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7 7 yrigoyen and the failure to reestablish obrerismo, 1928–1930 Contradictory moods gripped the public in October 1928, when Yrigoyen took office for the second time, after having been reelected by a wide margin . Many feared and loathed the thought of Yrigoyen once again in the presidential palace. Rumors of coups existed and Alvear’s minister of war, Agustı́n Justo, felt compelled to deny his role in such a plot.1 On the other hand, in the simultaneous presidential and congressional elections, the Personalist Radicals had swept every ward in the city of Buenos Aires. In the more competitive congressional elections, the Personalists had won comfortable pluralities in all the worker-dominated wards.2 Obrerismo had had an impact. There was hope (and fear) that Yrigoyen would return to the policies of the early years of his first administration by aiding striking workers. These expectations partially came to pass. During the first days of the new administration , La Epoca gave support to workers. For example, during a conflict in the workshop of the Central Argentino railroad in Pérez, just outside of Rosario, which the minister of public works was attempting to solve, the paper commented, ‘‘As is known, this conflict is caused by the company not having complied with the contracts signed with the rail workers in regard to the building, repairing and assembling of rail cars.’’3 Yrigoyen’s response to expectations raised by his return to the Casa 1. Potash, The Army and Politics in Argentina, 19. 2. Darı́o Canton, Materiales para el estudio de la sociologı́a polı́tica en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Editorial del Instituto, 1968), 2:103; Walter, The Socialist Party, 215. 3. La Epoca, October 19, 1928. PAGE 177 ................. 16996$ $CH7 10-03-08 08:39:23 PS 178 argentina’s radical party and popular mobilization, 1916–1930 Rosada was somewhat muddled. He hoped to build on his past relationships with the labor movement, but this was made difficult by a series of obstacles. He was suspicious of the uf because of its centralized structure and the Socialists in key positions. Other parts of the labor movement were badly divided, making cooperation with them difficult. Yrigoyen also wanted better relations with the British and rapidly faced serious political problems, partly produced by the onset of the Depression. In addition, he lacked the energy of previous years. Labor’s Initial Response to the Yrigoyen Administration Many workers believed that Yrigoyen would be sympathetic and thus used the opportunity presented by his return to the Casa Rosada. After the election of Yrigoyen, a union emerged in the telephone industry for the first time since 1919, what became the Federación Obreros y Empleados Telefónicos (foet). Despite early connections to the Socialist-dominated Federacio ́n Empleados de Comerio, Syndicalists controlled the new organization. Luis Gay, a dominant leader almost from the beginning, claimed that he was not a Radical at that time but that he had always been sympathetic to the Radicals. His father had been a Radical, and through his connections, Gay got his first job, a post with the legislature of the Province of Buenos Aires.4 The new union had several other advantages. The U.S.-based International Telephone and Telegraph was about to purchase the Britishowned telephone company, and Yrigoyen preferred British capital to North American capital. The company also wanted to secure higher rates from the government.5 When the foet pressed for a contract, La Epoca sympathized and Yrigoyen and Minister of Interior Elipidio González met regularly with the union and the company. They helped negotiate a contract that not only raised wages but established paid vacations, sick pay, and set job classifications . In addition, the company recognized the union’s grievance committee . This was a major triumph for the union and would have been 4. foet, Luchas y conquistas, 22–29; Boletı́n de Servicios, August 20, 1928, 363–65, September 5, 1928, 393; Confederación, August/September 1928; Luis Gay, author interview, October 17, 1975. 5. Ricardo T. Mulleady, Breve historia de la telefonı́a argentina (1886–1956) (Buenos Aires: Guillermo Kraft, 1956), 27; Max Winkler, Investments of United States Capital in Latin America, 2nd ed. (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat, 1971), 69–70; La Epoca, November 28, 1928. The union did meet with the minister of interior under Alvear. Confederación, August/ September 1928. ................. 16996$ $CH7 10-03-08 08:39:23 PS yrigoyen and...


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