March 1870 signalled the end of the War of the Triple Alliance, with devastating casualties having been suffered by Paraguay and very little territorial gain having been made by Argentina. Argentina found itself in a substantial amount of debt following the war (mostly to the British), even though this fragmented state could barely have been considered as a coherent nation until this time. Therelationship held with Brazil was very much one of rivalry, although they could not be described as enemies. Neither nation was capable of seeing the economic, political and cultural advantages of physical integration with each other.
Argentina appeared to have left itself with very poor foundations for the national development that it was about to experience. Huge amounts of post-wardebt and its continuing reliance on overseas investment left the country in a very unstable economic state. The consolidation of the nation, which was to follow, was essential in order to allow organisation and preparation for the rapid growth it was about to experience. The extent of this growth can be seen in the fact that the country was transformed from being an incoherent nation in 1870, tobecoming a country with one of the top five Gross National Products in the world by 1914. Along with this fact, the question arises of whether rapid national development necessarily means successful national development.
The first most important step to be taken towards development in Argentina towards the end of the 19th Century was the consolidation of the country as a nation state, andfederalisation of the provinces. It was in 1880 that this federalisation finally took place. The provinces of Argentina agreed on the capitalisation of Buenos Aires, mainly due to its commercial value of having deep-water ports, as well as having a large population and being surrounded by the particularly fertile Pampas region. Having made Buenos Aires capital, this gave the country a truesense of identity for which it had been striving for many years. A federal government could now be formed, allowing the constitution to be updated with increased stability. The original Argentine constitution had been formed in 1953, but this was without the inclusion of Buenos Aires. It was by force that the League of Governors imposed this constitution upon Bartolomé Mitre and his city, lead byJulio Argentino Roca. However, this constitution was to see itself frequently rewritten and amended, causing many internal disputes in the country.
Having developed some degree of interior organisation, Argentina was able to continue with an increased sense of stability and unity on its path of national development. The country was become immersed in a process of development based onexports – “Desarollo Hacia Afuera.” It was this policy adopted by the country that allowed it to see the remarkable rates of growth that it experienced over this period. By the end of the 19th Century Argentina was to become the main exporter of primary goods in the world, with 90% of goods leaving the country were farm goods. In fact, 85% of these exports came from the Pampas regions,highlighting the immense importance that they held for national development. General Julio Argentino Roca was responsible for the consolidation of the Pampas regions (La Conquista del Desierto), either driving out or employing the aboriginal inhabitants of these areas. The social consequences of this process were that those indigenous people who previously worked and lived in freedom as part of anoligarchy now found themselves forced to become a salaried labour force. Despite the inherent social consequences experienced by the country as a result of Roca’s “Conquista,” it is clear to see that in order for Argentina to be able to make the most out of this considerable asset it was absolutely necessary for it to be consolidated and organised with a proper labour force. The injection of capital...
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