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Where does the enmity between Argentina and Brazil come from?

Where does that enmity with Brazil come from? The origin would seem to be football, but there are other theories.
As we are
El origen parecería ser futbolístico, pero hay otras teorías.
| 20 September, 2019 |

That there are always problems between neighbors is something we all know. That with our sister countries we look at each other half of the eye, but deep down we love each other, is a reality. But why? Where does that enmity come from? Our main archenemy within Latin America is, without a doubt, Brazil. The origin would seem to be football, but there are other theories. Do you want to meet them?

The BBC took the trouble of listening the opinions of historians, political scientists and sports journalists from both countries. He came to establish four theses on the origin of this historic dispute.

1) Political animosity

The historian and political scientist Brazil’s Boris Fausto and Argentina’s Fernando Devoto are co-authors of the book Un comparative history essay (1850-2002). In it, they say that this rivalry was born in the political arena.

“ It began in the 19th century, when both countries positioned themselves as the two most important in the Southern Cone, with claims of hegemony and superiority. And that crystallized,” they explained.

For Fausto, that political rivalry ended up being assimilated by society and, thus, it was detached from the historical facts and invading other areas, such as football.

2) Reissue of Portugal vs. United Kingdom

For Argentine political scientist Rosendo Fraga, the two countries “inherited the dispute between Portugal and Spain for the control of the Rio de la Plata”. From the Brazilian historical perspective, this culminated in the so-called Cisplatina War (1825-1828).

Fraga points out this 19th century dispute as a decisive moment in which this climate of animosity was born. “Argentina was projecting itself as the only country in South America with the potential to compete against Brazil for regional leadership.”

Fraga explained that the tension reached its peak in the first decade of the last century, when the relations between the two countries were interrupted.

Like Fausto, Fraga believes that the football, the most popular sport in both countries, is a kind of “extension” of that dispute over regional hegemony.

3) The outcome of the differences

The political scientist and writer Argentinian Vicente Palermo is the author of Joy and Passion – stories Brazilians and Argentines in a comparative perspective. He claims that “Historically it was common for Argentines to look at Brazilians with a air of superiority.”

The explanation was in the historical differences between the two countries, including their colonization processes. Argentina used to be defined as “more homogeneous and egalitarian”; Brazil “more diverse and unequal”.

However, Palermo believes that all that changed in the years of the Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983). The country, which used to have a thriving middle class, went on to face problems of poverty similar to those in Brazil. Back then, it was seen by its neighbors as a nation of “poor and blacks”.

Today, he says, Argentines see their neighbors in another way, as a weighty global actor. For Palermo, the problem is that clichés are maintained and end up contributing to fuel rivalry.

4) Football stuff


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