Argentina

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ARGENTINA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS ARGENTINES
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Argentine Republic

República Argentina

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.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

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) ns and the width, 1,430 km (889 mi) ew. 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.

TOPOGRAPHY

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 90490 m (3001,600 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.

CLIMATE

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 (MayAugust) 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).

FLORA AND FAUNA

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.

ENVIRONMENT

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.

POPULATION

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 20052010 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

Migration to Argentina from Spain and Italy has been heavy in the past. Under the rule of Juan Domingo Perón (19461955), 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.

ETHNIC GROUPS

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.

LANGUAGES

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.

RELIGIONS

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.

TRANSPORTATION

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.

HISTORY

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, 188086 and 18981904) 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 approachjusticialismo (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 10,000and perhaps as many as 30,000persons who had "disappeared" during what came to be known as the "dirty war" of 197683. 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 PuebloUCRP), 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 199596 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.

GOVERNMENT

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 PARTIES

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 IntransigenteUCRI), which formed the major support for Arturo Frondizi in 1958, and the People's Radical Civic Union (Unión Cívica Radical del PuebloUCRP), 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 RadicalUCR). 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 197683 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 PuebloERP), 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 LiberaciónFREJULI), 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 partiesFREJULI, the UCR, the Democratic Christian Federation (Federación Demócrata Cristiana), the Movement for Integration and Development (Movimiento de Integración y DesarrolloMID), 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.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

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 197683 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.

ARMED FORCES

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.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

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 199091 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.

ECONOMY

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 200102 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 19802005deep 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 governmenttax 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 dollarproved 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 Plana 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%.

INCOME

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.

LABOR

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 TrabajoCGT) 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

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 7095% 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 197172, increased to 7.1 million tons by 198586, 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 196165 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.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

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 (193945), 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.

FISHING

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.

FORESTRY

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.

MINING

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.

ENERGY AND POWER

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.

INDUSTRY

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 equipmentincluding radios and television setsmotors, 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.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 28% of college and university enrollments.

In 200203, 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.

DOMESTIC TRADE

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, MondayFriday, with a one-hour lunch break. Stores are usually open from 9 am to 9 pm, MondaySaturday; 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.

FOREIGN TRADE

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

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 29,565.8 8,989.5 20,576.3
Brazil 4,663.3 2,518.3 2,145.0
Chile 3,536.3 176.6 3,359.7
United States 3,133.5 1,804.3 1,329.2
China 2,478.4 330.2 2,148.2
Spain 1,387.9 311.0 1,076.9
Netherlands 1,094.4 74.2 1,020.2
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 930.8 311.6 619.2
Mexico 796.2 157.8 638.4
Areas nes 723.4 250.9 472.5
Germany 720.8 553.6 167.2
() 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 (FOBFree 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%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

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

Current Account 7,838.0
   Balance on goods 16,447.0
     Imports -13,119.0
     Exports 29,566.0
   Balance on services -1,541.0
   Balance on income -7,669.0
   Current transfers 602.0
Capital Account 70.0
Financial Account -16,899.0
   Direct investment abroad -774.0
   Direct investment in Argentina 1,020.0
   Portfolio investment assets -95.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities -8,064.0
   Financial derivatives
   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.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

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) 1720% 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 depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $15.7 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $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.

INSURANCE

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.

PUBLIC FINANCE

Beginning in 1970, Argentina's budget picture steadily worsened. By the late 1970s, deficit spending annually ranged from 1014% 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%
   Tax revenue 29,480 68.8%
   Social contributions 8,661 20.2%
   Grants 124 0.3%
   Other revenue 4,561 10.7%
Expenditures 61,070 100.0%
   General public services 23,660 38.7%
   Defense 1,979 3.2%
   Public order and safety 2,499 4.1%
   Economic affairs 3,275 5.4%
   Environmental protection 133 0.2%
   Housing and community amenities 818 1.3%
   Health 2,981 4.9%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 95 0.2%
   Education 2,481 4.1%
   Social protection 23,149 37.9%
() 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%.

TAXATION

In 2005, the principal national taxes included personal income tax (in seven brackets ranging from 935%), 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.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

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.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

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 200102, 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%, 19942000) 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.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Argentine economic policy has undergone several cycles of change since the 1940s. During World War II (193945), 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 governmentand especially the return of the Perónists to power in the late 1960sbrought 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.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

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.

HEALTH

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 1549) 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.

HOUSING

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

Education is free, secular, and compulsory for all children at the primary level (ages 514). 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.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

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 300400 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).

MEDIA

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.

ORGANIZATIONS

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.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

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.

FAMOUS ARGENTINES

The most famous Argentine is José de San Martín (17781850), 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 (17931877) ruled Argentina from 1829 to 1852. The political tactics and the pen of the statesman and essayist Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (181188) 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 (18211906), 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 (18951974) and his second wife, Eva Duarte de Perón (191952), known as "Evita." Perón's third wife, María Estela ("Isabel") Martínez de Perón, was vice-president during 197374 and, after her husband's death, president from 1974 to 1976.

José Hernández (183486), 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 (18861927) 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 (18851951). The works of the poet Leopoldo Lugones (18741938) form a panorama of all Argentine life and landscape. José Mármol (181771) gave a good description of life in Buenos Aires under the tyrant Rosas in his novel Amalia, and Enrique Rodríguez Larreta (18751961) 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 (18991986), best known for his essays and collections of tales such as Historia universal de la infamia. Other world-famous writers are Julio Cortázar (191484) and Adolfo Bioy Casares (19141999). Outstanding in the visual arts are the sculptor Rogelio Irurtia (18791950) and the painters Miguel Carlos Victorica (18841955) and Emilio Pettoruti (18921971). Argentina's foremost composers are Alberto Williams (18621952), founder of the Buenos Aires Conservatory; Juan José Castro (18951968); Juan Carlos Paz (190172); and Alberto Ginastera (191683). Ástor Piazolla (192192), 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 (18901935). 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 (18871971), was awarded the 1947 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on diabetes; French-born Luis Federico Leloir (190687) won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1970. Notable philosophers include Alejandro Korn (18601936), whose work marked a reaction against positivism, and Francisco Romero (18911962). Carlos Saavedra Lamas (18781959), 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.

DEPENDENCIES

Argentina continues to claim the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), held by the United Kingdom, and a sector of Antarctica as dependencies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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.

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ARGENTINA

ARGENTINA , South American Federal Republic, general population (2004) 39,150,000; Jewish population 190,000.

This entry is arranged according to the following outline:

colonial period
modern period
    Legal Basis for Jewish Life
    History
        early jewish life: 1840–1890
        mass migration: 1890–1918
        the radical period: 1918–1930
        the shadow of nationalism: 1930–1946
        between perÓn and onganÍa: 1946–1968
        repression and democracy: 1968–2005
    Relations with Israel

colonial period

After the temporary union of Spain and Portugal in 1580, Portuguese of Jewish descent began entering colonial Argentina. Thinly populated, the area served as a center of contraband trade in which silver from the Andes Mountains was exchanged for West African slaves, European textiles, and other imports. The area was also far removed from Lima, the seat of viceregal government and, from 1572, seat of the Inquisitional Tribunal (though a Portuguese inquisitor visited Buenos Aires in 1618). Arriving at Buenos Aires, or going by way of São Paulo and Paraguay, the Portuguese immigrants settled mainly in Buenos Aires, *Córdoba, and Tucumán. Throughout the next century, hostile reports (the only ones available) refer to the presence of "Jews," "Portuguese," and "merchants" – used as synonymous terms – and uniformly accuse them of "filling the land" and "monopolizing commerce." A decree of expulsion issued in 1602 also links "Portuguese" and "Judaizers" or *Crypto-Jews.

Actually, the number of people referred to in these accusations and the degree of their practice of Judaism are unknown. They themselves covered their tracks because of the Inquisition and the laws of Spain, which forbade the entry of any but "Old Christians" (see *New Christians). On the other hand, the inquisitors describe the faith of their Jewish victims in superficial stereotypes: the wearing of clean linen and abstention from work on their Sabbath, refusal to eat pork, and the denial of Christian tenets. The victims of the great Lima Auto-da-Fé of Jan. 23, 1639, included a native of Tucumán, the middle-aged surgeon Francisco *Maldonado de Silva, a man of mystic tendencies who had found his way back to the ancestral Jewish faith. Two other major figures of Jewish-Portuguese origin related to Argentina were Christians by persuasion: Francisco de *Vitoria, bishop of Tucumán (d. 1592), who was accused of Judaizing and was recalled to Spain, and the Córdoba-born jurist Antonio de León Pinelo, an important figure in South American literature (d. 1658), who brought an appeal against the fine imposed on resident Portuguese by the governor of Buenos Aires.

Few statistics are available on the activities of this period. Ninety-six Portuguese, among them 34 farmers, 25 artisans, and 14 sailors, have been identified out of a population of some 2,000 resident in Buenos Aires in about 1620; but the assumption that all Portuguese residents were Jewish is open to serious question. Probably fewer Crypto-Jews settled in the whole of Argentina than in the mining center of Potosí in modern Bolivia or in the colonial capital of Lima. Moreover, it is almost certain that their Judaism, such as it was, failed to take root. In the 18th century there are no trustworthy reports of Judaizing in Argentina, nor is it possible to verify reports that some local families were of Crypto-Jewish descent.

[Fred Bronner]

modern period

Legal Basis for Jewish Life

The Cabildo Abierto, whose convention in Buenos Aires on May 25, 1810, marked the beginning of Argentinean independence, did not abolish colonial legislation condemning non-Catholics to religious persecution. A circular of Dec. 3, 1810, signed by Mariano Moreno, secretary of the Junta de Mayo, extended an invitation to "British, Portuguese, and others not at war with us," while Bernardino Rivadavia's decree of Dec. 4, 1812, established freedom of immigration to Argentina for all nations, ensuring that their basic human rights were preserved. The Inquisition, however, was officially abolished only on March 24, 1813. On May 7, 1813, the Constitutional Assembly decided that foreigners would not be prevented from observing their religious rites if these were performed by individuals in their own homes. Following an 1825 agreement between the governments of Argentina and Great Britain, the Buenos Aires province extended religious freedom to all Protestants.

All these agreements, like that concerning non-Catholic wedding ceremonies promulgated in 1833, failed to take Jews into account. Only in the Constitution of 1853 did clauses appear which created the legal basis for Jewish life in Argentina. Complete religious freedom for all residents of Argentina, both nationals and foreign residents, was specifically laid down in paragraphs 14 and 20 of the constitution and is hinted at in paragraph 19. However, the legislation determines that the government must support Roman Catholic worship and decrees that the president and his deputy must be Roman Catholics (paragraphs 2, 76).

This constitution was passed as a result of pressure applied by liberal elements in the legislative assembly, who remained dominant in subsequent years. In 1876 they legislated a liberal immigration law, No. 817, which allowed immigration also to non-Catholics. During the 1880s, liberal politicians even created a conflict between the Argentinean government and the Catholic Church. Education Law No. 1420 of 1884 stipulated the secularization of official education, and that religious instruction in schools was to be given only before or after school hours and by clerics ordained by the various religious bodies and only to children of their respective faiths. This law, intended to eradicate church influence in state schools, naturally aroused opposition in conservative circles. In the same year another law, No. 1565, established the Registro Civil, requiring all citizens to register their civil status with the government, depriving the clergy of the sole right to register births, marriages, and deaths. When the Vatican representative intervened in the resulting controversy, Julio A. Roca's government severed relations with the Vatican, and these were resumed only in 1900.

This secular legislation was completed with the Civil Marriage Law of 1888. The liberal legislation naturally secured the legal status of non-Catholics, including Jews, and abolished all possible discrimination based on laws of civil status. Its importance diminished in the course of time, as conservative and nationalist elements ignored the liberal ideology that had promulgated the Argentinean constitution; but the religious freedom determined by the 1853 constitution was not abolished.

[Haim Avni]

History

early jewish life: 1840–1890

The foundations of contemporary Jewish life in Argentina were laid by immigrants from Western Europe. Some arrived in the 1840s, but the earliest recorded evidence of organized Jewish life was the first Jewish wedding, performed in 1860. A minyan that met for the High Holidays in 1862 developed into the Congregación Israelita de la República Argentina (cira) in 1868, concerned exclusively with serving the Buenos Aires community in matters such as marriage, burial in the cemetery of the dissidents, and, from 1874, circumcision. A permit to keep an official register of Jewish births, marriages, and deaths was at first denied to the president of the cira, Segismundo Auerbach (1877), under the pretext that this function was restricted to the clergy of each faith. Only when Henry Joseph (an intermarried English businessman who had some Jewish knowledge) was elected by the cira to serve as its rabbi and confirmed by the chief rabbi of the French Consistory in 1883 was the permit granted to the community.

The first Sephardim settled in Argentina in the early 1880s. They came from the northwestern coast of Morocco, mostly from Tetuán and Tangier, and in 1889 applied for permission to establish a synagogue according to the Hispanic-Portuguese rite. Many of the Moroccan Jews had formerly settled in Brazil, and upon their arrival in Argentina dispersed in the hinterland, forming chains of commercial enterprises, with branches in the main provincial cities.

Pogroms in Russia in 1881 led to the appointment of a government ad honorem immigration agent in Odessa to attract Russian Jewish immigrants. This decision prompted a vehement antisemitic attack in the press, which was boldly rejected by the leaders of the Jewish community. French antisemitism also influenced Julián Martel, who wrote La Bolsa (1891), a novel in which several antisemitic passages are taken almost verbatim from Edouard *Drumont's La France Juive (1886). Originally published by the influential newspaper La Nación, La Bolsa has been reedited and reprinted repeatedly until the present day and still serves widely as an historical source for the period. Although the 1887 census of Buenos Aires revealed only 366 Jews, it is believed that by 1889 between 1,500 and 2,000 Jews were living in the Argentine Republic.

[Victor A. Mirelman]

mass migration: 1890–1918

Large-scale Jewish immigration to Argentina began only in the late 1880s, when echoes of Argentina's prodigious efforts to attract immigration reached Eastern Europe. Arriving singly at first, Jews later came in groups, the largest of which (820 immigrants arriving on the S.S. Weser on Aug. 14, 1889) laid the foundation for agricultural

settlements (see below, Agricultural Settlement). Immigration to urban areas as well as to rural ones increased after the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica) was established, reaching a peak of over 13,000 persons per year in 1906 and 1912. In the first 15 years 66% of the immigrants settled in agricultural colonies (in 1895, 4,000 of 6,000 Jews; in 1904, 12,000 out of a total population of 18,000). After 1905, urban immigration increased. In 1909 66% of the 55,000 Jews lived in cities and in 1919 80% of 125,000. Most of these immigrants were Ashkenazim, but also many groups of Sephardim came from the Ottoman Empire and North Africa, mainly from Syria, Turkey, Rhodes, and Spanish Morocco. In 1927 it was estimated that there were 20,000 Sephardim in Argentina.

Agricultural Settlement

Jewish agricultural settlement in Argentina began in 1888 under the auspices of the *Alliance Israélite Universelle. Of the 136 families who arrived on the ss Weser in 1889, about 40 acquired land from a landowner, Pedro Palacios, and set up the Moisesville colony. The settlers suffered from hunger and disease during the first months of their settlement, due to lack of equipment and financial means. Wilhelm Loewenthal, a Jewish physician and naturalist, was invited by the Argentine government to carry out a mission of inquiry in the latter half of 1889. On his way to Argentina, he was asked by Jewish leaders in Berlin and Paris, who had helped the immigrants on the Weser, to report on the settlers' condition. During his stay in Argentina, Loewenthal attempted to improve relations between Palacios and the settlers. He also set forth to the Alliance Israélite Universelle a long-range program for Jewish agricultural settlement in Argentina for the absorption of about 5,000 persons a year. Though the Alliance rejected his proposal, the idea was forwarded to Baron Maurice de *Hirsch, who decided to adopt the plan as he had completely abandoned his previous plans to improve the lot of Russian Jewry by establishing a network of schools in Russia.

In November 1890, Loewenthal was sent by Baron de Hirsch to Argentina at the head of an exploratory mission, and on April 28, 1891, the Baron appointed him director of his settlement project. Soon afterward, Baron de Hirsch decided that his plan would be the cornerstone of a comprehensive territorial project, which, within a relatively short period, would be a solution to the worsening condition of Russian Jewry. As a result, the first immigrants were sent to Argentina in July 1891. Negotiations were held with private individuals and with the Argentinean government for concessions and the acquisition of up to 3,750,000 hectares of land in Chaco. Negotiations were also held with the Russian government to allow the emigration of Jews and secure a permit to establish emigration agencies. The Russian government agreed to the request on May 20, 1892, assuming that in the ensuing 25 years 3,250,000 Jews would leave Russia. However, this grandiose scheme did not materialize. The Argentinean parliament did not approve the sale of large tracts of land, and Baron de Hirsch was persuaded that the climate and soil in the areas under consideration were unsuitable for Jewish colonization. The settlement of the first immigrants was beset by serious administrative and social difficulties, which Baron de Hirsch was unable to overcome even after Loewenthal was removed from his post and replaced by Colonel Albert E.W. Goldsmid. Baron de Hirsch continued to hope that he would find suitable locations and carry out a large and geographically concentrated project. In 1895 he admitted that his plans were unrealistic and tried to change the main objective of his activities from emigration and agricultural settlement to productive support of needy Jews in Europe and the Americas. On April 21, 1896, he died while in the midst of implementing the revised plan, which continued on a minor scale.

Instead of the mass project and the vast and concentrated territories, at the time of the Baron's death the Jewish Colonization Association (ica) owned a total of only 302,736 hectares in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, and Santa Fé with a total of 910 families (6,757 persons). Jewish colonization developed primarily in the 20 years after the Baron's death. The land area rose to 586,473 hectares on the eve of World War i, and from then on until ica ceased its activity, it rose to only 617,468 hectares. The number of persons settled on the land reached 18,900 during this period, a figure only 1,428 short of the peak figure for 1925 (20,382 persons). Also during this period most of the cooperatives were formed in the colonies, and Alberto *Gerchunoff wrote his classic work, Los Gauchos Judíos.

Agricultural Cooperatives

The first agricultural cooperative in Argentina was established in the Jewish colony of Lucienville in the Entre Riós province. It was founded on Aug. 12, 1900, on the initiative of Leon Nemirovsky, agronomist and administrator of ica under the name of Primera Sociedad Agrícola Israelita, and still exists under the name Sociedad Agrícola Lucienville. The cooperative's activities began with the purchase of seeds and supplies necessary for harvest, thus freeing its members from exploitation by merchants. Thereafter the following cooperatives were established with ica's moral and financial support: Fondo Comunal in the Clara and San Antonio colonies (1904); Mutua Agrícola (Agricultural Mutual Fund) in Moisesville (1908); Barón Hirsch in Rivera (1910); and Unión Cooperativa Agrícola in Narcisse Leven (1910). In the course of time, all of these cooperatives developed many programs to protect the material interests of their members, satisfy their cultural and social needs, and represent them in conflicts with ica. In 1910 a congress of the cooperatives' representatives was held in Buenos Aires. The congress laid the foundations of the Confederación Agrícola Israelita Argentina.

Immigration and Organization

The official attitude of Argentinean authorities toward Jewish immigration was based solely on the pertinent clauses of the national constitution. Thus, the committee responsible for immigration overruled the immigration officer's opposition to the admission of the Jews who had arrived on the Weser. It was argued even then, however, that immigration restrictions should be imposed to ensure the cultural homogeneity of Argentina, a view that was supported by the director of the Immigration Department. Public opinion and the authorities expected the immigrants to assimilate, and this feeling prompted a federal inquiry in 1908 into the cultural orientation of the schools in the Jewish colonies of the Entre Ríos province. Some Jewish schools in Buenos Aires were closed for a short period in January 1910 because it was believed that they were remiss in encouraging cultural integration and that the children did not attend public schools, and because of the poor condition of the school buildings. Nevertheless, the Jews in Argentina were living in an ethnically and culturally heterogeneous society, as demonstrated by the fact that in 1914 the country contained 2,358,000 immigrants in a total population of 7,885,000. More than one-third of the total population was foreign-born, while in the city of Buenos Aires the percentage was around 50%. The result of the immigration policy was reflected in the census of 1914, which showed that in 20 years the country's population had almost doubled (from approximately 3.9 million to about 7.9 million). As for the Jews, the rate of growth was several times higher, from 6,000 in 1895 to 125,000 in 1919. The agricultural colonies, where Jews formed an almost exclusively Jewish society, were an exception in this heterogeneous society, because of the high percentage of Jewish immigrants who settled there.

Despite the small size of their community, their feeling of transience (expressed by a certain degree of emigration back to Europe), and their poverty, by 1914 Argentinean Jewry had founded many organizations to fulfill religious and material needs and dispel a sense of cultural alienation in a strange land. Ashkenazim and Sephardim acted separately, according to the organizational and ideological experience they had brought with them. The Sephardim established small individual groups, organized on the basis of their geographical origin and designed to fulfill limited religious, welfare, and educational needs. These small institutions were gradually organized within four communal frameworks, each with its own cemetery: the Jews from Morocco founded the Congregación Israelita Latina in 1891; the Jews from Damascus founded their Bene Emet (Hijos de la Verdad) burial society in 1913, and two main synagogues, Agudat Dodim (1919) and Or Tora; the Jews from Aleppo founded their main religious organization, Yesod Hadat, in 1912 and their burial society, Chesed Shel Emet Sefaradit, acquired a cemetery in 1920; the Jews from Turkey, Rhodes, and the Balkan countries founded several small communities that were gradually consolidated around the Asociación Comunidad Israelita Sefaradí (acis), which was founded in 1914 by Jews from Smyrna. acis became the main communal framework for all the Sephardim of Ladino-speaking origin, when it acquired its cemetery in 1929.

The Ashkenazim, on the other hand, founded a network of religious, social, educational, cultural, and political organizations. The most prominent Ashkenazi religious and assistance organizations were the Burial Society (Chevra Keduscha Aschkenazi) founded in 1894, Bikkur Ḥolim (1896), and Ezrah (1900) – which provided medical aid, orphanages, homes for the aged, etc. The dominant political organizations were the various Zionist groups, founded as early as 1897 in the agricultural colonies and in Buenos Aires, which eventually imparted a strong Zionist orientation to the entire Jewish population of Argentina. Counteracting the Zionist organizations, including the *Po'alei Zion Party formed in 1909, were Bundist, anarchist, and communist groups. The Bund members tried to establish linguistically autonomous (Yiddish) sections within some of the general trade unions. The communists succeeded later in establishing a Jewish section (Yiddish-speaking) in the Communist Party. All organizations had varied cultural programs, which, except among the religious Zionists, emphasized a secular nationalist or cultural orientation toward Judaism. These activities included establishing libraries, schools, encouraging the development of a native literature, and experiments in theatrical production.

The immigrant colonists were accompanied by their shoḥatim and rabbis; the first of them was Rabbi Aaron Goldman of Moisesville. Religious life in the colonies at first followed traditional patterns, as exemplified by the foundation of a short-lived yeshivah in Colonia Belez (1907–08). However, isolation and lack of Jewish education combined with other factors to cause a decline in religious life. In Buenos Aires, where the Congregación Israelita de la República Argentina already existed, additional minyanim were organized: Po'alei Ẓedek, which established the first talmud torah; Maḥazikei Emunah, which brought the first official shoḥet to Buenos Aires in 1892 and built the first mikveh in 1893; and the Congregación Latina of the Jews of Morocco. Until 1897 Jews were buried in the Protestant cemetery; later, tombs had to be leased in a Catholic cemetery. It was only in 1910 that the Jews were able to overcome economic and legal difficulties and acquire their own cemetery. Although the white-slave traders already had a cemetery before 1910, none of the respectable Jews agreed to be buried in it.

The polarization of class and political opinion, the wide social and cultural gap between immigrants from Eastern and Western Europe, and personal ambition prevented the establishment of centralized organizations in Argentina during this period. The first attempt was made in 1909 with the establishment of the Federación Israelita Argentina, but this organization did not last after 1910. In 1915, when news of the fate of the Jews in war-stricken areas of Russia and in Palestine began to arrive, the Central Committee for the Jewish Victims of the War was established as the fundraising organ of the Argentinean Jewish community. In February 1916 the Congress of Argentinean Jewry was convened through the initiative of the Zionists and with the participation of all Jewish organizations, except those of the extreme left wing. The Congress declared the prime postwar demands of the Jewish nation to be equal rights for the Jews of the Diaspora and Jewish independence in Ereẓ Israel, and resolved to ask the Argentinean government to support these demands. When the *Jewish Legion was formed in 1917, several dozen young Jews volunteered and the enterprise was widely publicized by the Zionists.

Antisemitism was rare throughout this period. Nevertheless, when a Jewish anarchist, Simon Radowitzky, assassinated the chief of police, Ramón Falcón (Nov. 14, 1909), there were some repercussions against the Jewish population as such. Murders of Jewish settlers in the agricultural colonies resembled incidents between gauchos and settlers of other origins.

Cultural Life

At the beginning of the 20th century the cultural life of the Jewish community in Argentina was centered around the Jewish political parties, much as it had been in Eastern Europe. Thus, the founders of the first two Jewish libraries in Buenos Aires in 1905 – Biblioteca Rusa, and Ḥerut – had belonged to socialist organizations in czarist Russia. In addition to these libraries, cultural activities were sponsored by the Zionist organization Tiferet Sión, the anarchist group Arbayter Fraynd, and the Avangard. Another aspect of cultural life was the Yiddish theater, whose first performance was given in 1901. From that time onward, and especially after World War i, the Jewish theater became one of the central forces in Argentinean Jewish life. Its repertoire was mainly in Yiddish and the most outstanding actors in the Jewish dramatic world appeared on its stage. Individual actors and companies from Argentina visited Brazil, Uruguay, and other Latin American countries.

In 1898 the first three periodicals published in Yiddish in Argentina were Der Vider-Kol, edited by Mikhal Ha-Cohen Sinai; Der Yidisher Fonograf, edited by Fabian S. Halevi; and Di Yidishe Folkshtime, edited by Abraham Vermont. The first two publications were designed to serve as a forum for educated Jews, whereas Di Yidishe Folkshtime sought to serve the masses of Jewish immigrants and outlasted the former two by continued publication for 16 years. A host of short-lived periodicals also appeared during this period. At its end, in 1914, no less than 40 Jewish periodicals existed in Argentina. A fundamental change took place when the first daily, Di Yidishe Tsaytung, was published. The paper succeeded in overcoming its initial difficulties and presented a centrist middle-class political orientation. In 1918, a second daily newspaper, Di Prese, made its appearance. During the 1920s, Di Prese acquired a leftist orientation, which found its expression even in a change in the spelling of Hebrew words, imitating the communist transliteration. This leftist trend slackened off toward the end of the 1930s, and from the end of World War ii and the establishment of the State of Israel, the paper also reinforced its ties with Zionism. Both newspapers were published until the 1970s. Other dailies were published in this period but were comparatively short lived (Der Tog, Morgentsaytung). Mention must also be made of Kolonist Kooperator, the organ of the Jewish colonists which first appeared in 1918 as a Yiddish-Spanish monthly and was published until the 1970s.

In 1913 the first attempt was made at organizing cultural activities in Argentina, and in 1915 the first conference of representatives of 25 libraries and other cultural institutions throughout the country was convened in La Plata without important results.

Jewish Education

The first Jewish school in Buenos Aires was a talmud torah – a traditional religious complementary school founded in 1891 by the Unión Po'alei Ẓedek. It had three teachers, who taught only religious subjects in Yiddish. In the mid-1890s the cira supported a Jewish experimental school with general and Jewish studies but it lasted no more than six months, after which it became a complementary talmud torah. In the first decade of the 20th century three or four new talmudei torah were established. The percentage of Jewish students who attended this complementary school was very low while almost 100% of the children attended public schools.

In 1892, at the start of agricultural settlement, the farmers set up ḥadarim for their sons, continuing to maintain them on a part-time basis even after ica decided to establish its own school system in 1894. ica schools followed the government syllabus with the addition of Hebrew and Jewish studies. Those were the only schools existing in the Jewish rural areas since the government did not have the infrastructure to fulfill the obligation established by Law No. 1420 to provide elementary education to all the population. These schools grew and multiplied as the number of settlers increased, with 50 schools attended by 3,538 pupils and a teaching staff of 155 in 1910. In 1911 the ica and cira established a new organization to sustain the existing talmudei torah in the cities and to establish new traditional complementary schools, called Cursos Religiosos, in urban areas in Ashkenazi and Sephardi institutions.

In 1916, as a result of a diminishing budget and the interest of the ica administrators in demonstrating to the authorities their patriotism and loyalty to the country, ica handed over these schools, built and sustained by the settlers, to the local and national educational authorities. At the same time new complementary Jewish schools were established by the settlers and by ica which gradually were supported and administrated by the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh ha-Roshi (Head Office of Education), founded on the initiative of ica by the cira in 1917, which coordinated the Jewish education in rural areas until 1957.

All the schools established by the Cursos Religiosos and then by the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh ha-Roshi had a curriculum of Jewish studies with a religious orientation that aimed to suppress Jewish national values, teaching in Spanish and translating prayers and selected texts from the Pentateuch from Hebrew to Spanish. The official policy of this organization prohibited the teaching of Yiddish. Nevertheless, many teachers with the support of the settlers introduced national Jewish studies (history, Zionism, Ereẓ Israel) and Yiddish language.

the radical period: 1918–1930

The Russian Revolution increased the government's fear of similar revolutionary activity in Argentina. Since the Jews were generally identified as "rusos" (Russians), anti-revolutionary fervor developed into overt antisemitism. During the "Red-scare pogrom" known in Argentina as La Semana Trágica, January 7–13, 1919, a pogrom broke out following a general strike, which was organized after the brutal suppression of a strike in one factory. The general strike was portrayed by the authorities as a Bolshevik revolution in which a "shadow government" was being formed by the Jewish "dictator-president" Pinie Wald (a journalist at the daily Di Prese) to assume control of the country. Jews were beaten in the streets and their property was stolen and burned in full view of the police. These acts were about to be repeated in Rosario, and were even echoed in Montevideo (capital of Uruguay), when the heads of Jewish organizations published a desperate appeal, "150,000 Israelites – To the People of the Republic," and a deputation was received by the president of Argentina, Hipólito Yrigoyen. Liberal public opinion criticized the government and the president disassociated himself from the riots, but nevertheless expressed his displeasure at the fact that the deputation was presented in the name of the Jewish community and not individual Argentinean citizens.

The intense antagonism toward Jews, and particularly to "Russians," created administrative difficulties in Jewish immigration procedures in the 1920s. "Soprotimis," the organization dealing with immigrants, concluded special agreements with the Immigration Department in November 1921 and August 1924. In 1926, however, Jews were compelled to attempt illegal immigration, and, in at least one case, several of them drowned while crossing the Uruguay River. Concurrently, a strong feeling of nationalism, based on xenophobia and influenced by Mussolini's example in Italy, began to develop in Argentina.

Nevertheless, the 1920s saw a large increase in the Jewish population of Argentina. Around 79,000 immigrants arrived; the economic situation of veteran settlers continued to improve; 15 credit cooperatives were founded; charitable organizations expanded (the Jewish hospital opened its first building in 1921 and its second in 1928); and the Yiddish press, literature, and theater flourished. Simultaneously, the number of Argentinean-born Jews favoring comprehensive cultural integration increased, and they founded the organization Hebraica (see *Sociedad Hebraica Argentina). Political and institutional differences between various organizations, Zionist parties, and between the Zionists and left-wing groups became more pronounced during this decade and prevented attempts to form a central communal institution, the Alianza.

These differences, however, did not interfere with the general and determined fight against white-slave traders, the so-called "Tmeim" (unclean). A country that attracted predominantly male immigrants, Argentina had an unequal balance between the sexes and consequently drew representatives of the Jewish underworld of Eastern Europe beginning in the mid-1880s. The white-slave trade was a blot on the law-abiding Jewish public, and, despite the wealth of the traders, all Argentinean Jewish organizations imposed a comprehensive social ban on them, which was even specified in the statutes of most groups, from the 1890s onward. The matter became a violent public struggle during various periods, as in 1909 and 1913, and particularly in the 1920s. To compensate for their ostracism, the traders organized themselves into an official mutual aid organization known as Ẓvi Migdal, which was responsible for protecting them by bribing the authorities and for supplying religious services such as a separate synagogue and cemetery. From the 1890s onward, the London-based Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women maintained a branch in Buenos Aires known as Ezras Noshim. It systematically dogged the footsteps of the "Tmeim" and provided as much assistance as possible to the victims, given an over-lenient law and the widespread bribing of government officials. The white-slave traders' association in Buenos Aires was not dissolved until 1930, when most of its members were either arrested or fled. The fight against and boycott of the remaining white-slave traders was continued and characterized the Jewish community as the only group in Argentina that eradicated slave trade in its own ranks.

Agricultural Settlement

The 15 years between 1919 and 1934 constitute the second stage in the history of colonization, during which the land area, the number of settlers, and the size of the non-agricultural population reached their peak. During this period, however, the deterioration of the settlement project began, with an increasing number leaving the land. Statistics do not show evidence of a drop in population, as new settlers came to replace those who left and the number of non-Jews in the colonies grew.

In 1925, following the critical years of 1911–16 and the subsequent increase in the number of cooperatives, delegates assembled and founded the Cooperativa de Cooperativas, later called Fraternidad Agraria (registered in 1931). Twenty-two cooperatives, including eight engaged in cattle breeding, were attached to the Fraternidad Agraria at the end of the 1960s, and though the Jewish agricultural population decreased and was replaced by non-Jewish colonists, the cooperatives were administered by Jews. All the cooperatives did their purchasing, modernized production methods, and marketed their products through the Fraternidad Agraria. The Jewish colonists had an important role in the Argentinean agricultural development. For example, the cultivation of sunflowers was introduced to Argentina by the Jews of the Mauricio colony. The first grain elevator of Entre Ríos province was built in 1931 by the Cooperativa Fondo Comunal in Domínguez. The cooperatives Granjeros Unidos (in Rivera), El Progreso (in Bernasconi), and La Mutua Agrícola (in Moisesville) were provided at the end of the 1960s with silos equipped with the most modern facilities to assure the greatest efficiency in handling, sorting, and storing grain. In Dominguez a vegetable oils factory named after Ingeniero Miguel Sajaroff was operated by Fondo Comunal together with the Federación Entrerriana de Cooperativas. It converts linen grains collected by the zone cooperatives into oil and by-products.

Eminent among the leaders of the agrarian cooperative movement in Argentina, together with Miguel Sajaroff, unquestionably the precursor and the mentor, are Adolfo Leibovich, Isaac Kaplan, Marcos Wortman, Miguel Kipen, Elias Efron, and Francisco Loewy. The official organ of the Fraternidad Agraria, El Colono Cooperativista o Kolonist Kooperator, first appeared in 1918 and continued to be published monthly in Spanish and Yiddish until the mid-1970s. The impulse given by the Jewish colonists to the agrarian cooperative movement was fruitful. In 1937 only 3% of the country's producers were integrated into cooperatives; in the mid-1960s the number of farmers who sold their products through cooperatives increased to 63%.

Cultural Life

World War i caused a number of changes in the structure of the Jewish community of Argentina that were further augmented by a later wave of immigration. Many and varied cultural organizations, such as the Argentinean branch of *yivo (1929), which established a central Jewish library and archives (dedicated mainly to the history of the community), were founded. A specific type of cultural activity was evidenced by the foundation of Landsmanshaftn (organizations of immigrants established according to countries and cities of origin) to aid the newcomers in their initial integration.

The outstanding characteristic of cultural life was that it was a microcosmic continuation of East European culture. Numerous organizations were built mainly around the Yiddish language and culture (such as the society of Jewish writers and journalists named after H.D. Nomberg, the Kultur Kongres, A. Zygielbojm Gezelshaft far Kultur un Hilf, Ringelblum Kultur-Tsenter, and Ratsionalistishe Gezelshaft). Cultural activity was also supported by circles that identified themselves with Bolshevism. On the other hand, activities in Hebrew were very limited. The first attempts to hold activities in Hebrew were made in 1911, when the organization Doverei Sefat-Ever was founded. In 1921 the first Hebrew periodical, Ha-Bimah ha-Ivrit, edited first by J.L. Gorelik and later by Tuvia Olesker, was published in Buenos Aires. Others soon followed, and in 1938 a Hebrew monthly, Darom, was founded by the Histadrut ha-Ivrit and has been published regularly until the 1970s.

Weeklies and monthlies in Spanish made their first appearance as early as 1911. Juventud was the first, followed by El Israelita Argentino (1913) and Vida Nuestra (1919). In 1917 the Spanish-language monthly Israel was established by a Moroccan Jew, Samuel A. Levi, and served mainly Sephardim. Mundo Israelita made its first appearance in 1923, followed by La Luz, a bi-monthly, edited first by David Elnecave and subsequently by his son Nissim and his grandson David, which also addressed itself to Sephardim, and literary periodicals such as Shriftn and Davke, devoted mainly to Jewish philosophy.

Religious Life

The period between the two World Wars marks the decline of religious life in Argentina. New immigration from Eastern Europe, especially from Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, introduced a strong anti-religious tradition, and there was a notable lack of religious authority and leadership. In 1928, Rabbi Shaul Sittehon Dabah of the Aleppan Jewish community, under the influence of Rabbi Aharon Halevi Goldman of Moisesville, and with his approval, published a ban against the performance of conversions to Judaism in the Argentine Republic. This prohibition, which is still maintained by the Orthodox communities in Argentina, was supported at the time by the chief rabbis of Ereẓ Israel, A.I. *Kook and Jacob *Meir, as well as by Rabbi Judah Leib *Zirelson of Kishinev and other authorities.

Jewish Education

Although efforts were made to establish secular schools before World War i, these schools only began operating from 1920 onward besides the talmudei torah. They were organized by activists, teachers, and to some extent by political parties such as the General Zionists, left-wing Po'alei Zion, the Bundists, Communists, and Anarchists. One of the accelerators of the establishment of independent and secular schools and the beginning of a modernization process was a teachers' strike declared by the teachers' organization Agudat Hamorim in the middle of 1920. Some of the schools recognized the right of the teachers to vacations and a decent salary. Others, supported by the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh ha-Roshi, had rejected the teachers' demands. Those schools continued their activities with traditional and less professional teachers.

the shadow of nationalism: 1930–1946

The military coup d'état of 1930 introduced a period of political unrest in Argentina in which nationalist and antisemitic organizations played no small part. From 1933 on, nationalistic, xenophobic, and antisemitic activity increased, encouraged by German diplomatic institutions and by the local branch of the German Nazi Party, until it became a central problem for Argentinean Jewry. Also the Catholic Church, which was very close to the Vatican and Cardinal Pacelli (the future Pope *Piusxii), who visited Buenos Aires in 1934, was active in the dissemination of antisemitism. The leadership of the Church kept silent in its publications about the persecution and murder of the Jews in Europe. At the same time the lay Christians adopted an implicit or open antisemitic position in their periodicals and educational catechism material, and in lectures by their religious or lay leaders and teachers. The immigration decree of October 1938 increased discrimination against Jewish immigrants, and even Jewish farmers had great difficulty acquiring entry visas despite the preferential treatment for agricultural immigrants which even the drastic legislation on immigration provided. From 1933 to 1945 between 35,000 and 40,000 Jews entered Argentina by exploiting various loopholes in the law. About a third of them had to use illegal means to immigrate and their legal status was regulated only after a general amnesty was declared for illegal immigrants in 1948. When news of the Holocaust reached Argentina in 1943, Jewish organizations managed to convince the government to accept 1,000 Jewish children, but for various reasons, this rescue operation was never carried out.

The deteriorating security of Argentinean Jewry compelled all factions, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, to unite and form a federate defense organization. In 1933 they established the Committee Against the Persecutions of the Jews in Germany, which after two years of activity became known as *daia – Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas. Initiallydaia provided representation for 28 institutions, while the communists and their sympathizers refused to be a part of this framework and (except for 1946–53) ran their own separate organization. With the aid of anti-Nazi publications and Argentinean democratic and socialist forces, Argentinean Jewry thus began to fight for equal rights and for freedom from persecution.

Economic and Social Stratification

During the first stage of Jewish settlement in Argentina up to 1914, there were four main sectors in Jewish society: (1) farmers – Jewish Colonization Association (ica) settlers and permanently hired or seasonal laborers; (2) artisans in all branches – either self-employed, employed, or apprenticed; (3) peddlers selling goods on the installment plan (and therefore called "Cuenteniks"); and (4) shopkeepers dealing in supplying goods to meet daily needs. In addition to these groups were individuals who were among the first industrialists (in textiles, furniture, and in the extraction of tannin from the quebracho tree) and high officials, including managing directors, of large grain-export companies. In 1909 there were 90 Jews in Buenos Aires belonging to the liberal professions. Most of them were in the field of medicine and of the 60 students attending the university, 41 studied medicine or pharmacy.

Economic and professional development enabled many peddlers to become merchants, agricultural laborers to become farmers, and employed artisans to become independent. The occupations vacated by veteran settlers as they rose on the ladder of economic prosperity and social advancement were constantly filled by new waves of immigrants that continued to arrive until the outbreak of World War ii. While the numbers of workers did not decrease to a great extent, the number of established merchants increased and a class of professional men developed. In 1934 the ica director in Buenos Aires, Simon Weill, basing his report on figures submitted to ica by towns throughout the country, estimated that 1,175 Jews were practicing in various branches of medicine and pharmacy, 190 in engineering and law, and many were writers, artists, and university lecturers.

During the period from 1918 to 1939, trade unions and economic associations were also formed. Carpenters, who organized a general strike in Jewish workshops in 1916, needle workers, bakers, and others maintained their own trade unions for a while, and in 1934 Jewish merchants and employers united under the Cámara Comercial e Industrial Israelita. The "Cuenteniks" formed two cooperatives that became important financial instruments. In urban centers and in some of the Jewish agricultural colonies cooperative credit banks flourished. In July 1940 the Asociación de Industriales de la Madera y del Hierro was established, incorporating the Jewish industrialists in the field of wood and iron furniture products.

Cultural Life

With the founding of the Sociedad Hebraica Argentina in 1926, which was preceded by Juventud and other groups before the outbreak of World War i, and Organización Hebrea Maccabi, Jewish cultural life expanded in the Spanish-speaking sphere. The cultural achievements of Hebraica are mainly in the fields of sports, art, and drama (its luxurious theater was dedicated in 1968). Its quarterly Spanish magazine Davar, to which the best Argentinean writers have contributed, has published more than 100 issues.

With the organization and strengthening of amia, most of the Jewish community's cultural activities were concentrated under its auspices. amia also subsidized the activities of other organizations and publishing houses. A large number of books on Jewish subjects (particularly in Yiddish) were published in Argentina, but only a minority of them were written by local authors. There were also a considerable number of monthlies and weeklies published primarily by various political parties and economic, social, and philanthropic organizations. The Jewish daily press played a decisive role in the consolidation of the community Jewish life. Efforts to establish a Jewish daily newspaper in Spanish had failed for financial reasons and lack of interest among the Jewish population. The Juedische Wochenschau, a German-language weekly with a Zionist orientation, was published from the end of the 1930s by Hardy Swarsensky (publication ceased in 1968 with the death of its editor).

Jewish Education

The Jewish educational network had to cope with the implementation of Catholic instruction in the official schools and consequently with the removal of non-Catholic pupils from such classes. Nevertheless, neither the overt public hostility, nor the occasional official prohibition of the use of Yiddish at public meetings arrested the development of the Jewish community. The Chevra Keduscha (which became in the 1940s amia) increased its communal activities and in 1935 founded in Buenos Aires the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh, a committee that centralized the educational system in Buenos Aires (with several dozen complementary schools), which had hitherto been promoted mainly by various synagogues, by some Zionist parties, and by the Zionist Teachers' Organization. From that time on the Jewish schools became one of the most vital forces enhancing Jewish socialization and community organization in Argentina, and they reflected the various streams of Jewish political views in the community. Until the late 1960s these schools functioned on a complementary basis, while the children were free from studies in the public schools, either in the morning shift or in the afternoon. The existing schools, for Ashkenazim and Sephardim, had many ideological trends: religious, traditional, leftist, secular, Zionist, non-Zionist, and anti-Zionist. The Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh succeeded in 15 years of activity in bringing most of the schools to a minimal common curricula and in improving the physical conditions of the schools as well as the working conditions of the teachers. In the 1930s and the 1940s Yiddish was almost the only language of instruction for most Ashkenazi schools, even for the Zionist ones. The number of students in Jewish schools in Buenos Aires together with the schools coordinated by the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh Haroshi in the provinces rose from 5,300 in 1940 to more than 11,000 in 1950, more than 25% of the children of school age. This increase in the school population brought a rise in the demand for teachers. The Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh of Buenos Aires responded to this situation by founding the Seminar Lemorim (Teacher's Seminar) in 1940 and five years later the cira founded the Machon Lelimudei Hayahaduth (Institute for Jewish Studies), which prepared teachers and functionaries for the Jewish religious establishment. The ideological map started to shift during these years, with the schools declaring a Zionist identification and adopting Hebrew as the language of instruction increasing. Jewish public institutions and cultural life continued to develop, and the recent arrivals from Central Europe founded their own communal and religious organizations, including the Asociación Filantrópica Israelita (1933), the Juedische Kulturgemeinschaft (1937), and both Orthodox and Liberal congregations.

Zionism

The Zionist movement in Argentina had changed in the 1930s and the 1940s from a conglomerate of organizations with disconnected activities to a stable federation called "Consejo Superior Sionista." The decision of the 19th Zionist Congress (1935) to promote the unification of the Zionist organizations, together with the impact of the Holocaust, brought the two main Zionist parties – General Zionist and Po'alei Zion (the Revisionists demurred) – to the realization that they had to work together under a common umbrella organization, although they kept their own identities within the Zionist framework.

The anti-Zionist left-wing organizations challenged the Zionists since they competed for the leadership of the communal institutions. This threat to their efforts to gain control over the main institutions, especially amia and daia, dictated the collaboration between the two Zionist parties.

Control of the National Funds – Keren Hayesod and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – was one of the ends that engendered competition between the different sectors in the community. In 1937, when a branch of the Jewish Agency for Ereẓ Israel was established in Argentina, the Zionist parties cooperated to avoid non-Zionist control of the Funds. During the second half of the 1940s circumstances were different and the Zionist parties competed with each other for the control of the National Funds and the appointment of their members as shliḥim (emissaries) of the Funds. The Zionist parties and the leaders of the National Funds tried to adhere to the policy established by the wzo and maintain the autonomy of both Funds. During the War of Independence (1948), however, Argentinean Jewry decided to declare a united campaign on behalf of Israel. The impressive results proved the extent of their identification with the Zionist cause, which went far beyond the politics of fundraising, leadership of organizations, parties, and shliḥim.

Until the middle of the 1940s the World Zionist Organization (wzo) believed that the most important activities of Zionism in Argentina were connected with fundraising. After wwii, when Argentina became relevant to the fight for the establishment of a Jewish state, the wzo changed its attitude and Argentinean Jewry was transformed into a partner in the political efforts to achieve international recognition.

The Zionist parties became dependent on their central organizations in Israel. Nevertheless, they believed that local activities within the framework of the Jewish communal organization were very important in themselves, also as a way to maintain their close ties with Zionism and Israel. The parties, especially the two trends of Po'alei Zion (right and left), made serious efforts to develop local activities. They were very active in formal education and maintained complementary Jewish schools like the Sholem Aleichem and Bialik school networks. All the parties were active in informal education and maintained pioneer youth movements like Ha-No'ar ha-Ẓiyyoni, Dror-Heḥalutz, Betar, Gordonia, Dror-Habonim, and Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir, which provided the first groups of olim with a strong ideological conviction in the second half of the 1940s and after the establishment of Israel.

The two major parties, General Zionists and Po'alei Zion, differed in their attitude to the desirable attitude of the Jews toward Argentina and its society. Both parties agreed that they had to respect the status of the Jews as Argentinean citizens. But while the General Zionists believed that Jews had to limit their organized activities as Jews to internal communal and Zionist matters, and that their activities in the general society was entirely a private matter, Po'alei Zion promoted organized Jewish action also in the general civil arena and politics. Actually, the latter's position failed.

The two parties also competed with each other for the leadership of the community's institutions and debated the organization and structure of daia. Po'alei Zion wanted a change in the electoral criteria and promoted the idea of general elections with the participation of all the Jews. The General Zionists supported the existing federative structure in which the board was elected by the representatives of the institutions which adhere to daia. While the latter's position prevailed, the discussion continued into the 21st century, even though there were different political trends now involved in daia.

Agricultural Settlement

Between 1936 and 1944, several hundred families who fled antisemitic persecution in Germany were absorbed into the settlement project. Many of them settled in Entre Ríos, where they founded the colony of Avigdor. In the succeeding period, however, more families left the land, and in 1962 there were fewer settlers than there had been in 1898 (5,907 compared to 6,755 at the earlier date). The families who remained in 1962 were smaller in size than those of 1898 (an average of less than three members as against over five to a family at the earlier date) and belonged to an older age group. On the other hand, the number of non-Jews in the colonies was almost double that of the Jewish colonists (about 10,220). In 1964 the number of Jewish farmers who lived on and cultivated their land in the colonies was estimated at 782 families. The overall territory under Jewish ownership was 450,000 hectares. Despite the fact that there were Jewish farmers who were well established on their soil, especially in the south of Buenos Aires province, the future of the Jewish colonies was uncertain in the late 1960s.

Reasons for the Disintegration of the Agricultural Settlement Enterprise

The disintegration of ica's farming project in Argentina can be attributed to a series of factors. One factor was the unfavorable location of a large proportion of the colonies on the margins of the "Wet Pampa," influenced mostly by droughts from the south and by almost annual invasions of locusts from the north. One of the colonies, Dora, was even located in an arid region, dependent on irrigation. Another basic factor was the extreme dependence on foreign markets and the inability of the Argentinean farmer to influence marketing conditions. In search of greater income, the settlers kept shifting from grain crops to cattle raising. Jewish agriculture, based on monoculture, was therefore extremely sensitive to the fluctuations of the markets and lacked stability. A third general factor was the extensive cultivation in Argentina, which necessitated large units of land, thus creating a low population density. This type of settlement, in which the farmer lives at the center of his property and far from his neighbors, was rejected by Jewish settlers from the outset because it obstructed the fulfillment of their religious, social, educational, and medical needs. Attempts to establish concentrated villages failed, however, and had to be abandoned. The fourth decisive factor was the attraction of the town as an easy and more secure source of employment, providing opportunities for rapid advancement for those with initiative. The town also provided a social center with well-developed educational, religious, and cultural services. Since the Perón government (1946–55) encouraged urbanization and the Jewish settler came from an urban background (some of his children had already left for the town, either to study or to engage in trade), the attraction of the town became especially strong. The overall increase in land values enabled him to sell his lands at a profit and arrive in the town with a large sum of money. ica tried to counteract some of these disintegrating factors. For a long period it tried to prevent settlers from leaving the colonies by delaying absolving them of their debts. ica exerted pressure on the settlers to diversify their farming, helped them to develop dairy herds and chicken farms, and experimented with new crops and modern methods of cultivation. It established an integral school system in the colonies that was financed by charging the settlers. ica even tried to recruit settlers with previous agricultural experience from southern Russia and later from among agricultural laborers in her own colonies. However, the lack of flexibility in policy and the bureaucratic administrative structure, requiring the obedience and submission of the settlers, caused continual undermining of good relations in the colonies and the diminution of the moral influence of ica on the settlers. ica's bitter and prolonged refusal to recognize that the colony Narcisse Levin and part of Barón Hirsch, Montefiore, and Dora, located on the edge of the fertile regions, required larger areas of land, resulted in bitter and prolonged disputes. Moreover, ica's prolonged opposition to facilitating the settlement of children near their parents' farms made it difficult for the younger generation to settle in the colonies. It was for the same reason, as well as to promote intensified farming of their own plots, that ica refused to lease its vacant land to the settlers. All these factors led to the strengthening of the second central force in the colonies, the settlers' cooperatives (see below). Established and run with ica's support, the cooperatives fought disintegration, but also became the settlers' chief weapon in fighting ica. The steep decline in agricultural settlement brought about a concerted action by the two forces to preserve the existing state of affairs.

Independent Agricultural Settlements

Tensions between the settlers and the administration often resulted in large groups leaving to found independent settlements. In June 1901 about 40 families settled in Villa Alba (now called General San Martín) in the central Pampas after leaving the colonies of Entre Ríos. In 1906 about 20 families that left Moisesville, founded Médanos in the south of Buenos Aires province. In 1923, 80 families that left Narcisse Leven, Barón Hirsch, and Montefiore for the Chaco, as a result of the cotton boom, dispersed among settlements such as Charata and General Pinedo. In 1928, the settlers in Barón Hirsch acquired 8,653 hectares of land in order to settle their children and relatives and named their colony Akiva Ettinger. Other settlers in Entre Ríos and Santa Fé also bought land independently for settlement purposes.

The idealism and initiative of Isaac Losow brought about the settlement of 40 families in 1906 in General Roca in the heart of the uninhabited Río Negro territory. In 1941, despite its isolated location, 28 families were still living in the settlement. During the 1930s, the Asociación Filantrópica, composed of immigrants from Germany, established a farm on the island of Choele Choel in the Río Negro. Until it closed down c. 1941, it accepted about 150 young immigrants for training in fruit growing and afforestation. In 1941 the Fomento Agrario set up a fund to encourage agricultural settlement in the colony of Julio Levin in Buenos Aires province. The colony numbered about 20 families who had small holdings of 4½–7 hectares on which they grew vegetables and raised dairy cattle. However, the colony soon became a vacation center and some Zionist pioneer movements established training farms there.

Agricultural settlement outside the control of ica, with the exception of Julio Levin, was even more geographically marginal than that of the ica colonies. This was, of course, dictated by both the limited financial means at the disposal of the settlers and their strong idealism. In 1964 the number of agricultural settlers outside the ica framework was estimated at 237. Despite the fact that by the 1960s the number of families whose source of income was the land had fallen to under 2,000, the large majority of whom were not living on their land, Jewish agricultural settlement had many positive achievements. Due to it a chain of small towns sprang up at the edge of the colonies as centers for trade and small industry, new crops were introduced, modern methods of cultivation were implemented, and the cooperative movement was developed. Agricultural settlements served as absorption centers for new immigrants and created areas of predominantly Jewish population from which many of the leaders and public figures of Argentinean Jewry emerged.

between perÓn and onganÍa: 1946–1968

Juan Perón's accession to power prompted serious fears among the Jewish population because he had been aided by the Fascist organization Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista and was known to sympathize with the Nazi government in Germany. The establishment of the Registry of Non-Catholic Cults and the reaffirmation of Catholic religious instruction in the public schools introduced by the military, nationalistic, and Catholic government in December 31, 1943, increased these fears. Growing concern was partially dispelled by the introduction of a special clause (Clause 28) in the new constitution on March 16, 1949, forbidding racial discrimination and by Perón's declaration of sympathy for the rights of the Jews and for the State of Israel. Antisemitic attacks continued, however, and Buenos Aires became a center for antisemitic publications and neo-Nazi activity on an international scale. Jewish immigration was stopped entirely, while Argentina welcomed thousands of Nazis and their collaborators escaping from Europe. The protests of the daia and the efforts of the pro-Peronist Organización Israelita Argentina – oia, based on Clause 28, were only partially successful. The overthrow of Perón (September 1955) and the election of a civil president Arturo Frondizi in 1958, was accompanied by an increase in antisemitic activities, especially by such antisemitic and nationalist movements as Tacuara and its various factions, which were further augmented after the capture of Adolf *Eichmann in May 1960 and his execution in June 1962. The senate's condemnation of antisemitism (September 1961) was not backed by any law-enforcement action, and even the outlawing of antisemitic organizations in May 1963 and especially November 1964 failed to wipe out antisemitism. After the revolution of June 1966, in which General Carlos Onganía seized power, antisemitic organizations became adherents of the new regime, and by 1967, despite the placatory declarations by the government, Argentina was a center of antisemitic activity. Of the 313 antisemitic incidents in the world recorded in 1967, 142 occurred in Argentina. Starting in the late 1950s, and particularly between 1963 and 1965, the antisemites were aided by representatives of the *Arab League in Buenos Aires. The penetration of antisemitism into the working classes, and especially the Peronist trade unions, was particularly significant as the Jewish working class had all but disappeared.

The increase in antisemitism heightened daia's activity, which reached a peak on June 28, 1962, with a general protest strike by Jewish merchants and businessmen. The annual ceremony commemorating the *Warsaw Ghetto uprising (with 20,000 participants in 1963 and 25,000 participants in 1968) organized by the daia gained a special significance and topicality.

In public life, the process of unification continued after 1948 and was greatly influenced by the establishment of the State of Israel. The Chevra Keduscha Aschkenazi became a central kehillah (whose political control was taken over by the Zionist parties after the democratic elections in 1949). The Zionists were organized into the Organización Sionista Argentina, which was the representative of the World Zionist Organization. In 1952 a Va'ad ha-Kehillot, established through the initiative of amia, united about 140 communities. Its objective was to provide help in improving religious, cultural, and educational services.

With the establishment of the State of Israel the Sephardi communities, which had had separate Sephardi Zionist frameworks since the 1930s, also deepened their interest in Zionism, and organized their own fundraising campaigns in two different organizations: the Arabic speakers (from the Damascene, Aleppan, and Moroccan communities) conducted their Zionist campaigns, from 1948, under the roof of the Comité Sefaradí Argentino, while the Ladino speakers withdrew from the joint Sephardi committee in 1949 and founded their own organization – desa – Delegación de Entidades Sefardíes Argentinas. The Sephardim in Argentina, like those in other countries, were reluctant to join the Zionist parties, which embodied the traditions and ideologies of the Ashkenazim, and in 1963 they founded their own political entity – the Movimiento Sionista Sefaradí. After several years of conflict, the World Zionist Organization accepted the request of the Sephardim for separate representation and in 1972 they were able to found fesela – Federación Sefaradí Latino Americana, which is still active as the umbrella organization of all the Sephardi Federations in Latin America. To coordinate the activities of the Sephardim in Argentina they formed ecsa – Ente Coordinador Sefaradí Argentino.

The Jewish educational system gradually became Israel- and Hebrew-oriented, and all Jewish organizations, including those that stressed their Argentinean character, actively identified with the State of Israel. For the large majority of Argentinean Jews identification with Israel constituted the basic means of Jewish identity, despite the fact that, from the beginning of the Perón regime, marked cultural and ethnic heterogeneity decreased and Argentinean nationalism grew. The clearest expression of this identification is the achievement of the pioneering youth movements and the trend of immigration to Israel. Beginning with a few pioneers who moved to Palestine-Ereẓ Israel in the pre-World War ii period and a score more in 1945, aliyah increased after the establishment of the State of Israel and led to the founding of eight new kibbutzim (the first of which was Mefalsim in 1949). Smaller groups joined at least 15 other kibbutzim, while other groups founded and joined moshavim. A large number of economic enterprises and investment companies in Israel were also founded by Argentineans. By 1960 about 4,500 Argentineans had moved to Israel; aliyah increased considerably during Argentina's political and economic crisis of 1962–63 and after the *Six-Day War. The Argentinean Jewish community expressed its support for aliyah by granting special sums of money to the immigrants through amia. Nonetheless, the number of Jews who settled in Israel does not account for all Jewish emigrants from Argentina. In 1962–63 about 2,000 Argentinean Jews emigrated to the U.S. alone. In addition, difficulties of integration and absorption resulted in the return of a considerable number of Argentineans from Israel.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, estrangement increased between the Zionists and the communists, and in 1952, when the latter gave their unmitigated support to the Soviet government during the *Slansky Trials, the ties between the two groups were severed completely. The communists continued to develop their own institutions and educational system, press, and the ift theater, while disassociating themselves from the State of Israel. Their negative attitude toward Israel grew stronger during the *Sinai Campaign and was maintained during the Six-Day War. But as a result, a considerable number of communists and their sympathizers seceded from their camp and many of them joined Zionist groups.

Despite the comprehensive character of organized Jewish life and the existence of antisemitism, Jews have been able to integrate. Many distinguished themselves in the arts and sciences and some even attained important positions in political life. During the presidency of Arturo Frondizi, two Jews became governors of provinces, and one, David Blejer, filled the post of minister of labor and social welfare. Since the 1960s assimilation of Argentinean Jewry has increased. The rate of mixed marriages has risen, although there are no exact statistics on this point, and Argentinean Jewish university youth participated more widely in non-Jewish activities (most of them left-wing) than in organized Jewish life. The Confraternidad Judeo-Cristiana, an organization of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews aimed at improving Judeo-Christian relations, was founded in 1958. After the Vatican Council ii, the Catholic Church established an Ecumenical Office, which, together with other groups, maintained a religious dialogue with certain Jewish sectors, the benefits of which are limited both in the Jewish and Gentile communities.

Economy and Social Stratification

During World War ii, growing industrialization in Argentina further encouraged the Jews to found new industries. The furniture, fur, and particularly the wool and textile industries, including the export of raincoats, woolens, and leather goods, were joined by enterprises in new fields such as plastics, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the automobile industry, electrical goods and electronics, and a large part of heavy industry. Jewish companies, often very large ones, existed within the new industries after World War ii to supply the local market. Jews also engaged in all aspects of the building industry, played a significant role in the commerce that developed around the new branches of industry, and diversified their positions in the liberal professions.

The economic development of the Jewish population in the post-World War ii era is also reflected in the considerable progress made by their financial institutions. Though the largest Jewish bank, the Banco Israelita del Río de la Plata, closed as a result of a financial scandal in 1963, other banks, such as the Banco Comercial de Buenos Aires and the Banco Mercantil Argentino, which served the general community, gained in status and the Cooperativas de Crédito also prospered. These cooperatives, which spread throughout Argentina, expanded especially among the Jewish population and in the late 1960s had many thousands of members – merchants, farmers, middle-class industrialists, and even salaried workers.

A small part of the large profits from the cooperatives' financial activities, which in fact include normal banking operations, was devoted to public and social purposes such as financing Jewish schools, cultural centers, and Jewish political activity, considerably influencing Jewish communal institutions. Thus Argentinean Jewry was greatly alarmed in 1966 when General Onganía's revolutionary government intended to limit or abolish the operations of the credit associations, and Jewish institutions suffered profoundly from the economic decline of the cooperatives after the bankruptcy of many of them at the beginning of the 1970s.

Economic changes naturally altered the social and economic class structure of Argentinean Jewry. There were fewer blue-collar workers, as more Jews entered the free and academic professions. By the early 1960s the socio-economic profile of the Jewish community was very different from that of the period of mass immigration. The relative proportion of blue-collar workers (in industries such as textiles, woodworking, leather goods, metalwork, and auto repair) declined to less than one-third of the total work force; the rest of the Jewish population was employed in commerce, clerical work, and the free professions. The percentage of farmers had already dwindled to almost zero. This process, which continued during the following decades, led to the concentration of the Jews at various levels of the middle class.

The status of Jews in the general population was exemplified by a census taken of the Jewish community in Quilmes, near Buenos Aires, in 1968. There were 1,169 Jews out of a total population of 317,783. In the economically viable portion of the Jewish population, only 26.7% were salaried workers, of whom 3.5% were laborers and the remainder were white-collar workers. The percentage of salaried workers in the general population was 81.2%, of whom at least half were laborers. On the other hand, 70.9% of the economically viable Jewish population were employers and self-employed, while the parallel figure for the general population was only 16.3%.

During this period, poverty was not eradicated among Argentinean Jewry, and amia alone spent some 6–7% of its budget in 1965–67 on supporting the poor (apart from the aid extended by other welfare associations). Nevertheless, the Jewish relationship to the Argentinean proletariat was becoming increasingly that of the employer to employees. Along with this, Jews were to a great extent absent from the upper and ruling echelons of society.

Religious Life

The period 1939–1968 was one of a limited religious renaissance, supported by a new wave of religious immigrants. New types of talmudei torah and yeshivot, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi, were founded. The most notable among them was the Yeshivah Gevohah that was maintained by amia, five graduates of which were ordained in Israel up to 1968. During this period various religious organizations, both political and apolitical, such as Mizrachi, Yavneh, Agudat Israel, and the Sephardi movement Shuvah Israel, were created. The rabbinate of the kehillah was institutionalized and developed during this period. In 1966, Rabbi David Kahana, former chief chaplain of the Israel Air Force, assumed the post of av bet din of the rabbinate of amia until the mid-1970s. In the Sephardi sector, the religious renaissance was manifested in the appointment of new spiritual leaders in each of the four communities and in the reinstatement of rabbinical authority, especially among the communities of Syrian origin. Conservative Judaism, represented only by the Congregación Israelita de la República Argentina (cira), led by Rabbi Guillermo Schlesinger, expanded during this period, when a few German-speaking Conservative congregations were established. In 1960 Rabbi Marshall Meyer was sent to cira from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He founded Ramah as the youth section of cira with its own synagogue. In 1962, following his attempts to become the rabbi of cira, a schism ensued, and an important faction of cira established the Conservative Bet-El congregation under the leadership of Rabbi Meyer. Earlier that year, the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano was established, offering a preparatory course for advanced studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. This Conservative model of a congregation with many youth activities, a synagogue, and a talmud torah that in many cases became a day school, was adopted also by some of the Orthodox synagogues.

In 1964 Reform Judaism established its first congregation, Emanuel, in Buenos Aires. In 1968 Argentina had three Reform, seven Conservative, and fifteen Orthodox rabbis, ten of whom were Ashkenazi and five Sephardi; four other rabbis were practicing temporarily in Buenos Aires.

Jewish Education

The establishment of the State of Israel had a crucial impact on the character of the Jewish schools. All the schools that previously taught Yiddish started a transition to Hebrew, a process that ended with an overwhelming predominance of Hebrew in all the schools in the mid-1960s. Following the foundation of the Va'ad ha-Kehillot in 1952, the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh of the Chevra Kedusha – amia, and the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh ha-Roshi merged in 1957 to form the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh ha-Merkazi (Central Education Committee). All Jewish Ashkenazi schools, except those belonging to the Communists, were affiliated to this committee. Gradually most of the Sephardim and certain other communities (such as those of German origin), joined this Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh. Until the end of the 1960s most Jewish schools provided supplementary education (20 hours weekly) for pupils attending public schools. This school structure was maintained, not only for economic reasons but also because of a deep concern to maintain close relations with the non-Jewish population. In 1966 the official schools gradually started introducing the long school day, which was a threat to the activities of the Jewish complementary schools. At the end of the 1960s the Jewish schools started to transform themselves into day schools to include the general Argentinean curriculum. In the mid-1970s the entire Jewish education network consisted of day schools; two of them had already existed from the beginning of the 1960s and were recognized as private schools. The budget required for building and maintaining such schools, however, was correspondingly much higher, and when public funds could not be acquired, parents of modest means were not able to afford to send their children to these schools. This problem was partially solved with special funds provided by community institutions and by the Jewish Agency which subsidized those students.

In 1968 the Jewish educational system of Greater Buenos Aires comprised the following: 5,065 children between the ages of two and five in 51 kindergartens; 8,900 pupils in 58 elementary schools (seven grades), eight of which were day schools and the rest supplementary schools; and 1,675 pupils in 13 high schools, four of which were yeshivot. In the rest of Argentina, there were 969 children in 33 kindergartens; 2,787 pupils in 52 elementary schools; and 633 pupils in eight high schools. These figures added up to 20,033 students in Jewish schools throughout Argentina; the students in the 5 to 12 age group comprised about 45% of the total Jewish population of this age. In spite of these relatively high rates of participation, there was considerable dropout from one year to the next, especially between elementary and secondary school. In 1967, in all the schools run by the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh in Buenos Aires, only 560 pupils finished elementary school and 126 graduated from secondary school.

In those years the division according to political trends diminished. All the schools, apart from the Communist schools, adopted Hebrew as the main language for Jewish studies (some kept Yiddish) and stressed the study of modern Israel and the development of Jewish national consciousness. The existing Communist schools in Buenos Aires, with several kindergartens, five primary schools, and two secondary schools were excluded from the Va'ad ha-Ḥinnukh in 1952 when all the Communist organizations were expelled from daia because of their refusal to condemn the antisemitic and anti-Zionist trials in Czechoslovakia and Russia. In 1953 they established an independent school network under the umbrella of the Jewish Communist central organization Yiddisher Cultur Farband – icuf (Jewish Cultural Organization) with ten schools and close to 2,000 students all over the country. In the 1960s the number of these schools gradually diminished and by the end of the decade not one remained. The reasons for this development were the policy of the Communist Party to reduce the activities of the schools, the lack of interest among the parents (because of assimilation or transfer to the Zionist schools), and the decision of the leading school committees not to transform them into day schools.

From the 1960s most of the teachers in all the schools were Argentineans, trained in local seminaries. A new institution of higher Jewish education, Ha-Midrashah ha-Ivrit, was established in the mid-1950s by the State of Israel, with the cooperation of local individuals. It trained high school teachers, and by the end of the 1960s had close to 200 students.

Informal education activities organized by Zionist youth movements, social-sport organizations like Sociedad Hebraica Argentina, Maccabi and Hacoaj, and other communal institutions like the Conservative movement became more common and their activities attracted hundreds of children and adolescents. From 1962 amia and Hebraica, later with the support of the Youth Department of the World Zionist Organization, ran editti, a school for youth leaders on the level of an institution of informal higher learning. Nevertheless the participation of youth in organizations of the Jewish communities was low and it became even lower among youth of university age. All the Jewish youth organizations were united in the Confederación Juvenil Judeo Argentina, which represented Argentinean Jewish youth locally, nationally, and internationally.

repression and democracy: 1968–2005

The attitude of non-Jewish Argentinean society towards the Argentinean Jews as individuals and the organized Jewish community as such is characterized by a certain ambivalence. Argentine society has never been, and is not today, a single ideological entity, being divided between nationalists with extreme xenophobic views and liberals with a pluralistic attitude toward other nations and peoples. But one idea is common to most of these points of view: the need for cultural and social uniformity to shape Argentina's immigrant society. This idea, which demanded complete integration and assimilation of the immigrants into the established culture was most strongly advocated by the Catholic, nationalistic right wing. This group seized power twice in the last third of the 20th century. The army, in which this ideology is predominant, installed itself in government in June 1966 by a coup d'état, which appointed general Juan Carlos Onganía as president. In the enactment of the Statute of the Revolution, which took precedence over the constitution, the Catholic nature of the State (already affirmed in the constitution of 1853) was further underscored with the Statute declaring that the State stood for a "Christian Western Civilization." As a result, many Jews employed as civil servants in the previous government were dismissed and Jewish professors who resigned in 1966, when university autonomy was abolished, experienced great difficulties in their attempts to be reinstated. The deposition of Onganía by a military junta and the appointment of General Roberto Marcelo Levingston (1970), and his deposition in turn by General Alejandro Agustín Lanusse (1971), did not change the Catholic nature of the government.

Raised in an acute form, in connection with the elections of March 1973 that brought to power the Peronist party and the president Héctor Cámpora, was the question of the relations of the Peronist regime when it was in power (1946–55), and of the Peronists, to the Jews and to the State of Israel. On the one hand, it was emphasized that Perón had often expressed his esteem for the Jewish community in Argentina and had established strong bonds with Israel; on the other hand, it was he who had permitted the mass immigration of Nazis to Argentina after World War ii, at the same time restricting the entry of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Antisemitic activities on the part of members of the Peronist party and the influence of Arab propaganda, which were a constant source of anxiety to the Jewish community in the 1960s, increased under the military regimes and reached their climax when one of the most prominent Peronist leaders, Andrés Framini, together with other Peronists, joined the pro-Arab Committee for a Free Palestine, of which Framini actually became head.

The increase in acts of terrorism and violence since 1966, culminating in the kidnapping and murder in 1970 of General Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, president after Perón's deposition, was accompanied by an increase in antisemitic violence. In addition to the previous extreme right-wing organizations, such as the Guardia Restauradora Nacionalista, pro-Arab leftist organizations supported this violence and all benefited from both the open and clandestine support of the Arab League and the Syrian and Egyptian embassies in Buenos Aires. The Arab community in Argentina, numbering several hundred thousand, supported the anti-Jewish activities, if only to a limited extent. Argentine Jewry was therefore forced to confront three hostile groups, who despite all their differences were united in their hostility to the Jews and to Israel. Bombs were placed in synagogues and Jewish communal buildings.

Widespread antisemitic propaganda also spread in Argentina, attempting to blame the Jews for the economic and social difficulties of the country. A certain innovation in this widely disseminated literature were the sensational revelations of the economist and university lecturer Professor Walter Beveraggi Allende, who accused "International Zionist Jewry" of a plan to impoverish Argentina in order to detach some provinces in the South and the Andes Mountains and establish a Jewish republic there. This accusation, which was included in the new edition of the Protocols of the *Elders of Zion, published in January 1972, had an effect on the public at large and was also evidenced in a more widespread slander campaign.

In September 1973 Héctor Cámpora resigned in favor of Perón who was elected by an enormous majority. During his brief reign of office, Cámpora nominated Jose Ber Gelbard (b. 1917), a Polish-born Jew, as minister of economy, and he retained his post after Perón's election.

In those years support for the exiled Perón had come not only from the right. After almost two decades of direct or indirect military regime, leftist intellectuals and students finally joined the working masses in demonstrating support for the general, amid manifestations of recurrent violence that undermined peaceful life and created a climate of uncertainty and fear for the future. Perón himself made public his views with regard to Jews and to Israel. Before his election, and soon after meeting in Madrid with a large group of Arab diplomats, he felt it proper, in the course of a meeting (also held in Madrid) with former Israel Ambassador Jacob *Tsur and other Israeli officials, to express his sympathy for Jews and for Israel.

Perón received a delegation from daia and the kehillah in Buenos Aires, at which he restated his opposition to antisemitism and proclaimed his neutrality in the Middle East conflict.

Perón died on July 1, 1974, and was succeeded by his wife María Estela (Isabel) Martínez de Perón, who had been vice president, but she could hardly confront the difficulties of a politically divided country and keep together the mass movement that had brought Perón back to power. From the middle of 1974 until his forced resignation in July 1975, the strongman in Argentina was José López Rega, minister of social welfare and advisor to the president. Perón's death was followed by a period of complete insecurity and terror. In November 1974 a state of siege was imposed; leftist guerrilla groups (Montoneros and Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo – erp) were outlawed, a fact that did not prevent them from spectacular acts of terror; thousands were arrested, and ultra-right paramilitary groups, allegedly supported from within the government and acting under the name Alianza Anticomunista Argentina (aaa), killed hundreds of persons, including prominent politicians, intellectuals, journalists, lawyers, trade-union leaders and students. Naturally, this situation had an impact on the Jewish community; and daia, the Latin American Jewish Congress, and also non-Jewish organizations and publications denounced the dangers inherent in the anti-Jewish aspects of the explosive situation.

A substantial change took place on March 24, 1976, when, in a bloodless coup, a military junta seized power, deposing President María Estela (Isabel) Martínez de Perón and appointing General Jorge Rafael Videla in her place. The junta had to confront a very difficult situation, characterized by economic chaos, enormous inflation, social unrest, terror, and violence. The junta, which suspended normal political and trade-union activities, at first had the support of wide middle class and liberal circles. They hoped that this time the military would restore order in the country. But they were very quickly disappointed. The military factions which took control of the country used extreme methods of terror and completely ignored civil rights and the rule of law. Thousands of people were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered and their bodies disappeared. Under this regime, xenophobic and antisemitic discourse became common, and when a Jew was incarcerated or kidnapped, his fate was bound to be far worse than that of a non-Jew. But at the same time the Jewish community as a whole went undisturbed and was able to conduct its social activities without impediment and administer its institutions democratically. Nevertheless antisemitic actions continued together with some violence against Jewish institutions and persons. A list of antisemitic incidents during the years 1975 and 1976 was published in Argentina and in the United States, together with the testimony by an American Jewish leader. The editor of the daily La Opinion, Jacobo *Timerman, was arrested and jailed in April 1977, and even though declared innocent by the Supreme Court, continued to be held and tortured by the army. In November 1977 Timerman was deprived of his civil rights and his property was placed in state custody. He was also accused of connections with David Graiver, a Jewish financier with alleged ties to the left wing Montoneros. Jewish, professional, and human rights organizations, and the diplomats of the State of Israel repeatedly urged the Argentine government to put an end to Timerman's detention, but it was not until September 1979 that he was released to Israel. Timerman stayed there about a year and then moved to the U.S.

There was also a sequence of anti-Jewish attacks, and antisemitic pamphlets, books, and magazines continued to appear. A prominent example of the anti-Jewish literature is the magazine Cabildo, which was temporarily banned under pressure from the U.S. and Israel. The government also closed down antisemitic publishing enterprises such as Milicia, Odal, and Occidente, but the dissemination of anti-Jewish literature was not stopped. The Graiver case and other economic scandals became a theme played up by the anti-Jewish publications.

In 1979, the government published a decree to the effect that all religions, except Roman Catholicism, must register with the State in order to establish "effective control" over non-Catholic religions.

Although traditional right-wing xenophobic groups were still the main source of anti-Jewish activity, on the left, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel agitation deteriorated usually into typical old-fashioned antisemitism. Special connections were established between anti-Israel Arabs and some leftist guerrilla groups which were received in military training camps of the plo in Lebanon. There were also indications that the Arabs cooperated with other groups to create an anti-Jewish climate.

The Falklands (Malvinas) War against Great Britain (April–May 1982) and the consequences of Argentina's military defeat marked the beginning of the end for the regime installed by the military junta in 1976. During the hostilities in the south of Argentina, rabbis traveled to the war zone to serve as chaplains for the Jewish soldiers. In the following year, sectors of the community publicly supported the protests concerning the victims who had been arrested and disappeared during the repression practiced by the military junta. Nunca Más ("Never Again"), the report prepared by conadep (National Commission for the Missing Persons) published in 1985, revealed a special degree of atrocity in the treatment and torture of many Jewish citizens figuring in the dreadful lists: of the 10,000 to 15,000 "missing persons," about 1,500 were Jews. Some of the survivors testified to the pictures of Hitler and the antisemitic watchwords that formed the "habitual decor" of many torture rooms.

The establishment of a democratic regime after the free elections at the end of 1983 represented a relief for most Argentineans, including the Jews, many of whom became active participants in the Unión Cívica Radical (ucr), a party traditionally aligned with the middle classes.

From 1984 a new pluralistic attitude towards the different components of Argentinean society started to be felt, which gradually recognized and legitimized the right of the Jews, as an organized community and as individuals, to be different while part of Argentine society.

Raúl Alfonsín, a progressive and charismatic president, surrounded himself with many figures prominent in other spheres of life: Rabbi Marshall Meyer and Professor Gregorio Klimovsky joined conadep (chaired by writer Ernesto Sábato); Bernardo Grinspun became minister of the economy and Mario Brodersohn district secretary; Adolfo Gass obtained a seat in the Senate, Marcelo Stubrin and César Jaroslavsky (the latter, head of the district bank) entered the Chamber of Deputies and Jacobo Fiterman, ex-president of the Argentinean Zionist Organization, became secretary of public works in the Buenos Aires municipality. In the field of education and culture, traditionally a Catholic enclave, Marcos Aguinis became minister of national culture. Manuel Sadosky was minister of science and technology, and Oscar Shuberoff was appointed rector of Buenos Aires University. The Jewish Human Rights Movement was established, and the General San Martín Cultural Center of the City of Buenos Aires, seat of a hitherto unknown pluralism, inaugurated a Jewish Culture Sphere.

It may well have been this Jewish participation in public life that led Monsignor Antonio Plaza, spokesman of the most right-wing sectors of the Argentinean bishopric, to declare in March 1987 that "the government is full of Jews." A fresh antisemitic campaign throughout the initial democratic years of this regime, spoke of the "radical synagogue," a reference to the Jewish community's alleged influence. At the same time antisemitic incidents reappeared, probably as an instrument to discredit the democratic regime.

The trial of the leaders of the military junta, at the initiative of Alfonsín and many Argentineans, petered out as support for the government began to wane and economic problems worsened. The failure of the new economic plan and the return of inflation were accompanied by the opposition of the Peronist central trade union, which organized 14 general strikes during the Alfonsín regime.

The first counterattack by the army's "hardliners," led by the "carapintadas" (Aldo Rico and Mohamed Ali Seineldín, who had fought in the Falklands-Malvinas War), took place in April (Holy Week) 1987 and assumed the character of a military coup, that the civilian president had great difficulty in putting down. Successive concessions to the military disregarded the danger of institutional failure and put an end to trials of soldiers for human rights violations. The renewed insurgency of the "carapintadas" groups in 1988, although failing to obtain their objective, extended their base of support with sectors of the extreme right such as Alejandro Biondini's Nazi group. The precarious situation was further destabilized by the confused events of January 1989, when several score soldiers of the "Todos por la Patria" Movement, a heterogeneous national-Marxist group, influenced by surviving sectors of the guerrilla movement of the previous decade, tried to take by assault a military barracks at La Tablada (a province of Buenos Aires) and were wiped out after many hours of combat.

These episodes indirectly affected the Jewish community, since the "carapintada" sector leader, Colonel Mohamed Ali Seineldín was a fanatic Catholic and an avowed antisemite.

In November 1985 the Nazi war criminal Walter Kutschmann was arrested, but the extradition demand was delayed by legal appeals and Kutschmann died in prison in August 1986 without having been sent to Europe. In March 1986, a group of participants in a public meeting of the General Confederation of Labor (cgt) made antisemitic remarks that were later repudiated in a document issued by the Labor Central's governing board. The year 1987 saw continued anti-Jewish attacks, this time on the Sephardi Congregation and the aisa cemetery in Ciudadela. The Jewish community organized a mass demonstration at the central Houssay Square in Buenos Aires (November 1987), with the participation of Argentinean political, trade union, and religious leaders, to demand the speedy ratification of an anti-discrimination law to penalize any expression of antisemitism (this was achieved in the following year).

The social problems continued to increase. In early 1989 President Alfonsín fell victim to an "economic coup" engineered by the financial sectors, which unleashed a hyperinflation that culminated in pillaging of the supermarkets, general disturbances, and the early surrender of power (in July 1989) to the president-elect, Carlos Saúl Menem. The new president, who came from a Syrian Muslim family (although a convert to Catholicism), was very aware of the prejudices regarding his personal history (closely linked with the Argentinean Arab community), and to the prejudices of sectors of his "Justicialist" (Peronist) movement, which in the past had combined a degree of populism with a certain authoritarian tendency. His public acts soon allayed anxieties in these respects: he personally participated in the event organized by the Jewish community at the Congregación Israelita de la República Argentina synagogue to denounce the desecration of the Jewish cemetery of Carpentras in France. Nazi war criminal Joseph Schwamberger, commandant of a concentration camp in Poland (arrested in Córdoba in 1987), was extradited in 1989 to stand trial in Germany. In 1992 Menem announced the decision to "open the Nazi archives" to the investigators, a political measure of great significance (since Eichmann, Mengele, and dozens of other Nazi leaders resided in Argentina or had entered the country in the post-war period, under Perón's benevolent acquiescence) but with few practical results: the files now revealed contained carefully expurgated newspaper clippings, with almost no documental value. The Argentinean Foreign Ministry was pressured by the press and political figures to hand over the documents that certainly exist on the immigration of the Nazi criminals from Europe to Argentina.

The centenary of Jewish Settlement in Argentina (1889–1989) was celebrated by various events in the capital and in the rest of the country, with the participation of political authorities. In 1991, various celebrations marked the first centennial of the arrival of Jewish immigrants to Colonia Mauricio (Carlos Casares).

In general politics, Menem executed a dramatic volte-face when he pardoned the soldiers condemned for human rights violations and allied himself with representatives of business and financial sectors in order to commence privatization of state enterprises and introduced stringent economic regulations. Denouncing the failure by members of the Menem government to fulfill commitments, Colonel Seineldín headed a bloody "carapintada" uprising in December 1990 that ended with the defeat of this nationalist and antisemitic sector. While a ministerial reshuffle transferred science and education posts from Jewish to Catholic personalities participating in the new power alliance, no signs of particular discrimination were revealed and important posts went to personalities such as Moisés Ikonicoff (minister of planning), Enrique Kaplan (director of protocol), Néstor Perl (governor of Chubut), and Carlos Corach (presidential adviser). Argentinean citizens of Jewish origin participated together with their compatriots in various administrative and political posts, with some tacit restrictions in the armed forces, diplomacy, and the higher levels of the judiciary.

Jewish cemeteries were once more desecrated in 1992, in the province of Buenos Aires. A bus taking Jewish school-children on a holiday trip came under fire in the province of Córdoba. In certain football clubs, groups of fans set fire to flags bearing swastikas and chanted anti-Jewish slogans. The fluctuations in antisemitism would seem to reflect an inherent tension between xenophobia and prejudice with the cosmopolitanism and culture expressions of Argentina's liberal urban society. Sociological studies carried out in Argentina have shown, for decades, the presence of a strong element of latent anti-Jewish prejudice, the magnitude and intensity of which grow in relation to the deterioration of the economic situation. At the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, Chinese and Korean immigrants, particularly in Buenos Aires, have in some cases replaced the Jews as the traditional scapegoat for Argentinean popular xenophobia. At the end of the 1990s their place was taken by immigrants from Bolivia.

Nevertheless, the new official and also popular pluralistic trend in Argentine society continued. In 1992 a public opinion survey commissioned by the American Jewish Committee and daia revealed more pluralistic attitudes among interviewees. For instance, 69% of respondents considered it better that Argentina's inhabitants had diverse origins, customs and religions, while 46% declared that Jews had made a positive contribution. Seven percent supported the notion that the country would be better off without Jews. While corroboration of such results would require the periodic holding of comparable polls, the outcome of this one can be reasonably attributed to changes going back to 1983.

But this pluralistic trend was challenged by two terror attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets. In March 1992, before the above-mentioned public opinion survey was made, a car bomb destroyed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and 29 persons were killed. In July 1994 a second car bomb destroyed the community building of amia and daia killing 85 people. On the one hand, there was a spontaneous expression of popular solidarity in a rally of tens of thousands of people in the square in front of the Federal Congress, with the participation of President Menem and some of the leaders of the country. The government of Argentina gave the Jewish community, as a kind of reparation, $11 million for the expansion of Jewish cultural activity, including $1 million for the establishment of a Holocaust museum to be housed in a building provided to the community by the government. At the same time many groups turned a cold shoulder to the Jews and the investigation into the bombings led to no concrete result.

Nevertheless, the pluralistic process which also legitimized organized Argentinean Jewry as an integral part of Argentinean society was becoming stronger. One example of this trend was the approval in 1988, after a long debate in the two Chambers of Congress, of an anti-discrimination law. A draft bill prepared by the criminologist Dr. Bernardo Beiderman was sent by President Alfonsín to Congress and finally approved with some modifications with the support of the two main factions. Since then, Law 23,592 was applied in several circumstances against racial, religious, and other kinds of discrimination. Another important change was made by President Carlos Menem in his first term: the reform of the National Constitution in 1994. Best known for abolishing the ban on two consecutive terms in office for incumbents seeking reelection, and reducing the presidential term to four years, this also enfranchised non-Catholic aspirants to the leadership of state. The requirement of the original constitution that the chief executive and his deputy must be Catholic has now been dropped, with government support for the Catholic Church remaining in place. In spite of this constitutional change, the aforementioned 1992 opinion survey showed that 45% of respondents would not support a Muslim presidential candidate while 41 and 39% held similar views in respect of a Jew and a Protestant. If this is anything to go by, a sizable proportion of the Argentine public was not ready, when this change was made, for a non-Catholic head of state.

As another example of the official attitude towards Jews and pluralism, it could be mentioned that when in 1997 Argentina's National Institute Against Discrimination and Racism (inadi) was established in the Ministry of Justice, the daia was made part of its advisory council.

Economy and Social Stratification

The deep economic recession which affected Argentina in the last years of the 1990s produced great political upheavals. Fernando de la Rúa, the leader of the Radical Party, who became president in December 1999, resigned after two years because of economic instability, a big budget deficit, an external debt which he inherited from the former government, and violent popular opposition to his liberal economic policy as unemployment reached nearly a fifth of the workforce. Eduardo Duhalde, the leader of the Peronist party who had lost to de la Rúa in the 1999 elections, became president in January 2002. The radical economic measures instituted by his government brought about a serious deterioration of the situation: production declined by 16% and inflation reached 41%. The cost of basic products increased by 75% and unemployment reached 25%. This situation specially affected people belonging to the middle class: thousands of them lost almost everything they had or were reduced to living on charity. The difficult social and economic situation brought Duhalde to call for early elections. Néstor Kirchner was installed as president in May 2003 after former president Menem withdrew from a second-round runoff. By 2005 his administration had achieved a measure of stability. Kirchner also got international creditors to cancel 75% of Argentina's debt.

The trend toward industrialization of the Argentinean economy started in the 1930s had produced economic dividends until the 1950s that also benefited the Jewish population. Many Jews abandoned blue-collar employment and went into business while a large number entered the universities and acquired liberal professions. This development, which continued in the following decades, produced a concentration of the Jews at the different levels of the middle class.

The liberalization of the economy commenced at the beginning of the 1990s, which opened the local markets to international competition, the big cut in government spending, and the reduction of a national debt of a magnitude unknown until then, had an adverse effect on broad sectors of the populace and especially on the middle-class, to which Argentinean Jews belonged. The economic distress of the Jewish community became that much worse in 1998, when two banks owned by Jews, Mayo and Patricios, where money belonging to Jews and to Jewish institutions had been invested, went bankrupt. After the collapse of 2001 an estimated 30% of the Jews were unemployed and one-fourth lived below the poverty line, some of them subsisting only thanks to Jewish welfare organized by community agencies. Existing institutions like amia and the independent Tzedaka organization were the first organizations to assist the needy. They coordinated and channeled economic support from local Jewish sources, providing a wide spectrum of aid including distribution of food and clothing, housing, backing to new businesses, vocational training, etc. Many synagogues and community centers opened emergency kitchens and supported existing ones. These institutions were also supported by non-Argentinean Jewish organizations like the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and other North American organizations. Also the Inter-American Development Bank has supported the amia's job placement service.

The Jewish Agency also tried to help Argentinean Jews, classifying them, together with the Jews of France and South Africa, as being in danger. It stepped up its program to encourage aliyah, increasing the benefits already given to all immigrants. In the first four years of the 21st century close to 9,500 Jews immigrated to Israel. The peak was in 2002 with about 6,200 olim, while in 2001 and 2003 the number was about 1,400 each year and in 2004 approximately 400. This drop in olim could be explained by the relative economic stability in Argentina and the economic problems faced by immigrants in Israel together with the security situation and the difficulty of cultural adaptation.

Jews immigrated to other countries as well, and while there are no statistics, their number may be estimated at several thousand. hias (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), based in New York, helped Argentinean Jews by facilitating their emigration to different countries in addition to the U.S.

The economic crisis also affected the maintenance of Jewish institutions. The drop in the Jewish population and the consequent reduction in the school population, the collapse of the financial institutions that had supported communal activities, the decline of communal institutions because of changes in traditions like the use of Jewish cemeteries, which were one of the most important sources of income of the community, made community life and the maintenance of traditional ways more difficult. Among the most exposed institutions were the Jewish schools. In recent years they underwent major changes, including amalgamation for reasons of efficiency, serious student dropout, and a big reduction of the Jewish teacher's staff, with consequent unemployment. The community organized centralized projects to find answers to the needs of the schools, with the economic assistance of the Jewish Agency, the State of Israel, and the World Jewish Congress.

Community Organization

daia, the political representative of the Jewish community vis-à-vis society at large and the government, celebrated the 70th anniversary of its existence in 2005. All those years daia maintained its leading position in the community, through difficult periods of political, social, and economic upheaval, by adhering to a self-imposed restriction: no identification with any Argentinean party or political faction. This attitude during the first presidency of Juan Perón (1946–55), who pressured the community institutions to identify with him, endangered to some extent the freedom of action of daia when a competitive Peronist Jewish organization (Organización Israelita Argentina – oia) was established by Jewish Peronists.

daia was sharply criticized for its position during the period of the military junta, 1976–83, when the regime acted criminally against the opposition and the civilian population in general. In those difficult years daia decided to maintain a low profile and avoid outright defiance of the junta that would make things even worse for the Jewish community. On the other hand, thousands of the victims and the families of the vanished Jews (at least a thousand), many members of the community, and some observers analyzing the events of that period, argue that daia did not speak out strongly enough against the cruel dictatorship and on behalf of the regime's Jewish victims.

The second umbrella organization founded in 1952, the Va'ad ha-Kehillot (Federation of Argentine Jewish Communities), included all the Jewish institutions in Argentina – Ashkenazi and Sephardi – on a federative basis. Nevertheless, amia, which was instrumental in organizing the federation, continued to play a dominant role. While constituents from the provinces sometimes complained that the Buenos Aires administration maintained excessive control, the federation remained the only body dealing with widely different services – spiritual and religious, culture, education, and social welfare – throughout the country. This supremacy of amia inspired the organization of a separate Sephardi umbrella organization, ecsa, and after its dismantlement in 1998, a new one was established in October 2002, the Federación Sefaradí de la República Argentina – fesera – with the participation of 66 Sephardi institutions.

In the second half of the 20th century ideological trends changed. The left-wing non-Zionist movements, such as the Anarchists, the Bundists, and also the Jewish Communists, became irrelevant. With the establishment of the State of Israel, the antisemitic trials in Communist countries, and the Six-Day War (1967), many supporters of the Bund and the Communists crossed the lines and embraced Zionism, most of them in the left-wing factions. The traditional Zionist parties, whose roots were in the communities of origin, were close to the Israeli parties and sometimes became dependent on their political and financial support. The political leadership of the Ashkenazi community – amia, which was maintained in the 1940s by leaders of the financial institutions, and the landsmanshaftn together with the leftist anti-Zionist sector – was dominated by a coalition of the Zionist parties after the democratic elections of the beginning of the 1950s. This transition was felt in some way also in the Ladino-speaking Sephardi community and later in the Damascene community.

In the 1970s two new organizations emerged. One was based on sports and recreation organizations, including the four big clubs of Buenos Aires (Hebraica, Maccabi, Hakoach and the Sephardi Club casa), a number of similar but smaller organizations in the Greater Buenos Aires area, and all the communal organizations in Argentina. These institutions, which grew to include social and family activities and some attempts at informal education, and embraced tens of thousands of Jews, enabled the leaders of the new organization to claim that they were representing most of the Jewish public. This organization was called faccma – Federación Argentina de Centros Comunitarios Macabeos – and was affiliated with the World Maccabi Organization based in Tel Aviv.

The second organization was the Conservative movement, which after 30 years of activity had become in the 1990s a well-established movement of more than 20 congregations with synagogues, social activities for youth and adults, and some of them maintaining day schools. These congregations had thousands of members in Buenos Aires and other cities in the country and a spiritual leadership from the graduates of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano.

These two organizations cooperated to a certain degree and were instrumental in the creation in 1983 of a new group called Brerá – Movimiento de Integración y Renovación Comunitaria. The group was established to give voice to the new goals and views of the part of the community that was not connected to the existing Zionist parties, and to take part in the communal elections. In both the organizations that helped create Brerá, the inclusion of members of the various Jewish ethnic groups was more prominent. In the two amia elections in which Brerá ran (May 1984 and May 1987) it came in second to Avoda – the Zionist Labor Party. In the next election (May 1990) Brerá ran in the Lista Unidad Comunitaria, and in the election of May 1993 it did not run at all, claiming that the election procedures were fraudulent. In fact, the ranks of Brerá dwindled when the Conservative movement established its own party – Masorti – abandoning its alliance with Brerá and reaching an understanding with Avoda. In this manner, the latter maintained its hold on the community leadership.

In the middle of the 1990s a new political group, Menorah, began to emerge under the leadership of Rubén *Beraja. Because of his leading position in one of the foremost Jewish financial institutions of the 1980s and 1990s, Beraja enjoyed senior status in the community. Following his election as chairman of the daia, to a great extent due to the support of Brerá, Beraja, an active member of the community of Aleppo, became known even outside the boundaries of Argentina and was elected vice president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Latin American Jewish Congress. In late 1998 and 1999, Beraja's standing was undermined by financial difficulties in the Banco Mayo, of which he was director and there were accusations of mismanagement. As a result, Beraja ceased all public activity and Menorah dissolved. Since then, the position of the representatives of the traditional Zionist parties has been reinforced. Nevertheless, in the elections of April 2005 only 3,000 of the approximately 13,000 members with voting rights out of a total of around 40,000 members participated.

Demography

The Jewish population of Argentina was estimated at about 187,000 in 2003. At its peak, in the 1960s, the community had numbered approximately 310,000, but had steadily declined since that time. The Jewish population – about 80% Ashkenazi – was mostly urban. Memories of Jewish agricultural settlement and the "Jewish gaucho" retained their places of honor in communal consciousness, reinforcing the idea that Jews were an old and legitimate element in the predominantly Catholic Argentine society, and in the Argentinean

YearTotal
population
Estimated Jewish populationJewish population(*)Percent of the Jewish population
(*) Based on research by U. Schmelz, S. DellaPergola, and B. Bloch. See S. Della Pergola, "Demographic Trends of Latin American Jewry," in L. Laikin Elkin and G. Merkx (eds.), The Jewish Presence in Latin America (1987). See also S. Della Pergola in recent editions of the American Jewish Yearbook.
18953,954,9116,085
19006,700–15,60014,700
190522,500–25,40024,700
1910 (1911)7,171,91055,000–68,70068,1000.95
19147,885,273100,000–116,300115,6001.47
1920 (1921)8,698,516120,000–126,900126,7001.46
19259,548,092160,400–200,000162,3001.7
1930 (1928)10,646,814200,200–218,500191,4001.8
193512,227,761226,400–253,500218,0001.78
1940 (1941)13,320,641254,4001.9
1945350,000273,400
194715,893,827249,330–350,000285,8001.8
195016,109,000360,000294,0001.83
195518,379,000360,000305,9001.66
196020,008,945291,877–450,000310,0001.55
196521,719,000450,000296,6001.37
197023,983,000500,000286,3001.19
197524,290,000475,000265,0001.09
198026,060,000300,000242,0000.93
199534,995,000300,000206,0000.59
200137,032,000197,0000.53
200439,144,753190,0000.49

tourist industry, which was eager to exploit the image to get American Jews to come for a visit. But this image is divorced from contemporary reality. At present, the Jewish agricultural settlements and the Jewish communities in rural areas are almost nonexistent. More than 80% of the Jewish population lives in the urban area of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and its suburbs, and another 10% in cities of more than a million inhabitants (Córdoba, Rosario, Tucumán, and La Plata).

One reason for the constant demographic decline is the low birthrate. As in other urban and middle-class Jewish communities around the world, the low birthrate means an aging Jewish population. The average age, which was estimated at 25–27 in 1930, 31 in 1947, and 35 in 1960, jumped to over 40 in the 1970s and is continuously rising. The second reason is the growing number of Jews that abandon the community and assimilate into the majority society, many through exogamous marriages, which increase steadily. While no exact statistics are available, the intermarriage rate, approximately calculated in the mid-1930s to reach 1–5% and in the 1960s 20–25%, is now estimated at 40% and up. In addition, there is also a negative migratory balance. While in the period from the end of the 19th century until World War ii Argentina was a receptive country for Jewish immigration, and in the Holocaust years – in spite of the restrictive legislation and the complete closure of the Argentinean borders to Jewish immigration after 1938 – about 40,000 Jews entered the country in legal and illegal ways. In 1945–50 about 1,500 Holocaust survivors immigrated to Argentina. The 1950s was the last decade with a positive migratory balance with the immigration of Jews from Hungary and Egypt. From the 1960s on, the community was characterized by emigration. The best statistically known destination of emigration was the State of Israel. The rate of aliyah was proportionally among the highest in the western Jewish Diaspora. Since the establishment of Israel close to 59,000 Jews from Argentina made aliyah. Zionism and antisemitism were important reasons for this emigration, but economic difficulties seemed to predominate, especially among the 9,500 Jews who emigrated in the first four years of the 21st century. This factor also motivated considerable immigration to the U.S., Canada, and other countries in Latin America, and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe. While it is almost impossible to measure this migration, it seems reasonable to assume that it affects many thousands of Argentinean Jews.

Cultural Life

In the second half of the 20th century and to a remarkable extent since the 1970s, Jews constituted an integral part of Argentine cultural life. Jewish participation was evident in every sphere of culture – teaching and research, literature, journalism, theater, cinema and television, the visual arts, and classical and popular music. The Jewish presence in these fields goes far beyond any discussion about the Jewish character of their cultural activity and should be considered Jewish creativity as such. While this multifaceted cultural creativity does in fact exhibit a profound connection with Jewish roots, there is at the same time rich cultural activity among Jews that entirely lacks Jewish particularity, being woven into the deepest layers of Argentinean culture, like the tango of Buenos Aires.

Jewish institutions have always been a vital outlet for this cultural activity. Literature, theater, music, lectures attracted the Jewish public throughout the 20th century and continue to do so today, despite the economic and social crisis that affected broad sectors of society. The cultural fare of the Jewish institutions is rich and is well received by the Jewish public. In place of the Editorial Israel, a joint cultural venture promoted by cira and a well-known Jewish family, which published many Jewish books from the 1940s to the 1960s, the Ashkenazi community amia established the Editorial Milá, which since 1986 has published hundreds of books, including literature, essays, testimonies, and research studies. In 2001–4 Milá published dozens of books, most of them in the original Spanish, as well as a number of translations, particularly from Yiddish.

In the provinces the situation is less encouraging, as these regions are to a large extent dependent upon events and activities organized by the Va'ad ha-Kehillot, whose headquarters are in Buenos Aires.

The change in the language used by Jews has been clearly reflected not just in the schools or in cultural and public activity but also in another dimension of cultural life – journalism. Since the 1970s Yiddish and German have almost disappeared from the print media in favor of Spanish. Arabic was common only on a colloquial level and periodicals in Hebrew were always a rare phenomenon. There are weekly or monthly publications like Mundo Israelita and La Luz – founded in the 1920s and 1930s, respectively – Nueva Sión (1948), Comunidades (1980s), and La Voz Judía (1990s). In recent years there were also daily news publications on the Internet like Iton Gadol and Shalom OnLine. In the 1990s Jewish tv cable and radio stations like Aleph and fm Jai were also established, of which only the latter still exists.

Religious Life

The Jewish community of Argentina is still overwhelmingly secular. For many, synagogue attendance on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays was not a religious act but instead a mode of social and national identification with the Jewish people and its culture. Yet even while the large majority of Jews and their leaders lived secular lives, the central institutions of amia Ashkenazi community remained officially Orthodox.

One controversial religious issue with potentially profound implications for Argentine Jewry as a whole was conversion. With the high rate of intermarriage, some non-Jewish spouses were willing to convert to Judaism, be formally incorporated into the community, and raise their children as Jews. From 1928 conversions in the country were prohibited by an Orthodox edict, but not every rabbinical authority abided by the ban. Today there are still many Jews in Argentina, including people who are not themselves religiously observant, who maintain that non-Jews converted by local rabbis are not yet Jews and will be recognized as Jews only after conversion by rabbinic courts in Israel, the U.S., or Europe.

The Masorti movement, which identifies with Conservative Judaism and has at present more than 20 affiliated congregations in Argentina, performs its own conversions. The Reform movement, which also performs conversions, has a very limited presence in Argentina and very few followers. Most Jews of Argentina, whose Judaism was a matter of social and ethnic identity and who emphasized active participation in Jewish life and the upbringing of children as members of the Jewish people rather than halakhah, were satisfied with Conservative and Reform conversions.

According to some estimates, about half of all the Jews in Argentina who maintained relatively continuous contact with a synagogue identified with the Masorti movement. In 2004, Masorti rabbis graduating from the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires served in Argentina and other communities in Latin America (more than 40), in the U.S. (more than 15), and in Israel (10).

In recent decades, certain groups of young people from various sectors of the Jewish population, in particular those who belong to the community of Aleppan origin and to some extent those of Damascene origin, as well as small groups of Ashkenazim, had "returned" to religious Orthodox observance. They observed Jewish law strictly and studied rabbinical literature in religious academies (yeshivot and kolelim). But this trend has very little impact on the broader community and is limited to a minority.

More significant was the growth of the Chabad-Lubavitch ḥasidic group. Chabad's entry into the Argentine Jewish community began in the late 1960s, and in 2005 the movement had approximately 20 centers in the country, two-thirds of them in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area. As a part of its worldwide strategy, also in Argentina Chabad established a public presence by celebrating holidays like Hanukkah, Sukkot, and Lag ba-Omer in public, non-Jewish spaces, and many Jews responded positively to such a demonstration of Jewish pride. Chabad's original appeal in Argentina was to the poorer Jews, a steadily growing group under the economic conditions of 2001–2, who appreciated the economic help this Orthodox movement furnished them. It also attracted a number of wealthy people to help support its activities. It was unclear, however, how many of those who identified with Chabad or received financial aid from it adopted the fully observant Chabad lifestyle, since the movement did not insist on strict conformity to halakhah on the part of those who found their way to them.

The Sephardi sector is characterized by the opposite trends of secularization and growing Orthodoxy. Secularization is more evident among the communities of Moroccans and Ladino speakers, whose ethnic identity has less of an appeal to the younger generation, which feels more at home among the Conservatives and joins the congregations of the Masorti. The two communities of Syrian origin – from Aleppo and Damascus – remain the stronghold of Orthodoxy among the Sephardim. During the last decades they strengthened their educational network, stressing the role of women in transmitting the Jewish tradition in the family. Many of their rabbis were born in Argentina and received their rabbinical education in yeshivot in Israel; they are influenced by the religious leadership of Rabbi Ovadiah *Yosef.

Jewish Education

When segments of the public educational system changed their schedule to a longer day in the late 1960s, leaving no time for the morning or afternoon complementary Jewish schools, the community transformed them into day schools offering both a general and a Jewish curriculum. This put pressure on the schools to excel in their general programs so that parents would not remove their children and send them to public or non-Jewish private schools. While tending to relegate the Jewish program to a secondary place, this strategy did succeed in retaining Jewish students. This change brought a solution to the above-mentioned dropout problem in the elementary schools and to some extent also at the secondary level. A survey carried out in 1997 found that nearly half of all Jewish children aged 13–17 and two-thirds of children aged 6–12 attended Jewish day schools. These schools taught the state curriculum along with a Jewish cultural program that took up between five and 20 hours per week. A total of 19,248 students attended classes in 56 kindergartens, 52 elementary schools, and 29 high schools.

By 2002, however, the numbers had dropped, showing just 14,700 students in 40 elementary schools and 22 high schools. Although the two surveys conducted five years apart had different methodologies and were therefore not necessarily comparable, it is likely that the difference reflected a real downturn, the natural result of the above-mentioned demographic processes: low birthrate, assimilation, and emigration. On the other hand, the economic situation which affected the middle-class Jewish population should be taken into account as well. The high tuition rates in these private schools were also a deterrent under the grim economic conditions, even though local Jewish institutions, the Jewish Agency, and Israel's Ministry of Education, together with the Joint Distribution Committee and World Jewish Congress, established financial aid programs.

In addition to formal Jewish education, Jewish schools offered an informal social framework with events connected to the Hebrew calendar and Israel-related activities such as dance groups and choirs. For students in the higher grades there was the opportunity for educational trips to Israel.

Another important contribution of the schools to Jewish life is the common framework they offer to thousands of young Jews, creating through them the opportunity to establish a connection with thousands of young families interested in a Jewish framework and being exposed to Jewish values.

Nevertheless socio-economic development since the 1990s imposed a revision of the existing model of Jewish schooling. Recognizing that other educational alternatives were necessary for those not in day schools, the community, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency, established a supplementary program called Lomdim for secondary level (with about 1,200 students in 2004) with classes two or three days (6–9 hours) a week. A second supplementary program, for elementary school children, called Chalomot, with 4–12 hours a week, has approximately 600 children. Chabad developed a similar strategy, offering children attending public school an enriched after-school program in computers, English, and other subjects, together with Jewish studies.

Teacher training suffered dramatically in this period. Such training was given in the 1940s and 1950s by certain secondary schools, in Buenos Aires mainly by the Seminar le-Morim of amia, the Machon le-Limudei ha-Yahaduth of cira, and the secondary school of the Sholem Aleichem Shul, and in Moisesville by the Seminar Yahaduth. Training was transferred to Ha-Midrashah ha-Ivrit in the mid-1960s. Students received training there as elementary school teachers in the first two years, and could became secondary school teachers after three additional years of study. At the beginning of the 1970s its name was changed to Michlelet Shazar (Shazar College) and received academic sponsorship from Tel Aviv University, which was withdrawn at the end of the 1980s. Many difficulties – academic, budgetary, and administrative, especially after the bombing of the community building in 1994 – led to a decline of its activities in the mid-1990s. In 1996 the Merkaz Rabin was established, which included the Michlelet Shazar and the Seminar Agnon for kindergarten teachers (established in the early 1960s). At the end of the 1990s, however, Shazar was closed, and today there is no teacher training institution in Argentina. The only institutions of higher Jewish studies are Orthodox yeshivot and the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano of Conservative orientation, in which there is also a section for non-rabbinic studies. All those institutions demand from their students one or more years of study at higher yeshivot or Jewish universities in Israel or the U.S. in order for them to receive a rabbinic degree.

Relations with Israel

Argentina has always had a significant place in Israel's foreign policy as a prominent Latin American country and a country with a very large Jewish community. From 1947, when Argentina abstained from voting for the un Partition Plan for Palestine, relations were marked by steady progress. Argentina recognized Israel on Feb. 14, 1949, and diplomatic missions were established in Buenos Aires and Tel Aviv in August and September 1949, respectively.

Argentina's position varies on a number of issues affecting Israel. In the annually recurrent un debates on Palestine refugees, Argentina has for years voted with Israel against attempts to appoint a un property custodian, on the grounds that it would be an unacceptable interference with national sovereignty. Following the Six-Day War, Argentina was in the forefront of the Latin American nations that opposed Soviet and Arab efforts in the Emergency Session of the un General Assembly to bring about an unconditional evacuation of the Israel-held territories. On the other hand, she has consistently favored the internationalization of Jerusalem, and after the Six-Day War voted against the municipal reunification of the city.

In 1960 the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina caused a temporary crisis in relations, which returned to normal after some months. Commercial treaties exist between the two countries. In the 1960s the trade balance was overwhelmingly in favor of Argentina (due to meat exports that varied from $10 to 15 million a year). The trade balance remained disproportionate also in the 1970s (Israel's imports rose to $17.1 million while exports only reached $1.3 million). The balance changed radically in the 1980s ($42.7 and 35.4 million, respectively) and in the 1990s ($66.7 and 12.3 million). Since 2000 the total scope of bilateral trade was over $100 million a year, with the exception of 2002, when a deep crisis struck the Argentinean economy. The most remarkable year was 2004 with a total of $191.1 million ($136.3 and $54.8 million). Meat continues to be the principal Argentinean export product together with oil and processed food. The main goods exported by Israel are machinery and chemical products.

In 1957 a cultural exchange agreement was signed. An Israel-Argentina Cultural Institute has been active in Buenos Aires since the 1950s. The Argentina House was established in Jerusalem in 1967 as a result of a private initiative, offering cultural activities to the Israeli public. Technical cooperation between the two countries developed in fields, such as rural planning in semi-arid zones and the uses of water.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations the Argentinean government has recognized the legitimacy of the special relationship between Israel and the Jews of Argentina. As an immigration country that legitimized the special ties of immigrants to their countries of origin, considered their "madre patria" (motherland), Israel was perceived as the madre patria of the Jews, although they had lived in Argentina at least 60 years before the creation of the State of Israel. This recognition was manifested when the government accepted the right of the Israeli ambassador to intervene on behalf of Argentinean Jewry, demanding that expressions of antisemitism should be stopped and prohibited.

After seven years of military rule, Argentina returned to democracy in 1973, with the victory of the Peronist party, which prevailed in free elections. Former President Juan Perón, who had been in exile since 1955, returned to Argentina and after a few months was elected president. During his year in office (he died on July 1974) and in the government headed by his wife, in which the strongman was Minister López Rega, antisemitism became more active in the streets as well as in official discourse. Moreover, López Rega strengthened relations with Arab countries, especially with Libya. He considered the establishment of diplomatic relations with the plo and there were rumors that he was promoting the rupture of diplomatic relations with Israel. In those years of instability Israel protested many times against manifestations of antisemitism and against the anti-Israel policy. After the military coup d'état in March 1976, everyone thought that the generals would establish order in the country, but they abrogated all civil rights and instituted a reign of terror, tolerating no opposition.

Although antisemitism was not an official policy, antisemitic expressions were very frequent, also in the different ranks of the army, the government, and the forces of repression. In these circumstances Israel acted officially against antisemitism and interceded on behalf of incarcerated Jews and those who vanished (kidnapped and killed by the repressors). In the case of the former, the Argentinean government agreed to free from jail more than 55 persons. In the case of those who disappeared, Israel's intervention together with European public opinion and to some extent the U.S., succeeded in getting only one journalist freed – Jacobo *Timerman – under condition that he leave for Israel. Unofficially Israel evacuated from Argentina close to 500 Jews in danger and took them in. These activities on the part of the Israeli embassy, together with the Jewish Agency, were made possible because of the special position of Israel. On the one hand, the generals believed, as a part of their antisemitic perception, that through the Israeli embassy they could influence U.S. policy towards Argentina. On the other hand, Israel and officials of the embassy had had good relations since the beginning of the 1970s with military officers in charge of purchasing military equipment in Israel. Some of these officers occupied high posts in the government, like Minister of the Interior General Albano Harguindeguy, or Admiral Emilio Massera, commander-in-chief of the Navy and member of the first junta headed by General Jorge Videla. Although Israel continued to sell military equipment to the military government, the Israeli diplomats in Buenos Aires decided to avoid the use of these special relations as a means of putting diplomatic pressure on Argentina to change its position in matters of special interests for Israel, such as Argentina's consistent support of the Palestinian and Arab positions in the un and in other international arenas, to improve economic and other bilateral relations that were unfavorable to Israel, and to obtain the release of the "vanished" Jews.

In 2000, by the request of the Knesset, the Israeli government established an Inter-Ministerial Commission with the objective of helping the Jewish families of the "vanished" in their demand of the Argentinean government to receive the bodies and to bring to trial those responsible for human rights violations in the dictatorship. This commission, composed of representatives of the Foreign and Justice Ministries and representatives of the public and of the families, presented its conclusions and recommendations in July 2003. As a result of the commission's report, the president of Israel and the government several times presented official requests supporting the demands of the families. Since then, the request to find and identify the bodies of the "vanished" Jews has been made in many meetings of Israeli and Argentinean officials.

In the first democratic government after the military dictatorship (1983–1989) Foreign Minister Caputo's foreign policy attempted to achieve an alliance both with Third World and developed countries at one and the same time. To these ends special attention was paid to the demands of the Arab bloc, while a cold but correct profile was maintained in relations with Israel. This in no way influenced the ideology of the ruling party (ucr), which was traditionally democratic and opposed to the nationalist right-wing groups. In 1992 then ex-president Alfonsín visited Israel, as did the possible radical candidate in the next presidential election, Fernando de la Rúa.

Relations between Argentina and Israel, despite the initial prejudices, were concretely upgraded after Menem came to power in 1989, together with a change toward a pro-North American policy in the international arena. The association between Argentina, Egypt, and Iraq for the construction of the Condor ii missile was frozen and then disbanded. The missile was finally destroyed as a result of U.S. government pressure. Official visits at the highest level have increased: in late 1989 Israeli president Chaim Herzog visited Argentina, where he addressed the National Congress; in 1991 Menem became the first Argentine president to visit Israel. Before and after these visits, parliamentary and ministerial missions were exchanged between both countries for discussion of issues of mutual interest.

During the 1990 Persian Gulf crisis, the Argentinean government opposed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and sent two frigates to join the United Nations force that attacked the aggressor. This active position, consistent with the pro-American policy, was a source of controversy in Argentinean political sectors. In other aspects connected with the Middle East, the Alfonsín and Menem governments resisted plo efforts to open an office in the country in order to obtain diplomatic recognition. In 1985 leaders of the Jewish community appealed to representatives of all the political streams to condemn un General Assembly Resolution 3378 equating "Zionism" with "racism" in the following years, the resolution was condemned by the Argentinean parliament (1990).

Moreover, the Argentinean chairman of the un Commission on Human Rights convening in Durban in 2001 was very active in efforts to moderate anti-Israel resolutions.

The government headed by President Néstor Kirchner, elected in the fifth consecutive democratic elections in 2003, maintained good relations between the two countries. Politically, Argentina is against violent solutions to international conflicts and therefore supports the need of negotiations in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Nevertheless the new administration changed its voting policy in the un and is coming closer to that of the other Latin American countries: Argentinean votes against Israel or sometimes abstains.

In March 1992, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was destroyed in a terrorist attack that left 20 dead and hundreds of injured, including passers-by and neighbors as well as embassy personnel. Following the July 1994 terrorist bombing of the central community building of amia, with 85 people killed and hundreds injured, President Menem called Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to express his condolences. After these events President Menem, his ministers, and representatives across almost the entire political, trade union, and intellectual spectrum participated together with tens of thousands of Argentinean citizens in expressing their solidarity with the Jews, in the first case visiting the ruins of the destroyed embassy and in the second in a mass demonstration a few days afterwards in the Plaza Congreso.

The subsequent investigations saw hard words and tensions between various sectors of the security forces, the law courts connected with the cases, politicians, including President Menem, the Israeli embassy, and the Jewish community. The investigations in both cases did not discover who was responsible for the attacks, despite a public trial of ten local suspects for collaboration with foreign terrorists. This trial began in September 2001 and was concluded at the end of 2004 with no convictions. Israel continued to demand that the government find the local perpetrators as well as take the necessary political steps against Iran.

[Haim Avni,

Ignacio Klich /

Efraim Zadoff (2nd ed.)]

bibliography:

H.C. Lea, Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies (1908); B. Lewin, El Judio en la época colonial (1939), includes bibliography; idem, Los judios bajo la inquisición en Hispanoamérica (1960); J. Monin, Los Judíos en la America Española, 1492–1810 (1939). add. bibliography: B. Ansel, "The Beginnings of the Modern Jewish Community in Argentina, 1852–1891" (Ph.D. dissertation: University of Kansas, 1969); H. Avni, Argentina "Ha-Areẓ ha-Ye'uda" – Mifal ha-Hityashvut shel ha-Baron Hirsch be-Argentina (1973); idem, Argentina and the Jews: A History of Jewish Migration (1991); idem, Yahadut Argentina – Ma'amadah ha-Ḥevrati u-Demutah ha-Irgunit (1972); G. Ben Dror, Católicos, Nazis y judíos. La Iglesia Argentina en tiempos del Tercer Reich, 1933–1945 (2003); M. Braylan and A. Jmelnitzky, Informe sobre antisemitismo en la Argentina 2000–2001 et seq. (2002, 2004); daia – Centro de Estudios Sociales, B. Gurevich, Proyecto testimonio – revelaciones de los archivos argentinos sobre la política oficial en la era nazi-fascista, vols. i and ii (1998); S. Della Pergola, in: American Jewish Yearbook (2002, 2003); R. Feierstein and S. Sadow, Recreando la cultura judeoargentina – 1894–2001: en el umbral del segundo siglo (2002); I. Herschlag, D. Schers et al., The Social Structure of Latin American Jewry – Final Report (1975); J. Laikin Elkin and G.W. Merkxs (eds.), The Jewish Presence in Latin America (1987); J. Laikin Elkin, The Jews of Latin America (1998); V. Mirelman, Jewish Buenos Aires, 1890–1930: In Search of an Identity (1990); I. Rubel, Las Escuelas Judías Argentinas (1985–1995) – Procesos de evolución y de involución (1998); U.O. Schmelz and S. Della Pergola, Ha-Demografiyah shel ha-Yehudim be-Argentina ve-Yeter Medinot America ha-Latinit (1974); L. Senkman (ed.), El Antisemitismo en la Argentina (1989); idem, Argentina, la Segunda Guerra Mundial y los refugiados indeseables, 1933–1945 (1991); L. Senkman and M. Sznajder (eds.), El legado del autoritarismo (1995); L. Slavsky, La espada encendida – Un estudio sobre la muerte y la entidad étnica en el judaísmo (1993); S. Schenkolewski-Kroll, Ha-Tenu'ah ha-Ẓiyyonit ve-ha-Miflagot ha-Ẓiyyoniot be-Argentina, 1935–1948 (1996); Tel Aviv University, S. Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Anti-Semitism Worldwide (yearbook); E. Zadoff, Historia de la Educación Judía en Buenos Aires 1935–1957 (1994); idem, A Century of Argentinean Jewry: In Search of a New Model of National Identity (2000). websites: news.daia.org.ar; www.amia.org.ar; www.mfa.gov.il/desaparecidos.

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ARGENTINA

Argentine Republic

República Argentina

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

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.

POPULATION.

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 peopleor about one-third of the populationlive 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 deficitsUS$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

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Argentina 123 681 289 163.1 78 2.0 44.3 27.85 900
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Brazil 40 444 316 16.3 47 3.1 30.1 18.45 3,500
Chile 98 354 232 44.8 65 2.7 48.2 21.45 700
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.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

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.

AGRICULTURE

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.

CROPS.

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.

LIVESTOCK.

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.

FISHING.

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.

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

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.

FOOD PROCESSING.

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.

MANUFACTURING.

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 increasedmainly 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.

CHEMICALS.

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.

SERVICES

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.

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.

RETAIL.

The retail sector in Argentina has experienced a period of decline since 1998. The country's economic slowdown has constrained consumer spending. However, some segmentsincluding restaurants and certain retail franchiseshave 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.

TOURISM.

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.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

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
Exports Imports
1975 2.961 3.947
1980 8.021 10.541
1985 8.396 3.814
1990 12.353 4.076
1995 20.967 20.122
1998 25.227 31.402
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.

MONEY

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
2001 1.000
2000 1.000
1999 1.000
1998 1.000
1997 1.000
1996 1.000
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 companiesYPF, Telefonica, and Telecomwhich 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$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Argentina 7,317 7,793 6,354 5,782 8,475
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Brazil 3,464 4,253 4,039 4,078 4,509
Chile 1,842 2,425 2,345 2,987 4,784
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.

WORKING CONDITIONS

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
Argentina 30 9 17 15 15 5 9
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Brazil 22 13 18 15 34 4 -6
Chile 17 10 24 20 15 6 9
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.

FUTURE TRENDS

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.

DEPENDENCIES

Argentina has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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.

Tom Lansford

CAPITAL:

Buenos Aires.

MONETARY UNIT:

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.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Edible oils, fuels and energy, cereals, feed, motor vehicles.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

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.).

views updated

Argentina

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Argentine Republic
Region (Map name): South America
Population: 37,384,816
Language(s): Spanish (official), English, Italian, Germany, French
Literacy rate: 96.2%
Area: 2,766,890 sq km
GDP: 284,960 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 106
Total Circulation: 1,500,000
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 newspaperswhich may vary depending upon the source referencedare: 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.

Economic Framework

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.

Press Laws

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 countrya 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.

Censorship

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.

State-Press Relations

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.

News Agencies

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).

Broadcast Media

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:

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.

Summary

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.

Significant Dates

  • 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

Bibliography

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Eduardo Alemán

Martin Dinatale

views updated

ARGENTINA

y

Major Cities:
Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario, La Plata, Mendoza, San Miguel de Tucumán, Mar del Plata, Salta

Other Cities:
Avellaneda, Bahía Blanca, Catamarca, Comodoro, Rivadavia, Concordia, Corrientes, Godoy Cruz, Paraná, Posadas, Resistencia, Río Cuarto, San Juan, Santa Fe

EDITOR'S NOTE

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.

INTRODUCTION

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).

MAJOR CITIES

Buenos Aires

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

Food is plentiful in Argentina. Supermarkets are well stocked, and carry some U.S. brands.

Clothing

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.

Religious Activities

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.

Education

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 TestingIn 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.

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 whichthe YMCAis 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 balla 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, Aconcaguaalmost 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.

Entertainment

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.

Social Activities

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 arrangesamong other thingsa 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.

Special Information

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

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.

Education

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

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

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

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

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.

OTHER CITIES

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.

COUNTRY PROFILE

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 latitudea distance of about 2,300 milesand 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.

Population

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.

Public Institutions

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 MERCOSURthe 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.

Transportation

Local

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.

Regional

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.

Communications

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

Medical Facilities

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.

Community Health

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.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

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

*variable

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: [email protected].

Pets

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.

RECOMMENDED READING

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.

History

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

Travel

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

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Argentina

Culture Name

Argentine, Argentinean

Alternative Names

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."

Orientation

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 followedeven 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 barbarismthe 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 motherlandwas 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 lifesuch as gaucho attire, silver, alpaca knives, and horse stirrupsand 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 1940sby 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. Patronclient 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.

Social Stratification

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.

Political Life

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.

Socialization

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.

Etiquette

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.

Religion

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.

Secular Celebrations

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.

Bibliography

Archetti, Eduardo. Masculinities: Football, Polo and the Tango in Argentina, 1999.

Bethel, Leslie, ed. Argentina Since Independence, 1993.

Burns, Jimmy. The Land that Lost Its Heroes: Argentina, The Falklands and Alfonsín, 1987.

Crawley, Edward. A House Divided: Argentina, 1880-1984, 1984.

Escolar, Marcelo, Silvina Quintero Palacios, and Carlos Reboratti. "Geographical Identity and Patriotic Representation in Argentina." In David Hooson, ed. Geography and National Identity, pp. 346-366, 1994.

Femenia, Nora. National Identity in Times of Crises: The Scripts of the Falklands-Malvinas War, 1996.

Foster, David William. The Redemocratization of Argentine Culture, 1983 and Beyond, 1989.

. Buenos Aires: Perspectives on the City and Cultural Production, 1998.

, Melissa Fitch Lockhart, and Darrell B. Lockhart. Culture and Customs of Argentina, 1998.

Goodrich, Diana Sorenson. Facundo and the Construction of Argentine Cultures, 1993.

Guy, Donna. Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires: Prostitution, Family, and Nation in Argentina, 1991.

Keeling, David J. Contemporary Argentina: A Geographical Perspective, 1997.

Ludmer, Josefina. El Género Gauchesco: Un Tratado Sobre la Patria, 1988.

Masiello, Francine. Between Civilization and Barbarism: Women, Nation, and Literary Culture in Modern Argentina, 1992.

Rock, David. Argentina 1516-1982, from Spanish Colonization to the Falklands War, 1985.

Rowe, William and Vivian Schelling. Memory and Modernity: Popular Culture in Latin America, 1993.

Sarmiento, Domingo F. Life in the Argentine Republic in the Days of the Tyrants or, Civilization and Barbarism, 1845, rev. 1961.

Savigliano, Marta. Tango and the Political Economy of Passion, 1995.

Shumway, Nicolas. The Invention of Argentina, 1991.

Sikkink, Kathryn. Ideas and Institutions: Developmentalism in Brazil and Argentina, 1991.

Slatta, Richard. Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier, 1983.

Solberg, Carl. Immigration and Nationalism: Argentina and Chile, 1890-1914, 1970.

Waissman, Carlos. Reversal of Development in Argentina: Postwar Counterrevoultionary Policies and Their Structural Consequences, 1987.

Web Sites

Argentine Chamber of Commerce. http://www.amchamar.com.ar

Interaramerican Development Bank (IDB). http://www.database.iadb.org

Carmen Alicia FerradÁs

views updated

Argentina

Compiled from the November 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
The Argentine Republic

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

NATIONAL SECURITY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-ARGENTINE RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 2.8 million sq. km. (1.1 million sq. mi.); about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River; second-largest country in South America.

Climate: Varied—predominantly temperate with extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to arid/sub- Antarctic in far south.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Argentine(s).

Population: (2006 est.) 39.0 million.

Annual population growth rate: (2001) 1.05%.

Ethnic groups: European 97%, mostly of Spanish and Italian descent; Mestizo, Amerindian or other nonwhite groups 3%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 92%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%.

Language: Spanish.

Education: Years compulsory—10. Adult literacy (2001)—97%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—16.16/1,000. Life expectancy (2000 est.)—75.48 yrs.

Work force: Industry and commerce—36%; agriculture—19%; transport and communications—6%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: 1853; revised 1994.

Independence: 1816.

Government branches: Executive—president, vice president, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Congress (72-member Senate, 257-member Chamber of Deputies). Judicial—Supreme Court, federal and provincial trial courts.

Political subdivisions: 23 provinces and one autonomous district (Federal Capital).

Political parties: Justicialist (Peronist), Radical Civic Union (UCR), numerous smaller national and provincial parties.

Suffrage: Universal adult.

Economy (2005)

GDP: $182.0 billion.

Annual real growth rate: +9.2%.

Per capital GDP: $4,727.

Natural resources: Fertile plains (pampas); minerals—lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron, manganese, oil, and uranium.

Agriculture: (9% of GDP; including agribusiness, about 53% of exports by value) Products—grains, oilseeds and by-products, livestock products.

Industry: (23.2% of GDP) Types—food processing, oil refining, machinery and equipment, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals.

Trade: Exports ($40.0 billion in 2005)—grains, meats, oilseeds, fuels, manufactured products. Major markets—MERCOSUR 19%; EU 17%; NAFTA 15%. Imports ($28.7 billion in 2005)—machinery, vehicles and transport products, chemicals. Major suppliers—MERCOSUR 38%; NAFTA 17%; EU 17%. Imports from the United States were 14% of total Argentine imports, and 80% of Argentine imports from NAFTA in 2004.

PEOPLE

Argentines are a fusion of diverse national and ethnic groups, with descendants of Italian and Spanish immigrants predominant. Waves of immigrants from many European countries arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Syrian, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern immigrants number about 500,000, mainly in urban areas. Argentina’s population is overwhelmingly Catholic, but it also has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, estimated between 280,000 to 300,000 strong, and is home to one of the largest Islamic mosques in Latin America. In recent years, there has been a substantial influx of immigrants from neighboring Latin American countries. The indigenous population, estimated at 700,000, is concentrated in the provinces of the north, northwest, and south. The Argentine population has one of Latin America’s lowest growth rates. Eighty percent of the population resides in cities or towns of more than 2,000, and over one-third lives in the greater Buenos Aires area. With 13 million inhabitants, this sprawling metropolis serves as the focus for national life. Argentines enjoy comparatively high standards of living; however, following the economic crisis in 2002, 33.5% of the population was still living below the poverty line in the 28 largest urban areas as of the end of 2005.

HISTORY

Europeans arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solias visited what is now Argentina in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580, although initial settlement was primarily overland from Peru. The Spanish further integrated Argentina into their empire by establishing the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776, and Buenos Aires became a flourishing port. Buenos Aires formally declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816. Argentines revere Gen. Jose de San Martin, who campaigned in Argentina, Chile, and Peru as the hero of their national independence. Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federationist groups waged a lengthy conflict between themselves to determine the future of the nation. A modern constitution was promulgated in 1853, and a national unity government was established in 1861.

Two forces combined to create the modern Argentine nation in the late 19th century: the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and integration of Argentina into the world economy. Foreign investment and immigration from Europe aided this economic revolution. Investment, primarily British, came in such fields as railroads and ports. As in the United States, the migrants who worked to develop Argentina’s resources—especially the western pampas—came from throughout Europe.

From 1880 to 1930 Argentina became one of the world’s 10 wealthiest nations based on rapid expansion of agriculture and foreign investment in infrastructure. Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the government. The Radicals, with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina’s rapidly expanding middle class as well as to groups previously excluded from power.

The Argentine military forced aged Radical President Hipolito Yrigoyen from power in 1930 and ushered in another decade of Conservative rule. Using fraud and force when necessary, the governments of the 1930s attempted to contain the currents of economic and political change that eventually led to the ascendance of Juan Domingo Peron (b. 1897). New social and political forces were seeking political power, including a modern military and labor movements that emerged from the growing urban working class.

The military ousted Argentina’s constitutional government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the coup’s leaders, and he soon became the government’s dominant figure as Minister of Labor. Elections carried him to the presidency in 1946. He aggressively pursued policies aimed at empowering the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers.

In 1947, Peron announced the first 5-year plan based on the growth of industries he nationalized. He helped establish the powerful General Confederation of Labor (CGT). Peron’s dynamic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, known as Evita (1919-52), played a key role in developing support for her husband. Peron won reelection in 1952, but the military sent him into exile in 1955.

In the 1950s and 1960s, military and civilian administrations traded power, trying, with limited success, to deal with diminished economic growth and continued social and labor demands. When military governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Peron’s return.

On March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections for the first time in 10 years. Peron was prevented from running, but voters elected his stand-in, Dr. Hector Campora, as President. Peron’s followers also commanded strong majorities in both houses of Congress. Campora resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections. Peron won a decisive victory and returned as President in October 1973 with his third wife, Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron, as Vice President. During this period, extremists on the left and right carried out terrorist acts with a frequency that threatened public order. The government resorted to a number of emergency decrees, including the implementation of special executive authority to deal with violence. This allowed the government to imprison persons indefinitely without charge.

Peron died on July 1, 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but a military coup removed her from office on March 24, 1976, and the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta composed of the three service commanders until December 10, 1983. The armed forces applied harsh measures against terrorists and many suspected of being their sympathizers. They restored basic order, but the human costs of what became known as “El Proceso,” or the “Dirty War” were high. Conservative counts list between 10,000 and 30,000 persons as “disappeared” during the 1976-83 period. Serious economic problems, mounting charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country’s 1982 defeat by the United Kingdom in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the Falklands/Malvinas Islands all combined to discredit the Argentine military regime. The junta lifted bans on political parties and gradually restored basic political liberties.

Democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, with Raul Alfonsin of the country’s oldest political party, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), winning the presidency. Three general elections followed in the next 16 years—a remarkable feat in Argentine political history—with the Justicialist Party (PJ) candidate Carlos Menem winning two and the UCR’s Fernando De la Rua one. On October 30, 1983, Argentines went to the polls and chose Raul Alfonsin, of the Radical Civic Union (UCR), as President. He began a 6-year term of office on December 10, 1983. In 1985 and 1987, large turnouts for midterm elections demonstrated continued public support for a strong and vigorous democratic system. The UCR-led government took steps to resolve some of the nation’s most pressing problems, including accounting for those who disappeared during military rule, establishing civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidating democratic institutions. However, failure to resolve endemic economic problems, and an inability to maintain public confidence undermined the effectiveness of the Alfonsin government, which left office 6 months early after Peronist candidate Carlos Saul Menem won the 1989 presidential elections.

President Menem imposed peso-dollar parity (convertibility) in 1992 to break the back of hyperinflation and adopted far-reaching market-based policies. Menem’s accomplishments included dismantling a web of protectionist trade and business regulations, and reversing a half-century of statism by implementing an ambitious privatization program. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s. Unfortunately, widespread corruption in the administrations of President Menem and President Fernando De la Rua (elected in 1999) shook confidence and weakened the recovery. Also, while convertibility defeated inflation, its permanence undermined Argentina’s export competitiveness and created chronic deficits in the current account of the balance of payments, which were financed by massive borrowing. The contagion effect of the Asian financial crisis of 1998 precipitated an outflow of capital that gradually mushroomed into a 4-year depression that culminated in a financial panic in November 2001. In December 2001, amidst bloody riots, President De la Rua resigned, and Argentina defaulted on $88 billion in debt, the largest sovereign debt default in history.

A legislative assembly on December 23, 2001, elected Adolfo Rodriguez Saa to serve as President and called for general elections to elect a new president within 3 months. Rodriguez Saa announced immediately that Argentina would default on its international debt obligations, but expressed his commitment to maintain the currency board and the peso’s 1-to-1 peg to the dollar. Rodriguez Saa, however, was unable to rally support from within his own party for his administration and this, combined with renewed violence in the Federal Capital, led to his resignation on December 30. Yet another legislative assembly elected Peronist Eduardo Duhalde President on January 1, 2002; he assumed office in the midst of a widespread public rejection of the “political class” in Argentina. Duhalde—differentiating himself from his three predecessors—quickly abandoned the peso’s 10-year-old link with the dollar, a move that was followed by currency depreciation and inflation. In the face of rising poverty and continued social unrest, Duhalde also moved to bolster the government’s social programs.

In the first round of the presidential election on April 27, 2003, former President Carlos Menem (Justicialist Party—PJ) won 24.3% of the vote, Santa Cruz Governor Nestor Kirchner (PJ) won 22%, followed by Ricardo Murphy with 16.4% and Elisa Carrio with 14.2%. Menem withdrew from the May 25 runoff election after polls showed overwhelming support for Kirchner. President Kirchner took office on May 25, 2003. He took office following the immense social and economic upheaval stemming from the financial crisis caused by a failed currency convertibility regime. Despite widespread concern, democracy and democratic institutions survived the crisis, and Nestor Kirchner has taken firm hold as President. After taking office, Kirchner focused on consolidating his political strength and alleviating social problems. He forced changes in the Supreme Court and military and undertook popular measures, such as raising government salaries, pensions, and the minimum wage. The wave of public demonstrations that coincided with the economic downturn stabilized. On October 23, 2005, President Kirchner won a major victory in the midterm legislative elections, giving him a strengthened mandate and a stronger position in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Argentina’s constitution of 1853, as revised in 1994, mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. Each province also has its own constitution, roughly mirroring the structure of the national constitution. The president and vice president are directly elected to 4-year terms. Both are limited to two consecutive terms; they are allowed to stand for a third term or more after an interval of at least one term. The president appoints cabinet ministers, and the constitution grants him considerable power, including authority to enact laws by presidential decree under conditions of “urgency and necessity” and the line-item veto.

Since 2001, senators have been directly elected, with each province and the Federal Capital represented by three senators. Senators serve 6-year terms. One-third of the Senate stands for reelection every 2 years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to 4-year terms. Voters elect half the members of the lower house every 2 years. Both houses are elected via a system of proportional representation. Female representation in Congress—at nearly one-third of total seats—ranks among the world’s highest, with representation comparable to European Union (EU) countries such as Austria and Germany. Female senators include Christina Fernández de Kirchner, who was a nationally known member of the Senate for the Province of Santa Cruz before her husband was elected President, and was reelected on October 23, 2005 as a Senator for the Province of Buenos Aires.

The constitution establishes the judiciary as an independent government entity. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court with the consent of the Senate. The president on the recommendation of a magistrates’ council appoints other federal judges. The Supreme Court has the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional.

Political Parties

The two largest political parties are the Justicialist Party (PJ—also called Peronist), founded in 1945 by Juan Domingo Peron, and the Union Civica Radical (UCR), or Radical Civic Union, founded in 1891. Traditionally, the UCR has had more urban middle-class support and the PJ more labor support, but both parties have become more broadly based. The PJ presidency is currently in receivership and the party lacks a national committee. President Kirchner, a Peronist by origin, nominally is head of his Frente Para la Victoria (FPV) coalition party that includes Peronists and non-Peronists aligned with Kirchner. The UCR is in disarray, with the majority of the UCR Governors and the most important UCR mayors in alliance with Kirchner. The national leadership of the UCR has maintained an opposition position. Smaller parties, such as the center-right Propuesta Republicana (PRO) and the more-leftist-leaning Afirmacion para una Republica Igalitaria (ARI), occupy various positions on the political spectrum, and are active only in certain provinces. Historically, organized labor—largely tied to the Peronist Party—and the armed forces also have played significant roles in national life. However, labor’s political power has declined somewhat, and the armed forces are firmly under civilian control. Repudiated by the public after a period of military rule (1976-83)—marked by human rights violations, economic decline, and military defeat in the 1982 Falkland/Malvinas Islands conflict—the Argentine military today is a downsized, volunteer force.

Since taking office in 2003, President Kirchner has won control of the PJ from other party elites, although he has chosen not to assume the party presidency in order to enable him to attract political leaders from other political parties. President Kirchner is considered by many experts to be the most powerful Argentine president since democracy was restored in 1983. He faces a weak and divided political opposition. The UCR, although still the second most powerful political party after the PJ on a national scale, has declined significantly since UCR President de la Rua was forced from office in December 2001. In the April 2003 presidential elections, the UCR received only 2% of the national vote, the lowest tally in the party’s history. The UCR continues to retain significant strength in many parts of the country and governs roughly one-third of the provinces, although the majority of the UCR Governors have now aligned themselves with President Kirchner. The UCR is the only opposition political party with a nationwide structure.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 10/26/2006

President: Nestor KIRCHNER

Vice President: Daniel SCIOLI

Chief of Cabinet: Alberto FERNANDEZ

Min. of Defense: Nilda GARRE

Min. of Economy & Production: Felisa MICELI

Min. of Education & Culture: Daniel FILMUS

Min. of Federal Planning, Public Investment, & Services: Julio DE VIDO

Min. of Foreign Relations, Intl. Trade, & Worship: Jorge TAIANA

Min. of Health: Gines GONZALEZ GARCIA

Min. of Interior: Anibal FERNANDEZ

Min. of Justice, Security, & Human Rights: Alberto IRIBARNE

Min. of Labor, Employment, & Social Security: Carlos TOMADA

Min. of Social Development: Alicia KIRCHNER

Pres., Central Bank: Martin REDRADO

Ambassador to the US: Jose Octavio BORDON

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Cesar Fernando MAYORAL

Argentina maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009; tel (202) 238-6400; fax (202) 332-3171. It has consular offices in the following locations: 245 Peachtree Center Ave., Suite 2101 Atlanta, GA 30303, tel. (404) 880-0805, fax (404) 880-0806; 205 North Michigan Ave., Suite 4209 Chicago, IL 60601, tel. (312) 819-2610, fax (312) 819-2612; 1990 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 770 Houston, TX 77056, tel. (713) 871-8935, fax (713) 871-0639; 5055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210 Los Angeles, CA 90036, tel. (323) 954-9155, fax (323) 934-9076; 800 Brickell Ave., PH1 Miami, FL 33131, tel. (305) 373-7794, fax (305) 371-7108; 12 West 56th St., New York, NY 10019, tel. (212) 603-0400, fax (212) 541-7746; 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009, tel. (202) 238-6460, fax (202) 238-6471.

ECONOMY

Argentina’s economy began a recovery in March 2002 that has been far more robust than anticipated by leading analysts. An export-led boom triggered three consecutive years of 8.8-9.2% growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) beginning in 2003, with GDP reaching U.S. $182.0 billion in 2005, approximately U.S. $4,700 per capita. Argentines enjoy comparatively high standards of living; however, following the economic crisis in 2002, 33.8% of the population in the 28 largest urban areas remained below the poverty line in the last half of 2005. Industrial and construction activity performed well, growing 7.8% and 22.2%, respectively, in 2005. Tourism boomed, with a record high of an estimated 3.7 million foreign tourists visiting in 2005. Economic expansion is creating jobs and unemployment dropped from 20.4% in the first quarter of 2003 to 10.4% in the second quarter of 2006. Investment in real terms jumped 22.7% in 2005. A higher tax burden and the recovery’s strong impact on revenue levels let the Government of Argentina achieve a primary fiscal surplus in 2005 equivalent to 3.7% of GDP.

The move from a currency board to a market-based exchange rate regime and high global commodity prices have lifted exports to record levels and assured hefty surpluses in the trade and current account balances of the balance of payments, in spite of high import growth. Argentina’s trade surplus totaled $11.3 billion in 2005. Foreign trade equaled approximately 38% of GDP in 2005 (up from only 11% in 1990) and plays an increasingly important role in Argentina’s economic development. Exports totaled approximately 22% of GDP in 2005, up from 14% from 2002. Key markets for Argentine exports in 2005 included MERCOSUR (19% of total), the EU (17%), and the NAFTA area (15%). The favorable balance of payments performance and Argentina’s non-payment of its private debt obligations before the defaulted debt exchange in June 2005 have allowed a strong accumulation of foreign exchange reserves, which reached $26.2 billion in July 2006. Argentina’s Central Bank has managed monetary policy in support of a competitive peso but inflation, at 12.3% in 2005, remains a concern. Banks have returned to profitability and credit in pesos from local financial institutions to the private sector grew a real 56% between June 2003 and June 2006.

Argentina’s impressive recovery, which has led to improvements in key socio-economic indicators, can be attributed to a number of factors. First, following a decade of market reforms, the economy was fundamentally sound except for the high level of indebtedness. Second, the move away from convertibility and favorable international commodity and interest rate trends were catalytic factors in supporting Argentina’s export-led boom. Third, the government has maintained a primary fiscal surplus and continues to accumulate reserves. Argentina should continue to perform well in 2006 with GDP growth projected at 7.7% and inflation at 10.9%. Nevertheless, slowness in addressing public service contract renegotiations, capacity constraints, potential energy shortages in the face of high growth and distorted energy prices, inflation, and the government’s heterodox policies to contain it (including pressure on the private sector to maintain price controls), and a still-weak investment climate are potential obstacles to sustaining the recovery.

MERCOSUR Trade Pact

MERCOSUR, the customs union that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and most recently, Venezuela, remains the cornerstone of Argentina’s international trade policy. Chile and Bolivia are associate members. Cooperation between Brazil and Argentina—historic competitors—is the key to MERCOSUR’s broader integration agenda, which includes political and military elements. MERCOSUR continues to pursue an active program of trade negotiations with other countries and regional groups, such as India, the Andean Community, and the European Union.

Intellectual Property Rights

Argentina adheres to most treaties and international agreements on intellectual property. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Argentine Congress ratified the Uruguay Round agreements, including the provisions on intellectual property, in January 1995. However, extension of adequate patent protection to pharmaceuticals remains a highly contentious bilateral issue. In May 1997, the U.S. suspended 50% of Argentina’s generalized system of preferences (GSP) benefits because of its unsatisfactory pharmaceutical patent law. These benefits were later restored in response to improvements in intellectual property legislation. In November 2000, after years of protracted debate, a new patent law took effect, and a number of pharmaceutical patents were issued. While this law improved on earlier Argentine patent legislation, it provides less protection than that called for in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

In April 2002, negotiations between the Governments of the United States and Argentina clarified aspects of Argentina’s intellectual property system, including provisions related to the patentability of microorganisms and the import restriction regime. In addition, the Government of Argentina agreed to amend its patent law so as to provide protection for products obtained from a process patent and to ensure that preliminary injunctions are available in intellectual property court proceedings, among other steps. The Argentine Congress passed the outstanding amendment at the end of 2003. Finally, on the outstanding issues that remain, including data protection, the U.S. Government retains its right to seek resolution under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.

Investment

U.S. investment is concentrated in financial services, telecommunications, energy, petrochemicals, food processing, and motor vehicle manufacturing. However, the economic crisis and subsequent government decisions clouded the country’s investment climate, and many U.S. firms substantially wrote down the value of their Argentine investments. Other major sources of investment include Spain, Chile, Italy, France, Canada, and Japan. Several bilateral agreements generated significant U.S. private investment during the 1990s. Argentina has an agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Under the 1994 U.S.-Argentina Bilateral Investment Treaty, U.S. investors enjoy national treatment in all sectors except shipbuilding, fishing, nuclear power generation, and uranium production. The treaty allows for international arbitration of investment disputes, and some U.S. and foreign investors are currently pursuing arbitration claims against the Government of Argentina.

NATIONAL SECURITY

The president and a civilian minister of defense control the Argentine armed forces. The Interior Ministry controls the paramilitary Gendarmeria (border police), the Federal Police, and the Prefectura Naval (coast guard). The Argentine armed forces maintain close defense cooperation and military supply relationships with the United States. Other countries also have military relationships with the Argentine forces, principally Israel, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela.

Lack of budgetary resources is the most serious problem facing the Argentine military today. Current economic conditions and the government’s commitment to reduce public sector spending have slowed modernization and restructuring efforts.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Argentina’s foreign policy priorities are focused on increasing regional partnerships, strengthening MERCOSUR, and promoting human rights. Under President Kirchner, Argentina’s enthusiasm for the Summit of the Americas process and the Free Trade Area of the Americas initiative (FTAA) has lessened, with the emphasis placed instead on sub-regional initiatives with the other MERCOSUR members, including Venezuela. Partly driven by energy concerns, relations with Bolivia and Venezuela have become closer over the past year. President Kirchner has also made the strategic partnership with Brazil and consolidating and strengthening its relationship with Chile and other neighboring countries top foreign policy priorities.

Strengthening and expanding MERCOSUR has been a key component of Argentina’s foreign policy. President Kirchner strongly supported Venezuela’s entrance as a full MERCOSUR member. Argentina has played a positive role in promoting human rights and democratic institutions in the hemisphere, particularly in Haiti and Bolivia. Argentina currently has 575 peacekeeping troops in Haiti in support of MINUSTAH, reflecting its traditionally strong support of UN peacekeeping operations.

As a member of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Argentina has been a strong voice in support of nuclear non-proliferation issues.

U.S.-ARGENTINE RELATIONS

The U.S. has an extensive bilateral relationship with Argentina with many common strategic interests, including counterterrorism, non-proliferation, counternarcotics, and issues of regional stability. Argentina is a participant in the Three Plus One regional mechanism (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and the U.S.), which focuses on possible terrorist-related activity in the tri-border region. Argentina is the only South American country to have endorsed the Proliferation Security Initiative and has implemented the Container Security Initiative, which scans containers for weapons of mass destruction components.

In 2004, Argentina signed a Letter of Agreement with the Department of State opening the way for enhanced cooperation with the U.S. on counter-narcotics issues and enabling the U.S. to begin providing financial assistance to the Government of Argentina for their counternarcotics efforts. In recognition of its contributions to international security and peacekeeping, the U.S. Government designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998.

The positive relationship between the United States and Argentina is increasingly reflected in the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to facilitate cooperation in nontraditional areas such as scientific cooperation in space, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the environment. An active, sophisticated media environment, together with growing positive interest in American culture and society, make Argentina an uncommonly receptive environment for the information and cultural exchange work of the U.S. Embassy as well. The Fulbright fellowship program has more than tripled the annual number of U.S. and Argentine academic grantees since 1994. President George W. Bush and President Kirchner met most recently in November 2005 in Mar del Plata during the IV Summit of the Americas, and many senior U.S. officials visited Argentina to discuss issues of mutual concern. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Argentine Ministry of Defense hold an annual Bilateral Working Group Meeting, alternating between Argentina and Washington, DC.

U.S. Embassy Functions

The U.S. Mission in Buenos Aires carries out the traditional diplomatic function of representing the U.S. Government and people in discussions with the Argentine Government, and more generally, in relations with the people of Argentina. Political, economic, and science officers deal directly with the Argentine Government in advancing U.S. interests but are also available to brief U.S. citizens on general conditions in the country. Officers from the U.S. Foreign Service, Foreign Commercial Service, and Foreign Agricultural Service work closely with the hundreds of U.S. companies that do business in Argentina, providing information on Argentine trade and industry regulations and assisting U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Argentina.

The Embassy’s Consular Section monitors the welfare and whereabouts of more than 20,000 U.S. citizen residents of Argentina and more than 300,000 U.S. tourists each year. Consular personnel also provide American citizens passport, voting, notary, Social Security, and other services. With the end of Argentine participation in the visa waiver program in February 2002, Argentine tourists, students, and those who seek to work in the United States must have non-immigrant visas. The Consular Section processes nonimmigrant visa applications for persons who wish to visit the United States for tourism, studies, temporary work, or other purposes, and immigrant visas for persons who qualify to make the United States a permanent home.

Attaches accredited to Argentina from the Department of Justice—including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation—the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other federal agencies work closely with Argentine counterparts on international crime and other issues of concern. The Department of Defense is represented by the U.S. Military Group and the Defense Attache Office. These organizations ensure close military-to-military contacts, and defense and security cooperation with the armed forces of Argentina.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BUENOS AIRES (E) Address: Avda. Colombia 4300; APO/FPO: Unit 4334, APO aa 34034; Phone: 54-11-5777-4533; Fax: 54-11-5777-4240; Workweek: 0845 AM–0545 PM; Website: http://argentina.usembassy.gov/.

AMB:Wayne, Earl A.
DCM/CHG:Matera, Michael A.
POL:Egger, Philip H
COM:Brisson, Brian
CON:Abeyta, Susan K.
MGT:Mejía, Gustavo A.
AGR:Hoff, Robert
APHIS:Schissel, Thomas
CLO:McGuire-Alarid, Kelly
DAO:Lengenfelder, Douglas R.
DEA:Greco, Anthony Jr.
ECO:Climan, Doug P
EST:Schandlbauer, Alfred
FAA:Ochoa, Jose
FMO:Mederith, Katherine
GSO:Wisell, William R
IMO:Brown, Rickey
IPO:Barreto, Monica
ISSO:John P. Irvin
LEGATT:Godoy, William
MLO:Napoli, Joseph
PAO:Banks, Robert
RAMC:Charleston Finance Center
RSO:Campbell, Glenn

Last Updated: 12/12/2006

Other Contact Information

American Chamber of Commerce in Argentina
Viamonte 1133, 8th floor
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel (54)(11) 4371-4500; Fax (54)(11) 4371-8400

U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Latin America and the Caribbean International Trade Administration
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel (202) 482-2436; (800) USA-TRADE; Fax (202) 482-4726
Automated fax service for trade-related information: (202) 482-4464.

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : March 31, 2006

Country Description: Argentina is a medium-income nation that continues to emerge from a major financial crisis in 2001-2002. Buenos Aires and other large cities have well-developed tourist facilities and services including many four- and five-star hotels. The quality of tourist facilities in smaller towns outside the capital varies, and may not be up to similar standards.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport is required for all U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. U.S. citizens who arrive in Argentina with an expired or damaged passport may be refused entry and returned to the United States at their own expense. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide guarantees on behalf of travelers in such situations, and therefore encourages U.S. citizens to ensure their travel documents are valid and in good condition prior to departure from the U.S. U.S. citizens who also have Argentine nationality and who remain in Argentina more than 60 days are required to depart Argentina on an Argentine passport. The application process for an Argentine passport is lengthy, and the U.S. Embassy is not able to provide assistance in obtaining Argentine passports or other local identity documents. Children under 21 years of age who reside in Argentina, regardless of nationality, are required to present a notarized document that certifies both parents’ permission for the child’s departure from Argentina when the child is traveling alone, with only one parent, or in someone else’s custody. An airport tax is collected upon departure, payable in dollars or Argentine pesos. Visit the Embassy of Argentina web site at http://www.embajadaargentinaeeuu.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: Individuals and organizations with ties to extremist groups, including some known to provide financial support to designated foreign terrorist organizations, operate in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, in the tri-border area between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. No operational terrorist activities have been detected in Argentina, however, and the governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay are engaged in a coordinated effort, supported by the U.S. Government, to combat illegal activity in that area.

In recent years, there have been a number of small bomb/incendiary incidents in metropolitan Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, Santa Fe, and other cities. The bulk of the targets have been bank branches (ATMs), fast food restaurants, and Argentine government-affiliated offices. These incidents usually occurred in the middle of the night and appeared intended to cause only property damage. There has been no indication that these incidents were connected to international terrorism.

Demonstrations are very common in metropolitan Buenos Aires and occur frequently in other major cities, as well. Protesters often block streets, highways, and major intersections, causing traffic jams and delaying travel. While demonstrations are usually nonviolent, hooligans in some of the groups sometimes seek confrontation with the police and vandalize private property. These groups occasionally protest in front of the U.S. Embassy and U.S.-affiliated businesses. U.S. citizens should take common-sense precautions and avoid gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to protest.

Information about the location of possible demonstrations is available from a variety of sources, including the local media. Additional information and advice may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers or email address listed at the end of this document.

Domestic flights are usually dependable. However, in recent months wage disputes have led to work stoppages, stranding passengers nationwide. Work slow downs resulting in long delays have also impacted domestic air travel. Another tactic employed by disgruntled employees is road blockages, restricting passenger access to the airport. Consult local media for information about possible strikes, slow downs, or road blockages before planning domestic travel. International flights have not been directly affected by local wage disputes.

Public transportation is generally reliable and safe. The preferred option for travel within Buenos Aires and other major cities is by radio taxi or “remise” (private car with driver). The best way to obtain safe taxis and remises is to call for one or go to an established stand, rather than hailing one on the street. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses can order remises or radio taxis, or provide phone numbers for such services, upon request. Passengers on buses, trains, and the subway should be alert for pickpockets and should also be aware that these forms of transport are sometimes affected by strikes or work stoppages.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Most American citizens visit Argentina without incident. Nevertheless, street crime in the larger cities, especially greater Buenos Aires, is a problem for residents and visitors alike. Visitors to Buenos Aires and popular tourist destinations should be alert to muggers, pickpockets, scam artists, and purse-snatchers on the street, at bus and train stations, and cruise ports. Criminals usually work in groups and travelers should assume they are armed. Criminals employ a variety of ruses to victimize unsuspecting visitors.

A common scam is to spray mustard or a similar substance on the tourist from a distance. A pickpocket will then approach the tourist offering to help clean the stain, and while doing so, he or an accomplice robs the victim. Another common scam is for victims to be approached by someone who distracts them, for example by unfolding a map and asking for directions, while an accomplice robs the victim. Several American visitors and residents have been robbed of their watches and jewelry while walking on the street. Cruise ship passengers are a favorite target of pickpockets and petty thieves. Passengers temporarily debarking in Buenos Aires should take extra precaution to safeguard their wallets, purses, and passports. While most American victims reported that they were not physically injured when they were robbed, criminals typically do not hesitate to use force when they encounter resistance. Visitors are advised to immediately hand over all cash and valuables if confronted. Wearing expensive watches or jewelry increases your chances of being robbed. Your passport is a valuable document and should be well guarded. Whenever possible, lock your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe, and carry a photocopy of your passport for identification purposes. Along with conventional muggings, so-called “express” kidnappings continue to occur, especially in less well-off areas. Victims are grabbed off the street based on their appearance and vulnerability; they are made to withdraw as much money as possible from ATM machines, and then their family or co-workers are contacted and told to deliver all the cash that they have on hand or can gather in a couple of hours. Once the ransom is paid, the victim is usually quickly released unharmed. There have been some foreign victims and visitors are particularly advised not to let children and adolescents travel alone.

The Argentine Federal Police have established a special Tourist Police Unit to receive complaints and investigate crimes against tourists. In the year from January 2004 to January 2005, the Federal Police took action in 1,083 cases involving tourists, of which 162 involved American citizens.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds can be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. The Tourist Police Unit has a toll-free number, 0800-999-5000, for responding to tourist calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: The public health system in Argentina provides emergency and non-emergency services free of charge to all, regardless of nationality or immigration status. However, the quality of non-emergency care in public hospitals is generally below U.S. standards. Medical care in private hospitals in Buenos Aires is generally good, but varies in quality outside the capital. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization in private facilities and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Private physicians, clinics, and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and will cover prior conditions and emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Argentina is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Driving in Argentina is generally more dangerous than driving in the United States. By comparison, drivers in Argentina tend to be very aggressive, especially in the capital city of Buenos Aires, and frequently ignore traffic regulations. U.S. driver’s licenses are valid in the capital and the province of Buenos Aires, but Argentine or international licenses are required to drive in the rest of the country. For further information, please contact the Argentine Automobile Club, Av. Libertador 1850, 1112 Capital Federal, telephone (011)(54)(11) 4802-6061, or contact the Embassy of Argentina. Visit the website of Argentina’s national tourist office at www.turismo.gov.ar.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Argentina as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Argentina’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances: In addition to being subject to all Argentine laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Argentine citizens. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad.

Argentina is a geographically diverse country with mountains, forests, expansive deserts, and glaciers, making it a popular destination for outdoor and adventure sports. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting persons lost or injured in such remote areas can be problematic. American citizens have been killed in recent years while mountain climbing, skiing, trekking, and hunting. Persons planning travel to isolated and wilderness areas should first learn about local hazards and weather conditions. Information about parks and wilderness areas can be obtained from the Argentine National Parks Service at http://www.apn.gov.ar. Current weather forecasts are available from the Argentine Meteorological Service at http://www.meteofa.mil.ar. Reports of missing or injured persons should be made immediately to the police so that a search can be mounted or assistance rendered. Persons traveling in isolated areas should always inform park rangers, police, or other local authorities of their itinerary before starting off.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can also be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Argentina’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Argentina are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children and using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country are crimes prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: Americans living or traveling in Argentina are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Argentina. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it much easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida Colombia 4300 in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires (near the Plaza Italia stop on the “D” line subway).

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 tel. (54)(11) 4514-1830. The main Embassy fax is (54)(11) E5777-4240. The Consular Section fax is (011)(54)(11) 5777-4293. The Consular Section is open to the public from 8:30a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on American and Argentine holidays. Additional information on Embassy services available to U.S. citizens is available on the Internet at http://buenosaires.usembassy.gov, or by e-mail: [email protected]

International Adoption : April 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Presently, intercountry adoption is not permitted in Argentina. Adoption is restricted to Argentine citizens and permanent resident aliens residing in Argentina.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: Consejo Nacional de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia; Presidente Peron 524; Buenos Aires; Tel. 54-11-4338-5800 Adopciones.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: The government of Argentina requires that prospective adoptive parents must be at least 30 years of age if single. There is no minimum age if married, but the couple must have been married for at least 3 years and have no offspring. At least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be at least 18 years older than the adoptee. If a couple can prove that they are physically unable to have a child the court will consider marriages of less than 3 years.

Married couples must adopt jointly, except in the following cases:

  • Legal separation decree;
  • Spouse declared mentally incompetent by a court, or
  • Judicial declaration of absence of spouse (presumption of death).

Residency Requirements: Applicants must be Argentine nationals or permanent resident aliens of Argentina for at least the five years immediately preceding the application for guardianship, which is the first step in the adoption process.

Time Frame: Once the guardianship is granted by the court, it takes between six months and one year to obtain the final adoption decree.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are some private agencies that help with adoption processing. However, adoptive parents must apply directly to the Consejo Nacionalde Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia.

Adoption Fees: There are no fixed fees to conclude an adoption in Argentina. The filing of the petition for guardianship to lead to adoption is free of charge. Prospective adoptive parents are responsible for their attorneys’ fees, although some courts do provide free legal assistance. The judge may set fees for other services rendered.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents must file an application with the court having jurisdiction over their domicile. In that application, they may indicate their preference for the child’s gender and age, and whether they consider themselves capable to adopt a child with health or other problems. The prospective adoptive parents’ names will be placed on a single nationwide list by filing date and be made public. The Consejo de la Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia will inform them when their turn is reached. Adoptive parents may check his/her status by contacting the Consejo at the address above. The court will then release a child in guardianship to the prospective adoptive parents. The child will remain under the jurisdiction of the court for the full period of guardianship. In no case will the child be permitted to depart Argentina. Application for adoption can only be filed after the guardianship period of not less than six months and not more than twelve months has elapsed. Birth parents will lose all rights and obligations after that time and these rights will be transferred to the prospective adoptive parents. The application for adoption must be filed with the court having jurisdiction over the prospective parents’ domicile or at the court that granted the guardianship.

After the adoption is finalized, the parents may apply to the Argentine Federal Police for the issuance of a passport. See http://www.policiafederal.gov.ar. To travel outside of Argentina, the child must carry signed written permission from both parents or from the non-traveling parent (if traveling with only one parent). By Argentine law, the adoptive parents must inform the child of his/her adoption before the age of 18. (According to the laws of Argentina, adopted children have the right to know their true biological identity and will have access to their adoption file once they have reached the age of 18.) This is a commitment that the adopting parents must sign at the court at the time the adoption is granted.

Documentary Requirements:

  • Prospective adoptive parent’s proof of Argentine citizenship or legal permanent residence in Argentina for the last five years.
  • A copy of the prospective adoptive parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable).
  • Evidence of good conduct.
  • Evidence of financial ability.

NOTE: Additional documentation may be requested.

Embassy and Consulates in the United States: Embassy of Argentina; 1600 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.; Washington, D.C. 20009; tel. (202) 939-6400.

Argentina also has consulates in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Houston.

U.S. Embassy in Argentina:
4300 Avenida Colombia
1425 Buenos Aires
Argentina.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Argentina may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

ARGENTINA

Compiled from the September 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
The Argentine Republic


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 2.8 million sq. km. (1.1 million sq. mi.); about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River; second-largest country in South America.

Climate: Varied—predominantly temperate with extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to arid/sub-Antarctic in far south.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Argentine(s).

Population: (2004 est.) 37.9 million.

Annual population growth rate: (2001) 1.05%.

Ethnic groups: European 97%, mostly of Spanish and Italian descent; Mestizo, Amerindian or other nonwhite groups 3%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 92%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%.

Language: Spanish.

Education: Years compulsory—10. Adult literacy (2001)—97%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—16.16/1,000. Life expectancy (2000 est.)—75.48 yrs.

Work force: Industry and commerce—36%; agriculture—19%; transport and communications—6%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: 1853; revised 1994.

Independence: 1816.

Branches: Executive—president, vice president, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Congress (72-member Senate, 257-member Chamber of Deputies). Judicial—Supreme Court, federal and provincial trial courts.

Administrative subdivisions: 23 provinces and one autonomous district (Federal Capital).

Political parties: Justicialist (Peronist), Radical Civic Union (UCR), numerous smaller national and provincial parties.

Suffrage: Universal adult.

Economy (2003)

GDP: $127.6 billion.

Annual real growth rate: +8.7%. Per capital GDP: $3,486.

Natural resources: Fertile plains (pampas); minerals—lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron, manganese, oil, and uranium.

Agriculture: (13.5% of GDP, about 53% of exports by value) Products—grains, oilseeds and by-products, livestock products.

Industry: (26.8% of GDP) Types—food processing, oil refining, machinery and equipment, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals.

Trade: Exports ($29.5 billion)—grains, meats, oilseeds, manufactured products. Major markets—EU 20%; MERCOSUR 19%; NAFTA 14%. Imports ($13.8 billion in 2003)—machinery, vehicles and transport products, chemicals. Major suppliers—MERCOSUR 37%; EU 20%; NAFTA 19%. Imports from the United States were 16.3% of total Argentine imports, and 87.3% of Argentine imports from NAFTA in 2003.


PEOPLE

Argentines are a fusion of diverse national and ethnic groups, with descendants of Italian and Spanish immigrants predominant. Waves of immigrants from many European countries arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Syrian, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern immigrants number about 500,000, mainly in urban areas. Argentina's population is overwhelmingly Catholic, but it also has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, about 250,000 strong, and is home to one of the largest Islamic mosques in Latin America. In recent years, there has been a substantial influx of immigrants from neighboring Latin American countries. The indigenous population, estimated at 700,000, is concentrated in the provinces of the north, northwest, and south. The Argentine population has one of Latin America's lowest growth rates.

Eighty percent of the population resides in cities or towns of more than 2,000, and over one-third lives in the greater Buenos Aires area. With 13 million inhabitants, this sprawling metropolis serves as the focus for national life. Argentines enjoy comparatively high standards of living; however, the economic crisis during 2001 and 2002 left 47.8% of the population living below the poverty line as of June 2004.


HISTORY

Europeans arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solias visited what is now Argentina in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580, although initial settlement was primarily overland from Peru. The Spanish further integrated Argentina into their empire by establishing the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776, and Buenos Aires became a flourishing port. Buenos Aires formally declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816. Argentines revere Gen. Jose de San Martin, who campaigned in Argentina, Chile, and Peru as the hero of their national independence. Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federationist groups waged a lengthy conflict between themselves to determine the future of the nation. National unity was established, and the constitution promulgated in 1853.

Two forces combined to create the modern Argentine nation in the late 19th century: the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and integration of Argentina into the world economy. Foreign investment and immigration from Europe aided this economic revolution. Investment, primarily British, came in such fields as railroads and ports. As in the United States, the migrants who worked to develop Argentina's resources—especially the western pampas—came from throughout Europe.

From 1880 to 1930 Argentina became one of the world's 10 wealthiest nations based on rapid expansion of agriculture and foreign investment in infrastructure. Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the government. The Radicals, with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina's rapidly expanding middle class as well as to groups previously excluded from power. The Argentine military forced aged Radical President Hipolito Yrigoyen from power in 1930 and ushered in another decade of Conservative rule. Using fraud and force when necessary, the governments of the 1930s attempted to contain the currents of economic and political change that eventually led to the ascendancy of Juan Domingo Peron (b. 1897). New social and political forces were seeking political power, including a modern military and labor movements that emerged from the growing urban working class.

The military ousted Argentina's constitutional government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the coup's leaders, and he soon became the government's dominant figure as Minister of Labor. Elections carried him to the presidency in 1946. He aggressively pursued policies aimed empowering the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. In 1947, Peron announced the first 5-year plan based on the growth of industries he nationalized. He helped establish the powerful General Confederation of Labor (CGT). Peron's dynamic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, known as Evita (1919-52), played a key role in developing support for her husband. Peron won reelection in 1952, but the military sent him into exile in 1955. In the 1950s and 1960s, military and civilian administrations traded power, trying, with limited success, to deal with diminished economic growth and continued social and labor demands. When military governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Peron's return.

On March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections for the first time in 10 years. Peron was prevented from running, but voters elected his stand-in, Dr. Hector Campora, as President. Peron's followers also commanded strong majorities in both houses of Congress. Campora resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections. Peron won a decisive victory and returned as President in October 1973 with his third wife, Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron, as Vice President. During this period, extremists on the left and right carried out terrorist acts with a frequency that threatened public order. The government resorted to a number of emergency decrees, including the implementation of special executive authority to deal with violence. This allowed the government to imprison persons indefinitely without charge.

Peron died on July 1, 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but a military coup removed her from office on March 24, 1976, and the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta composed of the three service commanders until December 10, 1983. The armed forces applied harsh measures against terrorists and many suspected of being their sympathizers. They restored basic order, but the human costs of what became known as "El Proceso," or the "Dirty War" were high. Conservative counts list between 10,000 and 30,000 persons as "disappeared" during the 1976-83 period. Serious economic problems, mounting charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat by the United Kingdom in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the Falklands/Malvinas Islands all combined to discredit the Argentine military regime. The junta lifted bans on political parties and gradually restored basic political liberties.

On October 30, 1983, Argentines went to the polls and chose Raul Alfonsin, of the Radical Civic Union (UCR), as President. He began a 6-year term of office on December 10, 1983. In 1985 and 1987, large turnouts for mid-term elections demonstrated continued public support for a strong and vigorous democratic system. The UCR-led government took steps to resolve some of the nation's most pressing problems, including accounting for those who disappeared during military rule, establishing civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidating democratic institutions. However, failure to resolve endemic economic problems, and an inability to maintain public confidence undermined the effectiveness of the Alfonsin government, which left office 6 months early after Peronist candidate Carlos Saul Menem won the 1989 presidential elections.

President Menem imposed peso-dollar parity (convertibility) in 1992 to break the back of hyperinflation and adopted far-reaching market-based policies. Menem's accomplishments included dismantling a web of protectionist trade and business regulations, and reversing a half-century of statism by implementing an ambitious privatization program. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s. Unfortunately, widespread corruption in the administrations of President Menem and President Fernando De la Rua (elected in 1999) shook confidence and weakened the recovery. Also, while convertibility defeated inflation, its permanence undermined Argentina's export competitiveness and created chronic deficits in the current account of the balance of payments, which were financed by massive borrowing. The contagion effect of the Asian financial crisis of 1998 precipitated an outflow of capital that gradually mushroomed into a 4-year depression that culminated in a financial panic in November 2001. In December 2001, amidst bloody riots, President De la Rua resigned, and Argentina defaulted on $88 billion in debt, the largest sovereign debt default in history.

A legislative assembly on December 23, 2001, elected Adolfo Rodriguez Saa to serve as President and called for general elections to elect a new president within 3 months. Rodriguez Saa announced immediately that Argentina would default on its international debt obligations, but expressed his commitment to maintain the currency board and the peso's 1-to-1 peg to the dollar. Rodriguez Saa, however, was unable to rally support from within his own party for his administration and this, combined with renewed violence in the Federal Capital, led to his resignation on December 30. Yet another legislative assembly elected Peronist Eduardo Duhalde President on January 1, 2002. Duhalde—differentiating himself from his three predecessors—quickly abandoned the peso's 10-year-old link with the dollar, a move that was followed by currency depreciation and inflation. In the face of rising poverty and continued social unrest, Duhalde also moved to bolster the government's social programs.

In the first round of the presidential election on April 27, 2003, former President Carlos Menem (Justicialist Party—PJ) won 24.3% of the vote, Santa Cruz Governor Nestor Kirchner (PJ) won 22%, followed by Ricardo Murphy with 16.4% and Elisa Carrio with 14.2%. Menem withdrew from the May 25 runoff election after polls showed over-whelming support for Kirchner. President Kirchner took office on May 25, 2003.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, with Raul Alfonsin of the country's oldest political party, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), winning the presidency. Three general elections followed in the next 16 years—a remarkable feat in Argentine political history—with the Justicialist Party (PJ) candidate Carlos Menem winning two and the UCR's Fernando De la Rua one.

President De la Rua was forced to resign in December 2001 after bloody riots. A legislative assembly elected Adolfo Rodriguez Saa to serve out the remainder of De la Rua's term, but he too failed to garner political support in the face of continued unrest and resigned that same month. Yet another legislative assembly then chose Eduardo Duhalde to succeed Rodriguez Saa. Duhalde took office on January 1, 2002, in the midst of a profound economic crisis and a widespread public rejection of the "political class" in Argentina, a rejection directed at all three branches of government. Another factor contributing to the perception of institutional instability in Argentina was conflict between the three branches of government in early 2002, culminating in the legislature's attempt to impeach the members of the Supreme Court.

Despite widespread concern, democracy and democratic institutions survived the crisis, and Nestor Kirchner has taken firm hold as President. Since taking office, he has focused on building his political strength from the 22% popular vote he received in national elections April 27, 2003. He has encouraged changes in the Supreme Court and the military and undertaken broadly popular measures such as raising the minimum wage, pensions, and the lowest government salaries. As of mid-2004, however, Kirchner's high approval ratings were showing some decline, with some analysts pointing to concerns over crime and public security as the cause.

Argentina's constitution of 1853, as revised in 1994, mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. Each province also has its own constitution, roughly mirroring the structure of the national constitution. The president and vice president are directly elected to 4-year terms. Both are limited to two consecutive terms; they are allowed to stand for a third term or more after an interval of at least one term. The president appoints cabinet ministers, and the constitution grants him considerable power, including authority to enact laws by presidential decree under conditions of "urgency and necessity" and the line-item veto.

Since 2001, senators have been directly elected, with each province and the Federal Capital represented by three senators. Senators serve 6-year terms. One-third of the Senate stands for reelection every 2 years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to 4-year terms. Voters elect half the members of the lower house every 2 years. Both houses are elected via a system of proportional representation. Female representation in Congress—at nearly one-third of total seats—ranks among the world's highest, with representation comparable to European Union (EU) countries such as Austria and Germany. Female senators include Christina Fernández de Kirchner, who was a nationally known member of the Senate before her husband was elected President.

The constitution establishes the judiciary as an independent government entity. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court with the consent of the Senate. The president on the recommendation of a magistrates' council appoints other federal judges. The Supreme Court has the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional.

Political Parties

The two largest political parties are the Justicialist Party (PJ—also called Peronist), founded in 1945 by Juan Domingo Peron, and the Union Civica Radical (UCR), or Radical Civic Union, founded in 1890. Traditionally, the UCR has had more urban middle-class support and the PJ more labor support, but both parties have become more broadly based. Smaller parties, such as rightist Action for the Republic (AR) and the more-leftist-leaning Argentina for a Republic of Equals (ARI), occupy various positions on the political spectrum, and some are active only in certain provinces. Historically, organized labor—largely tied to the Peronist Party—and the armed forces also have played significant roles in national life. However, labor's political power has declined, and the armed forces are firmly under civilian control. Repudiated by the public after a period of military rule (1976-83)—marked by human rights violations, economic decline, and military defeat in the 1982 Falkland/Malvinas Islands conflict—the Argentine military today is a downsized, volunteer force.

Government Policy

The reform agenda remains incomplete and was put on hold in the face of the late 2001-early 2002 acute political and economic crisis. The Central Bank's independence was challenged, and the reform of the state has not yet been completed. Although the government's broad policy remains one of allowing private initiative to operate and the government continues to work toward a Free Trade Area of the Americas, President Kirchner's government has said it would increase the role of the state in an effort to boost economic growth and recovery.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/11/05

President: Nestor KIRCHNER
Vice President: Daniel SCIOLI
Chief of Cabinet: Alberto FERNANDEZ
Min. of Defense: Jose PAMPURO
Min. of Economy & Production: Roberto LAVAGNA
Min. of Education & Culture: Daniel FILMUS
Min. of Federal Planning, Public Investment, & Services: Julio DE VIDO
Min. of Foreign Relations, Intl. Trade, & Worship: Rafael BIELSA
Min. of Health: Gines GONZALEZ GARCIA
Min. of Interior: Anibal FERNANDEZ
Min. of Justice, Security, & Human Rights: Horacio ROSATTI
Min. of Labor, Employment, & Social Security: Carlos TOMADA
Min. of Social Action: Alicia KIRCHNER DE MERCADO
Sec. Gen. of the Presidency: Oscar PARRILLI
Sec. of State Intelligence: Hector ICAZURIAGA
Pres., Central Bank: Martin REDRADO
Ambassador to the US: Jose Octavio BORDON
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Cesar Fernando MAYORAL

Argentina maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009; tel (202) 238-6400; fax (202) 332-3171. It has consular offices in the following locations: 245 Peachtree Center Ave., Suite 2101 Atlanta, GA 30303, tel. (404) 880-0805, fax (404) 880-0806; 205 North Michigan Ave., Suite 4209 Chicago, IL 60601, tel. (312) 819-2610, fax (312) 819-2612; 1990 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 770 Houston, TX 77056, tel. (713) 871-8935, fax (713) 871-0639; 5055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210 Los Angeles, CA 90036, tel. (323) 954-9155, fax (323) 934-9076; 800 Brickell Ave., PH1 Miami, FL 33131, tel. (305) 373-7794, fax (305) 371-7108; 12 West 56th St., New York, NY 10019, tel. (212) 603-0400, fax (212) 541-7746; 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009, tel. (202) 238-6460, fax (202) 238-6471.


ECONOMY

Argentina's economy began a recovery in March 2002 that has been far more impressive and robust than anticipated by leading international and domestic analysts. In 2003, an export-led boom triggered an 8.7% surge in real gross domestic product (GDP). Industrial activity and construction activity also performed well, growing 17.9% and 37.8%, respectively, in 2003. Domestic car sales and exports increased 105.4% and 19.2%, respectively, in 2003. Tourism activity boomed: Argentina received 3.3 million foreign tourists in 2003, a record high. The expansion is creating jobs and unemployment dipped from 17.8% in May 2003 to 14.5% in December 2003. Investment in real terms jumped 38.1%, and capital flight has decreased. The recovery's strong impact on revenue levels, combined with the Kirchner administration's prudent control of spending, achieved exceptional results, with the fiscal surplus reaching 2.3% of GDP.

Meanwhile, the move to a market-based exchange rate regime and high global commodity prices have lifted exports to record levels and assured hefty surpluses in the trade and current account balances of the balance of payments. The favorable balance of payments performance and Argentina's non-payment of its private debt obligations has allowed a strong accumulation of foreign exchange reserves, which have reached nearly $17.7 billion, representing 15 months of current imports. The demand for pesos increased in 2003 and the first half of 2004 due to the recovery of economic activity and the appreciation of the peso. Argentina's Central Bank has deftly managed monetary policy in support of the economic expansion, while maintaining inflation in check (consumer inflation was restrained at 3.4% in 2003). Banks are now in the black, and net credit levels to the private sector are positive.

Argentina's impressive recovery is a function of a number of factors. First, following a decade of market reforms, the economy was fundamentally sound except for the high level of indebtedness. Second, the adoption of a market exchange rate and favorable international commodity and interest rate trends were catalytic factors in the export-led boom. Argentina has sound fundamentals and should continue to perform well in 2004, with growth projected to be in the 6%-8% range. Nevertheless, slowness in addressing energy, public debt, and banking compensation difficulties and a still-weak investment climate are major obstacles to sustaining the recovery.

Foreign Trade

In 2003, foreign trade equaled about 33.7% of GDP—up from 11% in 1990—and plays an increasingly important role in Argentina's economic development. Exports represented about 23% of GDP in 2003, up from 14% from 2002. Argentina's trade surplus was $15.5 billion in 2003.

The United States recorded trade surpluses with Argentina every year from 1993-2001, as Argentina's firms increased purchases of capital goods during that period. This trend reflects the Argentine Government's policy of encouraging modernization and improved competitiveness of industry through relatively lower tariffs on capital goods. Argentina's exports to the U.S. were $3.1 billion in 2003, while imports were $2.2 billion, leaving Argentina a $0.9 billion trade surplus. The U.S. took 10.5% of Argentina's exports in 2003, and provided 16.3% of its imports.

Although Argentina's trade patterns may be affected by the factors outlined above, its major export markets are likely to remain Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries, and the European Union. These same areas are likely to remain the principal sources of Argentina's imports as well.

MERCOSUR Trade Pact

MERCOSUR, the customs union that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, remains the cornerstone of Argentina's international trade policy. Close cooperation between Brazil and Argentina—historic competitors—is the key to the integration process of MERCOSUR, which includes political and military elements in addition to a customs union. Chile and Bolivia have become associate members. MERCOSUR members are active participants in the negotiation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). MERCOSUR also continues to pursue an active program of trade negotiations with other countries and regional groups, including Mexico and the European Union.

Argentina adheres to most treaties and international agreements on intellectual property. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Argentine Congress ratified the Uruguay Round agreements, including the provisions on intellectual property, as Law 24425 on January 5, 1995. However, extension of adequate patent protection to pharmaceuticals has been a highly contentious bilateral issue. In May 1997, the U.S. suspended 50% of Argentina's generalized system of preferences (GSP) benefits because of its unsatisfactory pharmaceutical patent law. In November 2000, after years of protracted debate, a new patent law took effect, and a number of pharmaceutical patents were issued. This law improved earlier Argentine patent legislation but provides less protection than that called for in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

In April 2002, negotiations between the Governments of the United States and Argentina clarified aspects of the latter's intellectual property system, such as provisions related to the patentability of micro-organisms and the import restriction regime. In addition, the Government of Argentina agreed to amend its patent law so as to provide protection for products obtained from a process patent and to ensure that preliminary injunctions are available in intellectual property court proceedings, among other steps. Congress was expected to pass the outstanding amendment by the end of 2003. Finally, on the outstanding issues that remain, including data protection, the U.S. Government retains its right to seek resolution under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. In return, the U.S. Government is committed to considering all Argentine requests to expand market access for Argentine products as soon as U.S. legislation reauthorizing trade preferences under the GSP is enacted.

Investment

U.S. investment is concentrated in financial services, telecommunications, energy, petrochemicals, food processing, and motor vehicle manufacturing. However, the economic crisis and subsequent government decisions clouded the country's investment climate, and many U.S. firms substantially wrote down the value of their Argentine investments. Other major sources of investment include Spain, Chile, Italy, France, Canada, and Japan. Several bilateral agreements generated significant U.S. private investment during the 1990s. Argentina has an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) agreement and an active program with the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Under the 1994 U.S.-Argentina Bilateral Investment Treaty, U.S. investors enjoy national treatment in all sectors except shipbuilding, fishing, nuclear power generation, and uranium production. The treaty allows for international arbitration of investment disputes, and some U.S. investors are currently pursuing arbitration claims against the Government of Argentina.


NATIONAL SECURITY

The president and a civilian minister of defense control the Argentine armed forces. The Interior Ministry controls the paramilitary Gendarmeria (border police) and the Prefectura Naval (coast guard). The Argentine armed forces maintain close defense cooperation and military supply relationships with the United States. Other countries also have military relationships with the Argentine forces, principally Israel, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and Chile.

Lack of budgetary resources is the most serious problem facing the Argentine military today. Current economic conditions and the government's commitment to reduce public sector spending have slowed modernization and restructuring efforts. Argentina's traditionally difficult relations with its neighbors have improved dramatically, and Argentine officials do not see a potential threat from any neighboring country. MERCOSUR has exercised a useful role in supporting democracy in the region.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

In recent years, Argentina has had a strong partnership with the United States in support of UN peacekeeping. Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1990-91 Gulf war and all phases of the 1994 Haiti operation. It has contributed Argentine soldiers and policy to UN peacekeeping operations worldwide. In recognition of its contributions to international security and peacekeeping, the U.S. Government designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998. Argentina has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Summit of the Americas process and has served as chair of the Free Trade Area of the Americas initiative. At the UN, Argentina's positions have often coincided with those of the United States. Argentina supported efforts to improve human rights in Cuba and the fight against international terrorism and narcotics trafficking. However, Argentina was reluctant to contribute troops to the Coalition forces in Iraq in 2003, and raised diplomatic relations with Cuba back to ambassadorial status in 2003. Along with a number of its neighbors, Argentina contributed peacekeeping forces to Haiti in 2004.

Eager for closer ties to industrialized nations, Argentina left the Non-Aligned Movement in the early 1990s and has pursued a relationship with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It has become a leading advocate of nonproliferation efforts worldwide. A strong proponent of enhanced regional stability in South America, Argentina has revitalized its relationship with Brazil; settled lingering border disputes with Chile; discouraged military takeovers in Ecuador and Paraguay; served with the U.S., Brazil, and Chile as one of the four guarantors of the Ecuador-Peru peace process; and restored diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. In 1998, President Menem made a state visit to the U.K., and Prince Charles reciprocated with a visit to Argentina. In 1999, the two countries agreed to normalize travel to the Falklands/Malvinas from the mainland and resumed direct flights.


U.S.-ARGENTINE RELATIONS

President George W. Bush and President Kirchner met in 2003, and many senior U.S. officials visited Argentina to discuss issues of mutual concern. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Argentine Ministry of Defense hold an annual Bilateral Working Group Meeting, alternating between Argentina and Washington DC.

U.S. Embassy Functions

The U.S. Mission in Buenos Aires carries out the traditional diplomatic function of representing the U.S. Government and people in discussions with the Argentine Government, and more generally, in relations with the people of Argentina. The excellent political relationship between the United States and Argentina is increasingly reflected in the U.S. Embassy's efforts to facilitate cooperation in nontraditional areas such as counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, and scientific cooperation on space, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the environment. The Embassy also provides a wide range of services to U.S. citizens and businesses in Argentina. Officers from the U.S. Foreign Service, Foreign Commercial Service, and Foreign Agricultural Service work closely with the hundreds of U.S. companies which do business in Argentina, providing information on Argentine trade and industry regulations and assisting U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Argentina. Officers from the Department of Treasury are also present.

Attaches accredited to Argentina from the Department of Justice—including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation—U.S. Customs, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other federal agencies work closely with Argentine counterparts on international crime and other issues of concern. An active, sophisticated media environment, together with growing positive interest in American culture and society, make Argentina an uncommonly receptive environment for the information and cultural exchange work of the U.S. Embassy as well. The Ful-bright fellowship program has more than tripled the annual number of U.S. and Argentine academic grantees since 1994.

The Embassy's Consular Section monitors the welfare and whereabouts of more than 20,000 U.S. citizen residents of Argentina and more than 300,000 U.S. tourists each year. Consular personnel also provide American citizens passport, voting, notarial, Social Security, and other services. With the end of Argentine participation in the visa waiver program in February 2002, Argentine tourists, students, and those who seek to work in the United States must have nonimmigrant visas. The Consular Section processes nonimmigrant visa applications for persons who wish to visit the United States as tourists, students, temporary workers and other purposes, and immigrant visas for persons who qualify to make the United States a permanent home.

The Department of Defense is represented by the U.S. Military Group and the Defense Attaché Office. These organizations ensure close military-to-military contacts and defense, and security cooperation with the armed forces of Argentina.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BUENOS AIRES (E) Address: Avda. Colombia 4300; APO/FPO: Unit 4334, APO aa 34034; Phone: 54-11-5777-4533; Fax: 54-11-5777-4240; Work-week: 0845 AM-0545 PM; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/baires_embassy

AMB:Gutierrez, Lino
DCM:Llorens. Hugo
POL:Egger, Philip H
COM:Brisson, Brian
CON:Frost, Gregory T.
MGT:Mejía, Gustavo A.
AGR:Hoff, Robert
APHIS:Schissel, Thomas
CLO:Inder, Heidi
DAO:Dalson, William A.
DEA:Greco, Anthony Jr.
ECO:Ball, Perry
EST:Barmon, Kathleen W.
FAA:Ochoa, Jose
FMO:Ball, David H
GSO:Wisell, William R
IMO:vacant
IPO:Richardson, Allan E.
ISSO:Torres, George
LEGATT:Rodriguez, Augustine
MLO:Borders, Michael R.
PAO:Krischik, Mark B.
RAMC:Charleston Finance Center
RSO:Isaac, Paul C.
Last Updated: 9/22/2004

Other Contact Information

American Chamber of Commerce in Argentina
Viamonte 1133, 8th floor
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel (54)(11) 4371-4500; Fax (54)(11)
4371-8400

U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
International Trade Administration
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel (202) 482-2436; (800) USA-TRADE; Fax (202) 482-4726
Automated fax service for trade-related information: (202) 482-4464.


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

February 10, 2005

Country Description: Argentina is a medium-income nation, which has suffered significant economic and political difficulties in the past three years. Buenos Aires and other large cities have well-developed tourist facilities and services including many four and five star hotels. The quality of tourist facilities in smaller towns outside the capital varies, and may not be up to similar standards.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport is required for all U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. U.S. citizens who arrive in Argentina with an expired or damaged passport may be refused entry and returned to the United States at their own expense. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide guarantees on behalf of travelers in such situations, and therefore encourages U.S. citizens to ensure their travel documents are valid and in good condition prior to departure from the U.S. An airport tax is collected upon departure, payable in dollars or Argentine pesos. Visit the Embassy of Argentina web site at http://www.embajadaargentinaeeuu.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: There is no evidence of terrorist organizations or violent groups in Argentina that specifically target U.S. visitors. Individuals and organizations with ties to extremist groups operate in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, and along the tri-border area between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Americans crossing into Paraguay or Brazil in that area may wish to consult the most recent Consular Information Sheets for those countries.

In recent years, there have been pipe bomb/incendiary incidents once a month on average. The bulk of the targets have been bank branches (ATMs), fast food restaurants, public utility offices, Jewish community centers and political offices. These incidents usually occur in the middle of the night and appear intended to cause only property damage. In November 2004, three pipe bombs, which may have been improperly fused, detonated at downtown bank branches killing a guard and injuring a policeman. There has been no indication that these incidents are connected to international terrorism.

Demonstrations occur daily in metro Buenos Aires and frequently in other major cities. Protesters often block streets, highways, and major intersections causing traffic jams and delaying travel. While demonstrations are usually nonviolent, hooligans in some of the groups sometimes seek confrontation with the police and vandalize private property. These groups occasionally protest in front of the U.S. Embassy and U.S.-affiliated businesses. U.S. citizens should take common-sense precautions and avoid gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to protest. Information about the location of possible demonstrations is available from a variety of sources, including the local media. Additional information and advice may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers or email address listed at the end of this document.

Public transportation is generally reliable and safe. The preferred option for travel within Buenos Aires and other major cities is by radio taxi or "remise" (private car with driver). The best way to obtain taxis and remises is to call for one or go to an established stand, before hailing one on the street. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses can order remises or radio taxis, or private phone numbers for such services upon request. Passengers on buses, trains, and the subway should be alert for pickpockets and should also be aware that these forms of transport are sometimes affected by strikes or work stoppages.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html.

Crime: Street crime in the larger cities, especially greater Buenos Aires, is a serious problem for residents and visitors alike. Visitors to Buenos Aires and popular tourist destinations should be alert to muggers, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers on the street and at bus and train stations. Criminals usually work in groups, are usually armed, and employ a variety of ruses to victimize the unsuspecting visitor. A common scam is to spray mustard or a similar substance on the tourist from a distance. A pickpocket will then approach the tourist offering to help clean the stain, and while doing so, rob the victim. Another common scam is for victims to be approached by someone with a map asking for directions, while another accomplice robs the victim. Several American visitors and residents have been robbed of their watches and jewelry while walking on the street. While few visitors are injured, a large percentage of victims are threatened with weapons. Criminals do not hesitate to use force when they encounter resistance. Visitors are advised to immediately hand over all cash and valuables if confronted. Wearing expensive watches or jewelry increases your chances of being robbed. Your passport is a valuable document and should be well guarded. Whenever possible, lock your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe, and carry a photocopy of your passport for identification purposes.

Along with an increase in conventional mugging, "express" kidnapping continues to be a serious problem, especially in less well-off areas. Victims are grabbed off the street based on their appearance and vulnerability, the family or co-workers are then contacted and told to deliver the cash that they have on hand or can gather in a couple of hours. Once the ransom is paid, the victim is usually quickly released unharmed. There have been some foreign victims and visitors are particularly advised not to let children and adolescents travel alone.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care in private hospitals in Buenos Aires is generally good, but varies in quality outside the capital. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Argentina is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Driving throughout Argentina is generally more dangerous than driving in the United States. Drivers in Argentina are very aggressive, especially in the capital city of Buenos Aires, and frequently ignore traffic regulations. U.S. driver's licenses are valid in the capital and the province of Buenos Aires, but Argentine or international licenses are required to drive in the rest of the country. For further information, please contact the Argentine Automobile Club, Av. Libertador 1850, 1112 Capital Federal, telephone (011)(54)11-4802-6061, or contact the Embassy of Argentina as listed in the above section on Entry Requirements.

Visit the website of Argentina's national tourist office at www.turismo.gov.ar.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Argentina as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Argentina's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: In addition to being subject to all Argentine laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Argentine citizens. U.S. citizens who also have Argentine nationality and who remain in Argentina more than 60 days, are required to depart Argentina on an Argentine passport. The Argentine passport application process is lengthy, and the U.S. Embassy is not able to assist U.S. citizens in obtaining Argentine passports or other identity documents. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. Please see our information on customs regulations at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Argentina's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Argentina are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. For more information visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1467.html.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: Americans living or traveling in Argentina are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Argentina. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida Colombia 4300 in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires (near the Plaza Italia stop on the "D" line subway). 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 tel. (54)(11) 4514-1830. The main embassy fax is (54)(11) 5777-4240. The Consular Section fax is (011)(54)(11) 5777-4293. Additional information on Embassy services available to U.S. citizens is available on the Internet at http://buenosaires.usembassy.gov, or by e-mail: [email protected]

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Office of Children's Issues. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family

Disclaimer: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child in Argentina and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Presently, intercountry adoption is not permitted in Argentina. Adoption is restricted to Argentine citizens and permanent resident aliens residing in Argentina. The following information is for U.S. citizens who permanently reside in Argentina who wish to adopt Argentine children.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant Visas Issued

FY 2004: 0
FY 2003: 0
FY 2002: 0
FY 2001: 0
FY 2000: 0

Biological parents may relinquish their children for adoption only through the courts. This release is irrevocable and can only be signed at the court by appointment set by a judge within a 60-day period following the child's birth. It cannot be done immediately following the birth, in order to allow the birth mother time to think about her decision. During this 60-day period, the Court reviews the personal conditions of the biological parents, their age, ability to take care of the child, reasons for the release for adoption and any other considerations and information pertinent to this act. A judge may request the opinion of, technical advice from, and/or the effective participation of the public ministry (Defensor de Menores e Incapaces) to determine the best interests of the child.

Adoption Authority in Argentina: Consejo Nacional de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia: Presidente Peron 524, Buenos Aires, Tel. 54-11-4338-5800 Adopciones.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adoptive parents must be at least 30 years of age if single. The prospective adoptive parent must be at least 18 years older than the adoptee. There is no minimum age if married, but the couple must have been married for at least 3 years and have no offspring. If a couple can prove that they are physically unable to have a child the court will consider marriages of less than 3 years.

Married people must adopt jointly, except in the following cases:

  • Legal separation decree
  • Spouse declared insane by a court, or
  • Judicial declaration of absence of spouse (presumption of death).

Residential Requirements: Applicants must be Argentine nationals or Argentine permanent resident aliens of Argentina for at least the five years immediately preceding the application for guardianship.

Time Frame: Once the guardianship is granted by the Court, it takes between six months to one year to obtain the final adoption decree.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are some agencies that help with adoption processing. However, adoptive parents must apply directly to the Consejo Nacional.

Adoption Fees in Argentina : There are no fixed fees. However, since this is a judicial process, the judge may set some fees for services rendered.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents must file an application with the court having jurisdiction over the adoptive parents' domicile. Their names will be placed on a single nationwide list by filing date and be made public. When prospective adoptive parents register their names for adopting an orphan, they are placed in a list with a rank number. The Consejo de la Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia will inform them when their turn is reached. Adoptive parents may check his/her status by contacting the Consejo.

The court will then release a child in guardianship to the prospective adoptive parents. The child will remain under the jurisdiction of the court for the full period of guardianship for his/her own protection and for the prevention of child trafficking. In no case will the child be permitted to depart Argentina. Application for adoption can only be filed after the guardianship period of not less than six months and not more than twelve months has elapsed. Natural parents will lose all rights and obligations. These rights will be transferred to the adoptive parents. The application for adoption must be filed with the court having jurisdiction over the parents' domicile or at the court, which granted the guardianship.

Documents Required for Adoption in Argentina: Proof of Argentine citizenship or legal permanent residence. Argentine citizens and legal permanent residents must also show proof of residence in Argentina for the last five years. Prospective adoptive parents must provide a copy of marriage certificate (if applicable), evidence of good conduct, evidence of financial ability and other such documents required for adoptions.

Authenticating U.S. Documents To Be Used Abroad: All U.S. documents submitted to the Argentine government/court must be authenticated. Argentina is a party to the Hague Legalization Convention. Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, must bear the seal of the issuing office and an apostille affixed by the state's Secretary of State (an apostille is a special seal applied to a document to certify that a document is a true copy of an original). Documents must be apostilled in the state where they are issued. Tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should likewise be authenticated. Prospective adopting parents should contact the Secretary of State of the state where documents originated from for instructions and fees for authenticating documents.

Documents issued by a federal agency must be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office, 518 23rd St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520, (202) 647-5002 Fee: $6.00. For additional information, call the Federal Information Center: 1-800-688-9889, and choose option 6 after you press 1 for touch tone phones. Walk-in service is available from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 am Monday-Friday, except holidays and is limited to 15 documents per person per day (documents can be multiple pages). Processing time for authentication requests sent by mail is 5 working days or less. Please visit our Web site at travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Argentine Embassy and Consulates in the United States:

1600 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20009,
tel. (202) 939-6400.

Argentina also has consulates in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Houston.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Due to the complex nature of Argentine adoption law, it is rare that a child adopted from Argentina qualifies for a U.S. immigrant visa. U.S. citizen adoptive parents who wish to bring their child to the United States for permanent residence should contact the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to discuss their options.

Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult U.S. CIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The U.S. CIS publication is available at the U.S. CIS Web site. The Department of State publication International Adoptions can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site, http://travel.state.gov, under "International Adoptions."

Adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the flyer the requirements for filing I-600 petitions for orphans adopted by U.S. citizens before completing an adoption abroad. Please see our flyer How Can Adopted Children Come to the United States at our Web site http://travel.state.gov.

U.S. Embassy in Argentina: As soon as prospective adopting parents arrive in Argentina, they should contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in order to register their presence in Argentina. The Consulate Section is located at: 4300 Avenida Colombia, 1425 Buenos Aires, Argentina. Main Tel: (011)(54)(11)5777-4533. Recorded consular information: (54)(11) 4514-1830. Main embassy fax is (54)(11) 5777-4240. Consular Section fax is (011)(54)(11) 5777-4205. http://usembassy.state.gov/baires/ Email: [email protected]

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Argentina may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Argentina. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4 th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

views updated

ARGENTINA

Compiled from the December 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
The Argentine Republic


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

2.8 million sq. km. (1.1 million sq. mi.); about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River; second-largest country in South America.

Climate:

Varied—predominantly temperate with extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to arid/sub-Antarctic in far south.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Argentine(s).

Population (2005 est.):

38.6 million.

Annual population growth rate (2001):

1.05%.

Ethnic groups:

European 97%, mostly of Spanish and Italian descent; Mestizo, Amerindian or other nonwhite groups 3%.

Religion:

Roman Catholic 92%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%.

Language:

Spanish.

Education:

Years compulsory—10. Adult literacy (2001)—97%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—16.16/1,000. Life expectancy (2000 est.)—75.48 yrs.

Work force:

Industry and commerce—36%; agriculture—19%; transport and communications—6%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Constitution:

1853; revised 1994.

Independence:

1816.

Branches:

Executive—president, vice president, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Congress (72-member Senate, 257-member Chamber of Deputies). Judicial—Supreme Court, federal and provincial trial courts.

Administrative subdivisions:

23 provinces and one autonomous district (Federal Capital).

Political parties:

Justicialist (Peronist), Radical Civic Union (UCR), numerous smaller national and provincial parties.

Suffrage:

Universal adult.

Economy (2004)

GDP:

$152.0 billion.

Annual real Growth rate:

+9%.

Per capital GDP:

$4,000.

Natural resources:

Fertile plains (pampas); minerals—lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron, manganese, oil, and uranium.

Agriculture:

(9% of GDP, about 50% of exports by value, including agribusiness): Products—grains, oilseeds and by-products, livestock products.

Industry:

(22.3% of GDP): Types—food processing, oil refining, machinery and equipment, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals.

Trade:

Exports ($34.5 billion)—grains, meats, oilseeds, fuels, manufactured products. Major markets—MERCOSUR 19.7%; EU 17.7%; NAFTA 14.6%. Imports ($22.3 billion in 2004)—machinery, vehicles and transport products, chemicals. Major suppliers—MERCOSUR 36.8%; EU 18.8%; NAFTA 19.4%. Imports from the United States were 15.4% of total Argentine imports, and 79.4% of Argentine imports from NAFTA in 2004.


PEOPLE

Argentines are a fusion of diverse national and ethnic groups, with descendants of Italian and Spanish immigrants predominant. Waves of immigrants from many European countries arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Syrian, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern immigrants number about 500,000, mainly in urban areas. Argentina's population is overwhelmingly Catholic, but it also has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, estimated between 280,000 to 300,000 strong, and is home to one of the largest Islamic mosques in Latin America. In recent years, there has been a substantial influx of immigrants from neighboring Latin American countries. The indigenous population, estimated at 700,000, is concentrated in the provinces of the north, northwest, and south. The Argentine population has one of Latin America's lowest growth rates. Eighty percent of the population resides in cities or towns of more than 2,000, and over one-third lives in the greater Buenos Aires area. With 13 million inhabitants, this sprawling metropolis serves as the focus for national life. Argentines enjoy comparatively high standards of living; however, following the economic crisis in 2002, 38.5% of the population was still living below the poverty line in the 28 largest urban areas as of June 2005.


HISTORY

Europeans arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solias visited what is now Argentina in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580, although initial settlement was primarily overland from Peru. The Spanish further integrated Argentina into their empire by establishing the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776, and Buenos Aires became a flourishing port. Buenos Aires formally declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816. Argentines revere Gen. Jose de San Martin, who campaigned in Argentina, Chile, and Peru as the hero of their national independence. Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federation groups waged a lengthy conflict between themselves to determine the future of the nation. A modern constitution was promulgated in 1853, and a national unity government was established in 1861.

Two forces combined to create the modern Argentine nation in the late 19th century: the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and integration of Argentina into the world economy. Foreign investment and immigration from Europe aided this economic revolution. Investment, primarily British, came in such fields as railroads and ports. As in the United States, the migrants who worked to develop Argentina's resources—especially the western pampas—came from throughout Europe.

From 1880 to 1930 Argentina became one of the world's 10 wealthiest nations based on rapid expansion of agriculture and foreign investment in infrastructure. Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the government. The Radicals, with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina's rapidly expanding middle class as well as to groups previously excluded from power. The Argentine military forced aged Radical President Hipolito Yrigoyen from power in 1930 and ushered in another decade of Conservative rule. Using fraud and force when necessary, the governments of the 1930s attempted to contain the currents of economic and political change that eventually led to the ascendancy of Juan Domingo Peron (b. 1897). New social and political forces were seeking political power, including a modern military and labor movements that emerged from the growing urban working class.

The military ousted Argentina's constitutional government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the coup's leaders, and he soon became the government's dominant figure as Minister of Labor. Elections carried him to the presidency in 1946. He aggressively pursued policies aimed at empowering the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. In 1947, Peron announced the first 5-year plan based on the growth of industries he nationalized. He helped establish the powerful General Confederation of Labor (CGT). Peron's dynamic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, known as Evita (1919-52), played a key role in developing support for her husband. Peron won reelection in 1952, but the military sent him into exile in 1955. In the 1950s and 1960s, military and civilian administrations traded power, trying, with limited success, to deal with diminished economic growth and continued social and labor demands. When military governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Peron's return.

On March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections for the first time in 10 years. Peron was prevented from running, but voters elected his stand-in, Dr. Hector Campora, as President. Peron's followers also commanded strong majorities in both houses of Congress. Campora resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections. Peron won a decisive victory and returned as President in October 1973 with his third wife, Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron, as Vice President. During this period, extremists on the left and right carried out terrorist acts with a frequency that threatened public order. The government resorted to a number of emergency decrees, including the implementation of special executive authority to deal with violence. This allowed the government to imprison persons indefinitely without charge.

Peron died on July 1, 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but a military coup removed her from office on March 24, 1976, and the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta composed of the three service commanders until December 10, 1983. The armed forces applied harsh measures against terrorists and many suspected of being their sympathizers. They restored basic order, but the human costs of what became known as "El Proceso," or the "Dirty War" were high. Conservative counts list between 10,000 and 30,000 persons as "disappeared" during the 1976-83 period. Serious economic problems, mounting charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat by the United Kingdom in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the Falklands/Malvinas Islands all combined to discredit the Argentine military regime. The junta lifted bans on political parties and gradually restored basic political liberties.

On October 30, 1983, Argentines went to the polls and chose Raul Alfonsin, of the Radical Civic Union

(UCR), as President. He began a 6-year term of office on December 10, 1983. In 1985 and 1987, large turnouts for mid-term elections demonstrated continued public support for a strong and vigorous democratic system. The UCR-led government took steps to resolve some of the nation's most pressing problems, including accounting for those who disappeared during military rule, establishing civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidating democratic institutions. However, failure to resolve endemic economic problems, and an inability to maintain public confidence undermined the effectiveness of the Alfonsin government, which left office 6 months early after Peronist candidate Carlos Saul Menem won the 1989 presidential elections.

President Menem imposed peso-dollar parity (convertibility) in 1992 to break the back of hyperinflation and adopted far-reaching market-based policies. Menem's accomplishments included dismantling a web of protectionist trade and business regulations, and reversing a half-century of statism by implementing an ambitious privatization program. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s. Unfortunately, widespread corruption in the administrations of President Menem and President Fernando De la Rua (elected in 1999) shook confidence and weakened the recovery. Also, while convertibility defeated inflation, its permanence undermined Argentina's export competitiveness and created chronic deficits in the current account of the balance of payments, which were financed by massive borrowing. The contagion effect of the Asian financial crisis of 1998 precipitated an outflow of capital that gradually mushroomed into a 4-year depression that culminated in a financial panic in November 2001. In December 2001, amidst bloody riots, President De la Rua resigned, and Argentina defaulted on $88 billion in debt, the largest sovereign debt default in history.

A legislative assembly on December 23, 2001, elected Adolfo Rodriguez Saa to serve as President and called for general elections to elect a new president within 3 months. Rodriguez Saa announced immediately that Argentina would default on its international debt obligations, but expressed his commitment to maintain the currency board and the peso's 1-to-1 peg to the dollar. Rodriguez Saa, however, was unable to rally support from within his own party for his administration and this, combined with renewed violence in the Federal Capital, led to his resignation on December 30. Yet another legislative assembly elected Peronist Eduardo Duhalde President on January 1, 2002. Duhalde—differentiating himself from his three predecessors—quickly abandoned the peso's 10-year-old link with the dollar, a move that was followed by currency depreciation and inflation. In the face of rising poverty and continued social unrest, Duhalde also moved to bolster the government's social programs.

In the first round of the presidential election on April 27, 2003, former President Carlos Menem (Justicialist Party—PJ) won 24.3% of the vote, Santa Cruz Governor Nestor Kirchner (PJ) won 22%, followed by Ricardo Murphy with 16.4% and Elisa Carrio with 14.2%. Menem withdrew from the May 25 runoff election after polls showed over-whelming support for Kirchner. President Kirchner took office on May 25, 2003. He took office following the immense social and economic upheaval stemming from the financial crisis caused by a failed currency convertibility regime. Kirchner has focused on consolidating his political strength and alleviating social problems. He forced changes in the Supreme Court and military and undertook popular measures, such as raising government salaries, pensions, and the minimum wage. The wave of public demonstrations that coincided with the economic downturn has stabilized. President Kirchner won a major victory in the October 23, 2005 legislative elections, giving him a strengthened mandate and a stronger position in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies as he attempts to set Argentina's economic course and consolidate the impressive economic recovery of the past three years.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, with Raul Alfonsin of the country's oldest political party, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), winning the presidency. Three general elections followed in the next 16 years—a remarkable feat in Argentine political history—with the Justicialist Party (PJ) candidate Carlos Menem winning two and the UCR's Fernando De la Rua one.

President De la Rua was forced to resign in December 2001 after bloody riots. A legislative assembly elected Adolfo Rodriguez Saa to serve out the remainder of De la Rua's term, but he too failed to garner political support in the face of continued unrest and resigned that same month. Yet another legislative assembly then chose Eduardo Duhalde to succeed Rodriguez Saa. Duhalde took office on January 1, 2002, in the midst of a profound economic crisis and a widespread public rejection of the "political class" in Argentina, a rejection directed at all three branches of government. Another factor contributing to the perception of institutional instability in Argentina was conflict between the three branches of government in early 2002, culminating in the legislature's attempt to impeach the members of the Supreme Court.

Despite widespread concern, democracy and democratic institutions survived the crisis, and Nestor Kirchner has taken firm hold as President. Since taking office, he has focused on building his political strength from the 22% popular vote he received in national elections April 27, 2003.

Argentina's constitution of 1853, as revised in 1994, mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. Each province also has its own constitution, roughly mirroring the structure of the national constitution. The president and vice president are directly elected to 4-year terms. Both are limited to two consecutive terms; they are allowed to stand for a third term or more after an interval of at least one term. The president appoints cabinet ministers, and the constitution grants him considerable power, including authority to enact laws by presidential decree under conditions of "urgency and necessity" and the line-item veto.

Since 2001, senators have been directly elected, with each province and the Federal Capital represented by three senators. Senators serve 6-year terms. One-third of the Senate stands for reelection every 2 years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to 4-year terms. Voters elect half the members of the lower house every 2 years. Both houses are elected via a system of proportional representation. Female representation in Congress—at nearly one-third of total seats—ranks among the world's highest, with representation comparable to European Union (EU) countries such as Austria and Germany. Female senators include Christina Fernández de Kirchner, who was a nationally known member of the Senate for the Province of Santa Cruz before her husband was elected President, and was reelected on October 23, 2005 as a Senator for the Province of Buenos Aires.

The constitution establishes the judiciary as an independent government entity. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court with the consent of the Senate. The president on the recommendation of a magistrates' council appoints other federal judges. The Supreme Court has the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional.

Political Parties

The two largest political parties are the Justicialist Party (PJ—also called Peronist), founded in 1945 by Juan Domingo Peron, and the Union Civica Radical (UCR), or Radical Civic Union, which claims 1890 as its founding date. Traditionally, the UCR has had more urban middle-class support and the PJ more labor support, but both parties have become more broadly based. Smaller parties, such as the center-right Propuesta Republicana (PRO) and the more-leftist-leaning Argentina for a Republic of Equals (ARI), occupy various positions on the political spectrum, and some are active only in certain provinces. Historically, organized labor—largely tied to the Peronist Party—and the armed forces also have played significant roles in national life. However, labor's political power has declined somewhat, and the armed forces are firmly under civilian control. Repudiated by the public after a period of military rule (1976-83)—marked by human rights violations, economic decline, and military defeat in the 1982 Falkland/Malvinas Islands conflict—the Argentine military today is a downsized, volunteer force.

Since taking office in 2003, President Kirchner had been engaged in a struggle with former President Eduardo Duhalde and other party leaders for control of the PJ. The President's candidates in the October 2005 legislative elections, many running under the banner of Frente Para la Victoria (FPV), won roughly 40% of the vote nationwide, nearly three times the 15% won by the Radical Civic Union (UCR). President Kirchner's victory was decisive enough to leave him largely in control of the political direction of the country and the PJ. The UCR, although still the second most powerful political party after the PJ on a national scale, has declined significantly since UCR President de la Rua was forced from office in December 2001. In the April 2003 presidential elections, the UCR received only 2% of the national vote, the lowest tally in the party's history. The UCR continues to retain significant strength in many parts of the country and governs roughly one-third of the provinces. The UCR is the only opposition political party with a nationwide structure.

Government Policy

The reform agenda remains incomplete and has been on hold since the late 2001-early 2002 acute political and economic crisis. The Central Bank's independence is weak, and the reform of the state has not yet been completed. Although the government's broad policy remains one of allowing private initiative to operate, President Kirchner's government has said it would increase the role of the state in an effort to boost economic growth and recovery.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/28/2005

President: Nestor KIRCHNER
Vice President: Daniel SCIOLI
Chief of Cabinet: Alberto FERNANDEZ
Min. of Defense: Nilda GARRE
Min. of Economy & Production: Felisa MICELI
Min. of Education & Culture: Daniel FILMUS
Min. of Federal Planning, Public Investment, & Services: Julio DE VIDO
Min. of Foreign Relations, Intl. Trade, &Worship: Jorge TAIANA
Min. of Health: Gines GONZALEZ GARCIA
Min. of Interior: Anibal FERNANDEZ
Min. of Justice, Security, & Human Rights: Alberto IRIBARNE
Min. of Labor, Employment, & Social Security: Carlos TOMADA
Min. of Social Development: Juan Carlos NADALICH
Sec. Gen. of the Presidency: Oscar PARRILLI
Sec. of State Intelligence: Hector ICAZURIAGA
Pres., Central Bank: Martin REDRADO
Ambassador to the US: Jose Octavio BORDON
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Cesar Fernando MAYORAL

Argentina maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009; tel (202) 238-6400; fax (202) 332-3171. It has consular offices in the following locations: 245 Peachtree Center Ave., Suite 2101 Atlanta, GA 30303, tel. (404) 880-0805, fax (404) 880-0806; 205 North Michigan Ave., Suite 4209 Chicago, IL 60601, tel. (312) 819-2610, fax (312) 819-2612; 1990 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 770 Houston, TX 77056, tel. (713) 871-8935, fax (713) 871-0639; 5055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210 Los Angeles, CA 90036, tel. (323) 954-9155, fax (323) 934-9076; 800 Brickell Ave., PH1 Miami, FL 33131, tel. (305) 373-7794, fax (305) 371-7108; 12 West 56th St., New York, NY 10019, tel. (212) 603-0400, fax (212) 541-7746; 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009, tel. (202) 238-6460, fax (202) 238-6471.


ECONOMY

Argentina's economy began a recovery in March 2002 that has been far more impressive and robust than anticipated by leading international and domestic analysts. An export-led boom triggered three consecutive years of 8-9% growth in real gross domestic product (GDP). Industrial activity and construction activity also performed well, growing 6.5% and 18.5%, respectively, during January-October 2005. Tourism activity boomed: Argentina received 3.7 million foreign tourists in 2005, another record high. The expansion is creating jobs, and unemployment dipped from 20.4% in the first quarter of 2003 to 11.1% in the third quarter of 2005. Investment in real terms jumped 34%, and capital flight has reversed. A higher tax burden and the recovery's strong impact on revenue levels let the Government of Argentina achieve an exceptional 3.6% of GDP primary fiscal surplus, in spite of a 19% real growth in public expenditure during January-October 2005.

Meanwhile, the move to a market-based exchange rate regime and high global commodity prices have lifted exports to record levels and assured hefty surpluses in the trade and current account balances of the balance of payments, in spite of high import growth. The favorable balance of payments performance and Argentina's non-payment of its private debt obligations before the defaulted debt exchange in June 2005 allowed a strong accumulation of foreign exchange reserves, which reached nearly $26.9 billion at the end of 2005. The demand for pesos grew a real 148% between November 2002 and November 2005. Argentina's Central Bank has deftly managed monetary policy in support of a competitive peso but with some problems in the inflation field. Inflation was an estimated 12.0% in 2005. Banks are back in the black, and net credit levels to the private sector are positive. In December 2005, President Kirchner announced that Argentina would pay its $9.8 billion in International Monetary Fund (IMF) debt out of the country's international reserves at the end of the year.

Argentina's impressive recovery is a function of a number of factors. First, following a decade of market reforms, the economy was fundamentally sound except for the high level of indebtedness. Second, the adoption of a market exchange rate and favorable international commodity and interest rate trends were catalytic factors in the export-led boom. Third, the government has applied moderate fiscal and monetary policies. Argentina has sound fundamentals and should continue to perform well, with growth projected to be 6% for 2006. Nevertheless, slowness in addressing public service contract renegotiations, capacity constraints, potential energy shortages in the face of continued high levels of economic growth, demand for higher wages, inflation and the government's heterodox policies to contain it (including pressure on the private sector for "voluntary" price controls), and a still-weak investment climate are potential obstacles to sustaining the recovery.

Foreign Trade

In 2004, foreign trade equaled about 37.3% of GDP—up from 11% in 1990—and plays an increasingly important role in Argentina's economic development. Exports represented about 23% of GDP in 2004, up from 14% from 2002. Argentina's trade surplus was $12.1 billion in 2004.

MERCOSUR Trade Pact

MERCOSUR, the customs union that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, remains the cornerstone of Argentina's international trade policy. Close cooperation between Brazil and Argentina—historic competitors—is the key to the integration process of MERCOSUR, which includes political and military elements in addition to a customs union. Chile and Bolivia have become associate members. MERCOSUR members are active participants in the negotiation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). MERCOSUR also continues to pursue an active program of trade negotiations with other countries and regional groups, including Mexico and the European Union.

Argentina adheres to most treaties and international agreements on intellectual property. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Argentine Congress ratified the Uruguay Round agreements, including the provisions on intellectual property, as Law 24425 on January 5, 1995. However, extension of adequate patent protection to pharmaceuticals has been a highly contentious bilateral issue. In May 1997, the U.S. suspended 50% of Argentina's generalized system of preferences (GSP) benefits because of its unsatisfactory pharmaceutical patent law. In November 2000, after years of protracted debate, a new patent law took effect, and a number of pharmaceutical patents were issued. This law improved earlier Argentine patent legislation but provides less protection than that called for in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

In April 2002, negotiations between the Governments of the United States and Argentina clarified aspects of the latter's intellectual property system, such as provisions related to the patentability of micro-organisms and the import restriction regime. In addition, the Government of Argentina agreed to amend its patent law so as to provide protection for products obtained from a process patent and to ensure that preliminary injunctions are available in intellectual property court proceedings, among other steps. Congress was expected to pass the outstanding amendment by the end of 2003. Finally, on the outstanding issues that remain, including data protection, the U.S. Government retains its right to seek resolution under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. In return, the U.S. Government is committed to considering all Argentine requests to expand market access for Argentine products as soon as U.S. legislation reauthorizing trade preferences under the GSP is enacted.

Investment

U.S. investment is concentrated in financial services, telecommunications, energy, petrochemicals, food processing, and motor vehicle manufacturing. However, the economic crisis and subsequent government decisions clouded the country's investment climate, and many U.S. firms substantially wrote down the value of their Argentine investments. Other major sources of investment include Spain, Chile, Italy, France, Canada, and Japan. Several bilateral agreements generated significant U.S. private investment during the 1990s. Argentina has an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) agreement and an active program with the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Under the 1994 U.S.-Argentina Bilateral Investment Treaty, U.S. investors enjoy national treatment in all sectors except shipbuilding, fishing, nuclear power generation, and uranium production. The treaty allows for international arbitration of investment disputes, and some U.S. investors are currently pursuing arbitration claims against the Government of Argentina.


NATIONAL SECURITY

The president and a civilian minister of defense control the Argentine armed forces. The Interior Ministry controls the paramilitary Gendarmeria (border police) and the Prefectura Naval (coast guard). The Argentine armed forces maintain close defense cooperation and military supply relationships with the United States. Other countries also have military relationships with the Argentine forces, principally Israel, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela.

Lack of budgetary resources is the most serious problem facing the Argentine military today. Current economic conditions and the government's commitment to reduce public sector spending have slowed modernization and restructuring efforts. Argentina's traditionally difficult relations with its neighbors have improved dramatically, and Argentine officials do not see a potential threat from any neighboring country. MERCOSUR has exercised a useful role in supporting democracy in the region.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

In recent years, Argentina has had a strong partnership with the United States in support of UN peacekeeping. Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1990-91 Gulf war and all phases of the 1994 Haiti operation. It has contributed Argentine soldiers and policy to UN peacekeeping operations worldwide. In recognition of its contributions to international security and peacekeeping, the U.S. Government designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998. Under President Kirchner, Argentina's enthusiasm for the Summit of the Americas process and the Free Trade Area of the Americas initiative (FTAA) has cooled somewhat, with more emphasis placed on sub-regional initiatives with the other MERCOSUR members, including Venezuela.

The U.S. and Argentina continue to maintain positive relations despite President Kirchner's sometimes populist rhetoric and stated opposition to the FTAA. President Bush's efforts in 2003 to reach out to the newly elected President and support with the IMF were key elements in maintaining good relations. In response, Argentina has actively cooperated with the U.S. in counterterrorism operations in the Tri-border region as a committed member of the 3+1 framework (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and the U.S.). Despite popular opposition, Argentina sent a sizeable contingent of troops to Haiti in support of UN peacekeeping operations. Since meeting with Evo Morales instead of Bolivian President Mesa at the 2003 Ibero-American Summit, President Kirchner has become an active supporter of Bolivia's political and economic stability. In Venezuela, President Kirchner played a constructive role in pressing President Chavez to hold a recall referendum, although we need to keep him engaged. Despite the populist rhetoric, the Kirchner administration has remained fiscally conservative and has not resorted to large-scale state intervention in the economy. In September 2004, following 10 years of negotiations, the Government of Argentina signed a Letter of Agreement with the Department of State, both demonstrating its increasing willingness to work with the U.S. on counter narcotics issues, and enabling the U.S. to begin providing assistance to the Government of Argentina.


U.S.-ARGENTINE RELATIONS

President George W. Bush and President Kirchner met most recently in November 2005 in Mar del Plata during the IV Summit of the Americas, and many senior U.S. officials visited Argentina to discuss issues of mutual concern. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Argentine Ministry of Defense hold an annual Bilateral Working Group Meeting, alternating between Argentina and Washington, DC.

U.S. Embassy Functions

The U.S. Mission in Buenos Aires carries out the traditional diplomatic function of representing the U.S. Government and people in discussions with the Argentine Government, and more generally, in relations with the people of Argentina. The positive political relationship between the United States and Argentina is increasingly reflected in the U.S. Embassy's efforts to facilitate cooperation in nontraditional areas such as counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, and scientific cooperation on space, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the environment. The Embassy also provides a wide range of services to U.S. citizens and businesses in Argentina. Officers from the U.S. Foreign Service, Foreign Commercial Service, and Foreign Agricultural Service work closely with the hundreds of U.S. companies which do business in Argentina, providing information on Argentine trade and industry regulations and assisting U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Argentina.

Attaches accredited to Argentina from the Department of Justice—including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation—U.S. Customs, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other federal agencies work closely with Argentine counterparts on international crime and other issues of concern. An active, sophisticated media environment, together with growing positive interest in American culture and society, make Argentina an uncommonly receptive environment for the information and cultural exchange work of the U.S. Embassy as well. The Fulbright fellowship program has more than tripled the annual number of U.S. and Argentine academic grantees since 1994.

The Embassy's Consular Section monitors the welfare and whereabouts of more than 20,000 U.S. citizen residents of Argentina and more than 300,000 U.S. tourists each year. Consular personnel also provide American citizens passport, voting, notary, Social Security, and other services. With the end of Argentine participation in the visa waiver program in February 2002, Argentine tourists, students, and those who seek to work in the United States must have non-immigrant visas. The Consular Section processes nonimmigrant visa applications for persons who wish to visit the United States as tourists, students, temporary workers and other purposes, and immigrant visas for persons who qualify to make the United States a permanent home.

The Department of Defense is represented by the U.S. Military Group and the Defense Attaché Office. These organizations ensure close military-to-military contacts and defense, and security cooperation with the armed forces of Argentina.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BUENOS AIRES (E) Address: Avda. Colombia 4300; APO/FPO: Unit 4334, APO aa 34034; Phone: 54-11-5777-4533; Fax: 54-11-5777-4240; Work-week: 0845 am-0545 pm; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/baires_embassy

AMB:Gutierrez, Lino
DCM:Llorens. Hugo
POL:Egger, Philip H
COM:Brisson, Brian
CON:Abeyta, Susan K.
MGT:Mejía, Gustavo A.
AGR:Hoff, Robert
APHIS:Schissel, Thomas
CLO:Koebrich, Kathleen
DAO:Lengelfeder, Douglas R.
DEA:Greco, Anthony Jr.
ECO:Ball, Perry
EST:Barmon, Kathleen W.
FAA:Ochoa, Jose
FMO:Ball, David H
GSO:Wisell, William R
IMO:Brown, Rickey
IPO:Richardson, Allan E.
ISSO:Torres, George
LEGATT:Godoy, William
MLO:Napoli, Joseph
PAO:Banks, Robert
RAMC:Charleston Finance Center
RSO:Isaac, Paul C.
Last Updated: 12/27/2005

Other Contact Information

American Chamber of Commerce in Argentina
Viamonte 1133, 8th floor
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel (54)(11) 4371-4500;
Fax (54)(11) 4371-8400

U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Latin America and the Caribbean International Trade Administration
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel (202) 482-2436;
(800) USA-TRADE;
Fax (202) 482-4726

Automated fax service for trade-related information: (202) 482-4464.


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

August 24, 2005

Country Description:

Argentina is a medium-income nation, which continues to emerge from the 2001-2002 financial crisis. Buenos Aires and other large cities have well-developed tourist facilities and services including many four and five star hotels. The quality of tourist facilities in smaller towns outside the capital varies, and may not be up to similar standards.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A valid passport is required for all U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. U.S. citizens who arrive in Argentina with an expired or damaged passport may be refused entry and returned to the United States at their own expense. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide guarantees on behalf of travelers in such situations, and therefore encourages U.S. citizens to ensure their travel documents are valid and in good condition prior to departure from the U.S. U.S. citizens who also have Argentine nationality and who remain in Argentina more than 60 days are required to depart Argentina on an Argentine passport. The application process for an Argentine passport is lengthy, and the U.S. Embassy is not able to provide assistance in obtaining Argentine passports or other identity documents. Children under 21 years of age who reside in Argentina, regardless of nationality, are required to present a notarized document that certifies both parents' permission for the child's departure from Argentina when the child is traveling alone, with only one parent, or in someone else's custody. An airport tax is collected upon departure, payable in dollars or Argentine pesos. The Consular Section of the Argentine Embassy is located at 1811 Q St., NW, Washington, DC 2009, tel. (202) 238-6460; or the nearest Consulate in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, or Texas. Visit the Embassy of Argentina web site at http://www.embajadaargentinaeeuu.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security:

Individuals and organizations with ties to extremist groups, including some known to provide financial support to designated foreign terrorist organizations, operate in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay in the tri-border area between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. No operational terrorist activities have been detected in Argentina, however, and the governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay are engaged in a coordinated effort, supported by the U.S. Government, to combat illegal activity in that area. Americans crossing from Argentina into Paraguay or Brazil may wish to consult the most recent Consular Information Sheets for those countries.

In recent years, there have been several pipe bomb/incendiary incidents in metropolitan Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, and Santa Fe. The bulk of the targets have been bank branches (ATMs), fast food restaurants, public utility offices, and political offices. These incidents usually occur in the middle of the night and appear intended to cause only property damage. There has been no indication that these incidents are connected to international terrorism.

Demonstrations occur daily in metro Buenos Aires and frequently in other major cities. Protesters often block streets, highways, and major intersections causing traffic jams and delaying travel. While demonstrations are usually nonviolent, hooligans in some of the groups sometimes seek confrontation with the police and vandalize private property. These groups occasionally protest in front of the U.S. Embassy and U.S.affiliated businesses. U.S. citizens should take common-sense precautions and avoid gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to protest. Information about the location of possible demonstrations is available from a variety of sources, including the local media. Additional information and advice may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers or email address listed at the end of this document.

Public transportation is generally reliable and safe. The preferred option for travel within Buenos Aires and other major cities is by radio taxi or "remise" (private car with driver). The best way to obtain taxis and remises is to call for one or go to an established stand, before hailing one on the street. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses can order remises or radio taxis, or provide phone numbers for such services upon request. Passengers on buses, trains, and the subway should be alert for pickpockets and should also be aware that these forms of transport are sometimes affected by strikes or work stoppages.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Most American citizens visit Argentina without incident. Nevertheless, street crime in the larger cities, especially greater Buenos Aires, is a problem for residents and visitors alike. Visitors to Buenos Aires and popular tourist destinations should be alert to muggers, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers on the street and at bus and train stations. Criminals usually work in groups, are usually armed, and employ a variety of ruses to victimize the unsuspecting visitor. A common scam is to spray mustard or a similar substance on the tourist from a distance. A pickpocket will then approach the tourist offering to help clean the stain, and while doing so, rob the victim. Another common scam is for victims to be approached by someone with a map asking for directions, while an accomplice robs the victim. Several American visitors and residents have been robbed of their watches and jewelry while walking on the street. While few visitors are injured, a large percentage of victims are threatened with weapons. Criminals do not hesitate to use force when they encounter resistance. Visitors are advised to immediately hand over all cash and valuables if confronted. Wearing expensive watches or jewelry increases your chances of being robbed. Your passport is a valuable document and should be well guarded. Whenever possible, lock your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe, and carry a photocopy of your passport for identification purposes.

Along with conventional muggings, "express" kidnappings continue to occur, especially in less well-off areas. Victims are grabbed off the street based on their appearance and vulnerability, the family or co-workers are then contacted and told to deliver the cash that they have on hand or can gather in a couple of hours. Once the ransom is paid, the victim is usually quickly released unharmed. There have been some foreign victims and visitors are particularly advised not to let children and adolescents travel alone.

The Argentine Federal Police have established a special Tourist Police Unit to receive complaints and investigate crimes against tourists. In the period from January 2004 to January 2005, the Federal Police took action in 1,083 cases involving tourists, of which 162 involved American citizens.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. The Tourist Police Unit has a toll-free number, 0800-999-5000, for responding to tourist calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

The public health system in Argentina provides emergency and non-emergency services free of charge to all, regardless of nationality or immigration status. However, the quality of non-emergency care in public hospitals is generally below U.S. standards. Medical care in private hospitals in Buenos Aires is generally good, but varies in quality outside the capital. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization in private facilities and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Private physicians, clinics, and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Argentina is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance: Driving throughout Argentina is generally more dangerous than driving in the United States. Drivers in Argentina are very aggressive, especially in the capital city of Buenos Aires, and frequently ignore traffic regulations. U.S. driver's licenses are valid in the capital and the province of Buenos Aires, but Argentine or international licenses are required to drive in the rest of the country. For further information, please contact the Argentine Automobile Club, Av. Libertador 1850, 1112 Capital Federal, telephone (011)(54)11-4802-6061. Visit the website of Argentina's national tourist office at www.turismo.gov.ar.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Argentina as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Argentina's air carrier operations.

Special Circumstances:

In addition to being subject to all Argentine laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Argentine citizens. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Argentina's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Argentina are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations:

Americans living or traveling in Argentina are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Argentina. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida Colombia 4300 in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires (near the Plaza Italia stop on the "D" line subway). 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 tel. (54)(11) 4514-1830. The main embassy fax is (54)(11) 5777-4240. The Consular Section fax is (011)(54)(11) 5777-4293. The Consular Section is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except American and Argentine holidays. Additional information on Embassy services available to U.S. citizens is available on the Internet at http://buenosaires.usembassy.gov, or by e-mail: [email protected]

International Adoption

July 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note:

Presently, intercountry adoption is not permitted in Argentina. Adoption is restricted to Argentine citizens and permanent resident aliens residing in Argentina. The following information is for U.S. citizens who permanently reside in Argentina who wish to adopt Argentine children.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2004: 0
FY 2003: 0
FY 2002: 0
FY 2001: 0
FY 2000: 0

Biological parents may relinquish their children for adoption only through the courts. This release is irrevocable and can only be signed at the court by appointment set by a judge within a 60-day period following the child's birth. It cannot be done immediately following the birth, in order to allow the birth mother time to think about her decision. During this 60-day period, the Court reviews the personal conditions of the biological parents, their age, ability to take care of the child, reasons for the release for adoption and any other considerations and information pertinent to this act. A judge may request the opinion of, technical advice from, and/or the effective participation of the public ministry (Defensor de Menores e Incapaces) to determine the best interests of the child.

A release will not be necessary in those instances when the child is a ward of the court, already an orphan on the streets, or placed in a government institution continuously for more than one year without any indication of interest from the natural parent.

Adoption Authority in Argentina:

Consejo Nacional de Niñez,
Adolescencia y Familia
Presidente Peron 524
Buenos Aires
Tel. 54-11-4338-5800 Adopciones

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents:

Adoptive parents must be at least 30 years of age if single. The prospective adoptive parent must be at least 18 years older than the adoptee. There is no minimum age if married, but the couple must have been married for at least 3 years and have no offspring. If a couple can prove that they are physically unable to have a child the court will consider marriages of less than 3 years. Married people must adopt jointly, except in the following cases:

  • Legal separation decree
  • Spouse declared insane by a court, or
  • Judicial declaration of absence of spouse (presumption of death).

Residential Requirements:

Applicants must be Argentine nationals or permanent resident aliens of Argentina for at least the five years immediately preceding the application for guardianship.

Time Frame:

Once the guardianship is granted by the Court, it takes between six months to one year to obtain the final adoption decree.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

There are some agencies that help with adoption processing. However, adoptive parents must apply directly to the Consejo Nacional.

Adoption Fees in Argentina:

There are no fixed fees. However, since this is a judicial process, the judge may set some fees for services rendered.

Adoption Procedures:

Prospective adoptive parents must file an application with the court having jurisdiction over the adoptive parents' domicile. Their names will be placed on a single nationwide list by filing date and be made public. The Consejo de la Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia will inform them when their turn is reached. Adoptive parents may check his/her status by contacting the Consejo at the address above.

The court will then release a child in guardianship to the prospective adoptive parents. The child will remain under the jurisdiction of the court for the full period of guardianship for his/her own protection and for the prevention of child trafficking. In no case will the child be permitted to depart Argentina. Application for adoption can only be filed after the guardianship period of not less than six months and not more than twelve months has elapsed. Natural parents will lose all rights and obligations. These rights will be transferred to the adoptive parents. The application for adoption must be filed with the court having jurisdiction over the parents' domicile or at the court, which granted the guardianship.

An adopted child can be informed of his/her adoption at a time considered to be convenient by the adopting parents. This is a requirement to be signed at the court at the time of granting adoption. By law, the adoptive parents must inform the child of his adoption before the age of 18. (Adopted children have the right to know their true biological identity and will have access to their adoption file once they have reached the age of 18.)

Documents Required for Adoption in Argentina:

Proof of Argentine citizenship or legal permanent residence. Argentine citizens and legal permanent residents must also show proof of residence in Argentina for the last five years. Prospective adoptive parents must provide a copy of marriage certificate (if applicable), evidence of good conduct, evidence of financial ability and other such documents required for adoptions.

Authenticating U.S. Documents to be Used Abroad:

All U.S. documents submitted to the Argentine government/court must be authenticated. Argentina is a party to the Hague Legalization Convention. Visit the State Department website at travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Argentine Embassy and Consulates in the United States:

1600 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20009,
tel. (202) 939-6400.

Argentina also has consulates in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Houston.

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

Due to the complex nature of Argentine adoption law, it is rare that a child adopted from Argentina qualifies for a U.S. immigrant visa. U.S. citizen adoptive parents who wish to bring their child to the United States for permanent residence should contact the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to discuss their options. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

U.S. Embassy in Argentina:

4300 Avenida Colombia,
1425 Buenos Aires,
Argentina.
Main Tel: (011)(54)(11)5777-4533.
Recorded consular information:
(54)(11) 4514-1830.
Main embassy fax is
(54)(11) 5777-4240.
Consular Section fax is
(011)(54)(11) 5777-4205.
http://usembassy.state.gov/baires
Email: [email protected]

Additional information:

Specific questions about adoption in Argentina may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Argentina.

views updated

Argentina

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
NATIONAL SECURITY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-ARGENTINE RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the July 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

The Argentine Republic

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 2.8 million sq. km. (1.1 million sq. mi.); about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River; second-largest country in South America.

Climate: Varied; predominantly temperate, with extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to arid/ sub-Antarctic in far south.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Argentine(s).

Population: (2006 est.) 39.0 million.

Annual population growth rate: (2001) 1.05%.

Ethnic groups: European 97%, mostly of Spanish and Italian descent; Mestizo, Amerindian, or other nonwhite groups 3%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 70%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 1.5%, Jewish 0.8%, other 2.5%.

Languages: Spanish.

Education: Compulsory until age 18. Adult literacy (2001)—97%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—16.16/1,000. Life expectancy (2000 est.)—75.48 yrs.

Work force: Industry and commerce—35.8%; agriculture—9.5%; services—54.7%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: 1853; revised 1994.

Independence: 1816.

Government branches: Executive—president, vice president, cabinet. Legislative—bicameral Congress (72-member Senate, 257-member Chamber of Deputies). Judicial—Supreme Court, federal and provincial trial courts.

Political subdivisions: 23 provinces and one autonomous district (Federal Capital).

Political parties: Justicialist (Per-onist), Radical Civic Union (UCR), numerous smaller national and provincial parties.

Suffrage: Universal adult.

Economy (2006)

GDP: $213 billion.

Annual real growth rate: +8.5%.

Per capital GDP: $5,463.

Natural resources: Fertile plains (pampas); minerals—lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron, manganese, oil, and uranium.

Agriculture: 8% of GDP; including agribusiness, about 47% of exports by value) Products—grains, oilseeds and by-products, livestock products.

Industry: (22.2% of GDP) Types—food processing, oil refining, machinery and equipment, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals.

Trade: Exports ($46.6 billion in 2006)—oilseed by-products, cars, vegetable oils, fuels, grains. Major markets—MERCOSUR 21%; EU 18%; NAFTA 13%. Imports ($34.2 billion in 2006)—machinery, vehicles and transport products, chemicals. Major suppliers—MERCOSUR 37%; EU 17%, NAFTA 16%. Imports from the United States totaled 12% of Argentine imports.

PEOPLE

Argentines are a fusion of diverse national and ethnic groups, with descendants of Italian and Spanish immigrants predominant. Waves of immigrants from many European countries arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Syrian, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern immigrants number about 500,000 to 600,000, mainly in urban areas. Argentina's population is overwhelmingly Catholic, but it also has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, estimated at between 280,000 and 300,000. In recent years, there has been a substantial influx of immigrants from neighboring countries, particularly Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru. The indigenous population, estimated at 700,000, is concentrated in the provinces of the north, northwest, and south. The Argentine population has one of Latin America's lowest growth rates. Eighty percent of the population resides in cities or towns of more than 2,000, and over one-third lives in the greater Buenos Aires area.

HISTORY

Europeans arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solias visited what is now Argentina in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580, although initial settlement was primarily overland from Peru. The Spanish further integrated Argentina into their empire by establishing the Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776, and Buenos Aires became a flourishing port. Buenos Aires formally declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816. Argentines revere Gen. Jose de San Martin—who campaigned in Argentina, Chile, and Peru—as the hero of their national independence. Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federalist groups waged a lengthy conflict between themselves to determine the future of the nation. A modern constitution was promulgated in 1853, and a national unity government was established in 1861.

Two forces combined to create the modern Argentine nation in the late 19th century: the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and integration of Argentina into the world economy. Foreign investment and immigration from Europe aided this economic revolution. Investment, primarily from Britain, came in such fields as railroads and ports. As in the United States, the migrants who worked to develop Argentina's resources—especially the western pampas—came from throughout Europe.

From 1880 to 1930, Argentina became one of the world's 10 wealthiest nations based on rapid expansion of agriculture and foreign investment in infrastructure. Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the government. The Radicals, with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina's rapidly expanding middle class as well as to groups previously excluded from power. The Argentine military forced aged Radical President Hipolito Yrigoyen from power in 1930 and ushered in another decade of Conservative rule. Using fraud and force when necessary, the governments of the 1930s attempted to contain the currents of economic and political change that eventually led to the ascendance of Juan Domingo Peron (b. 1897). New social and political forces were seeking political power, including a modern military and labor movements that emerged from the growing urban working class.

The military ousted Argentina's constitutional government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the coup's leaders, and he soon became the government's dominant figure as Minister of Labor. Elections carried him to the presidency in 1946. He created the Partido Unico de la Revolucion, which became more commonly known as the Peronist or Justicialista party (PJ). He aggressively pursued policies aimed at empowering the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. In 1947, Peron announced the first 5-year plan based on the growth of industries he nationalized. He helped establish the powerful General Confederation of Labor (CGT). Peron's dynamic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, known as Evita (1919-52), played a key role in developing support for her husband. Peron won reelection in 1952, but the military sent him into exile in 1955. In the 1950s and 1960s, military and civilian administrations traded power, trying, with limited success, to deal with diminished economic growth and continued social and labor demands. When military governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Peron's return.

On March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections for the first time in 10 years. Peron was prevented from running, but voters elected his stand-in, Dr. Hector Campora, as President. Peron's followers also commanded strong majorities in both houses of Congress. Campora resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections. Peron won a decisive victory and returned as President in October 1973 with his third wife, Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron, as Vice President. During this period, extremists on the left and right carried out violent acts with a frequency that threatened public order. The government resorted to a number of emergency decrees, including the implementation of special executive authority to deal with violence. This allowed the government to imprison persons indefinitely without charge.

Peron died on July 1, 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but a military coup removed her from office on March 24, 1976, and the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta composed of the three service commanders until December 10, 1983. The armed forces applied harsh measures against those they considered extremists and many suspected of being their sympathizers. While they were able to gradually restore basic order, the human costs of what became known as “El Proceso,” or the “Dirty War” were high. Conservative counts list between 10,000 and 30,000 persons as “disappeared” during the 1976-83 period. Serious economic problems, mounting charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat by the United Kingdom in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the Falklands/ Malvinas Islands all combined to discredit the Argentine military regime. The junta lifted bans on political parties and gradually restored basic political liberties.

Democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, with Raul Alfonsin of the country's oldest political party, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), winning the presidency in elections that took place on October 30, 1983. He began a 6-year term of office on December 10, 1983. In 1985 and 1987, large turnouts for mid-term elections demonstrated continued public support for a strong and vigorous democratic system. The UCR-led government took steps to resolve some of the nation's most pressing problems, including accounting for those who disappeared during military rule, establishing civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidating democratic institutions. However, failure to resolve endemic economic problems, and an inability to maintain public confidence undermined the effectiveness of the Alfonsin government, which left office 6 months early after Justicialista Party (PJ) candidate Carlos Saul Menem won the 1989 presidential elections.

President Menem imposed peso-dollar parity (convertibility) in 1992 to break the back of hyperinflation and adopted far-reaching market-based policies. Menem's accomplishments included dismantling a web of protectionist trade and business regulations, and reversing a half-century of statism by implementing an ambitious privatization program. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s. Unfortunately, widespread corruption in the administrations of President Menem and his successor President Fernando De la Rua, who won election in 1999 at the head of a UCR-led coalition of center and center-left parties known as the “Alianza”, shook confidence and weakened the recovery. Also, while convertibility defeated inflation, its permanence undermined Argentina's export competitiveness and created chronic deficits in the current account of the balance of payments, which were financed by massive borrowing. The contagion effect of the Asian financial crisis of 1998 precipitated an outflow of capital that gradually mushroomed into a 4-year depression that culminated in a financial panic in November 2001. In December 2001, amidst bloody riots, President De la Rua resigned.

A legislative assembly on December 23, 2001, elected Adolfo Rodriguez Saa (PJ) to serve as President and called for general elections to choose a new president within 3 months. Rodriguez Saa announced immediately Argentina's default on $88 bil-

lion in debt (the largest sovereign debt default in history), but expressed his commitment to maintain the currency board and the peso's 1-to-1 peg to the dollar. Rodriguez Saa, however, was unable to rally support from within his own party for his temporary administration and this, combined with renewed violence in the Federal Capital, led to his resignation on December 30. Yet another legislative assembly elected Eduardo Duhalde (PJ) President on January 1, 2002 to complete the term of former President De la Rua. Duhalde assumed office in the midst of a widespread public rejection of the “political class” in Argentina. Duhalde—differentiating himself from his three predecessors—quickly abandoned the peso's 10-year-old link with the dollar, a move that was followed by a sharp currency depreciation and rising inflation. In the face of increasing poverty and continued social unrest, Duhalde moved to bolster the government's social programs and to contain inflation. He was able to stabilize the social situation, but advanced presidential elections by 6 months in order to pave the way for a president elected with a popular mandate. In the first round of the presidential election on April 27, 2003, former President Carlos Menem (-PJ) won 24.3% of the vote, Santa Cruz Governor Nestor Kirchner (PJ) won 22%, followed by REC-REAR candidate Ricardo Lopez Murphy with 16.4% and Affirmation for an Egalitarian Republic (ARI) candidate Elisa Carrio with 14.2%. Menem withdrew from the May 25 runoff election after polls showed overwhelming support for Kirchner in the second round of elections. President Kirchner assumed the presidency on May 25, 2003. He took office following the immense social and economic upheaval stemming from the financial crisis caused by a failed currency convertibility regime. Despite widespread concern, democracy and democratic institutions survived the crisis, and Nestor Kirchner took firm control as President.

After taking office, Kirchner focused on consolidating his political strength and alleviating social problems. He pushed for changes in the Supreme Court and military and undertook popular measures, such as raising government salaries, pensions, and the minimum wage. On October 23, 2005, President Kirchner, bolstered by Argentina's rapid economic growth and recovery from its 2001/2002 crisis, won a major victory in the midterm legislative elections, giving him a strengthened mandate and control of a legislative majority in both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. President Kirchner is considered by many experts to be the most powerful Argentine president since democracy was restored in 1983.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Argentina's constitution of 1853, as revised in 1994, mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. Each province also has its own constitution, roughly mirroring the structure of the national constitution. The president and vice president are directly elected to 4-year terms. Both are limited to two consecutive terms; they are allowed to stand for a third term or more after an interval of at least one term. The president appoints cabinet ministers, and the constitution grants him considerable power, including authority to enact laws by presidential decree under conditions of “urgency and necessity” and the line-item veto.

Since 2001, senators have been directly elected, with each province and the Federal Capital represented by three senators. Senators serve 6-year terms. One-third of the Senate stands for reelection every 2 years. Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to 4-year terms. Voters elect half the members of the lower house every 2 years. Both houses are elected via a system of proportional representation. Female representation in Congress—at nearly one-third of total seats—ranks among the world's highest, with representation comparable to European Union (EU) countries such as Austria and Germany. Female senators include Cristina Ferndez de Kirchner, who was a nationally known member of the Senate for the Province of Santa Cruz before her husband was elected President, and was reelected on October 23, 2005 as a Senator for the Province of Buenos Aires.

The constitution establishes the judiciary as an independent government entity. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court with the consent of the Senate. The president on the recommendation of a magistrates’ council appoints other federal judges. The Supreme Court has the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional.

Political Parties

The two largest political parties are the Justicialist Party (PJ—also called Peronist), founded in 1945 by Juan Domingo Peron, and the Union Civica Radical (UCR), or Radical Civic Union, founded in 1891. Traditionally, the UCR has had more urban middle-class support and the PJ more labor support, but both parties have become more broadly based. The PJ does not currently have a recognized national committee or leader due to internal differences. President Kirchner, a Peronist by origin, nominally is head of his Frente Para la Victoria (FPV) coalition that includes Per-onists and non-Peronists aligned with him. Kirchner announced in July 2007 that he would not run for reelection in presidential elections in October 2007, and publicly supported the candidacy of his wife, Senator Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Fernandez de Kirchner formally announced her campaign for the presidency in July.

While the national leadership of the UCR remains in opposition to the Kirchner government, many of its governors, mayors, and other representatives have allied with President Kirchner. In the April 2003 presidential elections, the UCR received only 2% of the national vote, the lowest tally in the party's history. The UCR continues to retain significant strength in many parts of the country, and persons identifying with the party govern roughly one-third of the provinces. The UCR is the only opposition political party with a nationwide stru