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Today’s A Day In A Read State, the tenth installment in the series, puts Arthur P. Whitaker’s Argentina in the spotlight.
Allow me to introduce Whitaker through the words of Latin Americanist and historian Ernst Halperin:
Ernst Halperin replies:
“Professor Whitaker is a great authority in the field of Latin American studies. I am not conscious of any feelings of hostility toward him or his collaborator, Professor, Jordan. But I happen to be of the opinion 1) that a very specific anti-Americanism, not mere “xenophobia,” or an abstract “anti-colonialism” and “anti-imperialism” is a basic feature of contemporary Latin American nationalism, 2) that in a book on the subject, this should be dealt with in depth, and 3) that the book in question fails to do so.
I repeat my statement that Arevalo’s The Shark and the Sardines, Castro’s Second Declaration of Havana, and Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare are as fundamental to an understanding of the Leftist extremist, violent brand of Latin American Nationalism as Mein Kampf is to an understanding of German National Socialism. The only plausible—and charitable—explanation for Whitaker’s and Jordan’s failure to mention these three documents still seems to me to be that the subject was too painful to them. Surely an expert as eminent as Professor Whitaker must have read, or at least heard of, The Second Declaration of Havana!”
Ernst Halperin, in New York Review of Books, April 6, 1967 issue’s essay entitled “Painful Subject,” replying to Arthur P. Whitaker
…Don’t get these two started.
Whitaker on Argentina’s Civil War (1859 – 1862):
“Tension mounted between Buenos Aires and the rest of the country as the metropolis prospered under a free trade policy that exposed formerly protected domestic industries in the other provinces to disastrous foreign competition. Both sides started playing for keeps: the Confederation undertook to build up its principal port, Rosario, as a rival to Buenos Aires; the latter moved to make its secession permanent by obtaining foreign recognition of its independence; and each side sought to weaken the other by subversion and even assassination.
That civil was resulted is much less surprising than the form it took. It consisted of only two battles separated by two years of relatively peaceful coexistence. At Cepeda in 1859, Urquiza’s Confederation forces defeated those of Buenos Aires under Mitre. Thereupon, Buenos Aires agreed to enter the union on the basis of certain constitutional amendments; and, Urquiza’s term having expired, he was succeeded in the presidency by one Santiago Derqui, who was supposed to appease the interprovincial conflict by governing in the interest of the republic at large. But the conflict was not appeased: in 1861 Buenos Aires, still led by Mitre, appealed to arms. Again a single battle was fought. This time, at Pavón, Mitre won: although the battle was a draw, Urquiza for some reason retired with his troops to Entre Ríos, leaving Buenos Aires in control not only of the battlefield but also, as it turned out, of the whole Argentine political arena.
Compared with the civil wars of the same period in Mexico (1857-1860) and the United States (1861-1865), this Argentine conflict was a tame affair, and when there was fighting it had something of the stylized, ritual character of a combat between champions in the Trojan or medieval times. It was not that the Argentines of that age were tame or squeamish about bloodletting. On the contrary, the gauchos were notoriously quick and deadly with the knife, and the opposing forces of civilization were not far behind them in ferocity: Sarmiento once urged General Mitre “not to be economical with the blood of gauchos,” whom he described as fit only to fertilize the soil of Argentina with their carcasses. Rather, the moderation of this two-year conflict bespoke widespread agreement among the leading contestants on two fundamental issues: the unity of Argentina, and its modernization. Urquiza played a decisive role as pacificator in this situation. He may have yielded at Pavón in order to avert a mutually destructive civil war; certainly from that time forth, until his assassination in 1870 during an uprising in his home province, he gave powerful support to the porteño-dominated regime against the provincial caudillos and other disruptive elements that continued to harass it. In so doing, he represented those strong forces outside of Buenos Aires that were working for national unity and modernization and without whose support the new Argentina could never have been fashioned.
Whither New York City’s Mayor Fernando Wood on January 6, 1861, delivering his Recommendation for Secession?