journalists (Asociación Argentina de Periodismo Televisivo ), which awards the "Martín Fierro" prizes. The jury is composed of well-known personalities in broadcasting media, and awards are given to news programs, sports, entertainment, humor, and soap operas. The awards given by this highly watched event also include radio programs.
A smaller yearly event in recognition of the press activities involves the "Santa Clara de Asís" awards, given by the League of Family Mothers. They are targeted to broadcasting shows that have excelled in the defense of family values, culture, and "healthy" recreation. Another award to radio and television shows includes those handed out by the "Broadcasting Group," which beginning in 2002 takes into consideration public votes in its selection of prizewinners.
The main umbrella organization for private media businesses in Argentina is the "Independent Media Business Committee" or CEMCI (Comision Empresaria de Medios de Comunicación Independientes ). It brings together six other major organizations: the Association of Newspaper Editors from Buenos Aires, the Association of Magazine Publishers, the Association of Newspapers from the Interior, the Argentine Association of Broadcasting Stations, the Cable Television Association, and the Argentine Association of Private Radio Stations.
Some other press organizations in the country include:
- PERIODISTAS: Founded in 1995 by a group of renowned independent journalists, it is a nonprofit organization supported by membership contributions. The membership includes newspaper directors, editors in chief, writers, and broadcasting journalists. It has maintained an independent trajectory and cultivated a plurality of views that has made it the main independent organization of journalists defending freedom of the press.
- Buenos Aires Press Workers Union (UTPBA): This is a labor organization that represents journalists from the city of Buenos Aires. It performs union activities, such as collective bargaining, as well as defending the individual rights of press workers. The organization has a training and research center, a library, and runs the press workers' health fund. In the last years it has maintained a critical position against the government and defended legislative threats to the welfare of its workers.
- COMUNICADORES: This is a recently established organization of journalists active in labor and freedom of the press issues. The membership of this organization is mostly from journalists who do not occupy management, editorial, or other hierarchical positions in media organizations.
- Association of Foreign Correspondents in Argentina: The Association of Foreign Correspondents is located in the city of Buenos Aires. Its membership of 130 includes journalists from all foreign media companies working in Argentina. It provides an avenue for foreign correspondents to meet and exchange information as well as a voice in public issues related to freedom of the press. In addition it helps foreign correspondents with accreditation paperwork and sometimes offers educational courses.
- Association of Press Entities of Argentina (ADEPA): This organization brings together owners and upper management of media companies (i.e., television, radio, and newspapers). It lobbies on matters that affect the economic and legal status of media businesses as well as freedom of the press. It has recently emphasized its support for government deregulation of the media and its opposition to restrictive judicial rulings.
- Association of Photojournalists from Argentina (ARGA): The association has a membership that extends all over the country. It is concerned with legal issues affecting the profession as well as press freedom and militancy. The latter became salient after the murder of photojournalist José Luis Cabezas in 1997.
- The Argentine Federation of Press Workers (FATPREN): This is a national labor organization composed of over 40 individual unions.
The press in Argentina has undergone significant changes over the last three decades. After suffering under a repressive military regime for seven years, it emerged as one of the institutional building blocks of democracy. As the country struggles with the difficult task of building a free society, journalists have consistently put themselves at risk in order to bring news to Argentine homes. As a profession, journalism has grown stronger in both political and economic influence. Many individual journalists, also the victims of a depressing economic panorama, have excelled in their professional achievements, winning international awards and helping locally to uncover government fraud, mafia activities, and human rights violations.
Media companies have also grown economically stronger under favorable legislation. The move to a more business friendly set of regulations started under President Menem. These changes allowed for a growth in private ownership of media companies never seen before. Many critics have lamented the decreasing role of state intervention and have accused big media conglomerates of monopolizing the market. Unions and the left have also protested what they see as excessive political influence of big media conglomerates. Whatever advantages these companies accumulated during the last decade, now they are forced to confront the ills of heavy liabilities.
The difficult economic situation in Argentina in mid-2002 leads most analysts to conclude that the short-term prospects for the country are bleak. This will seriously affect the press, not only as it suffers from the general malaise, but also for the consequences of possible violent social conflict on press freedom. For small media companies and provincial newspapers the panorama appears to be even worse. On the legal front, the slow erosion of norms benefiting press workers and the constant use of presidential decrees to undertake major changes in media regulation have opened the door to policy volatility in the next few years.
The rapid growth of electronic media and instant access to information also pose new challenges to old fashioned newspapers that have to adapt to a rapidly changing professional environment. The accelerated growth of Internet sites and availability of broadcasting media online will probably continue to grow in the near future, despite economic hardships.
Overall the future of the press seems complex and uncertain. Many important legal and economic issues that affect the profession are now being debated in Congress. Under the currently difficult state of affairs, the role of the Argentine press has, if anything, grown even more important.
- January 1997: Photojournalist José Luis Cabezas is murdered, resulting in a national outcry.
- 1997: Antitrust legislation is passed, limiting the growth of media conglomerates.
- March 1999: Murder of journalist Ricardo Gangeme in the southern city of Trelew.
- September 1999: Presidential decree modifying broadcasting laws and favoring greater concentration of media ownership.
- 2000: Following press reports over illegal activities, the Argentine Senate becomes embroiled in a bribery scandal.
- January 2001: Decree reorganizing all state media companies under one central unit
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COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group
Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, La Plata, Mendoza, San Miguel de Tucumán, Mar del Plata, Salta
Avellaneda, Bahía Blanca, Catamarca, Comodoro, Rivadavia, Concordia, Corrientes, Godoy Cruz, Paraná, Posadas, Resistencia, Río Cuarto, San Juan, Santa Fe
This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated February 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.
ARGENTINA is different from most Latin American countries in that 97% of its population is Caucasian, with Spanish and Italian strains predominating. There were few Indians in the area when the first permanent Spanish colony was established in 1536 on the site of what is now Buenos Aires. As a result, the Indian genealogical influence is slight. In the early years of this century, large-scale European immigration stimulated the modernization of the country, giving it economic and cultural status in the Western Hemisphere. Argentina is the second largest country in South America (after Brazil).
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and its largest city. Situated on the Rio de la Plata 100 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, it is the country's major port and the center of virtually all activity.
Greater Buenos Aires has approximately 12,431,000 people; it is the world's fifth largest metropolitan area.
The general atmosphere of Buenos Aires is cosmopolitan and its people are quite sophisticated. The change from leisurely 19th century European living to present-day patterns is striking in the residential areas of Barrio Norte, Palermo, and Belgrano. Here, Paris-inspired mansions with wrought iron grillwork and carved doors pass from private hands to become Ambassadorial residences, government agencies, museums, or make way for tall apartment buildings boasting pent-houses and swimming pools. In the high rise apartments and in the comfortable houses of the northern suburbs of Olivos, Martinez, and San Isidro, it is possible to reproduce U.S. patterns of living while enjoying much of the Argentine way of life.
The streets and avenues of Buenos Aires tell the story of the city, from afternoon tea at a sidewalk restaurant on Avenida Callao to late night on Avenida Corrientes, the "Broadway" of Buenos Aires. There is, for instance, Avenida 9 de Julio, claimed to be the world's widest avenue, and Calle Florida, an exclusively pedestrian mall where tourists shop year round. Avenida Santa Fe could be called the Fifth Avenue of Buenos Aires, while on Avenida Alvear, the small, elegant shops remind you of Paris and Vienna. The Costanera, the wide riverside boulevard, boasts dozens of open-air cafes.
There is a modern system of transportation with bus, train, and subway complexes contrasted with horse-drawn vehicles, whose drivers offer carriage rides through Palermo Park. Buenos Aires has some supermarkets and department stores. However, small businesses abound, from open and covered marketplaces to arcades lined with small boutiques and cafe bars.
Entertainment is plentiful and varied in Buenos Aires. The Colon Theater, one of the world's great opera houses, each year plays host to ballet troupes, opera stars, and symphony orchestras from Europe and the U.S. Folkloric music can be heard at various restaurants around the city. In small out-of-the-way places, the Tango is still danced to the music of small combos; and the colorful water front area of La Boca offers noisy nightlife. With over 60 legitimate theaters in the city, Buenos Aires is popular with traveling theatrical groups as well as outstanding local professional companies.
The city is very sports minded, too. Golf, tennis, riding, fishing, horse racing, polo, soccer, rugby, and boating are all popular sports. "Pato," considered the Argentine national game, is played on horseback with a leather ball (about soccer size) with six leather handles. More than a dozen private golf courses and a municipal course in Palermo Park are near the city center. In recent years bowling has become popular, with automatic alleys in both the city and northern suburbs.
The foreign community is extensive. The passport-holding Italian community is the largest (488,000), followed by the Spanish (374,000), the Polish (57,000), and the German (24,000). The British number about 22,000; North, Central, and other South Americans number about 800,000.
Food is plentiful in Argentina. Supermarkets are well stocked, and carry some U.S. brands.
Most clothing items are more expensive in Argentina, but are plentiful and fashionable although for women, smaller sizes only. When planning and packing, remember that when it is summer in the U.S., it is winter in Argentina.
Men: Men wear medium-weight woolen suits during cool months (mid-April to mid-November) and tropical worsted and wash-and-wear suits during the warm months. Many wear vests or sweaters under suit coats for extra warmth in July and August. The same type wardrobe worn in Washington, D.C. is needed here except that heavy overcoats are seldom needed. Due to the high cost of dry cleaning, wash-and-wear suits are a wise investment.
Good woolen cloth is manufactured in Argentina, and good tailors are available. Nice, reasonably-priced winter suits can be bought locally, but few wash-and-wear suits are sold. Raincoats with zip-out linings are useful. Good leather coats and jackets are made here with prices similar to the U.S., as are woolen sweaters and socks.
Women: Woolen suits, dresses, pants, blouses, and sweaters are basics for Argentine winter wardrobes. Ready-made woolen and knit clothing can be found locally in sophisticated styles but more expensive than comparable qualities in the U.S. Raincoats and coats are necessary although winter weather is less severe than in Washington, D.C. Lightweight summer clothing is recommended for the warm, humid months. Local cotton fabrics are available but drip-dry fabrics are seldom found. Tall and large sizes are virtually nonexistent.
Some opera evenings are very formal, but most performances can be attended in afternoon attire. Shorts can be worn on the streets and golf courses, but are more commonly used for beach wear, tennis, and casual outdoor parties.
Argentine shoes are of excellent quality leather, but the lasts are different and sometimes uncomfortable for Americans. Broad feet are more easily fitted than narrow and large sizes (9 and up) are very difficult to find. Gloves, belts, purses and other leather items can be purchased locally in a wide variety of styles, colors and prices. Hats, except for rain, are seldom used in Buenos Aires. Woolen sweaters of excellent quality are available at fairly reasonable prices.
Children: Beautiful knit clothes for babies are sold locally, however, most children's and babies' clothing is of lower quality than in the U.S. and is very expensive. Rubber pants and disposable diapers are often of inferior quality. U.S. diapers are better for keeping babies dry at night. Shoes are of fairly good quality although narrow and small shoes are hard to find. Woolen sweaters and coats are generally of good quality. Snowsuits are often used for infants as winters are damp and cold. Winter pajamas with feet are popular with children and blanket-type sleeping bags are often used for babies. Warm socks, sweaters, trousers, and coats are standard wear.
Supplies and Services
Common household supplies are available in Buenos Aires on the local market, and nearby pharmacies dispense first aid supplies, pills, and other drugstore needs. Special prescriptions should be brought in quantity. Many well-known cosmetic firms have branches in Argentina, although their products may be slightly different, and the prices higher. Bring along a good first aid kit.
All books are expensive in Buenos Aires.
Tailoring and dressmaking as well as mending services for hosiery and shoes, are available. Beauty shops are plentiful Radio and TV repairs are generally good if parts are available. Occasional problems are experienced with stereo repairs.
Argentina is predominantly Roman Catholic. Other denominations include Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Latter-Day Saints, Lutheran, Seventh-day Adventist, Presbyterian, Jewish, Russian, Greek Orthodox and Christian Scientist. English services are conducted at some of the churches.
Most American children in Argentina attend the Asociacion Escuelas Lincoln, generally known as the American Community School. It is a tuition-supported school which also receives periodic grants from the U.S. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
It is essential that you begin the enrollment process at least 60 days prior to your arrival. Screening tests are given to all new students in grades K-8. Lincoln School has established English proficiency standards based on testing for full admission as well as for conditional admission.
Students admitted without knowledge of Spanish are provided with special Spanish classes until they can integrate with their regular classes. Students are screened for placement in the Special Spanish program.
Lincoln maintains an Elementary Resource Room which is setup to attend to the needs of students with minimal learning difficulties on a part-time pull out basis, grades 1-8. Due to the nature of the school and curriculum, it is not possible to provide a special program for every student as is the norm in most U.S. school districts. It is ESSENTIAL for parents of students with a history of learning problems to contact the school WELL IN ADVANCE so that it can be determined if Lincoln is a suitable educational environment and, if so, to obtain the necessary testing data. There is no special education program in the high school.
Diagnostic Testing—In grades K-6, based on teacher and parent referral, the Guidance Counselor and Resource Room Teacher administer specific diagnostic tests to students who exhibit learning problems. These tests are used to diagnose learning styles and achievement levels so that individual educational programs can be developed to meet each student's needs. The American School maintains a preschool, kindergarten, and grades 1-12. It is located in the Buenos Aires suburb of La Lucila along the shores overlooking the Rio de la Plata. Enrollment is about 800 students.
Approximately 35% of the student body is American but also includes Argentines and children from about 40 other countries. The property of the school includes a playground, athletic field, auditorium/gymnasium, cafeteria, and large swimming pool. The school has well-stocked libraries and suitable laboratory facilities.
The curricula of both private and public schools in Argentina must conform with that stipulated by the National Council of Education. By Argentine law, all students through the first semester of the 8th grade must pursue the Argentine course with instruction in Spanish.
Approximately one third of each day must be devoted to these studies. Newcomers are placed in language classes commensurate with their knowledge or abilities. New students should not be too concerned, as a "grace period" of one semester is allowed before testing in Spanish proficiency is attempted. New students are not expected to be proficient in the language upon arrival. All high school courses are taught in English, except for foreign language courses.
School terms run from early August to late December, and from mid-February to late June. The summer holiday of about five weeks starts in July. The American Community School's academic year corresponds as closely as possible to the school year in the U.S.; i.e., the second term of the academic year begins after the long summer vacation.
Bus service and hot lunches are available to children attending the American School. The school has no boarding facilities. School hours are 8:00 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
In addition to academic education, extracurricular opportunities abound for adults and children within Greater Buenos Aires, including lessons in guitar, piano, riding, dancing, yoga, art, and ceramics. Children may join scout groups or participate in Little League, soccer, basketball, and other sports.
Recreational opportunities abound in Argentina. There are excellent private golf clubs and one public course, the Municipal Course in Palermo Park. Good tennis clubs and facilities for yachting, fishing, rowing, swimming, horseback riding, bowling, skiing, and hunting are available. There are also tennis courts which can be rented by the hour, with or without lessons. Jogging, biking and roller blading in the parks are popular exercises. Indoor facilities include several gymnasiums, one of which—the YMCA—is equipped for handball, fencing, boxing, wrestling, and many other sports. Most clubs specialize in only one or two activities, making the cost of participating in a variety of interests, quite high.
Ocean swimming is available in Uruguay or south of Buenos Aires in Mar del Plata, Pinamar, Miramar and other beach resorts. The nearest ski areas are in Bariloche and Neuquen in the Argentine Patagonia (4 hours, depending on type of aircraft; 2 days by train or car), or in Chile.
Hunting licenses are easily obtained. Most hunting is done on private lands and is by invitation or arrangement. Hunters find an abundance of game birds, including the "perdiz" (similar to partridge), copetona (resembling guinea hen), "colorado" (a pheasant-like bird having all white meat) and duck. You can also hunt deer, rheas (the Argentine ostrich), wild boar, hare, and fox. Guanaco and mountain goats are found in the high mountains, and pumas are found in many parts of the country. U.S. hunting equipment is highly prized here. Guns can only be imported with a customs declaration and special permit. Satisfactory shotguns and 22 caliber ammunition are available locally. High quality ammunition should be brought with you.
Fishing catches include dorado, a large, gold-colored fish found only in the rivers of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. Deep sea tackle is used for these game fish. The country abounds in trout and landlocked salmon, which grow to fantastic sizes. Trout fishing with a fly rod is very popular. Bring a fairly heavy casting rod to do double-duty casting and trolling. Spinning reels are recommended. Equipment for most sports can be bought in Buenos Aires, but quality is inferior to U.S. equipment and prices are higher.
Spectator sports include the immensely popular football (soccer), played year round at every level from sandlot to professional (at many stadiums in the city); the aristocratic polo; tennis; horseracing (tracks in Palermo, suburban San Isidro, and nearby La Plata); pato, the rough gaucho-on-horseback spectacle; rugby; car racing; and boxing and wrestling at the Luna Park Stadium.
Polo was first played in Argentina by a group of Britons on August 30, 1875. They called it the game "of the mad Englishmen", but it was taken up with enthusiasm by the Argentines. The game spread with the founding of the Buenos Aires Polo Club in 1882 and was made popular among Argentines with the emergence of great players.
In 1920 Argentine polo made its presence felt internationally and soon became known as the best in the world, a label it has never lost. Argentina is known to have the best polo ponies, which are much sought after by the rest of the polo-playing world. While the early matches were played on farm horses, the breeding of polo ponies soon became a fine art. Today's polo ponies are fast, strong, agile, docile, and intelligent, and often crossbred with racehorses.
In Argentina the horse has always been associated with the country dweller's work and play. Pato is a game played on horseback, and forms part of the native tradition. It is played by two teams of four players each. A stuffed leather ball similar in size to a soccer ball, but with six leather handles attached, is held by one of the players. The name of the game derives from the original ball—a live duck tied up in a sack. The object is to throw the ball through a vertical ring defended by the opposing team. The game requires both skill and strength and puts the horses' speed and endurance to the test. The match is divided into four or six tiempos (sets) of 8 minutes each, with 5-minute intervals between them. The pato season in Buenos Aires runs from the end of April to November.
Touring and Outdoor Activities
While expensive and generally far from Buenos Aires, Argentina has numerous beautiful and interesting tourist areas. One of the most popular recreation spots for the Argentines and an exception to the previous sentence is Tigre, 28 miles from Buenos Aires on the Parana River delta, reached by train, bus, or car. Facilities are available for sailing, fishing, rowing, and cruising among the main islands and channels at the mouth of the river.
Mar del Plata, about 250 miles southeast of Buenos Aires, is the principal seaside resort in Argentina and is 30 minutes by plane, 5½ hours by train, 5 hours by car, or 6½ hours by bus. Mar del Plata is an important city and seaport. It has magnificent residences, parks, wide beaches, hotels, restaurants, shops of all kinds, and a huge, luxurious casino. A smaller casino is attached to the famous Hotel Provincial, one of the city's best. Mar del Plata is one of Argentina's most popular vacation spots, and the atmosphere is similar to Atlantic City. Several smaller seaside resorts near Mar del Plata include: Pinamar, more expensive and exclusive, with more private homes than hotels; and Miramar, called the "City of Children," which attracts many American visitors. Attractive beaches in the River Plate area are found at Punta del Este near Montevideo, a ferry trip from Buenos Aires or 35 minutes by air.
In northeastern Argentina at the junction of the Argentine, Paraguayan, and Brazilian borders lies the spectacular 237-foot-high Iguazu Falls (Niagara is 167 feet high). It may be reached by a two-day car ride or by plane. Excellent hotels are available on both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the falls. There are 14 large falls, most of them of great height and beauty. The river areas below the Falls provide excellent fishing. Because of cooler temperatures and more abundant rainfall, the best months to visit Iguazu are from May to September.
Bariloche, in the lake district of Nahuel Huapi in the Patagonian Andes and about 950 miles southwest of Buenos Aires, is another popular tourist resort. It is very pleasant in summer and an excellent place to escape from the city heat. Winter skiing can be done over well-developed trails. Bariloche may be reached by plane, train, or car. Often called the "Argentine Switzerland", it boasts beautiful scenery, with snowcapped mountains, noble forests, mirrorlike lakes, and numerous trout streams.
The city of Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes, is the center of the wine-growing district. The Transandine Railway connects Mendoza with Santiago, Chile, and passes the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere, Aconcagua—almost 23,000 feet high. The Chilean beach resort of Vina del Mar is three hours by car from Santiago.
For the traveler who is looking for something extra, it is possible to visit the Antarctic though a very expensive trip. Other attractions within a few hours by air of Buenos Aires include Asuncion, Paraguay, which also can be reached by river boat or bus from Iguazu; Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost city in the world; and such Brazilian cities as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Camping is very popular and campsites are numerous. Some have water, electricity, bathrooms with hot water, and general stores, while others are open land where you must set up a tent. Many beautiful National Parks have camping sites next to lakes or high in the mountains. Caution: Do not bring a tall tent. Argentine camping requires mountain tents, even in the flat lands, due to occasional high winds. For those who are interested in camping, it is advisable to purchase equipment in the U.S.
If you have a good knowledge of Spanish, the scope of entertainment in Buenos Aires is unlimited. Local theater is active, with good professional companies and amateur groups. Modern and classic plays by Spanish and Argentine authors, as well as translations of Broadway and European hits, are presented year-round. In summer, open-air performances are given in the Teatro Caminito, located in a section of Buenos Aires called "La Boca," one of the older parts of the city with tenements gaily painted in corals, greens, and blues. In this period (December to March), several outdoor theaters present classical plays, while operas, concerts, and ballets are held in San Martin Theater and Palermo Park, and the grounds of the National Library. Many of these summer performances are free.
Teatro Colon, the huge opera house, is typical of Old World magnificence. According to Arturo Toscanini, it has the best acoustics in the world; it was inaugurated on May 25, 1908. It covers an area of 7,050 square meters, is 117.5 meters long, 60 meters wide, and is 43 meters tall at its highest point.
The regular opera and symphonic season lasts from April to November with a full program each year of operas, concerts, soloists, and ballets. As the season in Buenos Aires falls during summer in the Northern Hemisphere, many of the great opera stars from Europe and the U.S. have been able to appear at the Colon. Argentina's symphony orchestras give many performances throughout the year. Ballets are also presented by local companies.
Movies are numerous, imported from the U.S. and Europe, and represent a good cross section of the world's cinematography. Most foreign films, including American, are subtitled and are heard in the original language.
The city has several good museums and many art galleries. There are many guided tours of the city with English-speaking guides available. Local newspapers publish schedules of cultural events in the entertainment section.
Small nightclubs, called "boites," are common in the city, and larger places have open-air dancing in the suburbs along the river. The music, orchestral and recorded, alternates between Latin and North American dance beats. Argentine folk music, while little known outside the country, is becoming increasingly popular with Americans here. "Penas Folkloricas" (public folk music clubs) offer the whole range of native music, from the lively carnavalitos of the far northwest to the slower samba and the familiar tango of Buenos Aires.
The American Club of Buenos Aires, at Viamonte 1133 on the top three floors of a 10-story building, is principally a lunching club, open Monday through Friday. The dining room accommodates members and guests for lunch only. Private dining rooms for parties up to 120 people are available on the 8th floor, and the 9th floor dining room is used for private functions of up to 500 people for cocktails or 350 for lunch or dinner.
The American Women's Club meets twice a month week. All female citizens of Western Hemisphere nations may join. In addition to biweekly teas and monthly meetings, activities are planned around the members' interests, and are in English. In the recent past, classes have been held in art, bridge, Spanish, cooking, music, and Argentine literature and poetry. The American Women's Club holds a charity benefit each year.
The American Society of the River Plate is the social and welfare organization of the American community in Argentina. Citizens of the U.S. and sons and daughters of U.S. citizens may join. The society has no clubrooms but meets in the American Club. The society promotes and maintains friendly relations between the U.S. and Argentina, encourages friendly relations between U.S. and Argentine citizens and promotes their respective interests, assumes responsibility for the celebration of days of national remembrance and Thanksgiving, and gives aid to institutions and/or individuals in need of assistance.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Argentina represents over 500 U.S. business firms. It publishes trade statistics, a weekly newsletter, a monthly magazine, and an annual business directory.
The Chamber holds monthly membership luncheons with guest speakers from government (both Argentine and U.S.) who are prominent in international business. Various committees are active. For example, the Export Committee (AGEX) gives seminars in Argentina and other countries on the technicalities of exporting, and a communications committee arranges—among other things—a lecture program designed to convince students in 15 Argentine universities of the advantages of the free enterprise system. Also active are a legal committee, an industrial relations committee, involved in salary studies among other things, and other committees.
Americans have many opportunities to meet and work with Argentines and representatives of other nations.
The University Women's Club meets monthly for luncheons featuring guest speakers. The club offers orientation courses, tours, and study groups. Programs are generally in English. Any woman, regardless of nationality, who has attended an accredited university or college for 2 years is eligible for membership.
By the terms of Law 12.665, the Argentine National Commission of Museums, Monuments, and Historic Places is empowered to register, control the transfer of, and expropriate private property which it considers to be "of historic-artistic interest." Objects of this nature may not be removed from Argentina. When ownership of such antiquities is transferred, the former owner is obliged to report the transaction, together with the name and address of the new owner, to the Commission within 10 days. Failure to do so automatically raises a presumption of concealment. Anyone guilty of such concealment, or of illegally transferring or exporting such articles, is subject to fine. The law specifically includes historical documents in the category of national treasures and lists such things as old maps, autographed letters and memoranda, and public documents.
Córdoba, a cultural and intellectual center on the Primero River about 400 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, is Argentina's second largest city. It is the capital of Córdoba Province and one of the earliest cities in the country. Founded in 1573, it predates the first permanent settlement at Buenos Aires. Córdoba prospered during colonial times as a link on the commercial route between Buenos Aires and Chile. The advent of the railroad in the 19th century also increased its prosperity. In 2000, it had a population of 1,407,000.
Córdoba is the seat of the country's oldest university, which was founded in 1613 by priests of the Jesuit order as the College of Monserrat. The original building still stands. The college became a university in 1622 and is now, as Paraná, part of the national educational system. A new Catholic university was founded in the city in 1956.
Córdoba is noted for its excellent astronomy observatory; the beautiful and well-preserved colonial architecture; its museums and theaters; its numerous new, large buildings which have transformed the skyline; and its physical beauty, which is emphasized by its location on the slopes of the Sierra de Córdoba.
Near the city, on the Primero, is one of South America's most important dams. (Dique San Roque) Formerly used for cattle ranches, the surrounding land has been enriched by irrigation and transformed into orchards, vineyards, and grain fields. Wheat, cattle, lumber, and minerals are exported from Córdoba.
In recent decades, many industries have developed (textiles, leather, food processing, chemicals, glass), and the city is now one of Argentina's principal commercial and transportation centers. The city is serviced by a modern airport, Pajas Blancas, as well as excellent highways and railways. Also, the tourist industry in and around Córdoba continues to grow.
There are two schools in Córdoba which are recommended to English-speaking students, although Spanish is used as an integral part of their curricula. Academia Arguello is located in the city on Avenida Rafael Nunez, and Reydon School for Girls is at 5178 Cruz Chica, Provincia de Córdoba, Argentina.
Rosario is the principal city of Santa Fe Province in the north-central part of the country. It is a major rail terminal and the nation's largest inland port. Rosario lies on the Paraná River, 190 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, and is a commercial city and export center for the neighboring agricultural provinces. Its population of over 1,228,000 includes a large British expatriate community. Nearby Fisherton Airport serves the city.
Rosario was settled in 1689, and founded as a city under its present name in 1725. After the Argentine war of independence, the nation's first flag was raised here in 1816 and, each summer, commemorative ceremonies are held at the site.
Rosario began developing into a major center late in the 19th century, and is now an important industrial city known for sugar refining, flour milling, automobile production, steel milling, and meat processing. It has a national university, founded in 1968.
The city has several museums, among them the Municipal Decorative Arts Museum, the Municipal Fine Arts Museum, and the Museum of Provincial History. Tourists also enjoy viewing Rosario's Renaissance-Style Cathedral, Municipal Palace, and the Monument of the Flag which commemorates the raising of the first Argentine Flag.
La Plata, 35 miles southeast of the capital, was built as a new city after Buenos Aires became a federal district in 1880. For a brief period, from 1952 to 1955, La Plata's name was changed to Eva Perón, in honor of the wife of Juan Perón, who was president at that time. The city's name was returned to the original when Perón fell from power.
La Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires Province, has a population of 676,000. Its commercial enterprises include meat packaging, textiles, oil refineries, and sawmills. Among its cultural institutions are a national university, a museum with a world-famous collection of anthropological artifacts, a national library, and fine zoological gardens.
Mendoza, situated in an oasis in western Argentina called the "Garden of the Andes," is a major metropolis and the center of a fruit- and wine-producing region which was settled mostly by Italian immigrants. Its vast fields are irrigated by the Mendoza River. Each March, the city celebrates the grape harvest with the Fiesta de la Vendimia, and bodegas (wine cellars) in the surrounding area are open to the public for the sampling of the new wine.
Mendoza was founded in 1516. It belonged to Chile until 1776, when it came under the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata. José de San Martín began his final preparation here in 1817 for the liberation of Chile. The city was destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 1861, but rebuilding was well underway within two years.
Mendoza is the eastern terminus of the 75-year-old Transandine Railway, which traverses the Andes at Uspallata Pass, connecting the city with Santiago, Chile. It passes the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, Aconcagua, at a height of 22,834 feet. In Mendoza, from the summit of Cerro de la Gloria, which is crowned with a statue of San Martín, there are spectacular views of the Andean peaks to the west.
Mendoza, with a greater area population of 943,000 is noted for its museums and parks, and for its numerous restaurants which offer fine food at moderate prices. The city has several theaters, the National University of Cuyo and two other private universities. The population of the city proper, considerably smaller, is somewhat over 120,000.
San Miguel de Tucumán
San Miguel de Tucumán is a city of about 642,000 inhabitants in northern Argentina, and is the center of the country's sugar industry. Its more than one million acres of sugarcane are irrigated by tributary waters of the Dolce River at the foot of the Sierra de Aconquija, in the eastern range of the Andes. Large maize-producing plantations are also in operation in the area. A mild, pleasant climate and rich flora has earned the city a reputation as "the garden of the republic." The surrounding district is also known as a lumbering center, and the entire area is rich in mineral deposits.
It was at Tucumán on July 9, 1816, in the first congress of the republic, that the United Provinces of La Plata (the River Plate) proclaimed their independence from Spain after a bitter war against the royalists.
The city had been founded originally in 1565 on the Río del Tejar, south of the present site, in a place now known as the Pueblo Viejo, but was moved to its present location in 1685 in the aftermath of a disastrous flood. Many colonial buildings of the 18th century remain.
The National University of Tucumán was founded here in 1914. The city also boasts a shrine to Our Lady of Mercy, which is visited annually by throngs of tourists. Tourists also visit the city's museums, colonial cathedral, and the Casa de Gobierno (Government House).
Mar del Plata
Mar del Plata, about 250 miles southeast of Buenos Aires, is the principal seaside resort in Argentina and is six hours from the capital by train, car, or bus. It is an important city and seaport, with an atmosphere similar to that of Atlantic City. It has magnificent residences, parks, wide beaches, luxury hotels, restaurants, and shops of all kinds. Each year, during Easter and the November "spring" holidays (Southern Hemisphere seasons are the reverse of those in the U.S.), the population figure of about 533,000 is swelled to more than a million by the influx of tourists. All activities during these weeks seem to revolve around the huge casino which is one of the largest in the world. A smaller casino is attached to the Hotel Provincial, one of the city's best.
Several smaller seaside resorts near Mar del Plata include: Pinamar, expensive and exclusive, where there are more private homes than hotels; and Miramar, called the "City of Children," which attracts many American visitors. Lovely beaches in the Río de la Plata area are found near Montevideo (Uruguay), just an overnight boat trip from Buenos Aires, or 45 minutes by air. Costs are higher there than in Mar del Plata.
Mar del Plata is home to the Stella Maris University, and the National University of Mar del Plata, as well as several museums. The city is linked by modern highways, railways, and air transport with other major Argentine cities.
Salta, capital of the northwestern Argentine province whose name it bears, has a population over 350,00. It is situated in the Lerma Valley, close to the foothills of the Andes, and is considered one of the country's prettiest cities. It is the commercial center of the region, exporting sugar, farm products, minerals, tobacco, wine grapes, and livestock. Its access to the Pacific came with the completion of a railroad extending to the north Chilean port of Antofagasta in 1848.
Founded in 1582, Salta is one of the oldest cities in the country. Here, in 1813, Argentine patriots under Manuel Belgrano defeated Spanish royalists in a battle leading to national independence. The city has experienced severe earthquakes throughout the centuries. However, many of Salta's colonial buildings remain intact. Of particular interest are the Church of San Francisco, which is reported to have the tallest tower of any South American house of worship, and the city's well-known cathedral. One of the best Argentine museums, the Cabildo Histórico, is located here. Other tourist attractions include the thermal springs located near the city and the Miracle Fiesta, a festival held every September to celebrate Salta's survival after a severe earthquake in 1692. During the Miracle Fiesta (Fiesta del Milagro), religious icons are paraded through the city streets. The tourist office is at Avenida Buenos Aires 93.
AVELLANEDA (formerly called Barracas al Sud), on the estuary of the Río de la Plata in east central Argentina, was named in honor of Argentine President Nicolás Avellaneda in 1904. Avellaneda is situated just south of Buenos Aires. The city is a major seaport and an industrial center. Wool and hides are shipped, and industries include meat-packing, textile production, and oil refineries. The population is approximately 350,000.
BAHÍA BLANCA ("white bay") is an Atlantic port approximately 370,000 in southwestern Buenos Aires Province. It is situated at the head of a deep, sheltered bay, and is the chief shipping port of the country's southern region. Bahía Blanca is also an industrial center and rail terminus. It originated as a trading post in 1828, but development came in the early 20th century with the increased production of the south Pampa area. The city conducts a huge import-export business; oil, grains, wool, and hides are the major exports. Bahía Blanca has a university, founded in 1956.
CATAMARCA (also called San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca) is located in the foothills of the Andes in northwestern Argentina, 210 miles northwest of Córdoba. Situated in a fertile valley, the city's economy depends on the agricultural products of the region; These include the production and processing of cotton, grapes, cereals, meats, and hides. Catamarca is known for its hand-woven woolen ponchos. Tourists enjoy the city's pleasant winter climate, hot springs, excellent scenery, and historical buildings dating to 1694. Catamarca also has a museum of art and an art gallery. The city also has many fine examples of colonial architecture such as the Church of the Virgin of the Valley. Its population is about 100,000.
The city of COMODORO RIVADAVIA is a seaport in southern Argentina on the Golfo San Jorge, about 1,000 miles south of Buenos Aires. It is significant to Argentina's economy because of nearby oil production. A 1,100-mile-long pipeline supplies natural gas to Buenos Aires, and tankers from the city's port deliver oil to refineries in northern Argentina. Comodoro Rivadavia has a population of approximately 126,000. The city's university was founded in 1961. Comodoro Rivadavia is linked by a national highway and air transport with Buenos Aires and La Plata. The city is the site of a major base of the Argentine Air Force.
A trading hub in northeastern Argentina, CONCORDIA is 225 miles north of Buenos Aires. It is situated on the Uruguay River, opposite Salto, Uruguay. As one of the largest cities in the region, Concordia enjoys a flourishing shipping market and trades with Uruguay and Brazil. Its main industry is food processing. Other industries include sawmills, flour mills, rice mills, and tanneries. The modern city was founded in 1832 and has a race track, a theater, a golf course, and parks. Salmon and dorado fishing in the Uruguay River is an added tourist attraction. Its population is about 120,000.
CORRIENTES is the center of a rich agricultural region, and the capital of Corrientes Province in the northeastern part of the country, close to the border with Paraguay. This commercial city of nearly 270,000 is an important port on the Paraná River, exporting cotton, quebracho (a sumac-like wood), cabinet woods, grains, rice, tobacco, citrus fruits, and livestock. Founded by the Spanish in 1588, Corrientes was the scene of a dramatic uprising in 1762 against the colonial governor, an event which foreshadowed the wars of independence. The city and province were also among the first to rebel against the tyrant Juan Manuel de Rosas in 1844. Corrientes boasts a museum, founded in 1854, and a university, founded in 1957. The city is noted for its colonial architecture and served as the setting for the novel The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene.
GODOY CRUZ is located in western Argentina, less than 20 miles south of Mendoza. The city is a major manufacturing center with flour mills, canneries, breweries, sawmills, and meat-packing plants among its industries. It is also known for its wine-making. A highway and railroad link the city with Mendoza. A hydroelectric power plant is located near the city. Its population is about 180,000.
PARANÁ , a port city on the river of the same name, is the capital of Entre Ríos Province in northeastern Argentina, 80 miles north of Rosario. The city, with an approximate population of 207,000, was founded in the late 16th century by settlers from Santa Fe. It is the center of the grain and cattle district, and the home of an agricultural school. Paraná was the capital of the Argentine Confederation from 1853 to 1861. Paraná is the site of several notable buildings and monuments, among them are the Bishop's Palace, the Cathedral of Parana, the Museum of Entre Rios, the Senate of the Argentine Confederation building, and the home of Argentina's first president, General Justo Jose de Urquiza.
Located in eastern Argentina near the border with Paraguay, POSADAS is the capital of the Misiones Province. Situated on the Paraná River opposite the Paraguayan city of Encarnación, Posadas was established as a Paraguayan trading post and port. In 1879, the city was named in honor of Gervasio Antonio Posadas, a national hero. Most of its 140,000 residents work in public service. The city is an administrative center, and also manufactures iron and wood products. A ferry between Posadas and Encarnación links Argentina and Paraguayan railways.
RESISTENCIA , the capital of Chaco Province in northern Argentina, lies opposite Corrientes on the banks of the Paraná. A city of 230,000, it is a center for the shipping of cattle, hides, lead, and quebracho wood. Resistencia is connected by a bridge with the city of Corrientes.
RÍO CUARTO is located in north-central Argentina, 350 miles northwest of Buenos Aires and 125 miles south of Córdoba. It was established in 1794. The city's economy is basically agricultural, but there has been some light industrial development. Fruit, meat-packing, and flour milling are important activities. Historical landmarks include the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes and a cathedral built in 1794. The city is also the site of a military base and an arsenal. Río Cuarto's population is about 150,000.
SAN JUAN , capital of the eponymous province in western Argentina, is also a center for wine-growing; its vineyards add to the charm of the surrounding landscape. The province also produces fruit, raises cattle, and is rich in minerals. Situated 100 miles north of Mendoza, San Juan was founded in 1562 and moved to its present location after 1593. This city of about 120,000 residents figured prominently in the civil wars of the 19th century. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, the romantic writer and president of the republic from 1868-74 was born in San Juan. In 1944, a disastrous earthquake almost leveled the city.
SANTA FE , a city with an approximate population near 350,000, is the capital of Santa Fe Province in east-central Argentina, 90 miles north of Rosario. It is a port connected to the nearby Paraná River by canal; the port was opened to ocean going vessels in 1911. Santa Fe's modern port is the most inland seaport in the world and accommodates ocean going vessels. It also is a shipping point for grain, meat, and quebracho (a sumac-like wood), from the country's northwest. Several industries are located in Santa Fe, among them are dairy plants, flour mills, mineral smelters, and automobile manufacturers. Santa Fe has several notable churches and is the seat of the National University of the Littoral, founded in 1889. A Catholic university also opened here in 1960. The Argentine constitution was promulgated in Santa Fe in 1853.
Geography And Climate
Argentina is South America's second-largest country, after Brazil, in size and population. It occupies most of the continent's southern region between the Andes Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Argentina stretches from 22 to 55 south latitude—a distance of about 2,300 miles—and is shaped roughly like an inverted triangle that tapers southward from a base about l,000 miles wide. It borders on five South American countries: Chile to the west, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, and Brazil and Uruguay to the Northeast.
In climate, size, and topography Argentina can be compared with the portion of the U.S. between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, although the North American region has colder winters. The humid lowlands of eastern Argentina, especially along the rivers of the Rio de la Plata system, resemble the Mississippi Valley. In northern Argentina, the savannas and swamps of the Chaco region find a parallel in coastal Louisiana. Westward, the humid Pampa (plain) gives way to rangeland and finally to desert that is broken only by irrigated oases, just as the Great Plains of the U.S. become drier toward the west. The Andes present a far more imposing barrier than the Rockies, but both mountain systems mark the western end of the plains.
Argentina's area of 1,072,067 square miles is about one-third that of the U.S. Although Argentina is narrower than the U.S., it extends much farther from north to south. Thus, Argentina has a range of climates that supports a broad diversity of vegetation, tropical as well as temperate. But the extreme temperatures that characterize comparable latitudes in North America are mitigated in Argentina by the oceanic influences that affect much of the country.
Except for its northernmost fringe, which lies in the Tropics, all of Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere's Temperate Zone, which includes the world's most economically advanced regions south of the Equator. Climates in the Temperate Zone range from subtropical in the extreme north to sub-Antarctic in southern Patagonia. About 22% of Argentina's land area consists of accessible forests; another 3% is inaccessible forests. The variety of vegetation in Argentina is striking. The Patagonian-Fuegian Steppe in the south is characterized by a cold, windy, and very dry climate. Trees are scarce, and vegetation is dominated by low plants bearing a cluster of leaves that grow in a dense, cushion-like tuft. North and northeast are desert and scrub regions of the interior parts of central and northern Argentina. This desert/scrub area, known as the monte, has a climate as dry as that of the Patagonian-Fuegian Steppe, but somewhat warmer and essentially without a winter season. Its vegetation is highly drought-resistant and consists partly of low trees. In the Chaco region of northern Argentina the vegetation is a mixture of forests and savannas. The trees often grow in salt-impregnated soils, marshes, or swampy areas. The southern Andes region has high intermountain valleys with dry grasslands and often sub-desert shrubs and trees.
In sharp contrast with such areas of limited economic efficiency is the vast Pampa region. It is the most extensive level grassland in South America, and covers roughly one-quarter of the nation. A great nation has been fashioned from its economic potential. It fans out for almost 500 miles from Buenos Aires. Containing some of the richest topsoil in the world, the Pampa is extensively cultivated in wheat and corn and provides year-round pasturage for most of Argentina's 50 million head of cattle. Average annual rainfall ranges from 20 inches in the west to 40 inches in the east.
The Andean region extends from the dry north to the heavily glaciated and ice-covered mountains of Patagonia, and includes the dry mountain and desert west of Cordoba and south of Tucuman, embracing the irrigated valleys on the eastern slopes and foothills of the Andes. Annual precipitation ranges from 4 inches to 24 inches in the arid regions and 20 inches to 120 inches in the heaviest rainfall areas.
Patagonia is a region of arid, wind-swept plateaus, covering about 300,000 square miles. Except for some irrigated valleys, this is poor, scattered pasture land. Far south, the weather is continuously cold and stormy; the region has no summer, and winters can be severe.
The alluvial plain of the Chaco in the north has a subtropical climate with dry winters and humid summers. Rainfall decreases from 60 inches to 20 inches and temperatures reach 120°F.
The Argentine Mesopotamia, which consists of the provinces between the Uruguay and Parana rivers, is made up of flood plains and gently rolling plains. The highest precipitation falls in the extreme north of Misiones Province, where it amounts to about 80 inches yearly.
Buenos Aires, is located on the right margin of the Rio de la Plata, and is part of the vast Pampa. The terrain within the city varies from low flatland only inches above the high tide line to slightly rolling country with a maximum elevation of 129 feet. The city's climate is similar to that of Washington, D.C., except that winters are less severe and it never snows.
Average rainfall in Buenos Aires is 39 inches (Washington-41.4 inches), distributed evenly throughout the year. Humidity is high year-round (yearly mean is 76%). High humidity makes winters seem colder and summers hotter. Abrupt temperature changes are experienced throughout the year, bringing relief to summer's heat and winter's cold.
Argentina's population is approximately 37,215,000 (2000 est.). Ninety-seven percent of the people are Caucasian, mostly of European origin, with Italian and Spanish strains predominating. The population also includes many Germans and Central Europeans, and about 700,000 of Arab descent, most of them Lebanese Christians. Practically no Indians or mestizos reside in Buenos Aires; however, some 650,000 are concentrated in the northern and western border provinces.
Since most of the land is habitable, space is available for an increase in population. The Pampa's 15th century settlers were the offspring of Indian mothers and Spanish fathers. For more than 200 years they and their descendants populated the Pampa. The gaucho, or cowboy, was the typical country dweller who herded cattle, was an expert in breaking horses, and was said to be quick with his knife. Gauchos were the rank and file of the revolutionary army that won independence from Spain in the early l9th century.
During the l9th century the population grew rapidly. From then on the Spanish element lost its numerical dominance, blacks practically disappeared as a visible group, Indians were reduced to a few thousand living on reservations, and the mestizo population decreased. Much of the present population stems from a European immigration that was concentrated in the years 1880-1930, with a spurt after World War II. The proportion of foreign bornreached a peak of 30% in 1944. Of the total European migration between 1859 and 1937, Argentina received 11%. Birth rates were much higher than death rates during this period of population increase.
Since 1910 the Argentine nation has been more urban than rural. Over half its people reside in places of more than 2,000 population. Much of urban Argentina is concentrated in one area, Greater Buenos Aires, where more than a third of the Argentine population lives. Argentina is by tradition a rural, agricultural country, and the transition since 1910 to an urban society and an industrial economy has created strains in the social structure.
Industry developed and business flourished. Urban society was much like that of European countries, with a growing middle class of business and professional men and women. By the end of World War II many rural workers migrated to the cities in search of a better living. The pace of this migration has since increased. At the same time industry and commerce have grown substantially, requiring more workers.
Most Argentines are city dwellers, and most of them live in apartment buildings. Family life is close and affectionate. Women frequently work outside the home, if they do not have young children.
Argentine people eat well, and their per capita consumption of meat is one of the world's highest. Salads are popular; vegetables and fruits are abundant and available year-round. Many Argentines dress well and keep up with international fashion trends.
In sports, the Argentines favor football (soccer), horseracing, boxing, and tennis. Their polo teams are said to be the best in the world. "Pato" is a gaucho equestrian sport.
Argentines read widely. A tradition of public libraries goes back to 1870, when then-President Sarmiento established 100 free libraries. Some of the best known Latin American book publishers can be found in Argentina and Buenos Aires is the home of thousands of book shops; the annual book fair is a major public event.
Argentina is a republic of 23 provinces and a federal capital district (the city of Buenos Aires). The Argentine Constitution, modeled on the United States Constitution, provides for an executive branch with ministries, a bicameral legislature, and a Supreme Court.
Roman Law forms the basis of Argentine jurisprudence. Although provincial and federal courts, and ultimately Supreme Court-appointed judges traditionally administer justice behind closed doors, public, oral trials for criminal cases are increasingly common.
In 1983, free elections were held after 7 years of military government, and the country returned to constitutional rule. Full liberties were restored following years of a state of siege and the suspension of many civil and political rights originally aimed at combating leftist-inspired political violence. National, provincial and local elections have been held regularly since then; the most recent were presidential elections in May 1995. The national congress and provincial legislatures function normally again, alongside elected governors, mayors, and other municipal authorities.
The Argentine military is under the civilian control of the President, who is Commander-in-Chief, and the Ministry of Defense. While there have been three minor military uprisings since 1983 (the last in 1991), the armed forces as a whole have pledged their respect for democratic institutions and civilian government.
Argentina is a member of the UN, the OAS, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, the Red Cross, and many other international organizations.
Arts, Science, and Education
Buenos Aires is the cultural capital of Latin America and is one of the world's largest book publishing centers. It has more than 60 theaters where internationally known groups (such as the Comedie Francaise or well-known English theater groups) and artists (such as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra or American Ballet Theater) perform during the cultural season (April to October). Along with these international attractions, local performers compete with experimental avant-garde groups in this lively city. The Colon Theater, one of the world's most beautiful, is the leading opera house in Latin America; it features famous artists, both foreign and Argentine.
The National Library holds 1,700,000 volumes. Every day public lecturers present talks in Buenos Aires on diverse cultural and artistic subjects. More than 100 art galleries exhibit the works of important foreign and local artists. Other cities, such as Rosario, Cordoba, and Mendoza, also take great pride in their extensive cultural life.
Argentina has 75 officially accredited universities with a total of 740,545 students. The largest, the University of Buenos Aires, has 173,345 students.
The country has a high literacy rate, estimated at 96%. The educational system provides free primary and secondary schooling. Primary (or elementary) education is compulsory up to grade 9 - the pupils' ages range from 6 to 14 years.
Private, foreign, and religious schools are permitted but must conform to a nationally prescribed pattern of teaching in the Spanish language. The Lincoln (American Community) School offers classes in Spanish and English in conformity with government regulations.
Commerce and Industry
Argentina has the second largest economy in South America with a gross domestic product of $476 billion (2000 est.) and a per capita income of about $7,600, the highest in Latin America. The strength of the economy is largely related to economic restructuring in the 1990s, which included major new investments in services and industry. As a result, Argentine exports have more than doubled in eight years - from about $12 billion in 1992 to about $26.4 billion in 2000. Imports also grew rapidly during the same period, rising from $15 billion to about $25.2 billion.
Argentina is traditionally a leading exporter of agricultural products, including sunflower seeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, teas, wheat and edible oils. Other exports include fuels and energy, and motor vehicles.
One major boost to trade came from MERCOSUR—the customs union of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, which entered into force in January 1995. Chile signed a free trade agreement with MERCOSUR which became effective in October 1996 and Bolivia is expected to join soon.
Foreign trade now equals approximately 18% of GDP and plays an increasingly important role in Argentina's economic development. Still, exports represent only 10% of Argentine GDP.
Foreign capital has been a key component in Argentina's recent economic growth. U.S. direct investment in Argentina is concentrated in telecommunications, petroleum and gas, electric energy, financial services, chemicals, food processing and vehicle manufacturing. The stock of U.S. direct investment in Argentina approached $18 billion at the end of 2000.
Buenos Aires has an extensive transportation system. Five separate privately-owned subway lines serve many parts of the city. At certain stops you can transfer from one subway line to another without paying an additional token.
The most extensive above-ground transportation is by "colectivos" (privately owned buses holding about 40 passengers). Bright colors indicate the line and route traveled. The average fare is about 50 cents and there are no transfers.
Fares for Buenos Aires metered taxis are quite reasonable. Small tips are appreciated, though not always expected. Taxi meters show units based on distance and time.
The "remise", a kind of taxi-limousine service, is telephone dispatched, but you can hail them in front of major hotels. Charges are lower than U.S. cab fares. Always establish the fare before riding.
Traffic moves on the right. Buenos Aires has many wide streets and highways (such as Avenida del Libertador, Santa Fe, and the Costanera), but few modern super-highways such as the Ricchieri Autopista from Ezeiza Airport into the city limits, the General Paz which follows the city limits along three sides of Buenos Aires, 25 de Mayo which runs east to west, and the Pan American Highway.
Driving in Buenos Aires has been described as being at least as hectic as Rio, Tokyo, or Mexico City, as your first ride in a taxi or "colectivo" will reveal.
Travel outside Buenos Aires can be by train, air, bus, or auto. But since the general points of interest in Argentina are so far apart, a great deal of time is lost if you do not go by air. Some overnight train service is available to main cities with sleeping cars and service (room and food). Two main airports are accessible to the city. One is Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, near the downtown section and the River Plate. This airport handles propeller aircraft and smaller jets such as the Fokker-28 and Boeing 727 and 737. All domestic flights, and several regional flights to Asuncion, Montevideo, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Santa Cruz, use the Aeroparque. The International Airport of Ezeiza is about a 45-minute drive from the city center. It handles all large jets and most international flights.
Telephone and Telegraph
The telephone company (former ENTEL), which was a government entity, has been privatized. Presently, former ENTEL has split up into private companies (Telefonica and Telecom), which are responsible for different sectors and TELINTAR, which is mainly responsible for international service. Phone service in Buenos Aires is generally very dependable.
A telephone is essential in Buenos Aires.
Long distance calls can be made from your home. Many people use a call-back service which is less expensive than using a calling card, or direct dialing.
Users of ATT, Sprint, and MCI credit cards receive a substantial discount on overseas calls.
The government owns and runs a telegraph and telex system.
Radio and TV
Buenos Aires has a wide range of radio programming on both AM and FM, featuring talk, music, news and sports (particularly soccer). Radio Mitre, Radio Del Plata, Radio Continental and Radio America, plus the government-owned Radio Nacional, are the most popular stations in Buenos Aires. VOA broadcasts are available by shortwave and Radio Nacional will begin using at least one hour daily of VOA programming late in 1996 after the installation of a VOA-donated antenna.
Television viewing in Buenos Aires changed dramatically over the past several years. From having five "air" channels available, one of them government-owned, television viewers in the federal capital now have the option of 65 channels from one of the big three cable TV systems: Cablevision-TCI; VCC; or Multicanal. Local programming is competing with a wide range of foreign programs, especially from the U.S. American channels, such as HBO, Fox, Warner Brothers, Cinemax, Sony, ESPN, CNN, TNT and others are heavily represented on the Cablevision-TCI (51% American-owned) cable system and, to a lesser degree on the others. Certain U.S. channels are broadcast with two audio tracks, Spanish and English, which can be accessed using a stereo television, or only in English with Spanish subtitles. USIA's Worldnet television network is also available on all Buenos Aires' cable systems.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals
Buenos Aires is an important Spanish-language publishing capital. There are 10 daily newspapers, varying in importance and size from "La Nacion" and "Clarin" to small circulation money-losers. The "Buenos Aires Herald" is the only English-language daily. Newspapers are very expensive in Buenos Aires, costing an average of $1.25 per copy. Economic hard-times have forced many people to reduce the number of newspapers they buy daily from two or three to one, further pressuring the highly-competitive newspaper market place.
A wide variety of magazines are available locally, from picture and news magazines such as Noticias, and Gente to trade, technical, and professional journals. Time, Newsweek and many other American magazines are available on local news stands, but some are very costly. For example, an issue of "Vanity Fair" costs over $7.00 on the local market.
Bookstores are numerous in Buenos Aires and books in major languages, from publishing centers around the world, are available here. Stores such as ABC and Rodriguez have large stocks of English-language books but all imported hardbacks and paperbacks are expensive.
Health and Medicine
Buenos Aires has many good hospitals which in the private sector are called either "clinicas" or "sanatorios." U.S. trained physicians practice in all specialties. Medical costs are higher than in the U.S.
Sanitary conditions in public facilities, such as restaurant kitchens are usually good. Health and sanitary controls are enforced and immunizations for school children are checked by the Health Ministry.
Hepatitis does occur, and all susceptible travellers should be immunized with the newer Hepatitis A vaccine. The Hepatitis B carrier state has been estimated at 1.1%. Vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended. Yellow fever is present in the northeastern portion of Argentina, and vaccination may be required when entering into another country. Carrying your yellow "International Health Certificate" with you is advisable. Malaria does occur below 4000 feet elevation in Jujuy and Salta provinces, and has on occasion been found in the Missiones and Corrientes provinces. Risk is higher in the summer months (December through May).
Water supplies are considered to be potable in Buenos Aires; higher risk of water- borne illness occurs countrywide outside of Buenos Aires.
The humid climate, vegetation, and diesel fuel can aggravate sinus conditions. Colds sore throats and mild forms of flu are common.
Traffic is generally heavy, and the risk of accidents is high. Seat belts and child restraint systems should always be used.
Keep these immunizations current: diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid, yellow fever, measles, mumps and rubella. Hand-carry your "yellow" International Immunization card. You do need special malaria prevention for in-country travel.
Flies and mosquitoes are common in summer. Most houses and apartments are not equipped with screens.
Jan. 1 … New Year's Day
Jan. 6 … Epiphany
Mar/Apr. … Holy Thursday*
Mar/Apr. … Good Friday*
Mar/Apr. … Easter*
May 1 … Labor Day
May 25 … Revolution Day
June 10… Sovereignty Day
June (Mon nearest June 20) … Flag Day*
July 9 … Independence Day
Aug. 20 … Death of San Martin
Sept. 21… Students' Day
Oct. 12 … Columbus Day
Dec. 8 … Immaculate Conception
Dec. 25 … Christmas Day
NOTES FOR TRAVELERS
Passage, Customs & Duties
American and United Airlines have regular flights between the U.S. and Argentina. The flights take approximately eight hours from Miami.
The most rapid and direct transport from Ezeiza International Airport is by remise (rental car with driver) which will charge a flat rate from point to point (maximum three passengers per car). Bus service is also available in front of the terminal and will drive to major hotels and/or a bus terminal in central Buenos Aires where taxis are available. Buses are convenient for one passenger. For more than one passenger, the cost of the bus is almost the same as the cost of a remise.
A passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits up to 90 days for tourism and business.
The age of majority in Argentina is 21 years. Minors who are permanent or temporary residents of Argentina who are traveling alone, with one parent, or in someone else's custody, are required to present at departure from Argentina a notarized document which certifies both parents' permission for the child's travel. A parent with sole custody should carry a copy of the judicial custody decree. Although Argentine regulations do not require that minors who enter Argentina as tourists carry certified parental permission, immigration officials infrequently do request such a certification upon arrival in Argentina. Either document should be notarized before an Argentine consular officer or, if in Argentina, a local notary (escribano). For current information concerning entry and customs requirements for Argentina, travelers can contact the Argentine Embassy at 1600 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, tel. (202) 939-6400. Internet: http://athea.ar/cwash/homepage. Travelers may also contact the nearest Argentine consulate in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, or Houston.
Americans living in or visiting Argentina are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires and obtain updated information on travel and security within Argentina. The U.S. Embassy is located at 4300 Avenida Colombia, 1425 Buenos Aires, Argentina. The main Embassy switchboard telephone is (011)(54)(11) 5777-4533. Recorded consular information, including instructions on whom to contact in case of an American citizen emergency, is available at telephone (54)(11) 4514-1830. The main embassy fax is (54)(11) 5777-4240. The Consular Section fax is (011)(54)(11) 5777-4205. Additional information is available through the Embassy's web site at http://us---embassy.state.gov/baires embassy, which has a link to the Consular Section's email inquiry Address: BuenosAiresConsulate@state.gov.
For the importation of pets into Argentina, you will need veterinary certificates of good health and rabies vaccination, each accompanied by a photograph of the animal. The signature and license of your veterinarian must be authenticated by a federal veterinary officer in the country in which you are living. In addition, the certificates must be validated by an Argentine Consul.
If such certificates are not presented at the Argentine port of entry and/or if the animal shows symptoms of sickness, it will be quarantined for 40 days at the owner's expense.
Limited boarding facilities exist for pets in Buenos Aires. You should investigate them carefully in advance for cleanliness and quality of service. Some residential hotels will accept pets.
Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures
The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso (ARS) It is issued in both bills and coins, with the bills in the same denominations as US currency. The value of coins are of 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos and 1 peso.
The value of the peso is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed rate. 1ARS=US$1.
Argentina uses the metric system of weights and measures.
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.
American University Area Handbook for Argentina U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1969
Argentina. Insight Guides Series. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992.
Brusca, Maria Cristina. One the Pampas. New York: H. Holt, 1991.
Caistor, Nick. Argentina. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughan Library, 1991.
Fox, Geoffrey. The Land and People of Argentina. New York: Lippincott, 1990.
Jacobsen, Karen. Argentina. Chicago: Children's Press, 1990.
Mares, Michael A., Ricardo A. Ojeda, and Ruben M. Barquez. Guide to the Mammals of Salta Province, Argentina. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.
Morrison, Marion. Argentina. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1989.
Wynia, Gary W. Argentina: Illusions & Realities. 2d rev. ed. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1991.
Andersen, Martin. Dossier Secreto: Argentina's Desaparecidos & the Myth of the "Dirty War. " Westview Press. 1993
Avni, Haim. Argentina and the Jews: a History of Jewish Immigration. Translated by Gila Brand. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1991.
Brown, Jonathan C. Rearrangement of Power in Argentina, 1776-1860. Unv. Nebraska Press, 1994
Burns, J. The Land that Lost Its Heroes: The Falklands, the Postwar and Alfonsin. North Pomfret, VT: David & Charles, 1989.
Ivereigh, Austen. Catholicism & Politics in Argentina, 1810-1960. Saint Martin's Press, Inc. 1995
Moyano, Maria J. Argentina's Lost Patrol: Armed Struggle, 1969-1979. Yale University Press. 1995
Shumway, Nicolas. The Invention of Argentina. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991.
Politics and Government
Brysk, Alison. The Politics of Human Rights in Argentina: Protest, Change, & Democratization. Stanford Univ. Press, 1994
Calvert, Susan. Argentina: Political Culture and Instability. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989.
Gibson, Edward L. Class & Conservative Parties : Argentina in Comparative Perspective. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1996
Gough, Barry The Falkland Islands- Malvinas : The Contest for Empire in the South Atlantic. Humanities Press International, Inc. 1992
Hodges, Donald Clark. Argentina's "Dirty War": an Intellectual Biography. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1991.
Norden, Deborah L. Military Rebellion in Argentina: Between Coups and Consolidation. Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1996
Snow, Peter G. Political Forces in Argentina. Westport, Ct., Praeger, 1993
Tulchin, Joseph S. Argentina & the United States : A Conflicted Relationship. Macmillan Publishing Co., 1990
Economics and Sociology
Argentina: From Insolvency to Growth. World Bank. 1993
De La Blaze, Felipe. Remaking the Argentine Economy. Council of Foreign Relations. 1995
Hudson, William Henry Far Away and Long Ago The Purple Land Tales of the Pampas
Lewis, Paul H. The Crisis of Argentina Capitalism. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
Nolan, James L. et al., Argentina Business. San Rafael, CA. World Trade Press, 1996
Rojas, Ricardo San Martin: Knight of the Andes Cooper Square, 1966
Sarmiento, Domingo F. Life in the Argentine Republic in the Days of the Tyrants: Civilization and Barbarism Translation by Mrs. Horace Mann, Gordon Press Publishers, 1976
The Political Economy of Argentina, 1946-83. Di Tella, Guida and Dornbush, Rudiger. ed. Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1988
Wynia, Gary W. Argentina: Illusions & Realities. 2nd Ed. Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1992
Works in Spanish
Borges, Jorge Luis and El Lenguaje de Buenos Aires Jose E. Clemente Buenos Aires, 1965
Di Tella, T.S., Argentina, Sociedad de Masas Gino Germani, and Buenos Aires, 1962 Jose Graciarena
Escardo, Florencio Geografia de Buenos Aires Buenos Aires 1966
Imaz, Jose Luis de Los que Mandan Buenos Aires, 1964
Martinez Estrada, EzequielRadiografia de la Pampa Buenos Aires 1961
Ball, Deidre. Insight Guide to Argentina, 3rd Ed. Houghton Miffin Co., 1995
Benmayor, Lily. This is Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Arte y Turismo, 1989.
Greenburg, Arnold. Buenos Aires Alive & the Best of Argentina. Hunter Publishing, Inc. 1995
Quesada, Maria S. Estancias: Las Grandes Haciendas de Argentina. Abbeville Press, Inc. 1992
COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group
LOCATION AND SIZE.
Argentina is located in the southern region of South America. The nation borders Chile to the west and south; the Atlantic Ocean, Uruguay, and Brazil to the east; and Bolivia and Paraguay to the north. Argentina has a total area of 2,766,890 square kilometers (1,068,296 square miles) and is the second-largest nation in South America (after Brazil). It is about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River. The nation's coastline is 4,989 kilometers (3,100 miles) long. Argentina's land borders total 9,665 kilometers (6,005 miles). This includes borders of 832 kilometers (517 miles) with Bolivia, 1,224 kilometers (760 miles) with Brazil, 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles) with Chile, 1,880 kilometers (1,168 miles) with Paraguay, and 579 kilometers (360 miles) with Uruguay. Argentina has 30,200 square kilometers (11,660 square miles) of water within its territory. The country's capital, Buenos Aires, is located on the Rio de la Plata (an estuary of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers) on the Atlantic Coast. Buenos Aires has a population of 3 million, although the larger metropolitan area has 13 million people. The nation's second-largest city is Cordoba, located in the center of the nation, with a population of 1.2 million.
Argentina's population is 36,955,182, according to a July 2000 estimate. In 2000, the population growth rate was 1.16 percent and the nation's birth rate was 18.59 births per 1,000 people. Its fertility rate is 2.47 children born per woman. This gives Argentina one of the lowest population growth rates in Latin America. The population is relatively young with almost half of all people under the age of 30. However, this trend is expected to slowly reverse itself so that by 2025, the differences in the number of people in each age group will be minimal. By 2050 the largest single group of people will be those aged 35 to 55. By 2010 Argentina's population is expected to exceed 41 million. Argentina's mortality rate is 7.58 deaths per 1,000 people, and its infant mortality rate is 18.31 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2000, the life expectancy was 71.67 years for males and 78.61 years for females.
The majority of Argentines are of European descent (mainly Spanish and Italian). This group makes up 85 percent of the population. Mestizos (people of mixed European and Native-American descent) comprise 12 percent of Argentineans while Native Americans comprise 3 percent of the population. Spanish is the official language, although English, Italian, German, and French are also spoken in certain areas of the country. Most Argentineans are Roman Catholic (92 percent), but there are small numbers of Protestants (2 percent) and Jews (2 percent). The nation's indigenous population numbers about 700,000 and is concentrated in the northwest and some southern areas of the country. There are large immigrant communities in Argentina. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were several waves of immigration from Europe which included Germans, English, and Italians. From 1850 through 1940, approximately 6,608,700 Europeans emigrated to Argentina. During the late 20th century, new groups of immigrants settled in the country, including those from Syria and Lebanon. Middle Eastern immigrants now number about 500,000. The nation continues to encourage immigration from Europe through a variety of programs.
Argentina's economy has performed well over the past few decades and the nation enjoys one of the highest standards of living in Latin America. In 2000, the GDP per capita was US$10,000. About half of the people consider themselves to be middle-class. In addition, the literacy rate is 96.2 percent. Because of the relative wealth of the society, Argentina has recently experienced new waves of immigration, mainly from other Latin American countries.
The people of Argentina are highly urbanized. About 80 percent of Argentineans live in towns with populations of 2,000 or more. Some 13 million people—or about one-third of the population—live in the greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area. Because of this urban concentration, the nation's population density is quite low. Argentina ranks number 200 in the world in terms of population density with only 13.42 people per square kilometer (34.76 per square mile). In comparison, the population density of the United States is 28.4 per square kilometer (73.56 per square mile).
OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY
Argentina's economy is one of the richest and most diversified in Latin America. The nation has a variety of natural and other resources which have combined to produce an economy that is based on a strong industrial base, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a growing service sector. The Argentine population is highly educated and skilled, and the country has a variety of natural resources including lead, zinc, copper, iron petroleum, uranium, and rich agricultural areas. However, after repeated periods of military dictatorship, the nation faced a variety of economic problems when the first sustained period of civilian control of the government began in 1983. By 1989, the nation had an enormous external debt , and inflation had reached a level of 200 percent per month. In response, the government undertook a variety of programs to reform and reinvigorate the economy. In 1991, it initiated a series of programs which provided a fixed exchange rate between the peso and the U.S. dollar and ultimately reformed the banking system. This dramatically lowered inflation and helped stabilize the economy. The government in 2001 continued an economic program which raised taxes and cut government spending in an effort to lower the nation's budget deficit and overall debt.
Argentina underwent an economic boom period in the early 1990s. By 1997, GDP growth had reached 8 percent per year. Reforms in the economy led to increased competition and output. These reforms also attracted significant new foreign investment. Between 1992 and 1999, exports more than doubled from US$12 billion to US$25 billion. In overall terms, international trade remains only a small part of the Argentine economy. In 1995 Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay created a free trade area named MERCOSUR. The trade organization has dramatically lowered tariffs between the member nations with reductions in some tariffs of 100 percent. As a result, trade between the member states increased from US$4 billion in 1991 to US$23 billion in 1999. Argentina accounts for 27 percent of MERCOSUR's total GDP. Brazil is now Argentina's largest trading partner. Argentina's exports to MERCOSUR countries are expected to continue to increase and to help spur the economy.
In 1998, the nation began a severe recession that ended in 2000. In 1999, GDP fell by 3 percent, but by 2000 growth had returned at a 2 percent annual rate. However, unemployment in the nation continues to be problematic. Unemployment peaked in 1995 at 18.4 percent. Although it has fallen, it remained at 15.4 percent as of 2000. Increases in productivity and reforms of the labor market are expected to decrease unemployment as more foreign investors locate or relocate firms and factories in Argentina.
The strongest areas of the Argentine economy are telecommunications, food processing, banking, energy production, and mining. Food processing alone accounted for 23 percent of GDP in industry in 1998 and is one of the few areas in which Argentina has a trade surplus . The nation's large agricultural sector produces a variety of products that are used by domestic food industries and then exported. Agriculture provides about 40 percent of Argentine exports. Besides food processing, Argentina's main industries are automobile production, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, steel, mining, and consumer durables. After falling by 7 percent in 1999, industrial production recovered slightly in 2000, with a modest growth of 2 percent. Many major international car manufacturers have plants in Argentina, including Ford, Volkswagen, Fiat, General Motors, and Renault. Mining production is expected to double by 2004, with strong growth in gold and copper production. The Argentine telecommunications sector was one of the first in Latin American to be privatized . Since 1991, the sector has experienced continued growth as consumers have sought new technologies, including cellular phones, pagers, and cable television. Reforms in 1994 eliminated restrictions on foreign-owned banks, and insurance firms and many multinational financial companies operate in Argentina. Some of the larger firms include the U.S.-owned American Express Bank, Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Bank Boston, the Dutch-owned ABN Amro Bank, and the British-owned Lloyds Bank.
Argentina continues to face yearly deficits—US$4 billion or 2.5 percent of GDP in 1999 alone. In 1999, the country's debt was US$149 billion. However, Argentina is a net recipient of foreign aid. It receives about US$2 billion a year from international organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the World Bank. In 1999, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) established a contingency fund of US$7.4 billion that can be loaned to Argentina in order to maintain the nation's currency and economic stability.
POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION
Argentina declared independence from Spain in 1816. The nation then underwent a political struggle between groups that favored a strong central government and those that favored a less rigid federal system. In 1853, the 2 factions established a new constitution and a government of national unity, thereby establishing Argentina as a constitutional democracy. The remainder of the 1800s were marked by increasing industrialization and a large amount of foreign investment, especially from Great Britain, in areas such as railways and port facilities.
Conservatives dominated Argentine politics until 1916 when the Radical Civic Union (URC) gained control of the government. The Radicals worked to expand political participation through fair elections and helped strengthen the political power of the middle class. However, in 1930 the military overthrew the legally-elected president. A succession of military governments tried to cope with the economic problems of the 1930s, but continued labor and social unrest led Juan Domingo Peron to power in the 1940s. Peron dramatically expanded union membership and the power of the working class. In 1947, women were given the right to vote. Peron and his wife Eva, popularly known as Evita, enjoyed great support among the working class and the poor. However, the Peron regime was marked by political corruption and repression. Peron also undermined the Argentine economy by nationalizing industry and trying to manage the economy through state-controlled economic policies and adherence to a series of 5-year plans. The military overthrew Peron in 1955, and through the 1950s and 1960s, Argentina had a succession of civilian and military governments, none of which could establish long-lasting political stability.
Meanwhile, the nation suffered from economic decline and a rise in both terrorism and formal rebellion by anti-government forces. This instability led voters to return Peron to power in 1973, with his third wife, Maria Estela, as his vice-president. However, both liberal and conservative extremist groups continued campaigns against the government, and the economy continued to decline. Peron died in office in 1974 and his wife, who succeeded him, was overthrown by the military in 1976. From 1976 to 1983, the military ruled Argentina and conducted a brutal campaign to eliminate opposition forces. At least 10,000 people were abducted and killed during this period that is known as the "Dirty War." Argentina also lost a war with Great Britain over possession of the Falkland Islands (called the Malvinas Islands by the Argentines). Popular pressure led to elections in 1983 and the restoration of democracy.
Argentina is once again a constitutional democracy. The 1983 elections installed Raul Alfonsin as president for a 6-year term. Alfonsin worked to establish civilian control over the military and fix the nation's economic problems. However, by 1989 inflation had soared to 4,923 percent and the country's economy was in shambles. Alfonsin was defeated in the elections in 1989 and replaced by Carlos Saul Menem. The inauguration of Menem marked the first peaceful transfer of power in Argentina in more than 60 years. Menem adopted a variety of reform programs which included privatization efforts and a pro-United States foreign policy. Menem also initiated monetary reforms which fixed the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar.
In 1994, there were major revisions to the Argentine constitution. In the past, the president had been chosen by an electoral college, similar to that of the United States, for a 6-year term. Under the new constitution, the president is directly elected by the people for a 4-year term and can serve only 2 terms in office, but can be reelected after leaving office for at least 1 term. The president serves as the chief of state, the commander-in-chief of the military, and the head of the government. The Argentine president has more power than his American counterpart, including a line item veto (the ability to reject a single item from a legislative bill, rather than the whole bill). Argentina's legislative branch is a bicameral (2-chamber) body known as the National Congress. The upper chamber is the Senate, which has 72 members who are elected for 6-year terms. There are 3 senators for each of the nation's 23 provinces and the Federal District. The lower chamber is the Chamber of Deputies, which has 257 members who are elected for 4-year terms. Half of the deputies are elected on a proportional basis (each political party receives a percentage of the seats in the Congress based on their election totals, so that a party receiving 40 percent of the votes would receive 40 percent of the seats). The 1994 constitution improved the accountability of judges by establishing a Judicial Council which oversees judicial conduct. All judges are appointed by the president, subject to approval by the Senate. The nation's 23 provinces have significant power, not unlike the states in the United States, and each has a constitution that mirrors that of the national government.
There are 2 main political parties in Argentina. The Justicialist Party (JP) or Peronist Party is the party of Juan Peron. The JP is now a centrist party, but its main base of support continues to be with the working class and labor unions. Under Carlos Menem, the JP has embraced free-market, economic liberalization as the cornerstone of their economic program. The second major party in Argentina is the Union Civica Radical (Radical Civil Union or UCR), which evolved from the old Radical Party that was founded in 1890. The UCR's main base is among the middle class, and the party is now the more conservative of the 2 main political factions in Argentina. Under Raul Alfonsin, the UCR attempted wide-ranging economic reforms, but was unable to implement them in the face of popular opposition. Leftist members of the JP split with the party in the 1990s and formed the Front for a Country in Solidarity (FREPASO). In 1997, the UCR and FREPASO joined together in a coalition that is known as the Alliance for Work, Justice and Education, or simply as the Alliance. In 1999, the leader of FREPASO, Fernando de la Rua, was elected president. Despite the leftist leanings of FREPASO, its coalition with the UCR has brought the Alliance to the center politically. President de la Rua continued the economic reforms of Menem. There are also a number of minor and regional parties.
Under de la Rua, the government's policies were based on continuing liberalization of the domestic economy through privatizations and a reduced role for the state in the economy. The government is also working to reduce trade barriers and thereby increase foreign trade through integration in organizations such as MERCOSUR and direct trade agreements with other countries such as the United States. In its ongoing effort to increase trade, Argentina has worked to end a number of minor disputes with other countries, including border disputes with Brazil and Chile. Argentina has also restored relations with Great Britain, which were broken in the wake of the Falkland Islands war. The key component of economic policy that has united all of the main political parties is the continued fixed exchange rate between the peso and the dollar. This has served to practically eliminate inflation and to make Argentina attractive to foreign investors and to international organizations that provide economic assistance.
An ongoing problem for the government is the continuing budget deficit. By 1999, the deficit had climbed to 2.5 percent of GDP or almost US$9 billion. In an effort to reduce the deficit, President de la Rua implemented an economic program that expanded the privatization of government-owned businesses and included both spending cuts and tax increases. Among the most significant privatization programs over the last decade have been the selling-off of the nation's state-owned telephone company and reforms in the banking and insurance sector. The government has also expanded the availability of private pension plans, which has reduced the strain on the nation's social security system. Corporations in Argentina pay a standard 30 percent tax on profits each year. Individuals pay a graduated income tax that ranges from 11 to 30 percent, depending on income. There is also a 0.5 percent annual wealth tax on individuals who have a net worth of more than US$100,000.
Approximately 919,000 Argentines work for the government. In 2000, the government's budget was US$28 billion, but its revenues were only US$24 billion leading to a US$4 billion deficit. Repeated deficits have led to a large external debt of US$149 billion. In another effort to increase revenues, the government has been engaged in a long-running effort to improve tax collection and simultaneously decrease corruption in the public sector .
After decades in which it enjoyed a high degree of political power and prestige, the Argentine military has shrunk dramatically. The nation's military is now an all-volunteer force. In 1999, Argentina spent only 1.3 percent of GDP or US$4.3 billion on defense (compared with as much as 5 percent in the 1980s). Argentina has developed close military relations with a number of countries, including the United States, Israel, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy. In 1998, Argentina was designated a major ally by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Argentina has recently participated in a number of international humanitarian military operations such as the intervention in Haiti and NATO missions in the former Yugoslavia.
INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS
Argentina has a good infrastructure system in comparison with other Latin American nations, but many areas need significant improvement. The nation has 215,434 kilometers (133,870 miles) of roads, including 734 kilometers (456 miles) of expressways or highways, but only 63,553 kilometers (39,492 miles) of the country's roads are paved. Argentina has been the recipient of a number of aid packages to improve infrastructure. For instance, the United States has provided US$7 million and the World Bank provided US$450 million for highway construction. There is an extensive rail system that transports both freight and passengers around Argentina, with a total of 38,326 kilometers (23,816 miles) of track.
Argentina has 10,950 kilometers (6,804 miles) of navigable waterways. However, most of the country's major ports are located on the Atlantic coast, and little freight is transported along the inland waterways. The nation's main ports include Bahia Blanca, Buenos Aires, Comodoro Rivadavia, La Plata, and Mar La Plata (all located on the Atlantic Coast). Inland river ports include Rosario and Santa Fe, while the port of Ushuaia is located in the extreme southern tip of the nation near Cape Horn where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. Argentina has a small merchant marine of 26 ships with more than 1,000 tons of gross weight. This includes 11 petroleum tankers. In order to provide fuels to inland areas and ship resources to ports for export, there is a broad pipeline system. There are 4,090 kilometers (2,542 miles) of crude oil pipelines, 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) for other petroleum products, and 9,918 kilometers (6,163 miles) of natural gas pipelines.
Buenos Aires has an extensive system of public transportation, including subways and buses, but most smaller cities and towns in Argentina have limited transportation resources. Most major cities are connected by passenger railways and there is an extensive commuter rail system in the greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area.
There are 1,359 airports in Argentina, although only 142 have paved runways. Buenos Aires has 2 major airports. The first, Ezeiza International Airport, is the main point of arrival and departure for most international flights. Most domestic or regional flights, including those to Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay originate from the second major airport in Buenos Aires, Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Most major international air carriers offer service to Buenos Aires, including the U.S. carriers United and American Airlines. Argentina's national airline is Aerolineas Argentinas. The government is involved in a program to privatize airports. Thus far, 33 major airports have been turned over to private companies to operate.
Argentina has a telephone density of about 20 private phones per 100 people. There are also some 12,000 public telephones. Deregulation of the telecommunications industry is ongoing, and service and infrastructure
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.|
|bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
have improved dramatically. Companies such as AT&T, MCI, and Sprint can now provide long-distance service to a limited degree. There are currently 40 earth stations that support the telephone system's microwave relay complex and 3 earth satellite stations. Nonetheless, many areas of the country experience telephone outages, particularly after heavy storms. There are also continuing restrictions on satellite services. The cable television system has also expanded and now includes a number of international channels such as CNN International, CNN Espanol, and MTV, as well as channels from Brazil, France, Germany, and Italy. Initiatives to increase Internet usage have broadened access and in 1999 there were 47 Internet service providers. By 2000, about 10 percent of the adult population used cellular phones (there are about 2.5 million mobile phones in use).
In 1998, total electric production was 75,237 kilowatt-hours (kWh). Fossil fuels provided 42.71 percent of production while hydroelectric sources provided 47.55 percent and nuclear power 9.47 percent. The electric industry in Argentina was deregulated in 1991, and most power distribution sources have now been privatized, although a small number remain under government control. Behind Venezuela, Argentina has the second-largest proven reserves of natural gas in South America with 24 trillion cubic feet. The country also has significant oil reserves (2.8 billion barrels) and produces about 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Argentina has a mixed economy that has well-developed agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. From the 1930s well into the 1970s, there was a concentrated effort to develop industries and expand industrial capacity. However, the economic problems of the 1970s and 1980s, combined with political instability, led to a period of decreased economic production and the decline of many of the country's major industries.
Agriculture remains a major component of Argentina's economy as crops and livestock provide much of the nation's domestic food needs. These products also provide raw materials for the growing food processing industry. Agriculture directly accounts for 7 percent of the nation's GDP. The agriculture sector is driven by the export of crops and livestock. This makes the sector vulnerable to economic problems with Argentina's main trading partners. In the past, Argentine livestock production suffered from problems with diseases such as hoof-and-mouth disease, as well as restrictions on imports by nations such as the United States. Beginning in the 1980s, agriculture in Argentina began to diversify beyond the traditional products such as beef and sheep. Many food-based oils and specialty crops are now raised. In addition to beef, some of Argentina's main agricultural products include sunflower seeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, tea, and wheat. Fishing has declined significantly in recent years as decades of over-fishing have limited stocks of the most popular catches.
Industry in Argentina is diversified and driven by a large and relatively affluent domestic market. Only recently has the nation begun to export significant amounts of manufactured or finished products. Argentina's membership in MERCOSUR has been one of the main factors driving industrial exports as it has expanded access to existing markets and opened new markets. Industry accounts for 29 percent of GDP. As a result of economic problems in Brazil, industrial production growth in Argentina declined by 7 percent in 1999, but rebounded in 2000 by posting a modest level of growth of 2 percent. Among the main industries in Argentina are food processing, automobile production, textiles, energy production, and mining. The nation also has a growing chemical industry.
The service sector is now the leading component of the Argentine economy. In 1999, it accounted for 64 percent of GDP. Much of the growth in the service sector has been the result of the economic liberalizations of the 1980s and 1990s. Several key sectors, including telecommunications and financial services, have seen dramatic expansions as foreign companies have invested in these areas, and there has been an increase in domestic consumer demand. While many segments of the service sector have experienced growth, the economic problems of the late 1990s led to declines in other areas. For instance, retail and wholesale businesses have seen little or no growth as consumer spending has been constrained by the most recent recession.
Argentine agriculture has experienced a period of transition and diversification over the past decade. Traditional products such as beef and sheep have declined in relative value while newer products such as food oils have grown in popularity with farmers. Argentina is the world's fifth-largest producer of food and beef. It is also the world's largest producer of lemons and lemon juice and the largest producer of olive oil in South America. Finally, the nation is also one of the world's main producers of wheat and flour.
In 1998, the total value of agricultural exports was US$13.25 billion and the total value of imports was US$1.73 billion. In 2000, about 12 percent of the population was employed by agriculture. Agricultural workers earn an average of about US$400 per month, which is twice the national minimum wage. There are 40 million hectares devoted to agriculture in Argentina, of which 20-25 million hectares are used for grains and crops, while the rest is used for livestock grazing. In 2000, there were approximately 420,000 farms in the nation. However, the largest 10 percent of farms accounted for more than 50 percent of total production.
Since the early 1990s, agricultural production has increased dramatically, although there was a brief period of decline in 1999 when output fell by 4.7 percent. With that exception, production increased by an average of 10 percent per year during the 1990s. Lower demand for Argentine products by the nation's MERCOSUR partners may continue to constrain exports, but new access to markets in Europe and the United States has provided outlets for increases in production. The main crops include bananas, barley, potatoes, rice, sugar cane, soy beans and soy bean oil, corn, wheat, lemon juice, and sunflower seed oil. On average, each year Argentina produces about 200,000 tons of cotton, although the domestic market only uses about 80,000 tons. Total crop production in 1999 was 70.68 million metric tons. The largest crop yields were sugar cane at 19.4 million metric tons, soybeans at 18 million metric tons, wheat at 14.5 million metric tons, and corn at 13.18 million metric tons.
The main livestock products include beef and veal, chicken, duck, goose, horse, lamb, pork, and turkey. Argentina's geographic position makes it ideally suited for raising livestock. In most areas of the country, cattle and sheep may graze year round. Livestock accounts for about 85 percent of exports.
Argentine farms have some 53.6 million head of cattle. Each year the nation exports about 460,000 tons of beef. However, much of the beef production is consumed domestically; Argentina has the highest per capita beef consumption in Latin America, with an average annual consumption of 60 kilograms per person. Sheep and pig farming is also extensive. There are 21.6 million sheep in Argentina and 5 million pigs, but most pork production is for domestic consumption. The nation also produces 660,000 tons of poultry products each year.
Argentina is noted for its horses and has an international reputation for producing exceptional racing and show horses. There are some 3.3 million horses in the country. Besides producing thoroughbreds for competition, there is also extensive use of horses on ranches and farms as work animals.
The dairy sector is one of the strongest segments of agriculture. In 2000, dairy products were worth US$4.685 billion. Exports of dairy products totaled US$400 million that same year. Growth in the dairy sector was 4 percent in 2000, and it is expected to increase by at least 2 percent annually. In addition to milk and cheeses, a number of novelty products are produced, including cream cheese, frozen yogurt, ice cream, and specialty cheeses.
Argentina is among the world's top 20 fishing nations. Fishing accounts for about US$1.2 billion annually and total yearly catches often exceed 640,000 tons. Since the 1970s, fishing catches have increased by 400 percent. This has led to dramatic over-fishing and international efforts to limit catches on some species, mainly swordfish. Argentina is party to a number of international agreements which are designed to limit fishing and preserve species. However, the richness of the nation's coastal waters has led many fishing vessels, both Argentine and foreign-owned, to illegally over-fish many species, including swordfish and hake. Since the 1970s, the number of Argentines engaged in fishing has decreased by about 30 percent.
Hake is the most common catch and accounts for 60 percent of total harvests. Although Argentina is at the extreme southern range of swordfish, these fish are among the most valuable species caught. At its height, the swordfish industry routinely had annual catches of 500 tons; however, during the 1980s catches fell to 350 tons because of over-fishing. From 1993-1997, catches were down to the point that exports ceased entirely. Current production has risen again to 350 tons (where it has stabilized over the past few years) and exports have resumed.
Forestry accounts for only a small portion of the Argentine economy. Wood is mainly used as a building material and as a fuel source for rural Argentines. There are 59.5 million hectares (147 million acres) of timberland in the country. The main trees that are commonly harvested are elm, willow, oak, pine, and cypress. Cedar is harvested in small quantities for furniture manufacturing. White quebracho is often harvested for use as fuel wood and red quebracho is widely used to produce tannin for the tanning industry.
Industry in Argentina is highly developed and diversified. Argentine workers are skilled and educated, but recently labor costs have exceeded increases in production. As a result, many industries are no longer profitable since foreign manufacturers are able to produce the same items at a much lower cost due to their lower labor costs. Efforts to reform the nation's labor system by reducing the corruption of some unions have been unsuccessful. In addition, high interest rates, currently about 15 percent, make it difficult for domestic companies to get loans in order to restructure their operations. Nonetheless, many industries, including the chemical sector and energy production, remain profitable and have experienced growth. Argentina's geographic position allows it easy access to markets in Brazil and surrounding nations, and the country's rich natural resources provide the basis for continued expansions in certain industries. In 2000, 23 percent of Argentines worked in industry. The average wage for industrial workers is US$870 per month or about 4 times the national minimum wage.
The food processing industry takes advantage of the country's rich agricultural resources. Processed food products are consumed domestically and exported to Argentina's MERCOSUR partners and to markets in east Asia. In 1999, exports totaled US$89 million. Brazil alone accounts for 48 percent of Argentine processed food exports to MERCOSUR countries, followed by Uruguay at 19 percent, Chile at 17 percent, and Paraguay at 15 percent. Food processing accounts for about one-quarter of the total value of industrial production or about US$25 billion. Among the main segments of the industry are meat-packing, prepared dairy products, prepared fruits and vegetables, and cooking fats and oils.
Many of the main areas of the Argentine manufacturing sector have gone through economic difficulties that began in the late 1990s. The textile industry has been hardest hit. Since the 1980s, it has been undergoing a period of consolidation as smaller companies are bought out by larger firms. Efforts to make the sector more competitive with foreign suppliers have not been successful since the international firms have significantly lower labor costs.
A significant force in Argentine industry is automobile manufacturing. A number of international car companies have plants in Argentina which produce a variety of vehicles that range from passenger cars and light trucks to buses and commercial trucks. Ford, General Motors (GM), Volkswagen, Renault, Fiat, and Peugeot all produce passenger cars, while Ford and Mercedes Benz produce buses and truck chasses. By 1999, total annual production was about 350,000 units. Domestic growth is expected to average 10 percent per year over the next decade. MERCOSUR has helped spur this growth. After the establishment of the organization in 1995, Argentine exports of automobiles increased by 122 percent from 1995 to 1997. About 90 percent of exports went to Brazil. As a result of expected increases in production, several companies are planning major investments in new facilities. For instance, Ford is investing US$1 billion in new plants to manufacture Escorts and Ranger light trucks. Meanwhile, Toyota has begun construction of a US$150 million plant to produce small cars. Total foreign investments from 1995 to 2000 were US$8.53 billion.
MINERALS AND MINING.
Argentina has a variety of mineral resources. It has significant reserves of natural gas and oil, and has stocks of valuable minerals such as gold, copper, and iron. Argentina's natural gas sector is now privately owned, after the state monopoly Gas del Estado was split into a number of private companies in 1992. The largest pipeline company in Argentina (and all of South America) is TGS, which is 70 percent-owned by the U.S. company Enron. It provides two-thirds of Argentina's natural gas consumption. Many international companies have entered the Argentine oil market. Chevron, BP Amoco, Shell, Unocal, and the French-based company Total all have a presence in the country and seek to expand operations as exploration continues offshore on the country's continental shelf. The Argentine company Repsol-YPF accounts for about 50 percent of the country's total refining capacity, followed by Shell at 17 percent, and Esso at 16 percent. The remaining production is divided among 4 small companies. YPF has US$6 billion in annual revenues and plans to invest US$15 billion over the next decade in new oil exploration. By 1999, total oil production was 900,000 barrels per day, with exports of 372,000 barrels per day.
In 2000, total mining exports were US$1 billion. Estimates are that this figure will grow to US$2.3 billion by 2004, as total investments in mining are expected to reach US$5 billion by 2005. Major minerals include gold, lead, silver, uranium, iron, and zinc. In 1998, gold production amounted to 19,459 kilograms. Copper production was 170,273 metric tons, lead was 15,004 metric tons, and zinc was 35,560 metric tons. Several major international companies are investing in new operations in Argentina. Major mining companies include Japan's NKK and the Argentine company Minera Alumbrera.
In 1994, the nation's main steel company, Aceros Zapla, was privatized. Since then, steel production has increased at an average annual rate of 4 percent. Crude steel production averages about 4.19 million metric tons. The majority of steel products, almost 90 percent, are used domestically. Argentina also produces a variety of building products that are mainly used in the domestic market. Forest and timber plantations cover some 1 million hectares and produce mainly softwoods that are used to make plywood and other composite building materials. Declines in construction have hurt the building materials industry which has been operating at only 57 percent of capacity since 1997. Although the construction industry has been in decline, industrial production of building materials has increased—mainly as a result of exports. Production of cement in 1999 amounted to 6.9 million metric tons. However, two of Argentina's main cement companies, Loma Negra and Juan Minetti, are set to dramatically increase production. For instance, Juan Minetti is building a US$90 million plant that will allow the manufacturer to increase its production to 1.2 million metric tons of cement per year.
The chemical industry in Argentina is one of the main segments of the nation's economy. Chemical production accounts for about 3 percent of GDP, or about US$10.75 billion in annual output. There are 2,300 chemical companies in Argentina. Of these, about 150 are considered to be medium or large in size (employing more than 100 people). In 1999 there were 64,410 people employed by chemical companies. While many other segments of the nation's economy have experienced little or no growth since the late 1990s, the chemical industry has had an average annual growth rate of 3.5 percent and an average growth rate of 3 percent in exports. Consumer demand has outpaced domestic production, however, and imports of chemicals rose 18.5 percent in 2000. Among the main chemical products are plastics and resins, especially those used in the production of manufactured products.
The Argentine service sector includes a variety of different types of businesses and companies. The most prominent segments of the sector include financial services, retail, and tourism. In 2000, 69 percent of Argentines worked in the service sector. On average, workers in the service sector earn US$710 per month, or about 3.5 times the minimum wage. Workers in the financial services sector are the highest paid in Argentina and earn an average monthly wage of US$1,840, while telecommunications workers earn an average of US$990 per month.
Financial services and insurance now account for 8 percent of GDP. After decades of financial instability, the Argentine banking sector has begun to experience growth and has gained credibility in international financial markets. Government reforms of the sector have dramatically increased its competitiveness. The most significant reform was the 1991 Convertibility Law, which fixed the peso to the dollar and ultimately lowered inflation to around 1 percent. Insolvency among debtors has kept consumer interest rates at a high 15 to 25 percent.
There was a significant period of consolidation in Argentine banking, and the number of banks declined from 206 in 1994 to 132 in 1998. The 20 largest banks in Argentina accounted for 75 percent of the nation's total bank deposits. Total deposits in 1999 exceeded US$80 billion, which marked a dramatic rise from 1995 when deposits hit a record low of US$37 billion. There are 31 major international banks in Argentina with 374 branches. The largest include American Express, Bank of America, Bank Boston, Chase Manhattan, ABN Amro, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds Bank, and Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC). Six of the nation's 10 largest banks are American or European. The largest domestic commercial bank is Banco de la Nacion, which is government-owned. Efforts to privatize the bank have met with widespread opposition because of the potential for lay-offs.
Part of the growth in the financial sector has been spurred by government programs which established privatized pension plans. In 1997, total private pension assets amounted to 2 percent of GDP, or about US$6 billion. By 2010, this figure is expected to rise to US$118 billion. Since privatization, the insurance sector has increased by an average of 10 percent per year. From 1998 to 2000, the total value of the Argentine market increased from US$570 million to US$660 million. Foreign companies have increased their presence in Argentina, with U.S. firms providing US$200 million worth of insurance-related services.
The retail sector in Argentina has experienced a period of decline since 1998. The country's economic slowdown has constrained consumer spending. However, some segments—including restaurants and certain retail franchises—have undergone continued growth. Small markets and family-owned retail outlets have gradually been replaced by larger chain stores. By 2000, about 80 percent of the nation's food and beverage sales were through supermarkets and large chain outlets. Argentina now has a number of major international hypermarkets (large stores which sell a variety of products, including food, clothing, hardware, and pharmaceuticals). Examples of these international hypermarkets in Argentina include Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Ahold Casino, and Makro. There are now 54 different chains in the nation. There are 10 Wal-Marts with combined sales in 2000 of US$300 million. The largest hypermarket is the French-owned chain Carrefour, which has 162 stores and sales of US$2.6 billion. In 2000, there were also 1,240 super-stores, 12,861 supermarkets, 100,884 grocery stores and 5,230 convenience stores.
One of the strongest segments of the retail market remains computer and computer equipment sales. In 2000, these products had sales of US$1.74 billion. The computer market is expected to increase by 10 percent annually over the next decade. U.S.-brand products account for 67 percent of the market. The leading U.S. firms are Compaq, Hewlett Packard, and IBM. Besides personal computers, the best selling products include printers, laptop computers, CD-ROM drives, hard drives, and memory expansion kits.
There are more than 30,000 restaurants in Argentina, about one-third of which are located in Buenos Aires. Despite the economic slowdown of the late 1990s, restaurant sales have averaged 10 percent growth over the past decade. The largest restaurant chain is Arcos Dorados, which operates McDonald's franchises. There are 160 McDonald's with average annual sales of US$230 million. Burger King is the second-largest chain with 25 stores and US$25 million in sales. Wendy's is number 3 and also has 25 stores and just under US$25 million in annual sales. The most profitable Argentine-owned restaurant chain is the La Caballeriza steak house, which has 4 restaurants and US$10 million in revenues. Almost 6 percent of total family income is spent dining out.
In 2000, the tourist sector provided US$1.57 billion to the Argentine economy. This represented a 4 percent increase from the previous year. In 2000, 5 million foreign tourists visited Argentina. The nation has almost 6,000 hotels, 1,600 of which are located in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the tourist capital of the country and accounts for 73 percent of the tourist trade. Many foreign tourists also visit the Argentine coastline and the southern region of the nation, Patagonia. A variety of international hotel firms have outlets in Argentina. The nation's largest hotelier is Sheraton, which has US$60 million in annual sales. The second-largest hotelier is Marriott, with annual sales of US$9 million. Despite the nation's recession, tourism grew by 1 percent in 1999. As the economy recovers, tourism is expected to expand by 11 percent per year. In 1999, there were 18 different high-level hotel construction projects underway.
Growth in foreign trade, especially trade with MERCOSUR partners, has been one of the main factors driving the Argentine economy. In 1990, 11 percent of the nation's GDP was tied to foreign trade; by 1999 that figure had grown to 17 percent. Exports account for 7 percent of GDP. Lower tariffs and improvements in domestic industries have helped decrease the nation's trade deficit, which fell from US$5 billion in 1998 to US$2.2 billion in 1999. In 1999 exports declined by 12 percent, while imports fell by 19 percent. Argentina has a large trade deficit with the United States. In 1999 it amounted to US$2.4 billion.
In 1999 Argentina's main export partners were Brazil with 24 percent of exports, the EU with 21 percent, and the United States with 11 percent. Its main import partners were the EU with 28 percent of imports, the United States with 22 percent, and Brazil with 21 percent. Increases in exports of beef and oil have helped drive exports. Following a brief period when beef exports were banned by several countries because of the potential for hoof-and-mouth disease, exports of beef and beef products have met or exceeded export quotas.
MERCOSUR serves as the main outlet for Argentine exports. In addition to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the trade organization now includes Chile and Bolivia as associate members. Brazil is the dominant economic force in MERCOSUR and accounts for 70 percent of the organization's GDP, while Argentina accounts for 27 percent. Intra-MERCOSUR trade rose from US$4 billion in 1991 to US$23 billion in 1998. Much of the increase
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Argentina|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
in trade has been the result of decreases in tariffs. Almost 90 percent of intra-MERCOSUR trade is now duty -free, but there are still substantial tariffs on goods imported from outside MERCOSUR. Approximately 85 percent of imported goods are subject to tariffs.
Argentina has initiated negotiations to enter into trade agreements with the EU, Mexico, and the Andean Pact (an economic organization of South American nations which includes Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela). It has also been supportive of the effort to develop a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which would bring all of the nations of the Western Hemisphere together in a free trade organization. In 1994 the United States and Argentina signed a bilateral investment agreement which allows U.S. companies to invest in most sectors of the Argentine economy on the same basis as domestic companies. Argentina has trade treaties with 56 other nations.
Since Argentina fixed its currency to the U.S. dollar, it has become much more attractive for foreign investment. Spain is the largest investor in Argentina. The United States is the number two investor, and by 1999 direct U.S. investment was US$16 billion. U.S. investments are concentrated in manufacturing (at US$3.65 billion), finance, banking, and real estate (at US$3.8 billion) and petroleum (at US$1.565 billion).
Another broad effort to attract international trade has been the establishment of free trade zones . There are 3 large zones and a number of minor areas. The largest of these is the La Plata Free Trade Zone, which was established in 1997. The zone is close to Buenos Aires and has 500 meters of dock, 400,000 square meters of warehouse space, and 5,000 square meters of office space. La Plata has 1,942 different commercial users. The largest companies in the zone include Sharp, Pioneer, Daewoo, Ford, General Motors, Nike, Nissan, Mazda, and Zenith.
Throughout much of the latter half of the twentieth century, Argentina was plagued by a weak currency and high inflation. In 1985, in an effort to fight inflation, which had reached 2,000 percent, the government replaced the nation's traditional currency (the peso) with a new currency called the austral. One austral equaled 1,000 pesos. However, inflation continued to rise. In 1989, inflation reached 5,000 percent, making the nation's currency almost worthless. In response, the government again changed the currency in 1992, replacing the austral with the nuevo peso Argentino (new Argentine peso). One nuevo peso was equal to 10,000 australs. Inflation was finally brought under control when the government fixed the nuevo peso to the dollar at a one-for-one
|Exchange rates: Argentina|
|Argentine peso per US$1|
|Note: The exchange rate is pegged to the US dollar.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
exchange rate . While this almost completely wiped out inflation, it also meant that the government has little control over the value of its currency. After the currency was pegged to the dollar, it once again became simply known as the "peso."
The Argentine peso is fixed at one-for-one exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. While the dollar fluctuates freely on world markets, it has brought a significant degree of monetary stability to the Argentine currency and economy.
The nation's currency and banking system are over-seen by the Argentine Central Bank, which was established in 1935. The Central Bank maintains currency reserves of US$25 billion, which would cover 9 months of imports. The bank has also arranged a US$7 billion emergency fund that is financed by international organizations and international banks. This fund may be used to protect the nation's financial stability. High interest rates continue to constrain the economy. On average, banks charge 10 percent interest to preferred business customers while consumers pay interest rates of between 15 to 25 percent.
The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange (BASE) was established in 1854. It is the oldest in Latin America. By 1996, BASE had a total market capitalization of US$45 billion and had 147 companies listed. The exchange is dominated by 3 companies—YPF, Telefonica, and Telecom—which together account for 50 percent of the total market.
POVERTY AND WEALTH
There are deep disparities in income and wealth in Argentina. In 2000, the richest 10 percent of the population earned 36 percent of the country's income, while the poorest 10 percent earned 1.5 percent of income. About 36 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The nation's poverty level is US$490 per month for a family of 4. The average wage in the nation is US$676 per month, which is more than 3 times the national minimum wage. About 60 percent of workers earn less than
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.|
US$450 per month. About 20 percent of the population only lives on US$2 per day. As many as 8 million Argentineans work in the informal sector , or black market . In some areas of the country, the black market accounts for 60 percent of economic activity. These types of economic activities include personal service jobs (people who work as plumbers, electricians, domestic servants, and so forth). People who work in this informal sector also run small, unregulated shops and restaurants. Since these jobs are unregulated by the government, people do not pay taxes on their income and are therefore able to earn higher pay.
Government estimates are that 11 percent of the population cannot meet their basic food needs. Poverty rates are about 20 percent higher in the rural areas than they are in the urban areas. In the greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area the poverty rate is 29.8 percent, while in the subtropical jungle areas of the Northeast, the rate is 60 percent. The second-poorest area of the country is the mountainous region of the Northwest where the poverty rate is 53.6 percent.
Women make up a larger share of the poor. They comprise a large percentage (60 percent) of those employed in part-time or low-skill (and therefore low-paying) jobs. In overall terms, their poverty rates are twice as high as males. Children also have higher rates of poverty than the national average. About 50 percent of children under the age of 14 live in poverty.
The Argentine workforce numbers approximately 15 million (this includes those working or actively seeking employment). About 60 percent of the workforce is male. In 2000, the unemployment rate was 15.4 percent. The unemployment rate was highest in urban areas, and in Buenos Aires it was close to 18 percent. In addition to the high unemployment level, Argentina has a significant underemployment rate.
The nation's constitution guarantees workers the right to form unions, although union membership has steadily declined in Argentina. During the 1950s, about 50 percent of the workforce was unionized. However, by 2000, only about 35 percent of the workforce belonged to unions. For much of their modern history, unions were associated with Peron and during the early 1970s, Peronists accounted for 70 percent of union leadership. During the military regime that began in the late 1970s, the unions were purged of Peronists. Unions remain very active and in 2000 2 general, nationwide strikes virtually shut down most government and many private businesses. These strikes were in response to government labor reform laws. Foreign companies have found Argentina's labor market to be inflexible and expensive. Companies have to pay employees a month's salary for each year the employee has worked in cases of lay-offs, and labor agreements often forbid the transfer of employees from location to location or from job to job. Corruption in labor and government has often resulted in foreign firms being forced to pay large bribes in order to do business. One of the most celebrated cases occurred in 1994 when IBM officials were forced to pay millions in bribes in exchange for a US$249 million contract to provide computers for the Banco de la Nacion.
The national minimum wage is US$200 per month, but most workers earn more. All Argentinean workers are entitled to an annual bonus that is equal to 1 month's pay. This bonus is paid in 2 installments in June and December. The maximum work week is 48 hours and the maximum
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|a Excludes energy used for transport.|
|b Includes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
workday is 8 hours. Work done beyond these limitations must be paid an overtime rate of 1.5 times salary. All workers receive annual vacation time which ranges between 14 and 35 days per year. Since 1995, average wages for Argentine workers have increased by 5 percent. Employers must contribute payments to workers' pension and health-care plans that equal 33 percent of the worker's salary. Individual workers make payments that equal 17 percent of their salary for these social guarantees. The retirement age is 60 for women and 65 for men. Upon retirement, workers receive a social security payment known as the "basic universal benefit." In order to qualify, employees must have worked a minimum of 30 years. Many workers have chosen to invest in the nation's private pension plans that pay an average of 20 percent per year more than the basic universal benefit.
Children under the age of 15 are not allowed to work, except in rare circumstances, usually on family farms. Government permits must be granted for these exceptions. Children between the ages of 15 and 18 may work up to 6 hours per day and a maximum of 35 hours per week. Studies have revealed that about 5 percent of children under the age of 15 are illegally employed. Women face discrimination in hiring and wages. On average, women earn about 70 percent of what their male counterparts earn in similar occupations. Only 12 percent of the executives of the nation's largest companies are female.
COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
1580. The Spanish establish a permanent colony in what is now Buenos Aires.
1776. Buenos Aires, a flourishing port, is made the seat of the newly established Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata. The population of the Vice Royalty reaches 20,000.
1816. Jose de San Martin leads the struggle for independence in Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Argentina gains full independence and is initially called the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.
1819-20. Civil war between those Argentines who favor a strong central government and those who advocate a federal system with the provinces retaining significant political power.
1829. General Juan Manuel de Rosas is elected president. He institutes a federal system and the country's name is changed to the Argentine Confederation.
1853. Rosas is overthrown and a new constitution is promulgated. The nation changes its name to the Argentine Republic.
1879-80. The War of the Desert between Argentine troops and settlers and Native Americans ends with an Argentine victory. The suppression of the Native American tribes opens up the interior regions of the country for settlement by Europeans and greatly expands the area under agricultural cultivation.
1916. The period of conservative control of Argentina is ended following the election of a Radical Civic Union (URC) candidate as president.
1930. President Hipolito Yrigoyen of the URC party is overthrown by a military coup.
1943. A coup brings Juan Peron to power as part of a military government.
1946. Juan Peron is elected president.
1947. Peron announces the first of his 5-year economic plans. Women gain the right to vote.
1949. A new constitution is promulgated.
1952. Peron is reelected in an election marred by corruption and irregularities. Evita Peron dies from cancer.
1953. The government implements the second 5-year economic plan. Under this plan a number of commercial trade treaties are signed, including accords with Great Britain, Chile, and the Soviet Union. These agreements lead to a favorable balance of trade, but inflation rises to 200 percent and prompts widespread economic problems.
1955. The military ousts Peron from power in a civil war in which at least 4,000 people are killed.
1956. The constitution of 1949 is rescinded and the nation reverts to the 1853 constitution.
1959. The nation begins receiving substantial foreign loans and economic aid. By the following year, Argentina has received US$1 billion from the United States alone. These loans help maintain economic stability and high wages in spite of growing inflation.
1960-1980. Argentina is a member of the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA). During this period, Argentine trade with other nations in Latin America expands significantly.
1973. Argentina has general elections which return Peron to power with his third wife as vice-president.
1974. Peron dies in office and is succeeded by his wife, Maria Estela.
1975. There is increasing instability in the nation as terrorist activities by both left-wing and right-wing extremist groups claim the lives of some 700 people in a one-year span. After inflation reaches 335 percent, there are widespread strikes and unrest as workers seek higher wages.
1976. The military again takes power and the constitution is once again rescinded. From 1976 to 1983 10,000 people "disappear" (the majority are secretly taken prisoner by the government and tortured and killed).
1980. The Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) replaces LAFTA. LAIA initiates a number of agreements which reduce tariffs between Latin American nations.
1982. Argentina is defeated by the United Kingdom in the Falkland Islands war after Argentine forces invade and conquer the territory known to the Argentines as the Malvinas Islands.
1983. The nation has democratic elections after popular pressure forces the military to cede power. Raul Alfonsin of the URC is elected president and the constitution is reinstated.
1989. Carlos Menem of the Peronist Party is elected president.
1990. A dramatic period of decline in the fisheries sector begins and, by 1993, exports of swordfish cease entirely and are not resumed until 1998.
1991. Reforms are initiated that ultimately fix the peso to the U.S. dollar. Laws are enacted to liberalize the telecommunications industry.
1992. Diplomatic and trade relations, which had been severed as a result of the Falkland Islands War, are reestablished with Great Britain.
1993. A new law liberalizes the mining sector and leads to dramatic growth in the industry.
1994. The constitution is amended. The U.S. and Argentina sign a bilateral investment treaty. All restrictions on foreign ownership of banks are rescinded.
1995. Menem is reelected president. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay join together in a free trade agreement known as MERCOSUR.
1997. The United States allows imports of Argentine beef for the first time in 60 years. The government initiates a program to establish a number of free trade zones in order to increase trade.
1999. Fernando de la Rua of the Alliance is elected president. Argentina assumes the chairmanship of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Negotiating Committee. The nation undergoes a recession in which GDP drops 3 percent and exports by 25 percent.
2000. Argentina and Brazil negotiate new agreements that strengthen MERCOSUR by further lowering trade barriers.
2001. The recession continues. Unemployment rises to approximately 20 percent. In mid-December, 2 days of rioting sweep the nation and lead to President de la Rua's resignation. Predictions are made that the Argentine government soon will default on debts totaling almost US$100 billion.
Argentina has undergone a dramatic economic transformation since the early 1980s. Throughout most of the second half of the 1900s, Argentina suffered from high inflation and economic instability. Although the population was generally well paid and GDP per capita was among the highest in Latin America, inflation eroded the value of employees' wages. Corruption and inefficiency also plagued Argentine companies. Inflation reached a crisis level in the 1980s, and forced the nation to acquire a large foreign debt in order to maintain living standards. When Argentina fixed its currency to the U.S. dollar, it began a period of economic recovery, which continues. Government efforts to reduce expenditures and privatize many state-owned businesses also helped spur economic growth. The nation's economy is now well-placed to compete with other countries and to expand Argentina's share of international trade.
While the most significant economic reforms have already been implemented, there remains the need for a number of other structural readjustments. In overall terms, Argentine workers are not as productive as their counterparts in countries such as Brazil or Chile. The nation's workers are high-paid, however, and this means that labor costs in Argentina are high when compared to other nations in MERCOSUR. In addition, a number of state-owned companies, including the country's largest bank, still need to be privatized. Long-term economic growth is also dependent on the elimination of the government's annual deficit and reductions in the national debt .
Membership in MERCOSUR and other economic organizations will continue to expand Argentine foreign trade. International support and aid for Argentina, including loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, have alleviated some of the pressure of the large national debt, but further assistance is necessary to ensure continued economic growth. The reform and partial privatization of the nation's pension system has increased the capital available to companies to invest in new equipment and new products. In addition, the establishment of free trade zones has lured a significant amount of foreign investment and a number of foreign companies to Argentina. These factors should allow the nation to continue its economic recovery in the wake of the recession of the late 1990s.
Argentina has no territories or colonies.
Coffey, Peter, editor. Latin America: MERCOSUR. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998.
Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Argentina. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.
Embajada Argentina en Washington D.C./Argentine Embassy in Washington D.C. <http://www.embajadaargentina-usa.org>. Accessed August 2001.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed July 2001.
U.S. Department of State. Argentina: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 1999. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/index.cfm?docid=372>. Accessed February 2001.
— Background Notes: Argentina. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/index.cfm?docid=2904>. Accessed February 2001.
— FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Argentina. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/wha/index.html>. Accessed February 2001.
Whittle, Janet, et al. Argentina Business: The Portable Encyclopedia for Doing Business With Argentina, 2nd edition. San Rafael, CA: World Trade Press, 1998.
Peso (P). One peso equals 100 centavos. Coins are in denominations of P5, 2 and 1 and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 centavos. Peso paper currency is in denominations of P100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2.
Edible oils, fuels and energy, cereals, feed, motor vehicles.
Machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, metal manufactures, plastics.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:
US$367 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).
BALANCE OF TRADE:
Exports: US$23 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$25 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.).
COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group Inc.
|Official Country Name:||Argentine Republic|
|Language(s):||Spanish, English, Italian, German, French|
|Number of Primary Schools:||22,437|
|Compulsory Schooling:||10 years|
|Public Expenditure on Education:||3.5%|
|Foreign Students in National Universities:||12,678|
|Educational Enrollment:||Primary: 5,153,256|
|Educational Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 113%|
|Student-Teacher Ratio:||Primary: 17:1|
|Female Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 113%|
History & Background
The Republic of Argentina, the second largest country in South America, contains 22 provinces, 1 national territory, and the federal district of Buenos Aires. Argentina's varied topography and the remoteness of some of its regions have played a large role in the development of its educational system, which serves students who live not only in urban centers, but those who live in rural areas as well. Educational facilities range from the largest university in Latin America, to one-room primary schools scattered in remote areas. The largest city, Buenos Aires, has more than 12 million people, 40 percent of the country's total population. In each of the two other major cities, Córdoba and Rosario, reside more than 1 million inhabitants. Eighty-five percent of the population is descended from Europeans, and the remaining ethnic groups consist mostly of mestizos and Amerindians. More than 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, giving the educational system a strong religious background and influence. The country's official language, Spanish, is common to the whole educational system.
Spanish Jesuits and priests of other orders were among the first to open schools in colonial Argentina. Between 1770 and 1820, the government vigorously promoted popular education, establishing primary schools and commercial, art, agricultural, and nautical schools. At first, enrollment was only 6 percent of the school population in Buenos Aires, and in several provinces no one was enrolled. By the 1800s, secondary and normal (teacher-training) schools had been established in the provincial capitals, but most were still poorly attended. Not until well into the twentieth century did children of poorer families in the remote cities receive more than two or three years of schooling.
Under the Constitution of 1853, a secondary school system was set up along with dozens of primary schools throughout the country. The government also formed the National College of Buenos Aires as a five-year institution devoted to the study of humanities and science. By 1878, Argentina had more than 400 private schools, a third of them private and Catholic. The Catholic Church continues to play an important role in the educational system in 2001.
Between 1868 and 1874, the government established another 1,000 primary schools, reorganized secondary education, and founded schools of agriculture, schools for the handicapped, and the Military College and Naval School. Educators from the United States were brought in to set up teacher-training schools and kindergartens. School enrollment rose from 6 percent of the eligible population to 38 percent in the next decade. Compulsory primary school attendance was also established for ages 6 to 14, and the illiteracy rate for persons 14 and older dropped from 77 percent to 13 percent between 1869 and 1947.
Until World War I, schools were concentrated in the major cities, Buenos Aires, La Plata, Rosario, Santa Fe, and Córdoba. Secondary schools prepared students for entrance to universities and were attended mainly by the children of the well-to-do. The national government opened some rural secondary schools that taught agronomy, animal husbandry, and viticulture, but poorer families still could not afford to send their children to these schools. Middle-class families were not interested in them; they looked to university training in the professions as the only path to success and status for their children. This attitude continues to hamper curricula reform in the schools.
In 1918, a student-led reform movement at the University of Córdoba marked a major turning point in Argentine education. This movement sought to eliminate upper-class privilege, which had kept poorer students out of the university, and to protect the university from governmental intervention. It also aimed at modernizing the university curricula, raising academic standards, and getting rid of incompetent and conservative faculty. Free tuition was established, and poor students were given financial assistance. This manifesto led to the creation of the Argentine University Federation, which included student representatives from the five national universities.
Toward the middle of the twentieth century and after, as teachers' salaries fell and conditions in the schools deteriorated, the schools became the target of the changing policies of a succession of repressive regimes. Perónist ideology was injected into the curricula and textbooks. Teachers who resisted these changes were fired. University autonomy was abolished, and 70 percent of the faculty was dismissed. On the positive side, the government stressed primary and secondary school attendance, reducing illiteracy and increasing the number of skilled young people. Adult education was offered outside the federal capital for the first time ever. Schools and services for shut-ins and handicapped children were established. Schools were exempted from taxation, and efforts were made to make the quality of provincial education equal to that offered in urban centers. More secondary schools and a teacher-training school for girls were founded.
In 1958, legislation authorized the establishment of private universities, and the same year the first small provincial university was opened in the La Plata province. The majority of the private universities were operated by Catholic orders, and the 1958 law gave them and other private universities the authority to grant degrees. These new universities emphasized the traditional professions, law and medicine, avoiding new disciplines, such as sociology and psychology. From 1966 to 1972, the military government began decentralizing the educational system by transferring the schools created by the federal government to the provinces. This transfer would make better use of increasingly scarce resources and reduce overlapping of education systems. After 1983, as political freedom returned to the country, the universities regained autonomy. Entrance exams were again eliminated as a way to equalize educational opportunities. Enrollments nearly doubled in the public universities, causing problems with overcrowding and understaffing.
The changes introduced in the 1960s by some national universities—such as new degrees in the sciences, departmental organization by discipline, and the development of graduate programs—reached only a small sector within the university. The universities continued to offer lengthy degree programs, and part-time professors continued to lecture students who combined studies with outside employment. The problems of this traditional model were aggravated by open admissions and budgetary constraints, which resulted in a very high student dropout rate and a teaching staff made up mostly of part-time personnel with no graduate-level training. The government continued to authorize new institutions, both public and private, and the giant public universities continued to expand their programs without becoming accountable for their academic quality or economic feasibility. More than 100,000 graduates, about 1 in every 10, are employed in teaching and research positions at the universities, making higher education the main employer in the academic labor market.
Constitutional & Legal Foundations
The responsibility for administering the educational system is shared by the federal government and the 22 provincial governments. This responsibility arises from a number of legal sources, including the National Constitution, the provincial constitutions and laws, and various decrees and resolutions made by national and provincial political leaders since the nineteenth century. Each province addresses education differently, though all of them specify that primary education is free and compulsory, and all deal with school financing.
The Constitution of 1853 stipulated that the National Congress was responsible for general and university education; the provinces, for primary schools. Law number 1420, enacted in 1874, set down the administration of primary schools, inspection, school finance, and so on. Under this law, education from the ages of 6 to 14 is compulsory and free to everyone through the university.
In 1993 a new federal Law, number 24.195, superseded Law 1.420, placing the entire national educational system under legislative control and setting new objectives, academic structure, and content for all levels of education. The Law gives the Ministry of Culture and Education the authority to make policy and control the quality of education. In addition, the Law establishes the means for gathering statistical information on schools, evaluating and regulating teaching quality, and improving school infrastructures.
The federal government established the Federal Educational Pact, made up of members of the national administration, the provinces, and the municipality of Buenos Aires. Among its many principles, the Pact specifies the amount and source of financing that education is to receive. By 2000, the goal was to achieve 100 percent attendance of children 5- to 14-years-old. The Pact members also aimed to eliminate ill-equipped schools and to upgrade school libraries and instructional equipment.
The school year in Argentina runs from March to December and lasts about 200 days. Schools are closed for national holidays, such as Good Friday and Easter, and two weeks in July for vacation. Normally, public elementary schools are in session four and a half hours each weekday. Saturdays are generally reserved for extracurricular school activities. Often, a school will have a morning and afternoon session, allowing pupils and teachers to choose their sessions. Some elementary schools offer evening classes for adults. Bilingual programs are offered in many private elementary schools.
The educational system is divided into four distinct levels. The preprimary level (kindergarten) is not compulsory and enrolls children from 3- to 5-years-old. The primary (elementary) level is compulsory and consists of 7 grades. Pupils at this level must remain until all 7 grades are completed or, in case of repetition of grades, until age 14. Children from 6- to 12-years-old attend primary school along with adults who need instruction on this level. The secondary level is attended by youths from 12- to 17-years-old, or 16 if they are employed and attend night school. Courses of study vary from 3 to 8 years and prepare students for vocational or professional programs. Higher education includes private and national universities and institutions that provide teacher training and advanced training in technical careers.
University education is provided by public universities, either national or provincial, and by private universities. Since 1955, university entrance has been open to all students who have completed secondary school. Some public universities, such as the University of Buenos Aires, require an orientation course or an entrance exam, or both, and many private universities require other qualifications. The traditional university degree is awarded after five or six years of full-time study in a specialized field. Degrees may be obtained for completion of part of a program or for completion of a training program that enables the degree-holder to work in a specific profession. The academic year normally consists of two, four-month terms, and full-time students usually take three classes per term for six hours each week. Lecturing remains the principal method of instruction.
The academic year begins in March and ends in December, although the calendar may vary somewhat from one department to another within the university. The typical university consists of independent schools or colleges in a particular field, such as law or agriculture, and these faculties are free to vary their grading system, calendar, and academic procedures. Universities design their own curricula and degree programs, but the National Authority for University Affairs approves them. Universities communicate with one another by way of the National Interuniversity Council, one for public and another for private universities, both composed of university rectors (presidents). Student unions also influence university policy, but neither the rectors' committees nor the student unions have any official authority over policy.
Universities may award various kinds of degrees. The short-degree program, which takes two or three years to complete, trains a student for a specific area in the workforce, such as computer programming or librarianship. The intermediate degree takes three years and qualifies one for immediate employment in a specific profession or to continue for another two years and earn a license in a particular field.
As with other degree programs, each university determines the length of the program and its curriculum. The medical degree ranges from five to seven years. Some universities require seven years of study for the same degree that others award in five years. Although most universities require students to take their courses in a prescribed sequence, those who earn a degree are qualified to practice in their field of study, such as law, medicine, or engineering. Wide diversity may be found in grading systems and examinations, dealing with failure, and many other aspects of university affairs.
Since the 1980s, graduate degree programs have proliferated and include master's degrees along with doctoral degrees. Emphasis remains on training for a specific profession rather than on original research, and only about 7 percent pursue a postgraduate education, since a degree qualifies one to work in a profession without it. Increasingly, however, universities are requiring that all candidates for full professor hold an earned doctorate, and many of the professions are giving added importance to graduate degrees. The National Authority for University Affairs approves the degree, but no central authority on the national level oversees graduate programs, so standards vary considerably among the universities. Doctoral programs usually include course work and a thesis that contributes new knowledge to a field of study.
A great discrepancy between urban and rural schools remains. Many of the provinces are geographically isolated, and nearly 50 percent of the country's population lives in metropolitan Buenos Aires, leaving the rural areas with very little power to dictate policy at the national level. Consequently, educational attainment is lower in the rural areas. On the whole, however, many improvements have been made since the return of democratic government in 1983. Rural education has been expanded, more than 17,000 adult schools have been built, and hundreds of secondary schools offer night classes to those in the workforce.
Preprimary & Primary Education
Preprimary school in Argentina is not mandatory, but from the 1980s, enrollment in preschool increased more rapidly than at any other level. Most preprimary schools are private and serve the children of the upper class. By 1986, Argentina had slightly more than 8,000 preprimary schools. According to a government statement, preprimary school should prepare the child physically, spiritually, and morally, as well as instill orderly habits and obedience. The child learns personal hygiene along with correct posture and graceful movements and is introduced to language skills, arithmetic, writing, and reading. Religion is also part of the child's instruction.
Primary education lasts seven years, at the end of which time the student receives a Certification of Completion. It is, in theory at least, compulsory for children ages 6 through 14. The curriculum includes mathematics, Spanish, social studies, basic science, art, music, and physical education. About 10 percent of the primary schools are private and enroll 18 percent of the age group. Fewer than 50 percent of the students who enroll complete all seven years of the primary curriculum. By the 1990s primary schools numbered more than 21,000. Nearly 18,000 of these were controlled by provincial governments and more than 2,200 schools were private. Almost 5 million children attended the primary level.
In 1977, the official curriculum included language, mathematics, social studies, basic science, aesthetic training (music, art, and handicrafts), and physical education. A revised curriculum in 1978 minimized the curriculum to make it adaptable to different geographical areas. All courses are required, and each course lasts one complete academic year from March to December. The curriculum is developed by a national administrative committee and then approved by the Ministry of Culture and Education.
Only about half of those starting primary level ever reach secondary school. Until 1983, parents from the lower class were not able to afford the private tutoring that the high-school entrance exam required. To make education more equitable, the democratic government in 1983 eliminated the entrance exam and selected students by lottery to attend the desired schools. Students who fail a subject are allowed to take an exam in that subject the following academic year; after a second failure, students must repeat the entire grade. Grade repetition is one of the main causes of school dropouts. The national proportion of students completing the seven years of primary schooling rose steadily from 35 percent in 1960 to around 65 percent in 1990.
Secondary education is not compulsory but is offered free in federally funded public schools. In 1987, nearly 2 million students were enrolled in secondary programs, about 74 percent of the relative age group. Students may enter secondary programs after successfully completing the seven years of primary school. Secondary education programs, whether academic or commercial, are divided into a basic cycle of three years, followed by a cycle of two or three years. The commercial programs teach accounting, computer science, and the like. A technical-vocational program includes 12 to 15 hours a week in applied workshops. About 85 percent of the students studying at the secondary level are enrolled in academic and commercial programs. Graduates of any secondary program requiring five or more years to complete are eligible for further study at the tertiary level. Students are graded at the end of the year, and they must make up any failures from the previous year; they are not allowed to graduate with any failures on their records.
Students who have completed seven years of primary school may enter any of the technical schools where the programs have an academic core, but stress applied learning and practical skills in workshops. These programs are employment-oriented and vary in the number of hours needed to complete them. Shorter courses prepare students for employment only, with no access to higher education; the longer courses include academic courses and do offer access to higher education. Beginning in the 1990s, graduates of any of these programs could teach their specialization in technical schools. Several secondary schools offer agricultural training in a wide range of specializations, such as irrigation, cultivation of fruit trees and wine production, and so on. Practical experience is required. As in other technical schools, students go through a six-year course of study, at the end of which they can advance to the university or nonuniversity programs.
Students who have completed secondary school may enter a public or private university, a non-university institution, or a military school. Programs are offered by both public and private universities and institutions; postsecondary degree and certificate programs beyond secondary school may require two to seven years to complete and focus on a single area of study.
Argentina has more than 80 public and private universities offering degree programs; they may be mass metropolitan universities or private elite institutions. On the whole, however, all are non-residential universities with their students commuting to class from their homes. The public universities are often plagued by strikes and political conflicts. Academic equipment is generally rather poor, and in many instances the educational technology is rather primitive. The number of graduate-degree programs more than doubled in the 1990s, totaling more than 1,000, and between 10,000 and 15,000 students were enrolled in these programs, up from only 3,000 a decade ago. Forty percent of these graduate programs are master's degree programs.
The private and public sectors cooperate in providing education in geographically isolated areas. If a private institution operates in a community where no public school exists, the national government might pay teachers' salaries, depending on the resources of the community. The largest institutions tend to locate in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, while in the rest of the country most private institutions are small and operate with the support of the Catholic Church. A new wave of private institution development has taken place since 1989 and is part of the overall privatization policy geared to shift the burden of financing higher education to the private market.
The University of Buenos Aires, in many ways, represents public higher education in Argentina. Since the 1980s, the University's budget has been woefully inadequate, and overcrowding has become a chronic problem. More than 250,000 students are spread among its 12 faculties and 4 schools. The number of professors, both full-time and part-time, cannot keep pace with massive enrollments. Curricula are outmoded, and the University lacks adequate libraries, laboratories, and modern teaching aids. Students and faculty alike must pay for their books and Internet access. Most professors work part time, teaching a course or two per term for token payment. In most of the faculties, fewer than 20 percent are full time, but even full-time faculty members must hold other jobs, since yearly salaries average only about $24,000 for senior faculty. Full-time faculty are evaluated every seven years and must compete for their jobs in an open contest with other applicants. Part-time staff members have no place to meet students or prepare for class. Even many full-time faculty are without offices of their own.
Entering students encounter several obstacles from the beginning. Most of them hold jobs while studying and must take a one-year general-education course that is overcrowded and taught by part-time staff. Sixty percent of those who start this course either drop out or fail the examinations. Even those who survive have virtually no contact with professors until late in their academic program, if then. In some disciplines, such as medicine, the dropout rate approaches 90 percent. Only about 7 percent of those who enroll end up graduating, and the average time for graduation is nine years.
Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
Administration: Two official authorities are responsible for the educational system in Argentina, the national Constitution and the constitutions of the 22 provinces. The highest government office is the Ministry of Culture and Education, whose minister is appointed by the president and sits in the President's Cabinet. The minister oversees the political aspects of the educational system, and the executive functions are performed by the Secretariat of State, Education, and Culture, who works through various Councils. Under these Councils, five directorates work directly with schools in technical and administrative matters, proposing programs, textbooks, and the like. The provincial governments have their own Councils of Education, and various municipalities run a few schools. Private schools are regulated by the same offices as regulate the national schools. The curricula and credentials of teachers in the private schools are approved by one or more national and provincial offices. The certificates and diplomas awarded by private schools must be accredited by federal inspectors.
The complex nature of Argentina's educational system and its divided administrative authority promotes confusion, increases the costs of the system, slows progressive change, and complicates administrative control. For example, before 1992, most secondary and post-secondary education was supervised by at least nine different agencies. The vocational-technical secondary programs and one postsecondary teacher training institute for special programs are supervised by the National Council for Technical Education. Another agency supervises 43 agricultural secondary schools throughout Argentina, sharing its authority in some schools with another agency. The National Authority for Artistic Education controls another 60 schools, and National Authorities exist also for adult, special, and physical education.
Private secondary schools and institutions of higher education must apply to the Minister of Education for a review of teaching personnel, facilities, programs of study, and diplomas awarded; they also must submit plans of study for each degree program to the National Authority for University Affairs at the Ministry for approval in order to award official titles.
Financing of Education: The public educational system is financed mainly by the government, which allocates a certain percent of the national budget annually to the Ministry of Education and Culture. In turn, the Ministry finances all public schools, subsidizes private schools teaching the official curriculum, and funds specialized institutions, including the national university system. A few other ministries give some financial support to their own specialized educational establishments. The national Congress determines how much of the annual budget goes to education, and a part of tax revenues goes to education. The largest portion of the education budget goes to public schools, both national and provincial. Allocation to private schools always lags behind these two groups. In 1955, the percentage of the national budget for education was 10 percent. By 1974, it was 17 percent. In 1977, Argentina was spending US$40 per citizen on education; by comparison, the United States in the same year spent $250 per citizen. In 1987, however, allocation to education fell to 9 percent of all government expenditures. Between 1963 and 1988, expenditures decreased at a rate of 1.5 percent per year, while student enrollment increased annually at 5.9 percent.
University budgets have become the largest single item directly financed through the Ministry of Education. In theory, each university must submit a budget to the Ministry through the inter-university council, which is included in the yearly budge proposal to Congress. Wages and salaries make up more than 90 percent of the total budget.
Private institutions of higher learning are not subsidized by the government, and primary and secondary schools, to receive funding, must meet conditions stipulated by national authorities. School construction is financed in part by special taxes, and many schools are financed by bonds, fines for non-attendance, sales of public lands, and private donations. Technical schools benefit from a special technical education tax levied on certain industrial and commercial businesses and from proceeds derived from the sale of products made in school workshops. Since 1982, technical schools have been funded by the national government but, like other sectors of the educational system, they regularly face financial hardships. To supplement their budgets, they rely on local communities. In some areas, parent organizations help buy school equipment, and some schools exchange services with other schools.
Research: Research is only marginal to the function of the university; teaching is the university's main or, in some cases, its only function. University faculty are not required to conduct research for employment, advancement, or prestige. On the whole, research is left to independent research centers. By 1991, Argentina had 27 publicly financed research institutions, which have been converted into self-supporting private companies and foundations. At the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, which finances projects for about 8,000 scientists and other researchers throughout the country, scientists earn from US$330 to US$800 a month.
Many independent research centers offer master's programs, sometimes in conjunction with universities. A research center may receive some support from the national government, but it receives most of its funding from private foundations, such as the Ford Foundation; from tuition; or from business grants. Many faculty members in these institutions come from abroad and many of them teach part-time at a university.
Alternative Education: Increasingly, Argentina is gaining a variety of educational institutions that are independent of the traditional four-level framework. A growing number of students enroll in the National Technological University, primarily a technological institute offering professional training. Established specifically for the working class, this university has 29 campuses throughout the country. Beyond secondary school, a variety of schools offer programs in a broad range of careers. Some offer master's programs in business administration and are designed for professionals with three to five years of experience who work and study part-time. Their relative high cost is usually paid by employers.
The National Authority for Artistic Education, for example, operates about 60 schools throughout the country at the secondary and tertiary levels that offer programs in fine arts, interior design, dance, music, and so on. Entering students must pass an artistic aptitude test and study from three to five years, depending on the program. Often, these students are also enrolled in an academic program at another school. Other tertiary institutions offer two- and four-year courses to those who wish to teach in vocational schools and in three-year courses for nurses and hospital assistants.
All branches of the military offer educational programs, primary schooling to those who have not completed elementary school, and postsecondary schooling to those who have. Curricula generally combine traditional academic disciplines with courses designed to prepare students for military duties or promotion. Both the national government and provincial authorities operate police academies where men and women are trained in a variety of law-enforcement fields. Two-year postsecondary programs train legal aides, security officers, and technical assistants in police law. Schooling that combines basic elementary school with vocational training is also available to prison inmates.
Special-Need Schools: A variety of primary schools serve students with special needs. Home schools offer both free boarding and educational services to abandoned, indigent, or orphaned children. Outdoor schools outside urban centers offer primary education to children with chronic health problems. Special-education schools are available for students with motor, sensory, or mental handicaps. Classes may be held at the student's home, at a hospital, or in a regular school building.
Some primary schools are devoted exclusively to those who are beyond school age, providing them with the standard curriculum in the evening to accommodate those who hold jobs. The National Plan for literacy and adult education has established centers offering accelerated primary education to any adult who lacks basic literacy.
Teacher training at the secondary level is furnished by normal schools, which date from 1869. Today, the basic requirement for a teaching career is completion of a five-year normal school. Satisfactory completion earns a person a teaching certificate and permission to teach in a national primary school, or in a provincial school, if local authorities approve the certificate. An additional two years are required for teaching in kindergarten, and four years at secondary teacher-training schools qualify a person for teaching at the secondary level.
In 1956, the Teachers' Statute granted civil service status to teachers and guaranteed them, among other benefits, tenure and seniority, certain holidays, the right to appeal inequitable administrative actions, medical care, and pension rights. In 1961, about 99 percent of the primary teachers had the requisite certification, a record of qualification unmatched in Latin America. In 1967, about 325,000 teachers were employed in the schools. Seventy-two percent of these teachers were in the primary system; 17 percent in the secondary system; and 5 percent in higher education. By 1967, more than 200,000 students, 86 percent of them women, were enrolled in normal schools, up from 75,000 in 1953.
In the late 1960s, the preprimary and primary programs were elevated to the status of a non-university degree program consisting of a two-year course followed by a half year of residency. Students in this program had to have a secondary-school diploma from a normal school. At the same time, some universities began their own teacher-training programs. Since 1968, teachers have been required to attend a university to receive their credentials. Private institutions have also become important teacher-training centers. By 1967, about 140 different kinds of schools provided postsecondary education outside the universities to almost 30,000 students, more than three-quarters of whom were women. Teachers are now trained in a variety of institutions, including provincial, technical, and private institutes and universities. Even with these many avenues to teacher training, not every teacher in an elementary school has been through a teacher-training school. In recent years, teachers have swamped the marketplace, yet qualified teachers are in demand, especially in the remote regions.
Argentina's educational system has not had a smooth evolution. Many educational reforms have been politically motivated and punitive, and the reforms of one government have been undone by a subsequent government. Political upheavals in 1946, 1955, 1966, and 1973 decimated the teaching profession, each time changing the character of the universities. Progress has been further hampered by the fact that Argentina's educational system is a maze of parallel and overlapping agencies and authorities, each having the power to decide educational affairs. This bureaucratic redundancy is expensive and makes change slow and difficult.
Although Argentina boasts a literacy rate of 94 percent of the population, this figure does not tell the whole truth. Recent studies indicate that as of the year 2000, about 54.0 percent of Argentina's adults had no education beyond primary school, only 14.1 percent had finished secondary school, and only 4.0 percent were university graduates. According to the Ministry of Culture and Education, more than 9 million people have no education past primary school. In recent years, the principal barrier to educational improvement has been inadequate funding, which has resulted in constant tension between the public education sector and the state.
The government abolished entrance examinations in 1983, and within three years the number of students at public universities nearly doubled—to about 635,000 nationwide. At the University of Buenos Aires alone, enrollments rose from 132,000 students in 1984 to 250,000 in 1986. But increased enrollments were not accompanied by budgetary increases, so standards declined sharply and buildings and staff could not keep pace with soaring enrollments. In 1989, about 92 percent of the budget for universities went to salaries, causing many universities to have so little money that they stopped paying their other expenses.
Economic troubles have become the central issue in education and have raised union membership. Collegiate bodies, teaching and non-teaching unions, and students have joined in an almost permanent political fight for university budgets and salaries since 1984, often paralyzing the universities and making consensus on proposed reforms impossible. Enrollments in Argentina's private universities have increased while those of the public institutions have slipped. Observers say one reason is labor conflicts at public institutions, which jeopardizes the completion of studies.
By all accounts, teachers do need to be paid more. Faculty salaries from 1971 to 1990 decreased more rapidly than the wages of civil servants and non-farm workers. A teacher in Buenos Aires receives little more than $300 per month, and teachers in the provinces receive even less. A university lecturer receives about $200 a month for five lectures per week. In some areas of the country, salaries arrive late or teachers are paid with meal tickets. Not surprisingly, the quality of teachers has fallen along with salaries.
The government agrees that increased funding is necessary, but it calls on the universities themselves to help ease the financial crisis. Universities could generate income by providing the business community with training, scientific, and technology services; students also could pay fees. Making school administrations more efficient and reducing educational bureaucracy are further ways to ease the crisis. In 1991, the government did its part by reducing the staff of 27 universities and of the Ministry of Culture and Education. Public universities also suffer from poor financial management. On average they spend for each student up to three times more than private universities do.
At the same time, the Minister of Education is trying to align university curricula with the reality of the marketplace, revising programs to take into account realistic social needs. Undergraduate programs are too long and, in most cases, impractical. About 30,000 students graduate from Argentine universities each year, yet the labor market can absorb only 4,000. At least 100,000 university graduates have left Argentina in the last 20 years because of a lack of job opportunities.
Argentina's system of higher education is criticized for promoting social inequality. Only 8.3 percent of all university students come from the lowest social stratum. Forty percent of the 18 to 24 age group in Buenos Aires are enrolled in school, whereas only 10 percent of the same age group is enrolled in education in the poorer southern and northern provinces. Urbanization has produced a great discrepancy between urban and rural education.
The proliferation of graduate degree programs in Argentina is causing problems of quality control for the country's higher education system. By 1995, Argentina had more than 80 public and private universities and more than 1,600 non-university institutions, all awarding degrees and diplomas and causing a crisis in organization. The universities are working with the Ministry of Education on a new system to accredit graduate programs, seeking help from other countries in designing and implementing new graduate programs.
Since the country returned to a democratic government in 1983, the educational system has received serious attention at all levels, evidence of which may be seen in some genuine improvements and many positive proposals awaiting implementation. The Federal Education Act of 1993 set forth the government's plan to revamp and revitalize the national educational system. The Act establishes a system for evaluating quality in education and a federal network for permanent teacher education. The Act also speaks of educational reform and restructuring the national educational system. To help ease the budget crisis, an Argentine group has set up the Fund for the Improvement of University Quality, which aims to distribute $224 million over a period of five years to update library collections and facilities, and to provide fellowships for graduate studies in Argentina and abroad. Ministry officials will support efforts by the country's privately financed universities to obtain loans for similar purposes from the World Bank and other agencies.
Argentina continues to be deeply committed to improving the quality of education. Although financing is at the heart of the problems plaguing the educational system, it will take more than money to mend the system. The problems have developed over years of economic and political turmoil and are so deeply rooted in social beliefs and traditions, in the country's size and geographical features, and in the national character that most believe a successful resolution will not be easy, inexpensive, or quick.
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Torres, Carlos Alberto, and Adriana Puiggrós, eds. Latin American Education: Comparative Perspectives. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.
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—Bernard E. Morris
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Gale Group Inc.
Argentina (ärjəntē´nə, Span. ärhāntē´nä), officially Argentine Republic, republic (2005 est. pop. 39,538,000), 1,072,157 sq mi (2,776,889 sq km), S South America. Argentina is bordered by Chile on the west, Bolivia and Paraguay on the north, Brazil and Uruguay on the northeast, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. Buenos Aires is the country's capital and largest city.
Argentina is triangular in shape and stretches c.2,300 mi (3,700 km) from its broad northern region near the Tropic of Capricorn to Tierra del Fuego, an island shared with Chile, in the south. On the northeast, Argentina fronts on the Río de la Plata (an estuary and one of the major waterways of the Western Hemisphere), which separates Argentina from S Uruguay; its tributaries also act as international boundaries—the Uruguay River, with W Uruguay and S Brazil, and the Paraná, Paraguay, and Pilcomayo rivers, with Paraguay. The northwest boundary with Bolivia lies in the Gran Chaco and the Andes Mts. The western boundary with Chile follows the crestline of the Andes. The Atlantic Ocean borders Argentina on the east; there, off S Argentina, are the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), and the South Georgia, South Sandwich, and South Orkney islands, all dependencies of Great Britain that are claimed by Argentina.
Argentina also claims a sector of Antarctica. The climate of Argentina varies from subtropical in the north to cold and windswept in the south, with temperate and dry areas found throughout much of the country. Precipitation, lowest along the E Andean slopes, increases markedly N and E across Argentina. The chief rivers of Argentina are the Paraná with its tributary, the Salado; the Colorado River; the Río Negro; and the Chubut.
Argentina may be divided into six geographical regions—the Paraná Plateau, the Gran Chaco, the Pampa (see under pampas), the Monte, Patagonia, and the Andes Mts. The Paraná Plateau in the extreme northeast is an extension of the highlands of S Brazil. It is the wettest part of Argentina and has a dense forest cover; tobacco, timber, and yerba maté are the chief products there. The spectacular Iguaçu Falls are in a national park located at the point where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet.
In N Argentina the Gran Chaco, with the physiographically similar Mesopotamia (between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers), is a predominantly flat alluvial plain with a subtropical climate. The region is seasonally flooded, and marshlands remain for long periods during the year because of poor drainage. Livestock, cotton, and wood from the quebracho tree are the main products.
South of the Gran Chaco is the Pampa, a vast, monotonous natural grassland that extends to the Colorado River (roughly from lat. 30°S to 40°S) and is c.400 mi (640 km) wide from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andean foothills. The Pampa's deep, rich soil is the basic wealth of the country. The "Wet Pampa," the more humid eastern part of the region, is Argentina's principal agricultural area and produces most of the nation's exports. It is the granary of South America, with wheat, alfalfa, corn, and flax the principal crops. Cattle ranching is prevalent throughout the Pampa and especially in the southeast and north; sheep are also raised there. Dairying is important in the vicinity of Buenos Aires. The Pampa has the densest transportation network of roads and railroads in South America.
Most of the principal cities of Argentina and most of its industry are found in the region. Buenos Aires, a port city on the Río de la Plata, is one of the largest cities of South America and the chief industrial center and transportation hub of S South America; it is surrounded by smaller industrial cities. Elsewhere on the Pampa are La Plata, a meatpacking and oil-refining center; Rosario, the third largest city of Argentina, an iron and steel and oil-refining center, and a huge grain port on the Paraná River; Santa Fe, a northern commercial and industrial center at the junction of the Salado and Paraná rivers; Mar del Plata, a resort and fishing center on the Atlantic Ocean; and Bahía Blanca, the largest Argentine port directly on the Atlantic Ocean, a gateway to the S Pampa and the oil fields of Neuquén prov., and a meatpacking and wool-processing center. On the western edge of the Pampa is Córdoba, the nation's second largest city, which reflects the transition from the "Dry Pampa" to the Monte, the desolate Andean foothills.
The Monte, an arid region in the rain shadow of the Andes, has natural vegetation varying from short grasses in the east to cacti in the west. Scattered throughout the great arid stretches are small but highly productive oases such as Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, San Juan, and Mendoza, which were settled from Peru and Upper Peru (Bolivia) in the second half of the 16th cent. The oases, whose growth and importance greatly increased after they were linked by railroad to the east coast, produce wine, sugar, fruits, and corn; stock raising is also carried on there. The varied mineral deposits of this region (especially oil, lead, zinc, tin, copper, and salt) are being exploited. Mendoza and Tucumán are major industrial areas engaged in food processing, oil refining, and chemical production.
Occupying the southern part of Argentina is Patagonia, a vast, bleak, and windswept dissected plateau. Several large rivers flow in deep valleys eastward across Patagonia to the sea. Sheep raising (chiefly for wool) and oil and natural gas production (the area around Comodoro Rivadavia is the chief oil-producing region of Argentina) are the principal economic activities of Patagonia. The poor soils of Patagonia and its cool and dry climate do not favor cultivation, although irrigated agriculture is practiced in the Negro and Colorado river valleys. Patagonia is sparsely populated and largely undeveloped, with a few small river-mouth ports on the Atlantic coast such as Viedma, Rawson, Puerto Deseado, and Río Gallegos. Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, on Canal Beagle, is the world's southernmost town.
The Andes Mts. region of Argentina, broad in the north, where it is similar to the Bolivian altiplano, and becoming narrower toward the south, extends along the length of Argentina's western border. The region, which contains some of the world's highest elevations outside Asia—including Aconcagua (22,835 ft/6,960 m high; the highest point of the Western hemisphere), Bonete, Tupungato, Mercedario, and Llullaillaco—acts as a barrier to the moist westerly winds, thus giving the eastern slopes of the Andes a desert condition that contrasts with the heavy snowfall on the higher elevations. There are timber and mineral resources, but they are not readily exploitable because of the region's inaccessibility. Cattle are raised on the grassy Andean foothills. There are many beautiful lakes in the region, especially where it merges with the Patagonian plateau; Lake Nahuel Huapí in Nahuel Huapí National Park, adjoining the Chilean lake district, is an attractive resort area.
Argentina, unlike most Latin American nations, has a population that is principally of European descent, especially of Italian and Spanish origin. The mestizo portion of Argentina's population is very small, except in the northwest, because there has been little mixture between European and indigenous peoples. The native population, which has steadily declined since the coming of the Europeans, is still strong only in parts of the Gran Chaco and the Andean highlands. Italian, Spanish (including Basque), French, German, British, Swiss, and East European immigrants came to Argentina during the 1880s; other large in-migrations of Europeans occurred in the 1930s and following World War II. There has also been some in-migration of Chileans, Bolivians, and Paraguayans.
The gaucho, or Argentine cowboy, the nomadic herder of the Pampas—depicted in Martín Fierro, the great Argentine folk epic by José Hernández—is still a legendary national symbol. Many gauchos were people of mixed Spanish and African descent who had crossed the border from Brazil to escape slavery. By the 1990s, however, Argentina had a predominantly urban population with about four fifths of its people living in cities and towns; more than a third of the total population lives in and around Buenos Aires.
About 90% of the population is at least nominally Roman Catholic. The Jewish population, while only accounting for about 2% of the people, is the largest in Latin America and the fifth largest in the world. Spanish is the country's official language, although English, Italian, German, and French are spoken as well. Argentina has one of South America's lowest population growth rates (under 1%).
Argentina's economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, but the industrial and service sectors have also grown in importance in recent years. Livestock (cattle and sheep) and grains have long been the bulwark of its wealth; its cattle herds are among the world's finest. As an exporter of wheat, corn, flax, oats, beef, mutton, hides, and wool, Argentina rivals the United States, Canada, and Australia. Its other agricultural products include oilseeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, and tobacco. Argentina is the world's largest source of tannin and linseed oil. The Pampa is the nation's chief agricultural area; however, since the 1930s there has been a great rise in production in other areas, especially in the oases of the Monte and the irrigated valleys of N Patagonia.
Although Argentina has a variety of minerals, they are of local importance and are not completely adequate to support the country's industries. Domestic oil and gas production has made the nation self-sufficient in energy; pipelines connect the oil and gas fields with Buenos Aires and other major refining centers. Argentina also exploits its ample hydroelectric resources. The large coal field of S Patagonia has low-grade coal.
Food processing (in particular meatpacking, flour milling, and canning) is the chief manufacturing industry; motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, petrochemicals, and steel are also major products. Argentina's principal imports are machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, metals, plastics, and other manufactured goods. The chief trading partners are Brazil, the United States, China, and Chile. Argentina is a member of Mercosur.
In recent decades Argentina has experienced both inflation and recession. Privatization and other economic reforms begun by President Menem in the early 1990s produced unprecedented economic growth, but significant economic problems remained, including high unemployment and a massive national debt (due to freehanded government spending and widespread tax evasion). The economy was hurt by Brazil's recession and currency devaluation in the late 1990s, but the pegging of the peso to the dollar combined with Argentina's own economic problems resulted in economic collapse in 2001. The economy did not begin to grow strongly again until 2003. In the early 21st cent., the government reversed some of the privatization that had occurred in the 1990s.
Argentina is composed of 23 provinces and one federal district (Buenos Aires). It is governed by the 1853 constitution as revised in 1898 and 1994, and has a federal system of government. The president and vice president are elected by popular vote for four-year terms and can be reelected once. The popularly elected bicameral national congress is composed of 72 senators (three from each province and the federal district), who serve six-year terms, and 257 deputies (based on proportional representation), who serve four-year terms. There is a nine-member supreme court. Each province has its own elected governor and legislature and its own judicial system.
Little is known of the earliest inhabitants of the region. Only in NW Argentina was there a native population with a material culture. They were an agricultural people (recalled today by ruins N of Jujuy), but their importance was eclipsed later by the Araucanians from Chile. Europeans probably first arrived in the region in 1502 in the voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. The southern inhabitants at that time primarily hunted and fished, while the northwestern Incas were agricultural and quite advanced, having built a highway before the arrival of the Spanish. The search for a Southwest Passage to Asia and the East Indies brought Juan Díaz de Solís to the Río de la Plata in 1516. Ferdinand Magellan entered (1520) the estuary, and Sebastian Cabot ascended (1536) the Paraná and Paraguay rivers. His delight in native ornaments may be responsible for the names Río de la Plata [silver river] and Argentina [of silver].
Pedro de Mendoza in 1536 founded the first settlement of the present Buenos Aires, but native attacks forced abandonment of the settlement, and Asunción became the unquestioned leading city of the Río de la Plata region. Buenos Aires was refounded in 1580 by Juan de Garay. His son-in-law, Hernando Arias de Saavedra (Hernandarias), secured the division of the Río de la Plata territories, and Buenos Aires achieved (1617) a sort of semi-independence under the viceroyalty of Peru.
The mercantilist system, however, severely hampered the commerce of Buenos Aires, and smuggling, especially with Portuguese traders in Brazil, became an accepted profession. While the cities of present W and NW Argentina grew by supplying the mining towns of the Andes, Buenos Aires was threatened by Portuguese competition. By the 18th cent., cattle (which were introduced to the Pampas in the 1550s) roamed wild throughout the Pampas in large herds and were hunted by gauchos for their skins and fat.
In 1776 the Spanish government made Buenos Aires a free port and the capital of a viceroyalty that included present Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and (briefly) Bolivia. From this combination grew the idea of a Greater Argentina to include all the Río de la Plata countries, a dream that was to haunt many Argentine politicians after independence was won.
Independence and the Nineteenth Century
A prelude to independence was the British attack on Buenos Aires. Admiral Sir Home Popham and Gen. William Carr Beresford took the city in 1806 after the Spanish viceroy fled. An Argentine militia force under Jacques de Liniers ended the British occupation and beat off a renewed attack under Gen. John Whitelocke in 1807.
On May 25, 1810 (May 25 is the Argentine national holiday), revolutionists, acting nominally in favor of the Bourbons dethroned by Napoleon (see Spain), deposed the viceroy, and the government was controlled by a junta. The result was war against the royalists. The patriots under Manuel Belgrano won (1812) a victory at Tucumán. On July 9, 1816, a congress in Tucumán proclaimed the independence of the United Provinces of the Río de La Plata. Other patriot generals were Mariano Moreno, Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, and José de San Martín.
Uruguay and Paraguay went their own ways despite hopes of reunion. In Argentina, a struggle ensued between those who wanted to unify the country and those who did not want to be dominated by Buenos Aires. Independence was followed by virtually permanent civil war, with many coups by regional, social, or political factions. Rule by the strong man, the caudillo, alternated with periods of democratic rule, too often beset by disorder.
Anarchy was not ended by the election of Bernardino Rivadavia in 1826. The unitarians, who favored a centralized government dominated by Buenos Aires, were opposed to the federalists, who resented the oligarchy of Buenos Aires and were backed by autocratic caudillos with gaucho troops. The unitarians triumphed temporarily when Argentines combined to help the Uruguayans repel Brazilian conquerors in the battle of Ituzaingó (1827), which led to the independence of Uruguay. The internal conflict was, however, soon resumed and was not even quelled when Gen. Juan Manuel de Rosas, the most notorious caudillo, established a dictatorship that lasted from 1835 to 1852. Ironically, this federalist leader, who was nominally only the governor of Buenos Aires, did more than the unitarians to unify the country. Ironically, too, this enemy of intellectuals stimulated his political opponents to write in exile some of the finest works of the Spanish-American romantic period; among the writers were Domingo F. Sarmiento, Bartolomé Mitre, José Mármol, and Esteban Echeverría.
Rosas was overthrown (1852) by Gen. Justo José de Urquiza, who called a constituent assembly at Santa Fe. A constitution was adopted (1853) based on the principles enunciated by Juan Bautista Alberdi. Mitre, denouncing Urquiza as a caudillo, brought about the temporary secession of Buenos Aires prov. (1861) and the downfall of the Urquiza plans. Under the administrations of Mitre (1862–68), Sarmiento (1868–74), and Nicolás Avellaneda (1874–80), schools were built, public works started, and liberal reforms instituted. The War of the Triple Alliance (see Triple Alliance, War of the), 1865–70, brought little advantage to Argentina.
In 1880 federalism triumphed, and Gen. Julio A. Roca became president (1880–1886); Buenos Aires remained the capital, but the federal district was set up, and Buenos Aires prov. was given La Plata as its capital. Argentina flourished during Roca's administration. The conquest of the indigenous peoples by General Roca (1878–79) had made colonization of the region in the south and the southwest possible. Already the Pampa had begun to undergo its agricultural transformation. The immigration of Europeans helped to fill the land and to make Argentina one of the world's granaries.
Establishment of refrigerating plants for meat made expansion of commerce possible. The British not only became the prime consumers of Argentine products but also invested substantially in the construction of factories, public utilities, and railroads (which were nationalized in 1948). Efforts to end the power of the great landowners, however, were not genuinely successful, and the military tradition continued to play a part in politics, the army frequently combining with the conservatives and later with the growing ranks of labor to alter the government by coup.
The Early Twentieth Century
The second administration of Roca (1898–1904) was marked by recovery from the crises of the intervening years; a serious boundary dispute with Chile was settled (1902), and perpetual peace between the two nations was symbolized in the Christ of the Andes. Even before World War I, in which Argentina maintained neutrality, the wealthy nation had begun to act as an advocate for the rights and interests of Latin America as a whole, notably through Carlos Calvo, Luis M. Drago, and later Carlos Saavedra Lamas.
Internal problems, however, remained vexing. Electoral reforms introduced by Roque Sáenz Peña (1910–14) led to the victory of the Radical party under Hipólito Irigoyen (1916–22). He introduced social legislation, but when, after the presidency of Marcelo T. de Alvear, Irigoyen returned to power in 1928, his policies aroused much dissatisfaction even in his own party. In 1930 he was ousted by Gen. José F. Uriburu, and the conservative oligarchy—now with Fascist leanings—was again in power.
The administration (1932–38) of Agustín P. Justo was opposed by revolutionary movements, and a coalition of liberals and conservatives won an election victory. Radical leader Roberto M. Ortiz became president (1938), but serious illness caused him to resign (1942), and the conservative Ramón S. Castillo succeeded him. In 1943, Castillo was overthrown by a military coup. After two provisional presidents a "palace revolt" in 1944 brought to power a group of army colonels, chief among them Juan Perón. After four years of pro-Axis "neutrality," Argentina belatedly (Mar., 1945) entered World War II on the side of the Allies and became a member of the United Nations. A return to liberal government momentarily seemed probable, but Perón was overwhelmingly victorious in the election of Feb., 1946.
Perón, an admirer of Mussolini, established a type of popular dictatorship new to Latin America, based initially on support from the army, reactionaries, nationalists, and some clerical groups. His regime was marked by curtailment of freedom of speech, confiscation of liberal newspapers such as La Prensa, imprisonment of political opponents, and transition to a one-party state. His second wife, the popular Eva Duarte de Perón, helped him gain the support of the trade unions, thereafter the main foundation of Perón's political power. In 1949 the constitution of 1853 was replaced by one that permitted Perón to succeed himself as president; the Peronista political party was established the same year.
To cure Argentina's serious economic ills, Perón inaugurated a program of industrial development—which advanced rapidly in the 1940s and early 50s, although hampered by the lack of power resources and machine tools—supplemented by social welfare programs. Perón also placed the sale and export of wheat and beef under government control, thus undermining the political and economic power of the rural oligarchs. In the early 1950s, with recurring economic problems and with the death (1952) of his wife, Perón's popular support began to diminish. Agricultural production, long the chief source of revenue, dropped sharply and the economy faltered. The Roman Catholic church, alienated by the reversal of close church-state relations, excommunicated Perón and, finally, the armed forces became disillusioned with him. In 1955, Perón was ousted by a military coup, and the interim military government of Gen. Pedro Aramburu attempted to rid the country of Justicialismo (Peronism). Perón fled to Paraguay and in 1960 went into exile in Spain.
Argentina During the Exile of Perón
In 1957, Argentina reverted to the constitution of 1853 as modified up to 1898. In 1958, Dr. Arturo Frondizi was elected president. Faced with the economic and fiscal crisis inherited from Perón, Frondizi, with U.S. advice and the promise of financial aid, initiated a program of austerity to "stabilize" the economy and check inflation. Leftists, as well as Peronistas, who still commanded strong popular support, criticized the plan because the burden lay most heavily on the working and lower middle classes.
Frondizi later fell into disfavor with the military because of his leniency toward the regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba and toward Peronistas at home, who, in the congressional elections of 1962, scored a resounding victory. Frondizi was arrested and José María Guido assumed the presidency, but the military was in control. The Peronista and Communist parties were banned before presidential elections were held in 1963. Following the election of the moderate liberal Dr. Arturo Illia, many political prisoners were released and relative political stability returned. The new president was faced, however, with serious economic depression and with the difficult problem of reintegrating the Peronist forces into Argentine political life.
In 1964 an attempt by Perón to return from Spain and lead his followers was thwarted when he was turned back at Rio de Janeiro by Brazilian authorities. The Peronists, however, remained the strongest political force in the country; unwilling to tolerate another resurgence of Peronism, a junta of military leaders, supported by business interests, seized power (1966) and placed Gen. Juan Carlos Onganía, a long-time right-wing opponent of Illía, in the presidency. Under Onganía, the new government dissolved the legislature, banned all political parties, and exercised unofficial press censorship; Onganía also placed the national universities under government control.
Widespread opposition to the rigid rule of the Onganía regime grew, and the military deposed him (1970), naming Gen. Roberto M. Levingston president. Economic problems and increased terrorist activities caused Gen. Alejandro Lanusse, the leader of the coup against Onganía, to dismiss (1971) Levingston and initiate an active program for economic growth, distribution of wealth, and political stability. His direct negotiations with Juan Perón and his call for national elections and a civilian government led to the return of Perón to Argentina in 1972.
The Late Twentieth Century
After failing to achieve unity among the various Peronist groups, Perón declined the nomination from his supporters to run for president in the Mar., 1973, elections, which were won by Dr. Hector Cámpora, the Peronist candidate, who subsequently resigned from office to make way for Perón's return. When new elections were held in Sept., 1973, Perón was elected president and his third wife, Isabel Martínez Perón, vice president. Perón died in July, 1974, and was succeeded by his widow. Her government faced economic troubles, labor unrest, political violence, and deep divisions within the Peronista party.
In 1976, Isabel Perón was deposed by a military junta under the leadership of Jorge Rafael Videla, who served as president until 1981. The government suspended political and trade union activity, dissolved the congress, made alterations to the constitution, and removed most government officals. During the military rule thousands of citizens suspected of undermining the government disappeared in what became known as the "dirty war." In 1981 Argentina petitioned the United Nations for possession of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), which had been occupied and claimed by the British since 1832. Tensions escalated until, on Apr. 2, 1982, Argentina, now under the rule of Lt.-Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, invaded and occupied the islands. British forces responded quickly, forcing a surrender by Argentine forces within 6 weeks. The Argentine defeat led to Galtieri's resignation and subsequently to the end of military rule. Retired Gen. Reynaldo Bignone succeeded Galtieri as president and oversaw the return to democracy.
In 1983, Raúl Alfonsín won the presidency, but persistent economic problems plagued his tenure in office. Carlos Saúl Menem was elected president in 1988, bringing the Peronist Justicialist party back into power. A reform-minded leader, he stimulated economic growth and subdued hyperinflation in the early 1990s by instituting a major program of privatization, encouraging foreign investment, and tying the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar. Constitutional amendments approved in 1994 placed curbs on presidential power and increased opposition power in the senate, while clearing the way for Menem to seek a second successive term as president. He was reelected in 1995. The Justicialists lost legislative elections to the opposition Alianza coalition in 1997, as the country struggled with recession and continuing high unemployment. Argentina's relations with Paraguay soured in 1999 when Menem's government sheltered Paraguayan Gen. Lino Oviedo for eight months; Oviedo was wanted for the murder of Paraguay's vice president.
In Oct., 1999, Fernando de la Rúa Bruno of Alianza was elected president, soundly defeating the Peronist candidate. De la Rúa's victory was in part a rejection of Menem's perceived flamboyance and tolerance of corruption during his last term. The new president moved quickly to institute austerity measures and reforms to improve the economy; taxes were increased to reduce the deficit, the government bureaucracy was trimmed, and legal restrictions on union negotiations were eased. De la Rúa also purged (2000) the army and state intelligence agency of the last suspected participants in the "dirty war" of the 1970s and 80s.
By late 2000, however, de la Rúa's presidency was under siege on two fronts. Several senators, mainly from the Justicialist party, were accused of taking bribes to vote for the government's labor-code revisions, and two cabinet members were also implicated. When the cabinet members were retained after a reorganization, Vice President Carlos Álvarez resigned in protest. The Argentine economy had slipped into recession in late 1999, and Argentina was forced in to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private banks to reduce its debt. In Dec., 2000, an aid package of nearly $40 billion was arranged, and the government announced a $20 billion public works program that was designed to help revive the economy.
Further economic measures designed to revived the ailing economy were adopted in 2001, including the pegging of the peso for imports and exports to the average value of the dollar and the euro combined, additional government austerity measures, and additional billions in IMF aid. The economy remained in recession, however, aggravating the problems posed by the debt and by the restrictions that the IMF imposed in return for aid, and unemployment rose to around 20% at the end of 2001. In legislative elections in Oct., 2001, the opposition Justicialist party became the largest party in both houses of the national congress. In November the government began restructuring the debt, putting it essentially in default. Ongoing economic problems led to a crisis of confidence as depositors began a run on the banks, resulting in limits on withdrawals (largely lifted a year later), and the IMF took a hard line, insisting on a 10% cut in the budget before making further payments.
Nationwide food riots and demonstrations erupted in late December, leading the president to resign. A series of interim presidents and renewed demonstrations ended with the appointment of Justicialist senator Eduardo Alberto Duhalde as president in Jan., 2002. Duhalde, who had been a free-spending provincial governor and the Peronists' 1999 presidential candidate, devalued the peso, which lost more than two thirds of its value. The depressed economy, meanwhile, remained in disarray until early 2003, when it showed some signs of slow improvement.
Néstor Carlos Kirchner, the governor of Santa Cruz prov. in Patagonia, won the spring 2003 presidential race when former president Menem withdrew from the runoff election; polls indicated that Kirchner would win by a landslide. Congress subsequently repealed two amnesty laws, passed in the 1980s, that had protected military officers accused of human rights offenses, and in 2005 the supreme court upheld the move, overturning the amnesty laws as unconstitutional. Pardons given to several military government leaders were subsequently also overturned by the court, and arrest warrants were issued for Isabel Perón, who was in exile in Spain, and others. A number of former military officers were later convicted of human-rights crimes, including (2010–14) former Presidents Bignone and Videla.
Kirchner won favorable terms from from the IMF in Sept., 2003, refusing to make concessions in exchange for refinancing Argentina's debt. Kirchner's government continued into 2004 its policy of aggressively seeking more favorable terms, but was not successful in negotiating new terms for repaying private creditors until 2005, when some three quarters of its bondholders agreed to accept partial repayment. The economy grew strongly in 2003–5, reducing the unemployment rate, but the effects of the 2001–2 economic collapse continued to hurt many Argentines.
In Oct., 2005, the popular Kirchner benefited from the improved economy when his Peronists won control of the senate and a plurality in the lower house. With a strengthened political hand, Kirchner replaced his respected but more conservative economy minister with an ally. Argentina paid off its IMF debt in Jan., 2006, in an effort to regain greater flexibility in its economic policy. Kirchner also used the influence of his office to fight inflation by pressuring Argentinian companies into holding down price increases. His presidency also saw a trend toward renationalization of certain Argentinian businesses, including railroads and telecommunications companies.
In 2006 there were tensions with Uruguay over plans there to build pulp mills along the Argentina border on the Uruguay River. Argentinians fearing possible pollution from the mills blockaded several bridges into Uruguay, and Argentina accused Uruguay of contravening the treaty on joint use of the river. Argentina took the issue to the International Court of Justice, which accepted it but allowed construction of the one mill that Uruguay ended up building to proceed while the court decided the case. The court also refused to order Argentina to halt the protests, which continued until June, 2010. In 2010 the court largely ruled in favor of Uruguay, determining that it had met its environmental obligations under the treat, and it refused to order the mill to close.
Kirchner chose not to run in 2007 for a second term, but his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who had served as a provincial and national deputy and national senator, mounted her own candidacy. Running strongly and promising to continue her husband's policies, she was elected in Oct., 2007, becoming the first woman elected to be elected to the post. In a court case in Florida, U.S. prosecutors later (Dec., 2007) alleged that $800,000 found (Aug., 2007) by Argentinian customs officers on a private flight from Venezuela was intended to be a secret Venezuelan government contribution to Fernández de Kirchner's campaign. The Argentinian government denounced the allegation, but two Venezuelans and a Uruguayan arrested in the United States in connection with the money pleaded guilty to acting as unregistered foreign government agents and revealed details of the payment and its coverup; and a third Venezuelan was convicted on similar charges in Nov., 2008.
Beginning in Mar., 2008, farmers protested increased export taxes on farm products by striking and blockading roads, leading to some food shortages in major cities at times. The government abandoned the tax increases in July after the Senate narrowly failed to approve them. Tensions between the government and farmers continued, however, into 2009, aggravated by drought and falling demand. In Mar., 2009, both sides reached accords on compensation for several clases of farm products.
In Oct, 2008, the government moved to nationalize 10 private pension plans. The government asserted it was acting to protect them from the global financial crisis, but many viewed it as a repudiation of the privatizations of the 1990s and also possibly as an attempt to secure funds in the face of a looming budget shortfall. The move caused stocks and the Argentinian peso to fall sharply; the national airline was also nationalized. The government subsequently used some of the pension assets as part of an economic stimulus package. Congressional elections in June, 2009, resulted in losses for the governing party, which failed to secure majorities in both houses.
In Jan., 2010, a move by the government to use foreign currency reserves to repay some of Argentina's international debt sparked a conflict between the president and the head of the central bank, Martín Redrado, who refused to transfer the reserves. The president sought to remove Redrado by emergency decree, but a court ruled that she could neither remove him nor use the reserves. Redrado, however, subsequently resigned. In Mar., 2010, the president issued new decrees transferring $6.6. billion of the reserves, and an appeals court upheld the decrees when the opposition challenged them. Debt swaps agreed to by June by most of the holders of the remaining bonds that Argentina had defaulted on in 2001 left about 8% of the original bonds outstanding.
The start of oil exploration in the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands in Feb., 2010, led the Argentinian government to impose restrictions on vessels traveling through its waters to the islands. The islands' status became an increasingly contentious issue in Argentina's international relations in subsequent months, leading to strained relations with Great Britain by the time of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War in Apr., 2012. In Oct., 2011, President Fernández de Kirchner, bouyed by significant economic growth, easily won reelection and her Front for Victory won control of Congress, but high inflation associated with the growth was an increasing concern and led to government regulations designed to control capital flight. Discontent over the economy and other issues led to demonstrations and strikes beginning in 2012. In May, 2012, the Congress approved the nationalization of the former national oil company, which had been privatized in 1999. The Front for Victory retained control of Congress after the Oct., 2013, elections. In December, police strikes over pay in many of the country's provinces led to outbreaks of looting across Argentina.
In Jan., 2014, after the government's long-standing efforts to support the peso had depleted its currency reserves, it abandoned those efforts, which led to a drop in the peso's value, and then relaxed foreign exchange controls. In June, 2014, Argentina lost its appeal against a U.S. court decision that required it to pay the owners of the outstanding bonds that it defaulted on in 2001 if the country paid bond owners who had exchanged their defaulted bonds in the debt swaps of 2005 and 2010. Argentina subsequently refused, and in September the country was declared in contempt of court; the case restricted Argentina's access to international credit markets. Also that month, Vice President Amado Boudou was charged with corruption in connection with government aid received by a printing company he was accused of secretly owning.
In early 2015 the president was accused by a prosecutor of shielding Iranians involved in a 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in order to secure a trade deal. The prosecutor's death by a gunshot wound sparked a public crisis. A second prosecutor sought to pursue the charges, but they were dismissed. The president denounced the affair as a plot by Intelligence Secretariat agents to undermine her government, and had the congress vote to reorganize the agency.
Fernández de Kirchner was barred from running in the 2015 presidential election. Although the first round in October was won by the Front for Victory candidate, Daniel Scioli, he did not win by a large enough margin to avoid a runoff. In the runoff, the candidate of the Let's Change coalition, Mauricio Macri, the center-right mayor of Buenos Aires, won 51% of the vote. In office Macri ended most currency controls and devalued the peso, and moved to resolve the outstanding bond claims that remained from the 2001 default.
See F. P. Munson et al., Area Handbook for Argentina (1969); M. Goldwert, Democracy, Militarism and Nationalism in Argentina, 1930–1966 (1972); L. Randall, An Economic History of Argentina (1977); J. E. Corradi, The Fifth Republic: Economy, Society, and Politics in Argentina (1985); P. Lewis, The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism (1990); N. Shumway, The Invention of Argentina (1991).
Copyright The Columbia University Press
Official name : Argentine Republic
Area: 2,766,890 square kilometers (1,068,302 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Cerro Aconcagua (6,960 meters/22,835 feet)
Lowest point on land: Salinas Chicas (40 meters/131 feet below sea level)
Hemispheres: Southern and Western
Time zone: 9 a.m. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 3,650 kilometers (2,268 miles) from north to south; 1,430 kilometers (889 miles) from east to west
Land boundaries: Total boundary length 9,665 kilometers (6,006 miles); Bolivia, 832 kilometers (517 miles); Brazil, 1,224 kilometers (761 miles); Chile, 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles); Paraguay, 1,880 kilometers (1,168 miles); Uruguay, 579 kilometers (360 miles)
Coastline: 4,989 kilometers (3,100 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
1 LOCATION AND SIZE
Argentina is the second-largest country in South America, covering most of the southern peninsula of the continent. It is bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north; Brazil, Uruguay, and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east; and Chile to the west and south. With an area of 2,766,890 square kilometers (1,068,302 square miles), the nation is a little less than one-third the size of the United States. Argentina is divided into twenty-three provinces and one autonomous city.
2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES
Argentina has a territorial claim in Antarctica. As of 2002, it was involved in a long-standing dispute with the United Kingdom over which nation controls the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands. All of these territories lie off the coast of Argentina but are governed by the United Kingdom.
Argentina's climate ranges from subtropical in the north, to humid in the central regions, to subantarctic in the south. Winter is the driest period of the year. The coldest months are June and July; the warmest month is January. Climate variations are due to the country's range of altitude as well as of latitude.
Average rainfall declines from east to west. Buenos Aires receives an average of 94 centimeters (37 inches) of rain annually and experiences light snow during the winter months. Areas north of Río Negro experience little precipitation during winter. The Pampas receives enough rainfall to support its crops, but it is also subject to flooding. The northeastern region bordering Brazil and Uruguay also receives sufficient rainfall. The Gran Chaco region north of the Pampas receives an average of 76 centimeters (30 inches) of rainfall per year. The Andes region is subject to intense changes in weather, including flash floods during the summer months.
Some areas of Argentina are prone to natural geological disturbances such as earthquakes, violent windstorms known as pamperos, and volcanic activity.
|Season||Months||Average Temperature Range (Celsius/Farenheit)|
|Summer||January to March||16° to 35°C (60° to 95°F)|
|Winter||May to August||8° to 18°C (47° to 65°F)|
4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS
The terrain of Argentina varies dramatically across the country's different regions, since both elevation and latitude play a major role in Argentina's geography. The country's four major geographic regions are the Andes Mountains, the lowland north, the central Pampas, and the Patagonia region in the south. Patagonia includes Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost point of the South American continent, which is shared by Argentina and Chile.
5 OCEANS AND SEAS
Seacoast and Undersea Features
Argentina has an eastern coast on the Atlantic Ocean.
Sea Inlets and Straits
The Atlantic coast of Argentina, curving from northeast to southwest, features a number of gulfs, bays, and inlets. Starting in the north, the bay on which Buenos Aires sits is Samborombón Bay. At the city of Bahía Blanca the coast abruptly turns southward, forming Blanca Bay. To the south are the San Matías Gulf and the San Jorge Gulf. The Strait of Magellan separates the mainland from Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of the country.
Islands and Archipelagos
Argentina shares the offshore island territory of Tierra del Fuego with Chile. Eons ago, Tierra del Fuego existed under the sea. The land slowly rose and mountains formed as the South American and Scotia Tectonic Plates pushed together. By the Ice Age, most of what is now the Patagonian continental shelf had become land. About 9,000 years ago, the waters of the Strait of Magellan broke through the tip of the continent.
Argentina also owns the Isla de los Estados, which is separated from the southern point of Tierra del Fuego by the Strait of Le Maire. Both Argentina and the United Kingdom claim the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) as their own.
The Valdés Peninsula (Península Valdés), with its miles of beaches and tall cliffs, forms the southern rim of the San Matías Gulf, at about the midpoint of the country's Atlantic coast. This area is home to large colonies of marine mammals, including penguins and the southern elephant seal, which mate in the protected lagoons of the peninsula. The area also hosts one of the world's largest concentrations of the Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis ). In 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the peninsula as a World Heritage Site. Salinas Chicas, Argentina's lowest elevation (40 meters/131 feet below sea level), also is found here. Just south of Valdés Peninsula is a tiny bay that is bordered to the south by Point Ninfas.
Cape Horn is the southernmost tip of the continent.
A popular destination for both tourists and Argentines is the Mar del Plata, a city on the Atlantic coast known for its sprawling beaches, which cover about 8 kilometers (5 miles). This area boasts more than 140 bird species, including flamingos.
6 INLAND LAKES
The Lake District, straddling the border between Chile and Argentina in the Andes Mountains, contains many glacial lakes that were carved out of the mountains and later filled up with water from the melting glaciers, snow, and rain. The most significant of these is Lago Buenos Aires, also known as General Carrera Lake. It is located in southern Argentina and shared with Chile. It is the largest lake in the country, and the fifth largest in all of South America, with an average surface area of 2,240 square kilometers (860 square miles). South of Lago Buenos Aires are Lago San Martín, Lago Viedma, and finally Lago Argentino. Not far from Lago Buenos Aires, on the Castillo Plain near Comodoro Rivadavia, is Lake Colhué Huapí.
One of the world's largest salt lakes, and the second-largest lake in Argentina, is Lago Mar Chiquita (Little Sea), located in central Argentina. Its surface area varies from year to year and season to season, but during its wettest periods it has spanned 5,770 square kilometers (2,228 square miles).
7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
The Rio Paraná is the longest river in Argentina and the second-longest river in South America (after the Amazon). It flows approximately 4,900 kilometers (3,060 miles), separating Brazil from Paraguay and Paraguay from Argentina. The Rio Paraná is navigable only as far as Rosário. Its upper reaches feature many waterfalls. Once the Rio Paraná enters Argentina in the northeast, the Iguazú River (Río Iguaçu) joins it. This area is well known throughout the world for the spectacular Iguazú Falls (Cataratas Iguaçu, meaning "great water"). The falls are located on the border between Argentina and Brazil, with two-thirds of them in Argentina. They include approximately 275 smaller falls, with heights ranging between 60 and 80 meters (197 and 262 feet). These falls are higher and wider than Niagara Falls, on the border between Canada and the United States.
Other tributaries of the Rio Paraná that feed in from the west are the Rios Bermejo, Bermejito, Salado, and Carcarañá.
The Uruguay River (1,600 kilometers/1,000 miles) forms part of the borders between Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. It is navigable for about 300 kilometers (190 miles), from its mouth to Concordia. The Paraguay River, extending for 2,550 kilometers (1,594 miles), forms part of the border between Paraguay and Argentina, and it flows into the Rio Paraná north of Corrientes and Alto Paraná. These waterways all join to flow into the Río de la Plata, and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean in northern Argentina. Where these rivers meet, a wide estuary is formed, which can reach a maximum width of 222 kilometers (138 miles).
In north-central Argentina, several rivers flow into Lago Mar Chiquita. Rio Dulce originates near San Miguel de Tucumán and flows southwest into the lake. Rios Primero and Segundo also feed into Lago Mar Chiquita from the southwest.
In the northern Patagonia region, the major rivers are the Río Colorado and Río Negro, both of which rise in the Andes and flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The Colorado is fed by the Rio Salado, which flows from Pico Ojos del Salado in a southeasterly direction to the Colorado. Tributaries of the Rio Salado include the Rios Atuel, Diamante, Tunuyán, Desaguadero, and the San Juan, all of which originate in the northwest Andes. The Río Negro also has two main tributaries of its own, the Rio Neuquén and the Rio Limay. In the central Patagonia region, the Rio Chubut rises in the Andes and flows east to form a sizable lake before making its way to the ocean. The Lake District also contains its share of rivers, all originating in the mountains and flowing to the Atlantic. These include the Rios Deseado, Chico, Santa Cruz, and Gallegos.
Narrow strips of desert area extend eastward from the mountains down into the Patagonian plains of Argentina. The land is dry, wind-eroded, and marked by sparse scrub vegetation and remnants of a petrified forest.
9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN
The Pampas comprises fertile grasslands that cover much of central Argentina. This area is oval-shaped and extends more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) both north and south and east to west. The eastern half of the Pampas is humid, with fertile agricultural lands well suited to the cultivation of wheat. The western Pampas approaching the Andes mountain range is dry, open land, providing grazing for Argentina's famous horse, cattle, and sheep ranches. This region, along with the northeastern Gran Chaco region, is subject to violent windstorms known as pamperos (pahm-PARE-ohss).
Patagonia, the southern region of Argentina, is a combination of pastoral steppes (flat grasslands) and glacial regions. Near the Chilean border is Glacier National Park (Parc Nacional Los Glaciares), where some three hundred glaciers make up part of the Patagonian Ice Cap (21,760 square kilometers/8,400 square miles). The ice cap, flowing into the Pacific Ocean from the Andes, is the largest in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica. Thirteen of these glaciers feed lakes in the region. The Upsala Glacier, at 60 kilometers (37 miles) long and 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide, is the largest in South America. It can only be reached by boat, since it floats in Lago Argentino. The next largest glacier is Perito Moreno, 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) wide and stretching about 35 kilometers (22 miles) long to Lago Argentino, where it forms a natural dam.
The lowland north, including the Gran Chaco and Mesopotamia regions, consists of tropical and subtropical lowlands. The landscape ranges from dry savannas (flat grasslands) to swamps (lands partially submerged under standing water).
Iberá, in the northeast of Argentina, is a biologically rich region, with more than sixty ponds joined to marshes and swampland. The area is extremely humid, and is home to hundreds of bird species and thousands of insects, including a wide variety of butterflies. The area hosts a diverse array of flora and fauna, notably the royal water lily, silk-cotton tree, alligators, and capybara, the largest rodent species in the world.
10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES
The Andean region makes up 30 percent of Argentina. Stretching more than 7,000 kilometers (4,500 miles), the Andes Mountains form the western border of Argentina, which is nearly parallel to the coast of the Pacific Ocean. First formed by tectonic movement approximately seventy million years ago, the mountain range is the highest in the western hemisphere. Its peaks reach nearly 7,015 meters (23,000 feet) and stretch to form a natural border with Chile for more than 3,219 kilometers (2,000 miles).
The Argentinean Andes contain some of the tallest mountains in South America, including Cerro Aconcagua, which at 6,960 meters (22,834 feet) is the tallest peak on the continent and in the entire Western Hemisphere, and Cerro Mercedario (6,768 meters/22,205 feet). Both of these peaks are located near the Chile border southwest of San Juan. The Andes region is also home to arid basins (low-lying areas that receive almost no rainfall); lush foothills covered with grape vineyards; glacial mountains; and half of the Lake District (the other half is in Chile).
Throughout the Andes there are more than 1,800 volcanoes, 28 of which are considered to be active. These include Tipas, Cerro el Condor, and Antofalla, all of which are over 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) high and are some of the highest volcanoes in the world.
Jagged mountain peaks formed from granite include Cerro Fitz Roy (3,405 meters/11,236 feet), Cerro Torre (3,102 meters/10,346 feet), and Cerro Pináculo (2,160 meters/7,128 feet).
DID YOU KNOW?
Patagonia, in the southern region of Argentina, has a geography that ranges from a vast, windy, and treeless plateau to several glacial regions in the southern area of Tierra del Fuego. Patagonia extends more than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Rio Colorado in the north to Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of the continent. The region of Patagonia takes its name from the Patagon, the native inhabitants believed by travelers in the 17th and 18th century to be the tallest people in the world.
Smaller mountain ranges also exist in central South America. These ranges cut across the center of the country and separate the southern Patagonia region from the northeastern Pampas. From west to east, these ranges are the Sierra Lihuel-Calel, the Sierra de la Ventana, and the Sierra del Tandil.
11 CANYONS AND CAVES
The Cave of the Hands (Cueva de las Manos) is named for the stenciled, painted outlines of human hands that cover the walls of the cave. These outlines are surrounded by paintings of animals and stick-figured people, as well as by other geometric shapes.
Archaeologists believe that ancient inhabitants of the land painted the caves approximately 9,500 to 13,000 years ago. Cueva de las Manos has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).
12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS
The Somuncurá Plateau is a basalt plateau with alternating hills and depressions. It stretches across the area from the Rio Chubut to the Rio Negro. The region undergoes severe climate changes between the winter and summer months. The area has lava (molten rock) formations and contains many fruit and alfalfa plantations. Cattle ranchers find this area to be ideal for raising their livestock. A smaller plateau, the Atacama Plateau, occupies the region just east of the Andes Mountains in northern Argentina and extends east to the city of San Miguel de Tucumán.
13 MAN-MADE FEATURES
The reservoir created by the Chocón dam, located on the Río Negro, is one of the country's largest man-made lakes. The Chapetón and Pati Dams, both on the Rio Paraná, are the second- and third-largest dams in the world.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Strait of Magellan was named for Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521), the Portuguese navigator who traveled the strait in 1520 while trying to find a western route to the Spice Islands. He spent the winter of that year in the area of Patagonia. When he continued his trip, Magellan became the first European traveler to cross the Pacific Ocean, which he named because of the calm, peaceful weather he experienced on his journey. Unfortunately, he was killed in a skirmish between native people that he encountered when he reached the Philippines.
14 FURTHER READING
Argentina. London: APA Publications, 1997.
Bernhardson, Wayne. Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 1999.
Hintz, M. Argentina. Chicago: Children's Press, 1985.
Nickles, Greg. Argentina: The Land. New York: Crabtree, 2001.
Argentina Travel Net. http://www.argentinatravelnet.com/indexE.htm (accessed August 13, 2003).
Mayell, Hillary. "Patagonia Penguins Make a Comeback." National Geographic, Dec. 26, 2001. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/12/1221_patapenguins.html (accessed May 2, 2003).
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). http://www.whc.unesco.org/heritage.htm (accessed June 17, 2003).
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group, Inc.
Argentine families are a heterogeneous result of the many changes that have had an impact on their structures and dynamics. These changes have taken place both in Argentina and other Latin American and Caribbean countries in the last few decades.
The socioeconomic crisis that has affected Latin America since the 1970s aroused a growing interest in the study of its impact on family structures and dynamics. In Latin America, research has been undertaken from two different perspectives. The first emphasizes the study of the variations in sociodemographic indicators (marriages, fecundity, aging, divorce, etc.) and the extent to which they have influenced family structures. It also stresses the coexistence of various family patterns.
The second perspective focuses on the relations within the family group. These relations can be analyzed from two stances. The first is a theoretical stand favoring the convergence of the goals of the different family members and the different tasks or roles assigned to each of them. The second is a perspective that emphasizes the idea that the family is a microcosm where authority and power relations interact and where conflict is present.
This kind of research, regardless of which perspective it is based on, explores the distribution of tasks within families, the relation between the sexes and generations, the responsibilities and personal projects of each family member, and the strategies devised by families throughout their different stages. The research contributes to the study of family dynamics.
What is Meant by Family? Proposed Definition
The wide variety of existing definitions of family is the product of the different disciplinary perspectives and of the various theoretical conceptions. However, it is also a reflection of the difficulty that arises in explaining the diversity of family structures and dynamics. Each of them emphasizes one or many aspects or dimensions it deems central to the family concept. These dimensions are: kinship and marriage or common-law marriage; sexuality and reproduction; social acceptance and marriage or common-law marriage stability; household or domestic unit; common residence or cohabitation; social group and interactions within it; family group relations with society and the state, and history, origin, and evolution of family structures.
At present, defining and understanding the family necessarily presupposes an approach from different disciplines and theoretical stances. The definition of the family concept confronts one with a sociopolitical debate that transcends the limits of the private world to constitute a unit that continuously interacts with the sociopolitical sphere (Colombo, Palermo, and Schmukler 1994).
Social links between the sexes and among generations, and production and reproduction relations can be observed within the family. In it, there are common interests and affection, but there are also individual interests and conflict elements. The family represents an authority and power system. In this regard, the family constructs ideology because it does not only receive ideological influences from the outside world, but it also reconstructs those messages and values and answers from its own specific perspective.
This way of conceiving families allows an explanation of not only its various structures but also its dynamics.
Main Transformations in Argentine Society in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century
Below are listed the main transformations that the Argentine society has undergone as of the second half of the twentieth century and that have had an impact on family structures and dynamics.
Autonomization processes and the end of the patriarchal family. One of the most significant changes is related to the emergence of processes of individualization and achievement of autonomy, first, in young generations and, second, of women. These processes are part of a movement towards the modernization of societies and are related to the loss of father's authority within the family.
The most outstanding feature of these processes is "the tendency of young people from middle and high sectors, mainly men, to live on their own, regardless of the process of forming a couple" ( Jelin 1994, p. 38).
However, this process of achieving autonomy has been affected by the economic crisis that started in the mid-1970s and the concurrent high level of unemployment among young people in Argentina—not being able to find a job or losing it "interrupts the expected progression towards young people['s] independence" (Allat and Yeandle 1992, p. 83).
Changes in women's situation. The condition of women in Argentine society experienced important changes throughout the twentieth century, most of which began in the 1960s. Women are now more involved in education, in the labor market, in politics and in other areas of social, cultural, and political life.
In turn, "due to technological changes linked to birth control and changes in interpersonal relations, the place of marriage as a privileged space for sexuality has also changed, as has the identification of sexuality with reproduction" ( Jelin 1994, p. 33).
Feminist movements also played an important part in leading women to question traditional roles and struggling to achieve equal rights for men and women. The legal system has formalized these changes by subsequently modifying the legal status of women within the family and society.
Beginning in the mid-1970s, Argentina experienced a deep economic crisis that led to a recession. This crisis had different effects on men and women. As a result of the recession more women entered the workforce, and there was a rise in unemployment for men, particularly for heads of households. Women whose participation in the labor market increased were those "married and cohabiting, mostly those whose partner was household head, and those who were relatively better educated, having a middle and in most cases, high level of formal education, i.e., society's middle and high sectors" (Wainerman and Geldstein 1994, p. 199). More divorced and separated women also entered the workforce.
Sociodemographic changes. The birth rate in Argentina began to drop at the end of the nineteenth century, as occurred in other industrialized nations. The birth rate had both increases and decreases through the twentieth century, but it stabilized as of 1982, affecting the reduction in the size of families. However, since 1970, there has been an increase in teenage fertility, primarily among lower-class women.
Another important change in sociodemographic indicators is an uninterrupted decrease in mortality rate during the second half of the twentieth century, mainly of women, together with an increase in life expectancy. This directly affects the potential duration of marital life, the probability of divorce and separation, and, certainly, of widowhood.
An overview of the main changes in family structures and dynamics that have taken place in Argentina in the last decades appears below.
Family structures. Table 1 shows the different lifestyles in Argentina at two different times: 1986 and 1997 (complete data from the Population and Households National Census conducted in 2001 is not yet available).
As shown on the table, the nuclear family is the most common household structure in Argentina. However, between 1986 and 1997, the number of nuclear families has decreased, compared to individual households, the number of which increased. The same is true with extended and compound families, but to a lesser extent. However, research (2001) by the Information, Evaluation and Monitoring System of Social Programs of the Ministry of Social Development showed that in that year, the percentage of extended and compound families increased by 15 percent, with a tendency to further increase as a result of Argentina's economic crisis.
This heterogeneous overview also shows differences within each of the categories. Although the number of complete nuclear families has increased, this group includes legal marriages, common-law marriages, and reconstituted families (families formed in a second, subsequent union, often involving children of previous unions). At the same time, it also includes complete families, couples, and one-parent households (mainly mothers living with their children).
Extended or compound families are also diverse. Generally, they are households in which the head, her/his partner, and unmarried children reside with other people, whether relatives or not.
|types of households and families||1986||1997|
|source: based on data collected from instituto nacional de estadística y censos. household surveys initiative (mecovi).|
|individual||11.3 %||15.3 %|
|nuclear||71.9 %||65.9 %|
|extended and compound||12.7 %||13.7 %|
|without nucleus||4.1 %||4.7 %|
Two-thirds of these households are from low social strata and one-third from middle-class families.
One-person households also show differences: among the young, individual men living by themselves are most common, while among the elderly, separated women and widows are more common.
These diverse family structures reflect a set of changes that have taken place in Argentina during the second half of the twentieth century regarding guidelines for family formation, and which can be summarized as follows:
- An increase in common-law marriages and a decrease in legal marriages.
- Common-law marriages increased in all age sectors. In terms of socioeconomic status, however, they have increased among the youngest in low sectors and among older people in high sectors.
- An increase in the age in which the first marriage takes place, whether common-law or legal.
- Family formation standards differ between sexes and among social strata. Men get married—whether legally or by common-law—at an older age, mainly, in higher social sectors. In contrast, women marry at younger ages, but they follow the pattern described for starting a family, mainly those who are more educated. Couples who are legally married are less likely to have children, and if they do, they do so at an older age.
- An increase in the number of children born out of wedlock.
- An increase in the number of separations.
- An increase in the number of reconstituted families, families without children, and female-headed families.
- An increase of one-person households, more as a consequence of marriage break-ups than of failure to marry (Wainerman and Geldstein 1994).
- Nuclear families, while decreasing in number, are still the most frequent household type. However, these families' characteristics have changed; many of them are common-law marriages or reconstituted families. The size of these families is smaller, and they tend to be unstable.
Family dynamics in Argentina. Most of the research on family dynamics is conducted from a qualitative and microsocial approach. It contributes evidence of important trends in family dynamics, most of which are the result of the economic crisis and the high unemployment rates. They are:
- The emergence of new income providers in households, which implies that men are no longer the only—nor, frequently, the main— provider of family income.
- An increase in the number of female-headed households.
- Changes in patterns of domestic life. Although women's work outside the home does not necessarily result in a reorganization of tasks within households (existence of a double working day), it has in some cases led to a new awareness on the part of women and a more equitable distribution of power in the family environment. When, at the same time, men are out of work for a prolonged period of time, women's outside employment may have different consequences, such as the reorganization of tasks and loss of authority or conflicts, the effects of which may include domestic violence or marital separation.
- Crisis and unemployment seem to have different effects on men and women. Women seem to manage crises better, implementing a set of strategies for the survival of the family group. At the same time, they are the ones that absorb more of the effects of the crisis, regarding both the redistribution of responsibilities and their role of protection and emotional support (Merlinsky 2001; Sagot; and Schmukler 2001).
- A marked increase in the number of poor families—according to data from research (2001) by the Information, Evaluation and Monitoring System of Social Programs of the Ministry of Social Development, almost half of Argentine households are poor.
In summary, the beginning of the twenty-first century brought new standards for family formation. They include different domestic arrangements and changes in both male and female gender-linked behavior and attitudes, which can be interpreted as a tendency towards democratization of family bonds—there is clearly a greater equality between men and women, as well as a fairer distribution of tasks and power within families. According to Beatriz Schmukler (2001), this trend is part of a broader democratizing process at a sociopolitical level.
At the beginning of the third millenium, Argentina faces great diversity in family life. Family formation and dissolution vary according to social sectors, gender, and area of residence. These changes, however, should not be interpreted as a crisis of the family institution or as evidence of its disappearance, in spite of the evident loss of its social functions ( Jelin 1994). Marital unions survive, although they are less stable and less formal (Wainerman and Geldstein 1994).
Research findings by CEPAL (1994) suggest that different types of families can look after the well-being of their members and contribute to fair and democratic family development, provided there is a family project, that is, a common life plan in which goals and priorities are established. At a time of a deep social, political, and economic crisis, family life will adapt.
See also:Latin America
Agnés, M., and Barrére, M. (1999). La división familiar del trabajo. La vida doble. Buenos Aires: Editorial Lumen/Humanitas.
Allat, P., and Yeandle, S. (1992). Youth Unemployment and the Family. Voices of Disordered Times, London: Routledge.
Borsotti, C. (1981). La organización social de la reproducción de los agentes sociales, las unidades familiares y sus estrategias. Buenos Aires: CENEP.
CEPAL. (1994). Familia y Futuro. Author: Santiago de Chile.
Colombo, G., and Palermo, A. (1994). Madres de sectores populares y escuela. Buenos Aires: CEPAL.
Chapp, M., and Palermo, A. (1994). Autoridad y roles sexuales en la familia y la escuela. Buenos Aires: CEAL.
Geldstein, R. (1994). Los roles de fénero en la crisis.Mujeres como principal sostén económico del hogar. Buenos Aires: CENEP.
Gil Lozano, F.; Pita, V.; Ini, M. (2000). Historia de las mujeres en la Argentina. Siglo XX. Buenos Aires: Taurus. Instituto nacional de estadistica y censos. Household Surveys Initiative (MECOVI).
ISIS Mudar. (1988). Mujeres, crisis y movimientos. Santiago: ISIS International.
Jelin, E. (1994). "Familia: Crisis y después." In Vivir en Familia. Buenos Aires: Losada.
Jelin, E., and Feijoó, M. del C. (1980). Trabajo y familia en el ciclo de vida femenino. El caso de los sectores populares de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires: CEDES.
Levi Strauss, C. (1976). "La familia." In Polémica sobre el origen y universalidad de la familia. Barcelona: Anagrama.
López Hernández, G.; Loira Saviñón, C.; and Cervera, J. (1995). Familias con futuro. Derecho a una sociedad más justa. México, D.F.: Grupo de Educación Popular con Mujeres.
Merlinsky, M. G. (2001). "Desocupación y crisis en las imágenes de género." In Mujeres en América Latina transformando la vida. San José, Costa Rica: Universidad de Costa Rica.
Palermo, A. (2001). "La educación universitaria de la mujer. Entre las reivindicaciones y las realizaciones." In Revista alternativas. Serie historia y prácticas pedagógicas. Año III, No. 3:175–191. San Luis, Argentina: Publicación Internacional del LAE.
Schmukler, B., and Di Marco, G. (1997). Las madres y la democratización de la familia en la Argentina contemporánea. Buenos Aires: Biblos.
Schmukler, B., coordinator. (1999). Familias y relaciones de género en transformación. México, D.F.: Edamax, S.A. de C.V. y The Population Council, Inc.
Torrado, S. (1993). Procreación en la Argentina. Hechos e ideas. Buenos Aires: Edición de la Flor.
Wainerman, C., and Geldstein, R. (1994). "Viviendo en familia: Ayer y Hoy." In Vivir en familia. Buenos Aires: Losada.
Arriagada, I. (1999). "¿Nuevas Familias para un nuevo siglo?" In Revista de la CEPAL No. 65. Available from http://www.socwatch.org.uy/2000/esp/tematicos/nuevasfamilias.htm.
alicia itatÍ palermo
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group Inc.
POPULATION: 32.3 million
LANGUAGE: Spanish (official); Italian; English; Quechua; other native languages
RELIGION: Roman Catholicism (official); Evangelical Protestantism
1 • INTRODUCTION
Argentina gets its name from the Latin word for silver, argentum, and this is what drove the Spanish, the colonial rulers of Argentina, to explore the land during the sixteenth century. Ever since, the country has attracted European immigrants, including Welsh, Basque, English, Italians, and Ukranians. When these immigrants encountered indigenous (native) peoples, they simply removed them from the land, claiming it as their own.
During the 1820s, a series of independence movements throughout South America combined to pry control of the continent away from the hands of Spain. Under the leadership of General José de San Martín and others, the United Provinces of the River Plata (the first name of the present-day Argentina) declared independence in 1816. Argentina's Constitution was established in 1853.
After decades of military dictatorships, today the country is ruled by a parliamentary democracy. During the 1970s and 1980s, the military government waged what has come to be known as the "Dirty War" against its own people. In the name of protecting the country from Communists, the military murdered thousands of innocent civilians whom they labeled as "subversives." This violent period has had a lasting impact on the character of the Argentines.
2 • LOCATION
Geographically, Argentina is the world's eighth-largest country, only slightly smaller than India. It has a total area of about 1.1 million square miles (2.8 million square kilometers), excluding the South Atlantic island and the part of Antarctica it claims as national territory. From north to south (from Quiaca on the Bolivian border to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego), it is nearly 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) in length. This is about the same distance as from Havana, Cuba, to the Hudson Bay in Canada, or from the Sahara Desert in Africa to Scotland.
Approximately 80 percent of the population of 32.3 million people live in urban areas. More than 33 percent live in Gran Buenos Aires, which includes the Capital Federal and its suburbs in the Buenos Aires province. The majority of people (85 percent) come from European stock, including about four hundred thousand Jews. Argentina is the world's eighth-largest Jewish community. Approximately 15 percent of the population are Mestizo—people of mixed Indian and European blood.
3 • LANGUAGE
The official language of Argentina is Spanish, but a number of other European-descended communities still maintain their own languages. Italians, for instance, constitute the largest immigrant group. As a result, Italian is widely understood, as is English, another significant immigrant language. Some seventeen native languages still survive, though some are spoken by very few individuals.
|Good day.||Buenos días.||BWAY-noss DEE-ahs|
|please||por favor||PORE fah-VORE|
4 • FOLKLORE
Despite the fact that Argentina considers itself cultured and European, spiritualism and the worship of the dead play an important part in the lives of the people. A famous novelist, Tomás Eloy Martínez, has pointed out that the country's national heroes, such as San Martín, are honored not on the anniversary of their birth but of their death. This is the way that saints' days are celebrated. Pilgrims regularly visit the Recoleta and Chacarita cemeteries in Buenos Aires, where personal prayers are said and ritual offerings are left, especially at the tombs of political and popular culture figures.
During the 1800s, the gaucho, the Argentine cowboy, came to represent a free-spirited symbol for the country. He was seen as a rebel who challenged authority in order to preserve his freedom. Legends about him grew, and he became the inspiration for many writers.
5 • RELIGION
The official state religion is Roman Catholicism, but Evangelical Protestant movements are making converts among traditional Catholic believers. The Catholic religion also faces challenges where popular folklore conflicts with official church teaching.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
The main Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas are celebrated throughout the country. There are also national celebrations of historical times and heroes such as the May Revolution of 1810; Malvinas Day on June 10, which celebrates the establishment of the "Comandancia Política y Militar de las Malvinas" in 1829; Independence Day on July 9; and Día de San Martín, the anniversary of Saint Martin's death on August 17.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
Baptism, first communion, and saints' days are major events, important to both individuals and families. Because of the strong Spanish and Italian heritage and the continuing influence of the Catholic Church, these occasions are used as important family get-togethers. Younger people, however, no longer feel obliged to get married in church. Civil marriages have become popular. There is a growing trend toward divorce and remarriage.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
Argentines are extremely outgoing and eagerly invite visitors to participate in their activities. One famous pastime is drinking maté, a Paraguayan tea made from holly leaves. This is more than a simple drink like tea or coffee. It is an elaborate ritual, shared among family, friends, and colleagues. For those taking part, the sharing of the tea-making process seems to be the whole point of the maté ritual.
During the process, one person is responsible for filling a gourd almost to the top with the tea. Meanwhile, water is heated, but not boiled, in a kettle. The hot water is then poured into the gourd vessel. Everyone sips the liquid from a silver tube with a bulbous filter at its lower end that prevents the leaves from entering the tube.
Argentines are quite formal in public and are very aware of proper civilities. Even when asking a stranger for directions in the street, one is expected to approach the person with a greeting such as buenos días or buenas tardes, "good day" or "good afternoon."
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
The major cities in Argentina have a European look to them. The middle classes live in tall, modern apartment buildings or in bungalows with small gardens. Since the 1930s, rural workers have flocked to the big cities and a number of slums have sprouted on the outskirts, where the workers live in shacks. Rural houses are often built of adobe, with earth floors and roofs of straw and mud.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
The strong Catholic and Spanish heritage has meant that the family plays a central role in Argentine life. There is still a strong belief in the nuclear family, which also extends to grandparents, uncles and aunts, and other close relatives.
Much social life is family-centered, and occasions such as birthdays, First Communions, weddings, and funerals are of major importance. Meals are also important occasions for families and are often elaborate, and quite long. A favorite family get-together is the barbecue.
11 • CLOTHING
Most city-dwellers wear Western-style clothes, and many enthusiastically follow the fashions of Europe, particularly those of Italy.
In the rural areas, however, many workers on the estancias (ranches) wear at least part of the gaucho costume—a wide-brimmed hat and loose trousers tucked into the boots—as part of their outfit. In the northwest, the Indians wear ponchos, colorful skirts, and bowler hats.
12 • FOOD
There are enormous cattle ranches in the Pampas region in Argentina. So it is not surprising that the Argentine diet is meat-oriented. A recipe for a popular beef main dish follows.
There is a surprising ethnic and regional variety to Argentine cooking. The Italian presence has resulted in a great popularity for pasta dishes such as spaghetti, lasagna, cannelloni, and ravioli. Beef, though, is the center of most meals. The most popular form is the parrillada, a mixed grill of steak and other cuts.
Some regions have very distinctive food. The Andean northwest offers very spicy dishes. It is common to find Middle Eastern food in the Mendoza north.
13 • EDUCATION
With a 94 percent literacy rate, Argentina is one of Latin America's most literate countries. From the ages of five to twelve, education is free and compulsory.
Argentine Beef Sauté
- 1 pound lean beef stew meat (beef chuck or sirloin)
- 1½ cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped green pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil
- 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch of hot pepper flakes
- 3 large garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
- 2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 8-ounce can of red kidney beans
- 1 8-ounce can polenta
- Cooked rice as an accompaniment
- Brown meat in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Add onion and green peppers and sauté until limp.
- Stir in salt, pepper, basil, sugar, oregano, red peppers, garlic, and parsley.
- Drain beans and reserve ¼ cup liquid.
- Add beans and polenta and simmer, uncovered, adding about ¼ cup liquid bean liquid.
- Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
- Cook rice according to instructions on package.
Serve with cooked rice.
Adapted from Sarvis, Shirley. Woman's Day Home Cooking Around the World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.
Universities are traditionally free and open, but the courses tend to be rigidly specialized. With so much higher education available, the system has turned out many people with professional qualifications, such as doctors and lawyers. Unfortunately, not of all of these people can easily find work in the capital city, Buenos Aires. Despite this, few of them are willing to move to the provinces.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
During the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Buenos Aires adopted French trends in art, music, and particularly architecture. This can be seen in many of the buildings constructed in the capital in the early 1900s.
Argentine writers of the twentieth century are some of the most famous writers in the world. They include Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Ernesto Sábato, Manuel Puig, Osvaldo Soriano, and Adolfo Bioy Casares. Most of their work is available in English translation.
In Buenos Aires, the Teatro Colón opera house is one of the finest of its kind in the world. Classical music and ballet, as well as modern dance, are staged here. The capital also has a lively theater circuit, as rich as any major city elsewhere in the world. Even in the provinces, live theater is an important part of cultural life.
15 • EMPLOYMENT
Despite its abundant natural resources and its well-educated and cultured population, Argentina has failed to live up to its potential. Earlier in the twentieth century, Argentina was seen to be on a par with prosperous countries such as Canada and Australia. Yet not only has it failed to keep up with them, it has continually fallen behind them.
Like other Latin American countries, one of Argentina's fundamental problems lies in the poverty of its rural areas. Control of the richest agricultural lands of the Pampas is in the hands of a small number of wealthy families. Most rural people are reduced to scratching out a living on marginal lands or laboring as poorly paid workers on the big estates.
16 • SPORTS
The country is soccer-crazed. Argentina won the World Cup at home in 1978, and again in 1986. The country has produced a number of internationally known players such as Diego Maradona and Daniel Passarella, who now coaches the national team. There are more first-division soccer teams in Buenos Aires than anywhere else in the world. Of the country's twenty teams, eight are based in the capital, while five are in the nearby suburbs.
Several Argentine tennis players have also become world-famous, such as Guillermo Vilas and Gabriela Sabatini.
The game of basketball has also become a notable sport in Argentina, following the influx of many North American athletes who were unable to play professional basketball in America or Europe. In 1995, the Argentine national team defeated the U.S. team for the gold medal in the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata.
17 • RECREATION
The best-known and most striking feature of Argentine popular culture is the tango, both as music and dance. It first became popular in 1880, when it emerged from working-class districts. It was a blend of gaucho (cowboy) verse with Spanish and Italian music. Then came Carlos Gardel, the music's most famous performer, who created the tango canción, the "tango song." This lifted tango out of the poor streets and into the fashionable bars of Buenos Aires.
For many Argentines, the tango song sums up the fears and anxieties of life. It can carry themes as diverse as love, jealousy, and betrayal to everyday subjects such as going to work or coping with one's neighbors. It is often full of nostalgia about a way of life that is fast disappearing.
Argentines are great movie-goers, although many theaters have shut down outside Buenos Aires due to the increasing popularity of at-home viewing of videos.
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
In artisans' ferias, found throughout the country, the variety of handicrafts is extensive. Maté paraphernalia is widespread, and gourds and bombilas range from simple and inexpensive aluminum, which are often sold in street kiosks, to elaborate and expensive gold and silver found in jewelry stores. In the province of Salta, the distinctive pon chos de guemes are produced.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Runaway inflation seems to have been halted by the government under President Carlos Menem, elected in 1989. Menem, a former soccer player, has worked to cut government spending and state-owned enterprises. The trouble is that continuing privatization (the selling of government-owned businesses to investors) has led to high unemployment. The government justifies this as a necessary part of reform.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bernhardson, Wayne. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit. 2nd ed. Hawthorn, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications, 1996.
Caistor, Nick. Argentina. Austin, Tex.: Steck-Vaughn Library, 1991.
Fox, Geoffrey. The Land and People of Argentina. New York: Lippincott, 1990.
Gofen, Ethel. Argentina. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1991.
Jacobsen, Karen. Argentina. Chicago: Childrens' Press, 1990.
Liebowitz, Sol. Argentina. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1990.
Peterson, Marge. Argentina: A Wild West Heritage. 2nd ed. Parsippany, N.J.: Dillon Press, 1997.
Sarvis, Shirley. Woman's Day Home Cooking Around the World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.
Interknowledge Corp. [Online] Available http://www.interknowledge.com/argentina/, 1998.
Latin American Alliance. Argentina. [Online] http://www.latinsynergy.org/argentina.html, 1998.
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Gale Group,
Argentina is unlike other Latin American countries in that its population is in large part the result of the massive European immigration that took place beginning in the late nineteenth century. Between the last decades of that century and with the global economic crisis of 1930, the country experienced increased prosperity. During that interval, the cultural climate was infused with a number of avant-garde intellectual currents.
Psychoanalysis in Argentina can be broken down into five periods: 1) the pre-institutional period, 2) the pioneer period, 3) the institutional period, 4) the crisis of the seventies, and 5) the present.
After 1922, and during the pre-institutional period, Spanish translations of the first volumes of Freud's complete works began to appear in Argentina, although translations in other languages were known. As early as 1910, however, Freud's ideas about infantile sexuality, free association, and psychoanalysis had been presented in Buenos Aires by the Chilean doctor Germán Greve (quoted by Freud in The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement ) during the International Congress of Medicine and Hygiene, and the Peruvian Honorio Delgado had published articles on psychoanalysis in several prestigious medical journals.
In 1922 Enrique Mouchet, who had been professor of experimental psychology and physiology for two decades in the Department of Philosophy and Literature at the University of Buenos Aires, made psychoanalysis part of his syllabus, although he was critical of it. In 1923 the Spanish doctor Gonzalo Lafora gave a number of talks on psychoanalysis at the school of medicine. In February 1930, two recognized psychiatrists left for Vienna to visit Freud: Gregorio Bermann and Nerio Rojas, who would later publish a report of his meeting in the widely circulated daily La Nación. During the thirties, inexpensive editions of Stefan Zweig's biography of Freud were printed, as well as a ten-volume series of popularizations of Freud entitled, Freud Made Easy, carelessly edited (pseudonymously) and containing long passages from the Spanish translation of Freud's works.
The journal Critica regularly published a column on psychoanalysis devoted to the interpretation of dreams. In 1936 one of the most serious literary reviews in the country, Sur, paid homage to Freud; the review Psicoterapia also devoted an issue to the founder of psychoanalysis. A group of writers invited Freud to move to Argentina. Jorge Thenon, a self-taught psychoanalyst, received a letter from Freud, to whom he had sent his thesis, "Psicoterapia comparada y psicogénesis" [Comparative Psychotherapy and Psychogenesis], in which Freud encouraged him to continue his work for future publication in an international psychoanalytic review. The letter appeared in La Semana médica in 1933.
In 1938 the arrival of the Hungarian psychologist Béla Székely in Argentina helped to spread psychoanalytic ideas along with the use of tests, especially Rorschach tests. During that same decade, Enrique Pichon-Rivière and Arnaldo Rascovsky discovered Freud's work; they devoted themselves to its study and its clinical application. Pichon-Rivière formed a working group with Arminda and Frederico Aberastury; Rascovsky, with his wife Matilde Wencelblat, Luisa Gambier (later Luisa Alvarez de Toledo), Simon Wencelblat, Teodoro Shlossberg, Flora Scolni, Alberto Tallaferro, and Guillermo Ferrari Hardoy.
In 1939, two psychoanalysts from Europe, the Argentine Celes Cárcamo, member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society, and the Spaniard Angel Garma, member of the German Psychoanalytic Association, joined Rascovksy's and Pichon-Rivière's groups. Celes Cárcamo had been a friend of Pichon-Rivière for years. Angel Garma, who had wanted to leave Spain for Argentina, had met Cárcamo in Paris. A decision was made to found a psychoanalytic association as soon as a sufficient number of analysts could be brought together. Luisa Alvarez de Toledo, Luis Rascovsky, Guillermo Ferrari Hardoy, and Alberto Tallaferro began analysis with Cárcamo, while Arnaldo Rascovsky, Enrique Pichon-Rivière, and Arminda Aberastury started with Garma. The patients who were analyzed by Cárcamo were supervised by Garma and vice versa.
On December 15, 1942, Cárcamo, Garma, Ferrari Hardoy, Pichon-Rivière, Rascovsky, and Marie Langer founded the Asociación Psicoanalítica Argentina (APA), which marked the debut of the institutional period. Marie Glas de Langer, who had sought refuge in Uruguay in 1938, settled in Buenos Aires in 1942. Analyzed by Richard Sterba, she had been trained at the Vienna Institute of Psychoanalysis but, to complete her clinical work, she underwent a control analysis with Celes Cárcamo. Shortly after it was founded, the association received the provisional approval of Ernest Jones, then president of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA). The APA was recognized as a member society of the IPA at the Zurich Congress, in August 1949.
In July 1943, the first issue of the Revista de psicoanálisis appeared, and that same year the publisher Biblioteca de Psicoanálisis went into operation. This began a process of rapid expansion of the discipline both inside and outside Argentina. Therapists from throughout Latin America arrived eager for training, there were many foreign visitors, and Argentinian analysts traveled to present their work in other countries throughout the Americas and Europe. In 1953, the association had more than 68 members in all categories.
Angel Garma, who was analyzed by Theodor Reik and undertook his control analysis with Otto Fenichel, had an interest in a number of fields and in all of them he left his personal mark. He discussed Freud's theory of hallucinations in 1931, generalized the hypothesis of the traumatic genesis of dreams, and promoted psychoanalytic research and treatment in the field of psychosomatic disturbances. Celes Cárcamo was analyzed by Paul Schiff and had his control analysis with Rudolph Loewenstein and Charles Odier. He was interested in philosophy, religion, art, and especially therapy, and through his personal prestige and integrity helped introduce psychoanalysis to different social and professional milieus. During his early years, his writings primarily focused on psychoanalytic technique and psychosomatics.
The analysis of psychosis became a focus of interest through the impetus of Enrique Pichon-Rivière, along with Arnaldo Rascovsky's research on mania. Pichon-Rivière emphasized the "single illness" theory and proposed a psychopathology that centered on a central pathogenic kernel or "fundamental depressive situation." Rascovsky, in his work on fetal psychism, introduced the hypothesis of a prenatal maniacal position, prior to the introduction of the paranoid-schizoid position by Melanie Klein.
Arminda Aberastury and Elisabeth Goode de Garma specialized in the psychoanalysis of children and adolescents, basing their work on the theoretical contributions of Melanie Klein. Increasing demand and theoretical interest in this type of therapy helped stimulate the growth of group psychoanalysis. The work of Marie Langer, León Grinberg, and Emilio Rodrigué stands out in this field. The personality and the ideas of these pioneers affected the tenor of their theoretical work. There was a strong Freudian influence, of course, but Otto Fenichel, Hermann Nunberg, Wilhelm Reich, Paul Federn, and Melanie Klein were read as well.
Other important work was done by Marie Langer on femininity and by Luisa Alvarez de Toledo in her research on "association" and "interpretation," which contributed to the interest in language, a subject later taken up by David Liberman. Heinrich Racker made significant contributions to the study of the instrumental value of countertransference (concomitant with the work of Paula Heimann in Great Britain).
The tentative return to democracy in 1958, which coincided with one of the most brilliant moments in the contemporary history of the University of Buenos Aires, provided a favorable framework for the activity of new generations of psychoanalysts. It was during this period that there arose the personalities and ideas that would, to a large extent, define the identify of what came to be known as the "Argentinian school." Alongside the work of Rascovsky, Garma, Pichon-Rivière, and Racker, the names of León and Rebeca Grin-berg, Willy and Madeleine Baranger, Jorge Mom, Jorge García Badaracco, Mauricio Abadi, Edgardo Rolla, Fidias Cesio, José Bleger, David Liberman, Joel Zac, Horacio Etchegoyen, Salomón Resnik, Luis Chiozza, Isidoro Berenstein, and many others gained local and international recognition.
The dominant theoretical trends revolved around English authors, primarily Melanie Klein and her closest collaborators: Paula Heimann, Hanna Segal, Susan Isaacs, and later Donald Meltzer, Wilfred Bion, and Herbert Rosenfeld. When Klein's influence reached its peak, there were four dominant trends: dogmatic Kleinians, critical Kleinians (Baranger), those who deepened and extended her work (Grinberg, Bleger, Liberman, Etchegoyen, Zac), and those who responded to her theories with a refreshing (non-Lacanian) return to Freud.
During this period, the first non-IPA schools of psychoanalysis appeared, founded by members of the APA, to meet the growing demand for training and the limited opportunities for admission provided by the Association. Another important event that occurred at this time was the introduction of psychoanalysis in hospitals throughout Argentina. Also, during this ten-year period, a school of psychology was created in Buenos Aires. Psychoanalysis played a major role in the curriculum and a number of qualified psychoanalysts were on the staff. The school produced a large number of clinical psychologists. After 1986 they were able to join the APA once it removed the restriction that required practitioners of psychotherapy to be medical doctors.
The seventies were a period of increased tension. Changes around the world had repercussions in the country generally and on the psychoanalytic movement in particular. Passionate debates within the psychoanalytic community prevented any kind of consistent intellectual progress. During this confused period, a number of well-known analysts (Marie Langer, Diego and Gilou García Reynose, among others) left the APA and founded the Plataforma and Documento movements. Other forms of psychotherapy competed for the market of available patients, whose numbers continued to increase rapidly. This was somewhat muted by the economic inflation and the increasing social and individual malaise. Antagonisms among psychoanalysts concerning institutional attitudes and psychoanalytic training grew steadily, culminating in the schism that would divide the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association and give birth, in 1977, to the Asociación Psicoanalítica de Buenos Aires (APDEBA), officially recognized the same year by the IPA during its Congress in Jerusalem.
It was at this time that Jacques Lacan's ideas entered the sphere of Argentinian psychoanalysis. These ideas rallied legions of partisans, not only because of their inherent interest but because of the anti-institutional orientation that Lacan embodied within the range of the then current warring ideological positions. Lacan's followers were soon clamoring for positions in hospitals, universities, and on the pages of the leading reviews. The particular language used by Lacanians made it difficult to confront them or even exchange ideas on the basis of an alternate terminology, which effectively curtailed the traditional intellectual pluralism that had been the norm within psychoanalytic organizations.
At the time there were five psychoanalytic institutions affiliated with the IPA: two in Buenos Aires (APA and APDEBA) and three in the cities of Mendoza, Córdoba, and Rosario. Unlike the previous periods, psychoanalysis now had to struggle for its identity and avoid being diluted in a complex and confusing "world of psych." A number of non-IPA teaching facilities were established, but the level of teaching was inconsistent. In spite of the changing, and unfavorable, cultural context, which contrasted sharply with the climate of the previous periods, the output of the majority of psychoanalysts was considerable, the local associations remained consistently productive, with an abundance of publications of high quality, and Lacanian organizations were highly active, demonstrating the persistent vitality of the discipline in the country.
Psychoanalysis in Argentina was influenced by global trends. Willy Baranger, initially influenced by the ideas of Enrique Pichon-Rivière, engaged in a critical examination of key concepts in psychoanalysis, from Melanie Klein to Jacques Lacan. Because of the lucidity of his approach, Baranger's work became a key focus of psychoanalytic thought in Argentina, and has remained valid for the second generation of practitioners.
An indigenous line of thought focused on method soon developed in Argentina. It was based on the technical work of Heinrich Racker and its greatest representative was Horacio Etchegoyen, who perfected it through his many innovative contributions to the theory of psychoanalytic technique and his marked interest in the epistemological aspects of the discipline. Another local current came into prominence during the eighties and favored a diversification of practice in the psychoanalytic approach to group, family, and couples therapy. There was considerable interest in the social aspects of psychoanalysis, which led to the development of more committed positions among psychoanalysts and a psychoanalytic approach to social phenomena of violence. Developments in the field of psychosis, the diversification of applied psychoanalysis, and work in the field of psychosomatics reflect the range of contributions of contemporary psychoanalysis in Argentina.
Roberto Doria-Medina Jr. Samuel Arbiser MoisÉs Kijak
Aberastury, Arminda, et al. (1967). Historia enseñanza y ejercicio legal del psicoanálisis. Buenos Aires: Omeba.
Cucurullo, Antonio, et al. (1982). La psychanalyse en Argentine. In Roland Jaccard (ed.), Histoire de la psychanalyse, vol. II: 395-444. Paris: Hachette.
Mom, Jorge (1982). Asociación psicoanalítica argentina 1942-1982. Buenos Aires: A.P.A.
Vezzetti, Hugo (1996). Aventuras de Freud en el paìs de los argentinos. Buenos Aires: Paidós.
Wender, Leonardo, et al. (1992). Argentina. In Peter Kutter (Ed.), Psychoanalysis international, a guide to psychoanalysis throughout the world (vol. 2). Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog.
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RecipesCarbonada Criolla (Stew) ............................................ 12
Chimichurri (Dipping Sauce)....................................... 13
Empanadas (Little Meat Pies)....................................... 13
Bocaditos (Finger Sandwiches).................................... 14
Fruit Salad with Frozen Yogurt .................................... 15
Submarino (Milk with Chocolate Syrup)...................... 16
Dulce de Leche (Milk Jam)........................................... 17
Alfajores de Maizena (Corn Starch Cookies)................. 17
1 GEOGRAPHIC SETTING AND ENVIRONMENT
Argentina is a wedge-shaped country, the second largest (after Brazil) in South America. In the west, it has the Andes Mountains, but the majority of Argentina's land is low. Because Argentina lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the winter months are May through August, and the warmest summer month is January. Argentina's climate and rich, lowland regions combine to make it one of the world's greatest food-producing nations. More than 4 percent of the world's cattle are raised by Argentine cattle ranchers. Argentina is also South America's largest producer of honey, an ingredient that makes its way into many delicious Argentine desserts.
2 HISTORY AND FOOD
Native Indians lived in Argentina many years before the European explorers arrived. Members of an Indian tribe in the northern part of Argentina were farmers who grew squash, melons, and sweet potatoes. Spanish settlers came to Argentina in 1536. Between 1880 and 1890, nearly one million immigrants came from Europe to live in Argentina. Most were from Italy and Spain. The Italians introduced pizza, as well as all kinds of pasta dishes, including spaghetti and lasagna. British, German, Jewish, and other immigrants also settled in Argentina, all bringing their styles of cooking and favorite foods with them. The British brought tea, starting the tradition of teatime. All of these cultures influenced the dishes of Argentina.
3 FOODS OF THE ARGENTINES
Beef is the national dish of Argentina. There are huge cattle ranches in Argentina, and the gaucho, or Argentine cowboy, is a well-known symbol of Argentine individualism. Many dishes contain meat, but prepared in different ways. A favorite main course is parrillada, a mixed grill of steak and other cuts of beef. Grilled steak is called churrasco, a beef roast cooked over an open fire is called asado, and beef that is dipped in eggs, crumbs, and then fried is called milanesa. Carbonada is a stew that contains meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and chunks of corn on the cob.
Carbonada Criolla (Stew with Meat, Vegetables, and Fruit)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds of stewing beef, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 4 large tomatoes, chopped thick
- 1 green pepper, chopped thick
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups canned chicken stock
- 3 potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes
- 3 sweet potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes
- 2 ears of corn, cut into 1-inch widths (or use 2 cups of frozen corn)
- 2 zucchini, diced into ½-inch pieces
- 2 peaches in ½-inch pieces
- 2 pears in ½-inch pieces
- Heat oil in heavy pot.
- Brown beef in separate batches so that all of it gets cooked. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- In that same pot, cook tomatoes, pepper, onion, and garlic until soft.
- Add bay leaves, oregano, and chicken stock, and bring to a boil.
- Return beef to the pot, and add potatoes and sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
- Stir in zucchini and corn. Simmer 10 more minutes, or until vegetables are almost soft, then add the peaches and pears.
- Cook 5 more minutes.
- Serve hot.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Because many Argentines are descendents of the Italian immigrants who came to Argentina in the late 1800s, Italian dishes are found throughout the country. Some favorite Italian dishes include pizza, all kinds of pastas (such as spaghetti and ravioli), and ñoquis, (gnocchi—potato dumplings) served with meat and tomato sauce.
Argentines eat more fruit than almost any other group of people in the world. Some favorite fruits include peaches, apricots, plums, pears, cherries, grapes, and tuna, the fruit of a prickly pear cactus.
Empanadas, little pies usually stuffed with beef, vegetables, and cheese, are a favorite dish. These are eaten by hand and they are often enjoyed as a snack, or may be carried to school for lunch. Chimichurri, a dipping sauce, is usually served with empanadas. Because the sauce has to sit for two hours before eating, it is prepared before the empanadas.
Chimichurri (Dipping Sauce)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley, minced
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 shallots (or 2 small onions), minced
- 1 teaspoon minced basil, thyme, or oregano (or mixture of these, if preferred)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for at least 2 hours before serving with empanadas.
Empanadas (Little Meat Pies)
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ cup onions, chopped
- 8 green olives, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- 2½ cups flour
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Brown the ground beef and onions in a frying pan until meat has lost all its pink color.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Drain the mixture well, and allow it to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a bowl, mix the flour, butter, egg, yolk, and vinegar together by hand.
- Stir the salt into the water and sprinkle water, a little at a time, over the flour mixture.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth. (To knead, flatten the dough on a surface that has been dusted with a little flour. Fold the dough in half and flatten again. Turn. Repeat the process for about 15 minutes.)
- For each empanada, roll ¼ cup of dough into a 9-inch circle.
- Put ½ cup filling on the circle, and fold it in half.
- Press the edges of the dough together, and poke a small hole in the top using a toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet.
- Repeat process until all the dough and filling are used up.
- Bake 10–15 minutes.
- Serve hot with chimichurri.
4 FOOD FOR RELIGIOUS AND HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS
Lent is the 40-day period preceding Easter in the Christian year. During the week before Lent, a large festival, Carnival, is celebrated in many parts of Argentina. During Carnival, people dress up in costumes and dance. They eat spicy food, including corn stew and humitas en chala (corn patties wrapped and cooked in their husks). It is a tradition to eat a cake in the shape of a large ring. On Easter, children eat chocolate eggs with tiny candies hidden inside.
Because it is also tradition in the Roman Catholic Church to not eat meat during Lent, Argentines eat more seafood dishes during this time. Bocaditos (finger sandwiches), made with shrimp are a popular lunch or snack food during Lent.
Bocaditos (Finger Sandwiches)
- 12 thin slices French bread
- 1 container (3-ounce) cream cheese with chives
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
- 4 to 6 precooked shrimp
- 4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
- Cut crusts off the bread.
- Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each slice of bread.
- Place cucumber slices, tomatoes, and shrimp on one slice, and cover with another slice of bread to make a sandwich. (Any combination of these ingredients may be used.)
- Cut into triangles or rectangles.
Serves 8 to 10.
On Christmas Eve, celebrated on December 24, Argentines eat a late meal of cold beef, chicken, or turkey, and fruit salad. Because Christmas occurs during summertime in South America, Argentines often eat the meal outside on decorated tables. After dinner, they eat almonds, dried fruits, and pan dulce, a sweet bread that is similar to fruitcake but has fewer fruits and nuts.
Fruit Salad with Frozen Yogurt
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
- 1 medium plum, pitted and sliced
- 1 large orange, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
- 1 large grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
- 1 medium banana, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 quart frozen vanilla yogurt
- In a large bowl, whisk together the honey and lemon juice.
- Stir in the fruit, and serve topped with a scoop of frozen yogurt.
In many areas of Argentina, people hold festivals to honor aspects of the environment. For example, a city on the Atlantic coast celebrates the seafood harvest that is brought in from its fishing grounds. It is tradition for people to eat a seafood feast of shrimp, crab, and scallops. After the feast, a parade with people dressed in sea-creature costumes is held. Someone dressed as The Queen of the Sea leads the parade, sitting in a giant seashell.
5 MEALTIME CUSTOMS
Argentine families, like families everywhere, are busy. Because everyone is on a different schedule, they aren't able to eat every meal together. Desayuno (day-sigh-OO-noh, breakfast) is often a light meal of rolls or bread with jam and coffee. Most working people in the cities have a small comida (coh-MEE-dah, lunch) such as a pizza from a cafeteria. A farmer eats a hot dish for lunch, carried out to him in the field, of beef, potatoes, and chunks of corn-on-the-cob. Upper-class city families usually eat a large midday meal of meat, potatoes, and green vegetables.
In the late afternoon, Argentines have a snack of tea, sandwiches, and cake to hold over their appetite until dinner (cena, SAY-nah), typically eaten around 9 p.m. The tea-time tradition comes from the British immigrants that brought tea to Argentina in the late 1800s.
Vendors sell food on the streets (the equivalent to "fast food"). Ice cream vendors sell helado, Argentine ice cream, and warm peanuts, sweet popcorn, and candied apples. Some vendors sell choripan (a sausage sandwich) and soda. Empanadas, little pies stuffed with beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetables, are a popular snack. Children can take vegetable-filled empanadas to school for lunch. A favorite drink is a submarino, or milk with chocolate syrup.
Submarino (Milk with Chocolate Syrup)
- 1 glass of cold milk
- 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup
- Place the spoon with the syrup in the cold milk, but don't stir it.
- Drink a little milk, then lick some of the chocolate off the spoon.
- Continue until glass is empty.
The dinner meal has several courses, including meat dishes, and ends with dessert. Dulce de leche (milk jam) is a favorite dessert for many Argentine children. It is often eaten with bananas or as a filling in alfajores (corn starch cookies).
Dulce de Leche (Milk Jam)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into an 8-inch round pie or square cake pan, and cover it with foil.
- Place the pan in a shallow pan filled with one inch of water. Bake for one hour.
- Allow to cool; eat with bananas or as a cookie filling.
Alfajores de Maizena (Corn Starch Cookies)
- 2½ cups cornstarch
- 1⅔ cups flour ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- Grated lemon peel
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sift the cornstarch with the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl.
- Beat margarine and sugar, and add the egg yolks one at a time. Mix well.
- Add dry ingredients a little at a time.
- Add vanilla and lemon peel. Mix to form a stiff, elastic dough.
- Stretch until the dough is about ½-inch thick over surface covered with flour.
- Cut into circles using the rim of a drinking glass or a round cookie cutter and put the circles on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Spread some dulce de leche on one cookie and sandwich with another cookie, and repeat with the rest of the cookies.
6 POLITICS, ECONOMICS, AND NUTRITION
Most people in Argentina receive adequate nutrition in their diets, although the World Bank classifies a small percentage as malnourished. Almost three-fourths of the population has access to safe drinking water and sanitation (hygienic conditions and safe disposal of waste products). A small percent of children under age five are underweight (about 2 percent) or stunted (are short for their age, 5 percent). These children are from the poorest Argentine families, and may live in cities or rural areas.
7 FURTHER STUDY
Argentina. Boston: APA Publications, 1997.
Greenberg, Arnold. Buenos Aires: And the Best of Argentina Alive! Edison, NJ: Hunter Publishing, Inc., 2000.
Hintz, Martin. Argentina. New York: Children's Press, 1998.
Novas, Himilce and Silva, Rosemary. Latin American Cooking Across the U.S.A. New York: Knopf, 1997.
Parnell, Helga. Cooking the South American Way. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1991.
Peterson, Marge. Argentina: A Wild West Heritage. Parsippany, NJ: Dillon Press, 1997.
Global Gourmet. [Online] Available http://www.globalgourmet.com/destinations/argentina/ (accessed March 1, 2001).
Latin American Recipes. [Online] Available http://www.ma.iup.edu/Pueblo/latino_cultures/recipes.html (accessed March 6, 2001).
Margarita's Favorite Recipes. [Online] Available http://www.lacabe.com/marga/food/recipes/alfajores.html (accessed February 24, 2001).
COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group,
Although little has been published abroad on the history of Spiritualism and psychical research in Argentina, there has been considerable activity from the late nineteenth century onward. In the early period, Argentine Spiritualism was strongly influenced by the Spiritism of French Spiritualist Allan Kardec. The journal Constancia: Revista semanal, Illustrada de Espiritismo, Psicologia, y Socialogia was founded as early as 1877. Other publications during the 1930s included La Nota Espiritista and Revue Anales. One early organization Spiritualistic Association Lumen aimed to take the study of Spiritualism in the direction of humanistic science rather than religion.
With the growth of interest in experimental psychology stimulated by such pioneers as Dr. Horacio Rinoldi, scientific techniques were applied to the study of the paranormal. The first Institute of Psychology was created in the University of Buenos Aires in November 1931 to investigate general psychology, psychological pathology, psychometry, and psychotechniques. Dr. Enrique Mochet, who headed the institute, observed activities of various clairvoyants and mediums and included a course on paranormal psychology. Other scientists at the institute included Dr. Fernando Gorriti, Prof. Dr. Gonzalez Bosch, and Prof. José Fernández.
In 1933 Fernández founded the ATMAN Spiritualist Circle and also attended meetings of the Psyke Circle, known for their séances with clairvoyants and mediums. Their successes or failures were assessed statistically, and in 1941 Fernández published the results in the pamphlet Clairvoyance and Probability. Although these and other investigations were without rigorous control techniques, they played an important part in the development of parapsychological method in Argentina.
During the wartime period in the early 1940s, parapsychological researches were temporarily suspended, but in 1946 Dr. Orlando Canavesio founded the Argentine Medical Association for Parapsychology and launched its journal Revista Medica de Metapsiquica. At that time the Argentine government, which considered Spiritualism a "social evil" and attempted to control it sponsored the Institute of Applied Psychopathology. Spiritualists responded by turning increasingly to the research of parapsychologists to validate and support their work. The organization was the first known anywhere to encourage doctors to investigate ESP. Despite the fact that the agency was established by the government for the purpose of determining whether spiritualism was dangerous to the health of Argentinians, Canavesio's work proceeded to be recognized throughout the world. In 1953 Canavesio was invited to speaked at the International Conference on Parapsychological Studies at the University of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, and brought renown to the work being done in Argentina, and the first of the Hispanic countries to be so recognized. He died in 1957.
In 1949 the Argentine Association of Parapsychology brought together scientists and active Spiritualists. The research of Dr. J. B. Rhine in the U.S. had become well known to Argentine parapsychologists, and it became possible to develop statistical methods of psi evaluation.
Through the early 1950s Benjamin Odell, Julio C. Di Liscia, and J. Ricardo Musso created the Association of Friends of Parapsychology and its official organ, the Revista Argentina de Parapsicología in 1955. Musso became president of the Instituto Argentino de Parapsicología in Buenos Aires, which publishes the quarterly journal Cuadernos de Parapsicología. The serious study of parapsychology seemed well established.
By 1970 there were over 130 organizations devoted to the study of the paranormal in Argentina and many publications. Then, suddenly, all of the parapsychology courses at both the Roman Catholic and state universities were canceled, except for the one at the Universidad del Salvador. One explanation for this could be the military dictatorship that governed the country from 1976 until 1983, and the events during the previous years that lead up to them. The era was most famous for the unexplained disappearance of reportedly thousands of citizens, particularly those known as los Desaparecidos, of Spanish origin and settled in the country from Italy, France, Germany, the United States and Spain. Academic freedom in universities became severely restricted as well. Because the Roman Catholic Church had been known to sympathize with anti-military forces their university was scrutinized closely. Besides the restriction of academic freedom, the investigations appropriate to parapsychology were under suspicion, in addition to being a government threat. Even after democracy was restored in Argentina, the military leaders thought responsible for these disappearances were never put on trial or officially questioned. While work has continued through two remaining research centers, a return to the previous level of activity has been slow to evolve.
As of early 2000, the two research centers that do remain, are both in Buenos Aires. Enrique Novillo Paulí teaches parapsychology at the Universidad del Salvador, and the Institutio Argentino de Parapsicología continues to issue Cuadernos de Parapsicología. Address: Calle Ramon Lista 868, 1706, P. F., Sarmiento-Haedo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The country's major parapsychological publication is, Cuadernos de Parapsicologia, (Instituto de Parapsicologia).
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.
"Los Desaparecidos." http://About.com/cultures/SpanishCulture. June 16, 2000.
Musso, J. Ricardo. "Parapsychology in Argentina." Parapsychology Today: A Geographic View. Edited by Allan Angoff and Betty Shapin. New York: Parapsychology Foundation, 1973.
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Gale Group Inc.
2,766,890sq km (1,068,296sq mi)
Buenos Aires (13,755,993)
European 85%, Mestizo, Native American
Christianity (Roman Catholic 92%)
Peso = 100 centavos
Climate and VegetationArgentina's climate ranges from sub-tropical in the n to temperate in the s, with extremely harsh conditions in the high Andes. Rainfall is abundant in the ne. Gran Chaco is a forested region, known for its quebracho trees. Mesopotamia and the Pampas are grassy regions with large farms. Patagonia is too arid for farming.
History and PoliticsSpanish explorers reached the coast in 1516, and settlers followed in search of silver and gold. Spanish rule continued until revolutionaries, led by General Belgrano, overthrew the viceroy in 1810. by 1816 liberation was complete and Argentina declared independence. A long civil war ensued between centralizers and federalists.
Following General Juan Manuel de Rosas' dictatorship (1835–52), Argentina adopted a federal constitution (1853). The presidency of General Julio Roca (1880–86, 1898–1904) saw the triumph of federalism and the development of Argentina's trading economy. For much of World War II, Argentina was a pro-Axis ‘neutral’ power. In 1944 Ramón Castillo was overthrown in a military coup led by Juan Perón, and Argentina switched to the Allies. With the aid of his wife, Eva, Perón established a popular dictatorship. In 1955, a military junta overthrew Perón. Political instability dominated the 1960s, with the military seeking to dampen Perónist support. In 1973 an ailing Perón returned from exile to head a civilian government. He was succeeded (1974) by his third wife, Isabel Martinez Perón, who was in turn deposed by a coup (1976). Military rule (1976–83) was characterized by the so-called ‘Dirty War’. Torture, ‘disappearances’ and wrongful imprisonment were commonplace.
In 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, precipitating the Falklands War. Britain quickly recaptured the islands. Elections in 1983 saw the restoration of civilian rule. In 1989 elections, the Perónist Carlos Menem became president. After a decade in power, Fernando de la Rúa defeated the Perónists in 1999 elections. In December 2001, de la Rúa resigned after 25 people died in riots against the government's austerity measures. In 2002, the Perónist Eduardo Duhalde became president.
EconomyArgentina is an upper-middle-income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$12,900) plagued by corruption and public debt. Agriculture dominates the economy: its main products are beef, maize, and wheat. Other crops include citrus fruits, cotton, grapes for wine, sorghum, soya, and sugar cane. Almost 90% of the population live in urban areas. Industries include car manufacture, electrical equipment, and textiles.
© World Encyclopedia 2005, originally published by Oxford University Press 2005.
National culture, ser nacional (national being), cultura rioplatense, cultura gauchesca, cultura criolla (creole culture). In Argentina the word creole often has a different connotation than in the rest of Latin America. While in most countries the word is used to refer to the offspring of Europeans born in the Americas, in Argentina it generally connotes a person of mixed origins, European (mainly Spanish) and Native American. Many people use it as a synonym for gaucho (Argentine cowboys) and mestizo. It is also known as cultura rioplatense (River Plate culture). This is a more inclusive concept, as it refers to the culture of Uruguayans and Argentines inhabiting the River Plate Basin region. Official conservative interpretations of the Argentine culture have often emphasized the Spanish and Catholic heritage, rooted in the early contributions made by Queen Isabel of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, artifices of the conquest of the Americas in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. Latin Americans often identify Argentines as " Ches," a colloquial form of address for the second person, similar to the American "hey, you." This is the reason Ernesto Guevara, the Argentine-born commander of the Cuban Revolution, was called " el Che."
Identification. It is generally claimed that by the end of the sixteenth century, Martín del Barco Centenera first used the current name of the country in the poem "Argentina y Conquista del Desierto." The name derives from the Latin word for silver, the metal the Spanish thought they would find in this land. What constitutes Argentina's national culture is a politically loaded debate. Some nationalist and populist sectors see only the gaucho tradition as the defining element of Argentine culture. Only male models enter into these interpretations. The gauchos were horsemen who tended cattle in the central plains region of Argentina. These men were mestizos, the product of colonial hybridization who were the offspring of Europeans (mainly Spanish), and indigenous peoples. Ultra-nationalist versions of this culture stress the arabic origins of gaucho culture, claiming that arabic traits were brought by the Spanish who had been profoundly transformed by centuries of Muslim occupation. Nationalist versions also often acknowledge the contributions of indigenous peoples to the national culture. Conservative elite sectors historically traced the origins of the national culture to the Roman Catholic and Spanish tradition. Threatened by the influx of European immigrants at the turn of the century, some landed elite sectors chose to adopt gauchos as a cultural icon. These rural versions of nationality generally clashed with more secular, urban, and modern versions of national identity. Ambivalence dominates the Argentines' self-identity. Depending on the political climate of the times and the dominant ideological orientations, residents of this country oscillate between an identity stressing commonalities with other Latin-American nations; a shared history of four centuries of Spanish rule; and an identity highlighting the uniqueness of this nation, an alleged Europeanized cosmopolitan national culture. Some regional cultural traditions are quite distinct. In the northwest the influence of Pre-Columbian Andean indigenous traditions is very strong while in the northeast (mainly in Corrientes and south of Misiones province) the Guaraní indigenous influence is apparent in speech styles, music, food, local customs, and beliefs.
Location and Geography. The Argentine Republic is located at the southernmost part of South America. It extends along 2299 miles (3,700 kilometers) between parallels 22 and 55. It occupies an area of 1.4 million square miles (3.7 million square kilometers). This includes the Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands, territories over which Argentina claims national sovereignty. Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world. The country borders Chile to the west, Bolivia to the north, Paraguay to the northeast, and Brazil, Uruguay, and the Atlantic Ocean to the East. The country is organized into twenty-three provinces. Because of its vast length it is comprised of very diverse environments. A large part of the territory is in a temperate zone, mainly plains and the pampas grazelands which are ideal for ranching. These lands occupy 826,254 square miles (2.14 million square kilometers). There are considerable climatic, soil, and vegetation differences, from subtropical, hot, and humid forests and wetlands in the northeast to arid plains and sierras with dry grasses, scrub, shrubs, and hardwoods in the Chaco, Patagonia, and in the Andes. Uneven regional development characterizes Argentina. Wool, refrigerated meats, and grains are the basis of the thriving economy of the pampas region. Changes in the transportation infrastructure, mainly the construction of railroads, facilitated the integration into the world capitalist economy, from which Buenos Aires and other port cities benefitted greatly. Buenos Aires, the capital, acquired such a dominance that it led many observers to refer to it and its culture as if it were the whole country. The city and the rural areas surrounding it are the source of the most powerful understanding of national identity. The agrarian construct of a national identity is formed by the customs and beliefs of the gauchos of the pampas, a group that disappeared with the modernization of the rural economy. The urban constructs of a national culture are centered in the city of Buenos Aires. A dominant version portrays Argentines as sophisticated and highly educated people of European origin. Another urban version highlights aspects of popular culture seen as a product of internal and foreign immigration. Population and wealth are unequally distributed. As of 2000, a third of the national population lived in metropolitan Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires and the neighboring pampas region have a concentration of most of the wealth of the country (roughly 80 percent of Argentina's industrial activity and 70 percent of the agrarian production) and most of the inhabitants (nearly 70 percent of the total population of the country). In the early 1980s President Raúl Alfonsín failed in his efforts to move the capital city to more neutral space to compensate for regional imbalances and to encourage the emergence of other commercial activities.
Demography. Argentina's total population is 36.1 million. Estimates for the indigenous population vary. There is no consensus on how an Indian is defined (e.g. place of residence, self-identity), and provincial governments have adopted different definitions.
Linguistic Affiliation. The majority of the population speaks Spanish. Argentines say that it is more appropriate to call their language Castilian, because this term expresses more clearly the region in Spain where it originated and from where it was imposed on other peoples. There are slight regional variations in vocabulary, intonation, and in the pronunciation of certain sounds such as " y " and " ll. " At the time of the Spanish conquest, the land was inhabited by various indigenous groups, but most of the original languages and communities have been irrevocably lost. Two indigenous languages, Quechua and Guaraní, became lingua franca and were learned by scholars and by nonindigenous settlers in specific regions of Argentina. Quechua was mainly used in northwestern and central provinces, while Guarani was mainly spoken in the northeast. Today, they are spoken by some residents in provinces such as Santiago del Estero and Corrientes. Knowledge of these languages is generally devalued and rarely acknowledged. No serious official efforts exist to preserve indigenous languages. Only a few schools attempt to offer bilingual education for indigenous children. The Argentine school system has never developed special education programs for bilingual children, either during the great migration at the end of the nineteenth century or with the late twentieth century influx of Latin American, eastern European, African, and Asian migrant populations. Besides regional variations of Spanish and indigenous languages, Argentines often employ some lunfardo terms and linguistic structure in their colloquial language. Initially used by people such as criminals and prostitutes, Lunfardo became popular through tango music and has been gradually adopted by all class sectors. Lunfardo borrows and transforms words from Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, and indigenous languages such as Quechua, reflecting the complex processes of the formation of national cultures in both their popular and cultivated expressions.
Symbolism. Argentineans' cultural symbols are mostly the result of hybridization. Football (soccer in the United States) and tango (which encompasses more than just the dance itself) are probably the two strongest symbols of a common national identity. Tango refers to the music, the lyrics, and the dance itself and is a complex urban product that originated in lower-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires city. The music, its lyrics, and the dance represent the profound transformation of the urban landscape at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the influx of diverse European immigrants. Tango expresses the amalgamation of already existing traditions, themselves a mixture of African, indigenous, and Spanish influences with elements brought by Italians, Spaniards, French, Germans, Polish, and Jews. Argentine nationalists felt threatened by the newcomers because they felt they jeopardized the existing hierarchical system of social relations and refused to see tango as a national cultural product.
Tango was also a moral threat. The sensuality of the dance and the lyrics emphasizing lowlife values and language challenged bourgeois morality and dominant views on appropriate female behavior. It also romanticized a particular male behavior that kept men away from the home. Tango men spent their days in bordellos, sites identified not only with sexual encounters, but also with intense political activity.
The popularization of football is partly explained by social reformers' concerns with appropriate behavior and the proper place of Argentine men and women. British citizens introduced football to the city of Buenos Aires in the early 1860s. The game went unnoticed until Argentine politicians deliberately promoted the sport. From the 1920s to the 1940s military and civilian moral reformers attempted to construct nationhood on the basis of the "true" traditions of Argentina. They encouraged folk music (the music of the motherland) and discouraged tango, which was believed to be the expression of foreigners with dubious morals. As part of this neo-Victorian prudery, Argentina's rulers promoted sports as healthy and hygienic pursuits which would keep men away from the cabarets and bordellos where tango music reigned.
Besides music and sports, food is also a powerful cultural symbol. Argentines sometimes use the expression "she or he is more Argentine than dulce de leche." Dulce de leche is a milk-and-sugar spread used in a manner similar to peanut butter in the United States. It appears on toast, pastries, and various confections. Argentine asado, a barbecue that is part of the gaucho heritage, is still one of the most important meals in the Argentine diet. Like football, it is a strongly gendered cultural symbol, associated with manliness. Shopping for beef, sausages, and other animal parts that go into a barbecue, as well as the cooking itself, is a male activity. Asados are an important part of Argentine socializing on any occasion.
Mate drinking is also seen as a feature of the cultura rioplatense. Mate refers both to the container where a popular infusion is prepared and to the drink itself. The container might be simply made out of a gourd or might be carefully crafted in silver or other metals. It is drunk with a special metal straw with holes in one end to filter leaves. The slightly stimulating infusion is made with leaves from the Yerba mate (ilex paraguaiensis ) plant which is cultivated in northeast Argentina. Migrants adopted mate consumption and became so adept that some of those returning to their original countries carried this custom with them. Because of this, countries such as Syria and Lebanon now import Yerba mate from Argentina.
Certain men and women stand as undeniable national icons. Historical figures, sportsmen and sportswomen, politicians, and intellectuals contribute to a common identity. Who best represents or plays a role in shaping who Argentines are and had been is a highly contested issue. Several men and women are important in the development of argentinidad. However, there would be no agreement on whether they positively or negatively fostered the rise of some kind of national consciousness.
José de San Martín is probably the least controversial of many Argentine icons. Seen as liberator of the Americas in the nineteenth century, he stands as a moral model to be emulated. Some Argentines use him to represent how they would like to think of themselves vis-a-vis other Latin American nations: as messengers of modernity and freedom, without personal or national ambitions of domination. Juan Manuel de Rosas, a landowner from Buenos Aires province, who came to rule Buenos Aires province for almost thirty years and represents the interests of the provinces before Argentina became unified as a nation, is a good example of the schisms in the process of nation building. Derided by the liberal, modernizing, and urban-oriented sectors of society who regarded him as a tyrant who deliberately kept the masses ignorant, he was an idol for the traditionalists who saw him as and adamant defender of national sovereignty against imperial ambitions. While Rosas was at the center of the disputes around the fate of Argentina in the nineteenth century, Juan Domingo Perón, was the focus of impassioned divisions among Argentines during the last half of the twentieth century. He ruled Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and again in 1973 until his death in 1974. Although some analysts draw parallels between Rosas and Perón, insisting that the two have defended the interests of the people against a foreign colonial order, the two are the products of very different Argentinas. Rosas ruled in an agrarian society of landlords and rural workers; Peron ruled in a predominantly urban society in which internal migrants to cities and the children of immigrants strove for greater participation as well as for recognition as part of the nation. María Eva Duarte de Perón, universally known as Evita, is undoubtedly the most renowned Argentine woman. President Perón's wife played an important role in the political and social recognition of underprivileged groups, mainly workers and women, until her early death in 1952. While political opponents dismissed her by stating that she was a bad actress with questionable morals, the popular sectors were encouraged by carefully crafted governmental propaganda and idolized her, seeing her as a saintly figure. After her death people lit candles next to photographs representing her surrounded by a halo.
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, a liberal president of Argentina from 1868 to 1874, is probably better known for synthesizing the dilemmas of Argentine identity in his famous literary work, Facundo. This text is seen by some critics as the cathedral of Argentine culture. It describes a fragmented country which is torn between civilization and barbarism, with a rural backward interior dominated by authoritarian charismatic populist caudillos who refuse to enter into an orderly and rational modern way of life. Sarmiento is held responsible for bringing the country into the modern, literate world; he is the teacher par excellence, the founding father of the Argentine school system, and a role model to be followed—even today attending school every day is equated with "being a Sarmiento."
Sarmiento is either glorified or vilified, but no Argentine is indifferent to him. Although Facundo is meant to attack a rural order and the gaucho way of life, Sarmiento prose ironically continues to mystify the pampas.
While Facundo was intended to highlight the backwardness of the mestizo population, Martín Fierro by José Hernández exalted the values of gaucho culture. Despite their differences, both literary works became canonical texts for those attempting to define Argentine culture.
Argentines are quite uncertain about who they are. They oscillate between seeing themselves as a highly educated western nation and defining themselves as a Latin-American mestizo nation. This often obsessive search for a national soul became exacerbated when this relatively young nation was dramatically transformed by urbanization and the influx of immigrants. Uncertain about the existence of commonalities, many Argentines tried to find clues about themselves by looking at how other nations saw them. Success of Argentine national or cultural products abroad is translated as approval of the whole national body. Whoever or whatever thrives outside national boundaries rapidly metamorphasizes into even more powerful cultural symbols. It happened with tango after it succeeded in Europe, with soccer and soccer players like Maradona, with tennis players such as Guillermo Vilas and Gabriela Sabattini, with Nobel Prize winners such as Bernardo Houssay, Perez Esquivel, and Saavedra Lamas, with classical dancers such as Julio Bocca, with music composers as different as Alberto Ginastera and Astor Piazzola, with tango singers such as Carlos Gardel, and with folklore singers such as Mercedes Sosa.
Popular card games and table games also express the dilemmas of national culture and the way Argentines sometimes view themselves. One of the most popular card games is truco (trick). Supposedly a gaucho game in which country men displayed their ability to deceive their adversary, the game is accompanied by subtle body movements to warn partners about a player's strategy, and by recitation of country-inspired poetry. Country men known as payadores used to be valued for their ability to improvise in oral poetry duels showing their wit, sense of humor, and double entendre. Although payadores are a minority today and are unknown to the majority of the national population, many of their playful linguistic games are still present in everyday nicknames, jokes, and many other popular expressions as varied as graffiti and songs created by soccer fans and members of political parties.
For decades, estancieros (large landowners) were the richest and most politically powerful citizens. They constituted the ruling elite of the country for generations. For years, young children learned to accept this existing social order by playing games such as El Estanciero, a local version of Monopoly,in which the players accumulate land, ranches, livestock, and grains. Likewise, the yearly massive attendance to an exhibition in Buenos Aires commonly known as "the rural exhibit," legitimizes the dominant commercial activity of the nation as producer of cattle and grains, ruled by a class of landowners. Although the economy and social structure of Argentina has been dramatically transformed and the landed elites have lost considerable power, it is still commonly suggested that young women marry an estanciero to secure their own and their family's future.
The Argentine flag, the national anthem, and the escarapela (a small ribbon or bow worn on patriotic occasions) are the objects of officially prescribed rituals that must be followed by the population at the risk of serious sanctions. These rules had been strongly enforced during authoritarian regimes to the point that people risked imprisonment or even death if they failed to follow them. The population at large feels very strongly about these symbols: they display flags when the country is participating in world soccer cup matches or in war times such as when Argentina fought against the British during the Malvinas/Falklands conflict in the 1980s. At a popular level, large drums are always also present at any massive demonstration.
The ruling classes mobilize territory and sovereignty to develop a sense of national identity. The Malvinas/Falklands War clearly illustrates the importance of territory in the construction of national territory. Since early childhood, Argentines are repeatedly exposed to narratives emphasizing the importance of territory to the nation. They are taught that the British attempted to occupy the country on two occasions during the early nineteenth century, but the population resisted bravely by throwing burning oil from the roofs of their homes in Buenos Aires. Since the British occupation of the Malvinas Islands in 1833, statements claiming that the "islands are Argentine" and the demand for recovery have always stirred nationalist feelings. Argentine's takeover of the islands was presented as a way of healing wounds inflicted on the national body and as a means to recover dignity.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. During the Spanish conquest the territory was occupied by different colonizing attempts. Two of these attempts originated in already established Latin-American colonial centers with one more directly connected to Spain. These early forms of occupation reflected the development of relatively economically and culturally distinct regions, conditioned by the contributions made by indigenous groups and the constraints set by very different environments. Beginning with the early years of the conquest, the majority of the regions maintained strong ties with important Latin American colonial centers, while what came to be known as the Littoral and the Pampas in the east of the territory were in more direct contact with Spain, and consequently, Europe.
By the end of the Spanish Empire, in the late eighteenth century, the Bourbon reforms marked the fate of some regions until today. By creating the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, and by choosing Buenos Aires as the residence of its authorities, royal authorities acknowledged a process already under way. Buenos Aires was the center of intense smuggling, an activity that flourished as a challenge to the rigid crown regulations on imports. Slaves entered through the Rio de la Plata ports, and hides and tallow were exported from Buenos Aires. Subsequent Bourbon reforms allowed free trade from Buenos Aires. These changes had an extraordinary impact in the configuration of the future national space. The major beneficiary was the city and the neighboring interior. Buenos Aires experienced significant construction and technological improvements. It became the most important commercial and cultural center in South America. Enlightened ideas also came from Europe and influenced the thinking of urban elites, who gradually championed ideas of autonomy and economic liberalism. Most of the interior provinces started an irreversible process of economic decline, intensified after independence because commercial routes and connections were altered. Local craft industries which had developed to supply the demands of the colonial regional markets could no longer compete with the imported goods entering through the port of Buenos Aires.
While independence from Spain was achieved in 1816, Argentina did not become a unified nation until 1880. Confrontations between those who wanted greater regional autonomy (federalists) and those who wanted more centralized forms of government (unitarians) characterized the early post-independence years. Argentine history, mainly written by the victorious liberal elite sectors, refers to these schisms in Argentine society as civilization and barbarism—the modern Europeanized sectors against a traditional rural society characterized as violent, primitive, and vagrant. Some analysts assert that this antimony is misleading because it masks the continuity in the maintenance of power in the hands of landed elites until well into the twentieth century. During the nineteenth century, local identities prevailed, and men were generally recruited by force to participate in armed confrontations. The term patria —motherland—was generally used to refer to the native province, rather than to the Argentine nation. The Argentine elites who started to organize the nation after the defeat of what they saw as backwards social forces despised Indians and gauchos and deliberately attempted to whiten and modernize the country by promoting European immigration. The newly arrived immigrants changed both the rural and urban landscape of the littoral and pampas regions.
By the 1880s, the majority of the indigenous populations were dominated and pushed to marginal and inhospitable regions. Victory over the Indians of the Pampas and Patagonia was described as the Conquest of the Desert. Vast tracts of land were distributed among the conquerors. The gauchos, who had roamed in open spaces and sometimes escaped into Indian lands to avoid the militia, gradually disappeared from the countryside as a social group. They competed with the immigrants for salaried work in the ranches that were demarcated with barbed wire fences. Many landowners believed that gauchos were ill-suited for agricultural labor and favored the hiring of foreigners. Immigrants arrived by the thousands, to the point that in cities like Buenos Aires foreign-born residents outnumbered the Argentines. Many immigrants joined the industrial labor force. The strategy of encouraging immigration backfired on the ruling classes, who now felt threatened by these newcomers, some of whom introduced such political ideas as socialism and anarchism. These new political ideas, as well as the emergence of forms of popular culture, defied traditional morals and the dominant social and political order, pushing intellectuals and members of the ruling classes to search for what constituted a national soul. They searched for clues in the gaucho culture. This culture which had been doomed to disappearance with the modernization of the country, was reborn as a national myth by the same groups who had contributed to its earlier demise. While the foreign immigrants shook the social order with their labor strikes, and their public behavior became immortalized in popular forms such as tango music and lyrics, many of their children displayed a more moderate behavior after increasingly becoming part of the mainstream national society and joining the rising middle class.
National Identity. The educational system played an important role in incorporating new social groups into the nation. Despite regional and class differences, state institutions were quite successful in developing nationalist feelings. Although Argentines are overall very nationalistic, there is no agreement on what the basis for the commonality is. Debates over what constitutes a "national being" have been the source of bitter and often violent confrontations. To some, the national culture is a mixture of indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Argentine traditions, dramatically modified by European immigrants at the beginning of the twentieth century, and experiencing further transformations with globalization in the late twentieth century. For others "true" nationhood is an unmodified essence rooted in the Catholic and Spanish heritage. During the Malvinas/Falklands War the first definition proved to be more powerful. The military government, until then a defender of the more conservative nationalism that emphasized the connection with "Mother Spain" and the Catholic Church and rejected everything that developed in the West after the French Revolution, was compelled to adopt symbols embraced by the population at large to gain their support. The same singers and popular music the armed forces banned because they were not proper manifestations of a "Western and Christian" society, were suddenly summoned when those same armed forces decided to confront a Western nation and justify the war as an anticolonial enterprise. Popular folk music, tango, and national rock were back on the radio and national television to contribute to the national bonding.
Ethnic Relations. With the exception of some areas of the northwest, Argentina was not densely populated at the time of the Spanish conquest. Many indigenous groups disappeared because of harsh forced labor, compulsory resettlement, and diseases introduced by the Spanish conquerors. Those Indians who maintained their autonomy until well into the nineteenth century were brought to near extinction by military campaigns in the 1880s. In the last years of the twentieth century it was estimated that the Indians represent less than 1 percent of the total population (probably around 300,000 people). It is difficult to determine their numbers because those living in urban centers are rarely classified as Indians in official statistics. During colonial times there was an intense slave traffic in the Río de la Plata region. From the late eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, blacks and mulattoes of African and European origin represented between 25 and 30 percent of the total population of Buenos Aires. Their numbers decreased dramatically in the last decades of the nineteenth century: in 1887 only 8,005 Afro-Argentines lived in Buenos Aires out of a total population of 433,375. Epidemics, participation in civil wars, and intermarriage are the most common explanations for the staggering population decline of Afro-Argentines. Less than 4,000 people in Buenos Aires claimed Afro-Argentine identity at the close of the twentieth century. Mestizo rural workers and Afro-Argentines resented the presence of European immigrants who competed for scarce housing and sources of labor. By the beginning of the twentieth century, foreign-born immigrants had already taken over many low-paying jobs formerly performed by Argentines. They quickly dominated the urban landscape as they outnumbered Argentine nationals. This contributed to the way Argentines think about their ethnic identity. One of the most dominant defnitions of the country's identity is that the majority of Argentina's population is white with European ancestors. This image is promoted both by outside observers as well as by some local intellectuals. Most of these assertions derive from taking Buenos Aires as representative of the whole nation, but even this city is not as white as it is usually depicted. Industrialization and later economic stagnation both in Argentina and neighboring countries caused migration to the metropolitan area from the interior provinces and from neighboring countries. These new residents are predominantly mestizos. Migrants also include indigenous peoples and a small number of mulattoes and blacks from Uruguay and Brazil. During Perón's government, rural migrants to the city constituted his loyal political base. Middle class and upper middle class opponents of Perón despised these new social sectors and derogatorily called them cabecitas negras (black heads). This term, together with negro/a, is still used to refer to mestizo and indigenous peoples. While the social conflicts of the 1940s and 1950s were often described in racist terms as cabecitas, and as an "alluvial zoo" invading the urban space, the relationship with those perceived as non-whites by the dominant social groups, has acquired xenophobic overtones. Land and housing occupation, and an increase in crime are attributed to immigrants from neighboring countries. It is difficult to assess the number of Latin American immigrants and internal migrants to cities, and it is even more difficult to determine how they identify themselves. There are no reliable statistics in the 1990s regarding the ethnic composition of the country. Besides Latin American immigration, immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia were also arriving in Argentina in the late twentieth century. Most of these immigrants are illegal and nobody knows their real numbers.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
Although most of the Argentine population is urban (87 percent), Argentina is still quite attached to its past rural glory as a grain and cattle exporter, activities that enabled it to rank among the six wealthiest nations in the world in 1914. The strength of rural imagery is confirmed in the way some Argentines represent themselves to foreigners. Tourists to major cities are offered souvenirs identified with a rural way of life—such as gaucho attire, silver, alpaca knives, and horse stirrups—and are invited to asados in nearby estancias where they can observe gaucho dexterity with horses. Cities founded during colonial times followed a very precise checkers pattern, with a plaza in the center surrounded by government buildings and the church. Since independence, the plaza has represented a place where the people can make claims to the authorities. Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires is the most important symbolic space. Major revolutions and popular protests chose this plaza as their epicenter. The Casa Rosada (Pink House), facing Plaza de Mayo, is the seat of the executive branch of government. Its color represents the unification of the nation after years of struggle between unitarians (represented by white) and federalists (represented by red). Architecture in major cities reflects the influence of immigrants as well as Argentina's semicolonial relationship to some European nations. Train stations and railroad neighborhoods (neighborhoods near the station that were built and owned until the 1940s—by the British to house railroad employees) follow a definitely British design. Public buildings and museums, many of them formerly the mansions of the landed elites, were generally inspired and/or designed by French architects. Major parks and botanical gardens were also modeled after French designs. Some avenues in Buenos Aires, such as Avenida de Mayo, have a strong Spanish influence in their architecture and resemble streets in Barcelona or Madrid. Some cities in the northwest and in the center of the country, such as Córdoba, Salta, Jujuy, and San Miguel de Tucumán, still have good examples of colonial architecture (adobe walls, central patios, and red-tiled roofs). Although plazas are still favored places for socializing and meeting friends, in some towns and cities the construction of shopping malls is changing the social scene and many people are choosing these sites to spend their leisure time.
Food and Economy
Food in Daily Life. Argentines are very fond of beef and pastas. Most restaurants offer a wide assortment of meat dishes and pastas. Spanish and Italian cuisine inspire everyday cooking, while French-influenced cuisine is reserved for special occasions. It is quite customary to buy fresh pasta for Sunday lunch, which is generally a family event (that often includes the extended family). Breakfast is very light and generally includes coffee or tea and milk, toast, butter, and marmalade. At restaurants and hotels, breakfast also includes small croissants. Lunch is served from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. It used to be the biggest meal of the day. This is changing because of tight work schedules that cause some working people to eat increasingly lighter dishes. There is generally an afternoon break for tea or coffee with cookies, sandwiches, pastries, and/or a piece of cake. Dinner is served from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. There are no rigid food taboos, but Argentines in general are not very adventurous when it comes to trying unusual foods, flavors, and combinations. The most popular restaurants are steak houses and pizzerias. Because of the strong Italian influence in foods, ice cream stores offering gelatto made on the premises are extremely popular. People meet at any time of the day at cafés for an espresso or a cup of tea. These places are the heart and soul of urban culture in Argentina. People meet there to discuss politics and soccer, to flirt and make new acquaintances, to study, and to socialize with friends and dates.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Any occasion is a good excuse for having a barbecue. Festive dishes include: locro (a stew made with corn, meats, chorizos, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes), empanadas (generally meat turnovers, but they might also be filled with corn, ham and cheese, or chicken). Spanish paellas are also sometimes prepared for special gatherings. As Argentina is a wine-producing country, wine is always served at special gatherings and on holidays. Mate drinks are sometimes offered at some public events.
Basic Economy. Since the late nineteenth century, Argentina had been mainly food self-sufficient. With the elimination of trade barriers, some food producers are finding it very difficult to compete with the price of some imports, causing a crisis in the agricultural sector. The majority of the population is urban and there are very few individuals who produce food for self-consumption. Large agribusinesses are mainly in charge of food production. Argentina's gross domestic product (GDP) is US$338.2 billion and the per capita GDP is US$9,520.
Land Tenure and Property. Most land is privately owned. All children have equal rights to inheritance from their parents irrespective of gender or majority. In some isolated areas, the population follows customary law to grant access to land and water. The state owns mineral resources such as oil, and contracts with private business for mineral exploitation.
Commercial Activities. Agriculture and livestock continue to be important economic activities, even though only a small number of Argentines live in rural areas. Argentina produces grains (wheat, corn, barley), soybeans, sunflower seeds, lemons, grapes, tobacco, peanuts, tea, apples, and peaches.
Major Industries. Argentina specializes in food processing, tobacco products, textiles and garments, shoes and leather goods, paper products, construction materials, domestic appliances, printing, electronics, medical equipment, cars and utility vehicles, furniture, chemicals and petrochemicals, metallurgy, and steel.
Trade. Argentine exports in 1997 amounted to approximately US$26 million while imports amounted to approximately US$30 million. Exports include farming and livestock manufactures, 34 percent; industrial manufactures, 31.3 percent; primary products (nonprocessed agrarian and mineral resources), 21.6 percent; and fuel and energy,12.41 percent. Major exports are cereals, animal feed, motor vehicles (trucks, buses, and tractors), crude petroleum, steel, and manufactured goods. Major imports are motor vehicles (automobiles), organic chemicals, telecommunications equipment, electronics, plastics, and papers.
Brazil is the most important business partner (31 percent exports; 23 percent imports). Other export partners are the United States, 8 percent; Chile, 7 percent; China, 3 percent; and Uruguay, 3 percent. Import partners are the United States, 20 percent; Italy, 6 percent; Germany, 5 percent; and France, 5 percent.
Division of Labor. Most jobs are obtained through specific training in technical schools or on the job. Patron–client relations are mainly political and are sometimes useful to secure a good job. In principal, access to jobs is on the basis of merit and open competition. Traditionally, certain trades were identified with specific ethnic groups. For example, waiters and restaurant owners, grocers and bankers were Spanish; green grocers and contractors were Italian; cleaners and florists were Japanese; deli owners were German; railroad white-collar workers were English; and jewelers were Jewish. These distinctions are no longer meaningful.
Classes and Castes. Until recently, Argentina had a very large middle class. Upper-class and lower-class sectors can generally trace their origins to more than five generations in the country. Originally the upper class was mainly formed by landowners of large estates. Urbanization and industrialization processes intensified in the early decades of the twentieth century and greatly affected Argentina's social structure. Merchants and industrialists increasingly joined the ranks of the landed elite. The Argentine middle class was formed mainly by the descendants of immigrants who came to Argentina either at the end of the nineteenth or beginning of the twentieth century, settled in cities, and worked in the newly created jobs in the industrial, commercial, and public sectors of the economy. In comparison to other Latin American nations, Argentina's income distribution has been fairly equitable throughout most of the twentieth century. Together with Uruguay, it had a very large middle class until quite recently, but that situation changed with the economic crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. Social sciences literature refers to the "new poor," which is made up of former middle class citizens who experienced downward mobility.
Symbols of Social Stratification. Upper classes often wear expensive imported clothes and/or clothes from very exclusive Argentine stores. These distinctions are not fixed; they change with fashion and with the cultural models followed by elite sectors. In the past, British and French culture influenced elite taste. It was not uncommon to hire French or British nannies to educate the children of the upper classes, although this practice faded in the 1970s. North American models are favored by the younger rich generation. Social class also can be easily recognized by speech styles and body language.
Government. Argentina's national constitution was adopted in 1853 and was changed in 1949 by the government of President Juan Domingo Perón. A new constitution was approved in 1994 to allow for a new term in office of former President Carlos Menem. It is a federalist constitution which recognizes three branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judicial. The president and vice-president are elected by direct vote. They hold office for a four-year term and may be reelected for a second term. The legislature has two houses, the house of senators and the house of deputies. The supreme court and lower courts comprise the judicial branch. The power of the provinces is curtailed by the ability of central government to control the distribution of resources from the national to the provincial treasuries.
Leadership and Political Officials. The major political parties are the justicialista (formerly peronista party) and the radical party. In the presidential elections of 1999, an alliance between the radical party, the frepaso (a socialist front party), and other smaller parties won over the justicialista and other newly formed political parties. The two majority parties have a long tradition of populist politics and they are quite prone to create clientelistic relations.
Social Problems and Control. A police and judicial system is in place to deal with crime. The population is quite skeptical about the power of the police and the judicial system to control crime. There is a great concern about police corruption and police brutality. These issues are hotly debated in the platforms of political parties. The population is ambivalent about the role of the police. Concerned with the increase in violent crimes in the last decades of the twentieth century, many people are demanding a stricter police control and reforms in the penal system which would extend the time of incarceration. However, many people are not willing to grant more powers to the police force because they believe they are part of the problem. Insecurity and violence are closely associated with staggering unemployment, social anomie, and corruption at higher levels of government. There had been some cases of citizens killing criminals in robbery attempts, causing controversy and public debate on the role of common citizens in law enforcement.
Military Activity. Military service was mandatory until the early 1990s. The Argentine military seized power on various occasions. After their defeat in the Malvinas/Falklands War by the British, the military lost a lot of support. With the return to democracy in 1983, the military budget has significantly been reduced and the armed forces did not escape pressure to privatize which affected other government sectors. Many of the armed forces assets such as factories, buildings, and land holdings had been sold or privatized.
Social Welfare and Change Programs
Since the first presidency of Perón, the Ministry of Social Welfare was one of the most powerful governmental institutions. It was mainly used as a political weapon to distribute favors to potential allies. Besides its political goals, the ministry provided very important social services which contributed to the welfare of the population (housing, food programs, training programs, and healthcare). These actions were generally complemented by the social-welfare actions of trade unions. Structural adjustment policies, imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), forced the government to reduce social-welfare services to a minimum. In some parts of the country, nongovernmental organizations (NGOS) are now partially meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged groups.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations
The most important organizations involved in solving people's pressing needs are the Catholic Church, other religious denomination organizations, and trade unions. The Catholic Church has taken the most active role in denouncing the effects of globalization on the poor and it is actively involved in social programs to help the population. With the reduction of the labor force and changes in legislation regarding the economic resources unions may control, these organizations are no longer providing the health, housing, and counseling services they used to offer, but they still constitute an important source of help for those who are permanently employed.
Gender Roles and Statuses
Division of Labor by Gender. Although there are no legal impediments to women performing most roles, their access to some positions of power is limited. Very few women are elected as senators, and there are fewer female than male deputies. The same applies to other governmental positions such as ministers and secretaries of state. There are some professions in which women outnumber men such as architecture.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Argentine law used to grant men special authority over the children (patria potestas ). Current legislation states that parents share authority over their children. Children may not leave the country with one parent unless they have the written authorization of the other.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Marriage is freely decided by men and women. Only minors (younger than age 18) need parental consent to marry. Argentina is one of the countries with the largest number of consensual unions. The government only recognizes civil marriage. The Catholic Church is very influential in Argentina and has strongly opposed divorce. However, divorce was legalized in the 1980s.
Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the most common household unit. Small families of one or two children are the norm. Partly for economic reasons and partly because of tradition, sons and daughters often stay with their parents until they are well into their twenties or until they marry. Newlyweds find a new home in which to live, distant from all of their kin. Couples share household responsibilities, although women generally perform more household activities than men.
Inheritance. Land and houses are equally divided between female and male children. Women might inherit their mother's jewelry and some housewares such as china and silverware.
Kin Groups. The extended family gathers regularly. Some members of the extended family might meet on a weekly basis for Sunday lunch. Birthdays, Christmas, and New Year's Eve are also occasions for extended family reunions.
Infant Care. Nursing is not concealed as much as it is in the United States. Babies sleep in their own cribs. Child rearing is very similar to the United States.
Child Rearing and Education. Depending on the socioeconomic condition of the parents, children might be raised by nannies and/or baby sitters, maids, or child care providers in day care centers. This may happen even in cases in which the mothers do not work. Working mothers on a low income might rely on relatives and/or neighbors for child care. Large businesses and trade unions offer child care facilities for their female employees often for free. Most public schools have one or two years of kindergarten. Middle class and upper class families are strongly influenced by psychoanalytic schools for the education of their children. It is not uncommon for parents to seek psychological counseling to raise their children and to deal with learning problems at school.
Higher Education. There are 36 state (public) universities and 48 private universities. Public universities are free. Some of them have entrance exams. Higher education degrees are very desirable. Unfortunately, Argentine society cannot employ a great number of its university graduates. Many professionals resort to taking jobs for which they are overqualified.
Both men and women greet each other by kissing on the cheek. In very formal encounters men and women shake hands. People address each other with the colloquial form vos (singular "you," equivalent to tu in other Spanish speaking countries). To convey social distance, people employ the more formal usted (to talk to superiors or to elders). Social physical distance in everyday encounters is much closer than in the United States. Argentines might touch each other when talking and might feel awkward when North Americans reject physical proximity and contact. Women and men gaze at each other, and it is still quite common that men use piropos (flirtateous remarks) when a woman walks by.
Religious Beliefs. The majority of Argentines are Roman Catholics, even though not all of them actively practice the religion. Jews migrated to Argentina at the end of the nineteenth century from Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. A significant number also migrated during and after World War II. Estimates of the exact size of the Jewish population vary between 250,000 and 500,000. Pentecostalism and other Protestant denominations are becoming quite popular among the lower class (4.69 percent of the population was Protestant in 1998). New Age and Eastern religions are popular among some middle and upper class urban sectors. People from various classes consult popular healers or "witches," and participate in folk rituals associated with popular forms of religions. For example, some Argentines believe in popular saints thought to have healing powers or to be capable of making miracles, such as Difunta Correa, San La Muerte, and Gaucho Gil.
Religious Practitioners. Along with various church specialists, sorcerers and healers are very popular. Some are immigrants from Brazil who carry their Afro-Brazilian beliefs, others combine elements of popular Catholicism with indigenous beliefs, and others are urban men and women who trained themselves in the secrets of the Tarot or I-Ching. Some of these practitioners are becoming so popular that many of them offer their services (mainly palm reading and Tarot) in very popular craft fairs on weekends.
Death and the Afterlife. Viewing of the deceased takes place immediately after death, either at a funeral home or at the home of the deceased. No special foods are served and only coffee might be available. In the northeast, there are special ceremonies called velorio del angelito for dead children. The ritual includes dancing and singing.
Medicine and Health Care
Modern medicine coexists with traditional medical beliefs. While some Argentines make use of a single medical system, others might use both for the same diseases, and still others might go to a doctor for some ailments and to a traditional healer for others. In some regions of Argentina, beliefs in cold and hot principles, which are very common in Latin America, guide the understandings of health. Even in urban centers, women might still cure an upset stomach by tirar el cuerito (pulling the skin on the back of the sick person), and they might also employ sulfur and other folk medicine for other sicknesses. Self-medication is quite common and people sometimes recommend medicines to friends for minor ailments. Herbal medicine is used extensively in some regions of the country.
On 25 May, Argentina commemorates the May Revolution of 1810, when the population of the country decided to appoint its own government after Napoleon invaded Spain.
The Day of the Argentine Flag is 20 June and commemorates the death of the creator of the Argentine flag, Manuel Belgrano.
Independence Day is 9 July. Argentine representatives from various provinces decided to become independent from Spain.
The Arts and Humanities
Support for the Arts. Artists get support from private foundations and national institutions. Very few artists can support themselves. Early in the twentieth century, writers and painters formed groups that led major artistic movements. The two most important ones were the Florida and the Boedo groups. The former was elitist and closely followed European trends, while the latter attracted artists of more humble origins and had a more popular and nationalist orientation. Argentine artists compete for various national prizes offered by foundations and various businesses. Some of the newly privatized energy, telecommunications, and transportation companies sponsor the arts in innovative ways. For example, Subterráneos de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Subway) offers dance and theater performances as well as art exhibits to passengers waiting for the train. There are also performances on board.
Literature. Argentina is internationally known for some of its writers. Jorge Luis Borges is probably the best known writer. Other acclaimed writers include Roberto Arlt, Ernesto Sabato, Julio Cortazar, Victoria Ocampo, Leopoldo Marechal, Jose Hernández, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Manuel Puig, Luisa Valenzuela, Ricardo Piglia, and Adolfo Bioy Casares. Every year, Argentina has an international book fair, with an attendance of more than one million people.
Graphic Arts. Institutions of higher education train artists in all types of fine arts. Many Argentine artists have been at the forefront of artistic movements. There are numerous art galleries in the major cities of the country. There are sixty art galleries in Buenos Aires alone. The Centro Cultural Recoleta, the Museo of Bellas Artes, and the Museo de Arte Moderno organize exhibits to promote the work of national artists. Xul Solar, Raquel Forner, Eneas Spilimbergo, Carlos Alonso, Antonio Berni, Carlos Castagnino, Raúl Soldi, Rómulo Macció, Centurión, Benedit, Pérez Celis, Lacámera, and Raúl Russo are renowned painters. Some sculptors such as Fioravanti, Lola Mora, Irurtia, Perlotti, Cossice, LeParc, and Di Stefano have created works for parks and other public spaces.
Performance Arts. Argentina has an opera house, the Teatro Colón, where world famous musicians and ballet companies perform. This theater has a classical dance school which produced world-class dancers such as Julio Bocca. Besides the Teatro Colón, other theaters specialize both in classic and modern music and dance and have touring companies. Argentines are very fond of theater. During the military dictatorship in the 1970s, actors organized a theater festival which constituted a very powerful form of social protest. Municipal governments support the arts and generally offer art classes and sponsor artistic events. They promote both classical and popular art expressions. Concerts and dance exhibits take place in parks and large stadiums. Attendance to some of these events is massive.
The State of the Physical and Social Sciences
Argentina has many institutions of higher education. The majority of the provinces have national universities as well as various private institutions. The Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, and Universidad Nacional de Tucumán are some of the largest, oldest, and most prestigious universities in the country.
The major state agency supporting research in the physical and social sciences is the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET). Other state institutions conduct research in specific fields (for example, nuclear energy at Consejo Nacional de Energía Atómica; agriculture at Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria; geography at Instituto Geográfico Militar; and anthropology at Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano). Both private and public organizations are very actively involved in research. Financing of research is becoming very difficult and many young scientists are leaving the country.
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—Carmen Alicia FerradÁs
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Argentina■ ARGENTINES … 57
The people of Argentina are called Argentines. Most Argentines are of European origin (principally from Spain and Italy). About 3 percent are Amerindian (native people). The Amerindian population has been increasing slightly through immigration from neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Argentina has the eighth-largest population of Jews in the world. There are about 400,000 Jews living in Argentina.
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© A Dictionary of Zoology 1999, originally published by Oxford University Press 1999.
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