Patrón Costas, Robustiano (1878–1953)

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Patrón Costas, Robustiano (1878–1953)

Robustiano Patrón Costas (b. 5 August 1878; d. 1953), Argentine sugar baron and conservative political boss. An old-regime provincial oligarch, Patrón Costas took a law doctorate at the University of Buenos Aires in 1901, then returned to his native Salta to rise through the political ranks to the governorship (1913–1916). In 1916 he was elected as a National Conservative to the federal Senate, where he served from 1916 to 1925 and again from 1932 to 1943; during the latter period he was the Senate's provisional president. Simultaneously he founded and managed the sugar ingenio (mill) San Martín del Tabacal at Orán in Salta, which gave him great wealth and power. The ingenio was known for its abuse of labor, particularly of Bolivian migrants. In 1943 it was learned that Patrón was the favorite of President Ramón S. Castillo, a provincial politician of similar stripe, to succeed him in office. Patrón was believed to be pro-Allies; his election would have meant a less rigid neutralism than Castillo's. It would also have required the military to supervise the necessary electoral frauds. Patrón's unsavory reputation as a sugar operator and as an exemplar of the corrupt, stagnant politics of the "década infame" (1932–1943) made him unacceptable to broad military and civilian sectors. Thus his nomination by Castillo was a contributing cause to the military coup of 4 June 1943, which ended oligarchic politics in Argentina.

See alsoArgentina: The Twentieth Century; Sugar Industry.


Ernesto Araoz, Vida y obra del doctor Patrón Costas (1966).

Carlos A. Luque Colombres, Patrón Costas en la historia (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Sweeney, Ernest S., and A. A. Domínguez Benavides. Robustiano Patrón Costas: Una leyenda argentina. Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 1998.

                                Ronald C. Newton