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Hipólito Yrigoyen: my program is the National Constitution

Argentina's maker of mass democracy, the founder of the radical party was a statesman with a mission, “the reparation of the Republic.” Brief biography of the “Peludo”.

hipolito yrigoyen

It was a hot summer afternoon in 1918.  President Hipolito Yrigoyen works on a Sunday. The first Argentine president of the majority occupies his office from Monday to Monday at Casa Rosada.   Around 300 women are crowded around Paseo Colón, some with children in arms, others with fan diaries, many hungry. Several without the hat that relieves. Yrigoyen stops the talk with his collaborators and observes them from one of the windows. He is touched, he, a man who pays with presidential etiquette expenses for meals to the unemployed in the Immigrant Hotel, or donates his salaries during the two presidencies to charities, a million pesos or eight million francs. He makes a mental account. Quiet.  Call one of his secretaries, “put those women in the yard,” and he adds, “Start with those who don't have a hat.” 

All of them were there in the “tansadora”, the long waiting for the president to attend to everyone. It could be the driver of a tram or the president the Jockey Club. They were citizens, the same . Yrigoyen, plebiscited by the Argentines, although he won the triumph in 1916 by a little margin, had the ideal of polyplasist Argentina that inspired the Radical Civic Union . The eternal conspirator, the tireless fighter for universal suffrage and democratic principles, and the denoded moralist shaped in the Creole values allowed access to power for the first generations of Argentines as a result of immigrations.  He was not a revolutionary, he was a reformist according to the circumstances of his time, to the policies of his time, which inaugurated the mass Argentina.  

His first years are in Balvanera (Matheu and Rivadavia Avenue), born Hipólito on July 13, 1852 by French Basque Martín Yrigoyen and Porteña Marcelina Alem. Even the city smoked after Caseros and the  firstborn arrived with a decisive uncle in his first stage, Leandro N. Alem. In that childhood, where he worked as a careerman and dependent as a child, the family tables brought a ghostly figure to this family of former mazorqueros, Juan Manuel de Rosas . Tragic sign because Leandro's father, Hipolitus's grandfather, acolyte of the Restorer of Laws, is hanged for political reasons. Little is known about those years of Hipólito but under Leandro's wing, and the scuffles of Buenos Aires in arms prior to 1880, he became a commissioner in the twenty of his neighborhood. He was a respected personality in the political environment and is successively Provincial Deputy (1878-1880), General Administrator of Stamps and Patents (1880) and National Deputy (1880-1882). This last year begins to differentiate itself from his political father Alem, convinced that the confrontation with what they are beginning to call the “Regime” —rochist/conservative—should be added direct/revolutionary actions for the “Cause” —radical-, and he understands, in addition, Aacute; s, it needs financial support.  Yrigoyen is transformed into a wealthy landowner, properties that would then serve to finance uprisings, while completing a self-taught philosophical formation that exalts spiritual questions about materials.   These are the years he is a teacher at the Normal School of Cordoba Avenue.  He participates in the revolutions of 1890 and 1893 that demand universal suffrage and the fight against corruption of the rulers . Yrigoyen refuses any agreement, any offer from the high levels. Even once when Mitre, within the Civic Union, manipulates a rapprochement with the government of Pellegrini — close to Hipólito del Café de Paris — to be proclaimed as a candidate for the presidency, Yrigoyen espeta, “How do you want me to make me a mitristic! It would be like becoming Brazilian! ” —a little kind despite the fact, of Don Bartolomé's questionable intervention in the War against Paraguay. It dissolved the Buenos Aires committee and reunited in 1904 the party, now Radical Civic Union. The  failure of the 1905 revolution forced him to go into exile, but from this failure the Saénz Peña Law of 1912 was born. A conservative, exclusionary and repressive regime, fatally wounded, grants universal, male, secret and compulsory suffrage law.  All roads lead Yrigoyen towards Rivadavia's armchair after successive radical triumphs in history's first free elections.

Before joining the  presidency of Yrigoyen  from 1916, although in principle he did not want to be a candidate as his style, in a tangential relationship with Rosas, a situation of 1909 that gives out several of his subsequent achievements and shortcomings. The nearly twenty years of abstentionism and conspiracy founded on intangible principles, and radicalism as a civic religion, bothered supporters who manifested a more executive will. The resignation of Pedro Molina, who had been president of the National Committee, because “by fighting for the resurgence of institutional life... the party has never understood to make a government program, with assertions of the multiple aspects that must include the exercise of the directive action of public power”, has a full impact on the style of Yrigoyen, who already tell him the “Peludo” of Brasil street — silent warlord in the style of Rosas in Palermo-, which they will then call “personalist” Everything goes through a leader who exceeds 60 years, be a manifesto in the press, or attend the humble neighbor of their fields. Yrigoyen responds in his usual divinizing phraseology of the cause — radical —, “the party has given such a noble example in the lides for human rights and freedoms that it will hardly be overcome... within its bosom — they manifest themselves - all beliefs in which activities are diversified and synthesized social” Molina asks “what ties unite us” and Yrigoyen answers “my program is the National Constitution... radicalism is a temperament more than a party”  The statesman believed that social and economic conflicts were difficulties which could be elevated to a spiritual level, or in principle. And figured out there. He was confident that his enormous paternalistic position would shelter the regeneration of a country with a republican face.

 First president of all Argentines  

“I know well that I am not a ruler of common order, because in that nature there would have been no human power to make me assume office... I am a supreme president of the nation to fulfill the most just and legitimate aspirations of the Argentine people... I know well that I have come to fulfill a admirably conquered destiny: the reintegration of nationality on its fundamental bases...” says Yrigoyen in the decree of intervention to San Luis in 1921, one of the many provinces that intervened in order to integrate the (in) debatable public reason from La Quiaca to Tierra del Fuego,”  the work of political reparation achieved in the national order must be imposed in the federal states,  since the exercise of sovereignty is indivisible within national unity and since all citizens of the Republic have the same rights and prerogatives”, another decree signed of federal intervention in 1917, this on Buenos Aires. His government was characterized by hegemonic yearning, was for or against the radical creed, with certain abuses of enconos of the colonial and Hispanic past, and which was based on a policy established in  the committees, real bodies of access to citizenship — and, on the other side of currency, clientelism, in particular the lower middle classes.   And, moreover, while there were improvements in the lives of the workers and the popular classes, a better treatment of government, laws such as the eight hours a day or the collective agreement, it is true that  Yrigoyen's presidency also ruthlessly repressed in the Tragic Week of 1919 and the  Patagonia Rebel from 1920-1922 . Your real degree of responsibility will never be known in these guttuous events , especially in the massacres in southern Argentina.

But also, fair to say, there is the other Yrigoyen. When in 1917, strikes in all branches, some violent ones, the Russian revolution that swells and dazzles young people like Jorge Luis Borges, the powerful demand that the army intervene. And a serene Yrigoyen replied, according to Manuel Gálvez, “ when you were talking about the bulls of the Rural Exhibition - which were not transported by the railway strike added to the refrigerators -, I thought about the life of the signaleros , forced to to stay thirty hours driving the traffic lights for those who travel, so that families, can safely and safely reach happy homes, thought about the life and regime of waiters, train drivers, whom you advise me to replace by the force of the army, forced to pilgrimage in fifty hour journeys through long plains, without rest, homeless” It is worth noting, too, that the strike in the refrigerators ends with the intervention of the navy. A couple of years later, I would say before Congress, “ Democracy is not only a guarantee of political freedom: it also implies the possibility for everyone to be able to achieve a minimum of happiness, even” 

 The University Reform and the neutralist position are two highlights of his first presidency.  One because it democratizes higher institutions, and access to higher education, a general issue that worried Yrigoyen from the primary level, with the creation of three thousand schools, and the other, founded on national sovereignty. Honorio Pueyrredón alone defends the Yrigoyenist position of a League of Nations without victors or defeated after World War I, full of rights, and confronted with US imperialist desires. Unfortunately for the world, the Argentine position was not heard - Nazi Germany might have been avoided. Concern was also expressed in regional economies with radial rail lines. Fiscal Oil Fields and the Institutes of Petroleum, Nutrition and Cancer were some of their long-term projects that were able to circumvent the tangle that was weaving Congress against its bills. For example, in agriculture, equal financial plans were alibi by legislators representing the interests of landowners and landlords.

 Fall and Glory of Don Hipólito 

After the years of Marcelo T. de Alvear (1922-1928), a skilled radical politician chosen by Yrigoyen but with his own program, more institutionalist, more conservative return,  Don Hip& oacute; lito returns to the presidency at age 76 .  Spring ends, which this time really plebiscites his candidacy and exacerbate the administrative problems stemming from his personalist style — and, say, his stubborn nationalist defense of strategic resources for livestock and oil . There is a fierce campaign in newspapers and radio stations even though Argentina has almost 50% of Latin America's GDP coping with the 1929 Crack.  The future coup president Uriburu walks in the embassies saying that “Yrigoyen will not last because I will throw him down ” Everything happens in an incredible abulia of his faithful collaborators, and the growing rejection of the less obsequent co-legionaries, and ministers, who do not stand the” amansadora”, one that only seem to circumvent “women”, repeats Natalio Botana's daily Crítica. Torpedo to the waterline of a politician who speaks from moral superiority, and symbolic reparation, one who “wants to free the Argentine from the obstacles — of all kinds - that prevent his full realization as an individual and as a collective”, in the words of Félix Luna.

One of the most memorable moments of those years was the sparks with US President Hoover, who, passing through Buenos Aires, spoke of Argentina as “the basket of bread of the world”  Yrigoyen continued to defend the principle of self-determination of peoples in the face of the pretensions of U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean.   When the telephone line between Argentina and the United States was inaugurated, Hoover praised the triumph of “science and commerce” Since the pampas heard our president astonished, “I have to tell you, that increasingly stressed,  my conviction that uniformity of human thinking and feeling is to be affirmed not so much in the advances of the exact and positive sciences, but in the principles which as heavenly inspirations must constitute the reality of life... a spiritual and sensitive life... reaffirming my evangelical beliefs that men must be sacred for men and peoples for peoples, and in common concert to reconstruct the work of the centuries on the basis of a culture and civilization more ideal, more solid fellowship and more harmony with the mandates of Divine Providence ” The media destroyed it with which the sayings of the first magistrate were “out of tone... what creeds Yrigoyen is talking about, they never met...” without warning that he densely synthesized his idealistic, unfinished program of government.  The reality would hit Balcarce 50 on  September 6, 1930,   inaugurating the civil-military pendulum that spread increasingly terrifying until 1983.

Yrigoyen of health in dive is expected by two arrests on Martín García Island, once after the coup, another in the radical attempt of 1932, and a surreal judicial process because Congress was the one who could only judge him, not an unconstitutional government. Anyway, in his defense he reveals something that marks a style of leadership, “ the government was me... I never had to consult anyone in the performance of public functions.”  He died in Buenos Aires on July 3, 1933 and a funeral takes place that lasts almost three days as, with hundreds of thousands waving the courtship, sad, distressed, shaken breasts, something that will be repeated only in 1936 with Carlos Gardel, in 1952 with Eva Perón, in 1974 with Juan Perón and in 2020 with Diego Armando Maradona.

“With its shortcomings, with its mistakes, with his sins, with his sins, Yrigoyen was a genuinely vernacular product, something deeply Creole, like an ombou, a hornero... born in the heat of the boiling processes that bustle at the bottom of our history,” Felix Moon sketched “There was in Yrigoyen a sense messianic that only the leader would save the people and that joining another party was contubernium. That intransigence to the opposition, paternalism inside and outside the party... and the desire to control Congress — and Justice — was another form of vice of political practices that came to today,” says José Ignacio García Hamilton.  Yrigoyen, an apostle of civism in a material world.  

Sources: Galvez, M.  Life of Hipolito Yrigoyen . Buenos Aires: Readers' Club. 1975; Luna, F.  Yrigoyen . Buenos Aires: Hyspamerica. 1984; O'Donnell, P. García Hamilton, J.I. Pigna, F.  Confidential history . Buenos Aires: 2005

Publication Date: 10/01/2021

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We suggest you continue reading the following notes:

Hipólito Yrigoyen Argentine Presidents - Hipólito Yrigoyen (1916 — 1922)
Hipólito Yrigoyen Argentine Presidents - Hipólito Yrigoyen - II (1928 — 1930)



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