Argentine Patriotic League (LPA)

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Argentine Patriotic League (LPA)

The Argentine Patriotic League was an antilabor organization that arose in 1919 and was particularly active until the mid-1920s. After World War I, the military and the middle and upper classes feared that the Russian Revolution might spread to Argentina. The general strike that burst into the Semana Trágica (Tragic Week) of January 1919 confirmed their fears. During this week, self-styled civil guards and police attacked worker neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Other bourgeois citizens formed defense committees against possible labor onslaught. Naval officers coordinated the civil guards and defense committees, giving them arms, vehicles, and military instruction.

After the Tragic Week, a group of naval and army officers invited prominent citizens, other officers, clerics, and society women to create a permanent organization to guard against labor disruptions and leftist views. These people founded the Argentine Patriotic League on 20 January 1919. The defense committees became the first brigades of the League; similar committees that had formed in other parts of the nation were incorporated. The League also organized brigades of property owners and strikebreakers in areas of labor strife. In addition, women in the larger cities formed their own brigades. On 5 April 1919 the brigades elected Manuel Carlés as League president. In the 1920s the League's core included about 820 women and 11,000 men. The majority of its female members and its leaders were upper-class, but the rank-and-file male activists were largely middle-class. A significant number of military officers also belonged to the League.

The League hoped to maintain the status quo through repression and social welfare activities. Male members began to undertake the first task by breaking strikes and attacking unions and radicals in the large cities. When rural strikes broke out from late 1919 to 1921, they shifted their focus to the countryside. For example, in Patagonia they helped the army kill over 1,500 striking ranch workers in 1921. Meanwhile, League men and women established factory schools, employment services, and other social programs. The League publicized the need for such programs and wider measures like social security to divert workers from the class struggle.

When the postwar labor activism ended in the early 1920s—partly thanks to the League—the organization faded from prominence. Yet it participated in the revolution of 1930 against President Hipólito Irigoyen (1916–1922, 1928–1930) and remained in existence at least until the late 1970s.

See alsoSemana Trágica .


Osvaldo Bayer, Los vengadores de la Patagonia trágica, 4 vols. (1972–1978).

David Rock, Politics in Argentina, 1890–1930: The Rise and Fall of Radicalism (1975).

Sandra McGee Deutsch, Counterrevolution in Argentina, 1900–1932: The Argentine Patriotic League (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Catarina, Luis María. La Liga Patriótica Argentina: Un grupo de presión frente a las convulsiones sociales de la década del veinte. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1995.

Ospital, María Silvia. Inmigración y nacionalismo: La Liga Patriótica y la Asociación del Trabajo (1910–1930). Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1994.

Rock, David. Authoritarian Argentina: The Nationalist Movement, Its History, and Its Impact. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

                              Sandra McGee Deutsch

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Argentine Patriotic League (LPA)

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