Torre, Lisandro de la (1868–1939)
Torre, Lisandro de la (1868–1939)
Lisandro de la Torre was an Argentine statesman, political leader, and advocate of popularly elected local government. De la Torre was born on December 6, 1868, in Rosario, Santa Fe, to a landowner father and a mother who descended from one of Argentina's oldest families. He studied law at the University of Buenos Aires during a time of political ferment, graduating in 1886. In 1888 he published a thesis, El regimen municipal, comparing models of municipal government in the Western world. He participated in the political demonstration at El Parque in 1889 (Revolución del Parque), organized by students and reform-minded youths. He joined the Civic Union (soon to become the Unión Cívica Radical [UCR]) of Leandro Alem and Aristóbulo Del Valle in the three aborted revolutions of 1890, 1891, and 1893, which aimed to overthrow the conservative oligarchic regime of that time and reform Argentine politics. De la Torre broke with the UCR over political strategy and fought a duel with Hipólito Irigoyen in 1895, after which the two remained lifelong antagonists.
In 1908 de la Torre, a successful cattle breeder in Sante Fe, founded the Liga del Sur (League of the South), an agrarian political party, to reform local government. In 1911 he won a seat in the Sante Fe legislature. In 1914 he founded the Partido demócrata Progresista (Progressive Democratic Party; PDP) as an alternative to Irigoyen's UCR, which in some provinces was gaining on the entrenched oligarchic governments. As presidential candidate for the PDP in the 1916 first truly national democratic elections, de la Torre tried to unite reform-minded conservatives and progressives against Irigoyen's populist campaign. In a three-way race, de la Torre was abandoned by key conservatives, and Irigoyen won the election by the narrowest of margins. De la Torre served in the chamber of deputies from 1912 to 1916 and from 1922 to 1926, and in the senate from 1932 to 1937. A spellbinding orator, he fought for land reform, separation of church and state, female suffrage, civil divorce, and increased production by domestic industries. He is best remembered for his passionate defense of Argentine meat-packing plants against the famous Roca-Runciman pact of 1933, which gave extraordinary benefits to British meat-packing plants, and for his intense debate with Monseñor Gustavo Franceschi, a conservative defender of traditional Catholicism.
In 1932 de la Torre was defeated in his quest for the presidency as candidate of the Democratic Alliance (PDP and Socialist Party). Defeats suffered in the senate at the hands of conservatives, the assassination in the senate chamber of his close political ally, Senator Enzo Bordabehere, while the two were investigating governmental fraud in the meat trade, and the failure of his ranch in the arid western province of La Rioja led de la Torre to despondency. He resigned his seat in the senate, and on January 5, 1939, he committed suicide in Buenos Aires. His writings are collected Obras (1952). De la Torre is remembered as a politician with strong democratic and nationalistic principles who fought against the electoral fraud of the conservative governments that followed the coup of 1930. The PDP still runs for elections in several districts of Argentina as a minor party.
Amaral, Edgardo L. Anecdotario de Lisandro de la Torre y Debate sobre el comunismo. Buenos Aires: Comisión Nacional de Homenaje a Lisandro de la Torre, 1957.
Donghi, Tulio Halperin. Vida y Muerte de la República Verdadera. Buenos Aires: Ariel, 1999.
Dorn, Georgette Magassy. Idealism versus Reality: The Failure of an Argentine Political Leader, Lisandro de la Torre. Ph.D. diss., Georgetown University, 1981.
Larra, Raúl. Lisandro de la Torre: Vida y drama del solitario de Pinas. Buenos Aires: Claridad, 1942.
Vigo, Juan M. De la Torre contra todos. Buenos Aires: Nativa, 1974.
Yasky, Samuel. Lisandro de la Torre de Cerca: Los momentos culminantes de su vida política. Buenos Aires: Metrópolis, 1969.
Georgette Magassy Dorn