Argentina, Federalist Pacts (1831, 1852)

views updated

Argentina, Federalist Pacts (1831, 1852)

The Federalist Pacts of 1831 and 1852 were de facto federalist alliances between the Argentine littoral provinces. After the collapse of the Unitarist experiment in the 1820s, local caudillos took control of the provinces. Often seen as the opponents of legal rule, they were nevertheless concerned to forge a framework for reconciling interprovincial relations, because some rules had to be spelled out for relations with foreign governments, customs regulations needed enforcing, and, most important, peace had to be restored between Buenos Aires and other provinces. Moreover, these governors were determined to counter the Liga Unitaria, which united the interior provinces in 1830 under General José María Paz. On 4 January 1831, the governors of Entre Ríos, Santa Fe, and Buenos Aires (later joined by the governor of Corrientes) signed the first federalist pact. In a general sense, this accord served as the skeleton constitution for a decentralized federation of provinces and as the blueprint until the formal 1853 Constitution. The pact embraced the principle of free trade and self-governing provinces but left the issue of control over customs revenues simmering in ambiguity. In effect, Buenos Aires retained its grip over the primary source of the region's fiscal revenues.

This control by Buenos Aires eventually became a factor in bringing down the Buenos Aires caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas in early 1852. The victorious alliance, led by the Entre Ríos governor, General Justo José de Urquiza, reinvoked the 1831 pact, and on 31 May 1852 a new federal pact was signed, this time involving most of the interior provinces. It gave sweeping powers to Urquiza as interim director but also called for a Constitutional Congress, which a year later approved a new constitution for the Republic. Buenos Aires, however, was loath to join the federation and be stripped of its grip over the customhouse, and eventually seceded from the new confederation. In 1861, after some amendments, Buenos Aires agreed to accept the 1853 Constitution. The federal pacts served as intermediate formulas until full constitutional rule could be consolidated.

See alsoArgentina, Constitutions; Buenos Aires; Caudillismo, Caudillo; Entre Ríos; Paz, José María; Rosas, Juan Manuel de; Santa Fe, Argentina; Urquiza, Justo José de.


John Lynch, Argentine Dictator: Juan Manuel de Rosas, 1829–1852 (1981), esp. pp. 138-139.

Haydel Gorostegui De Torres, Historia argentina: La organización nacional (1972), esp pp. 19-31.

David Rock, Argentina, 1516–1982: From Spanish Colonization to the Falklands War (1985; rev. ed. 1987), esp. pp. 104-120.

                                       Jeremy Adelman