Today in Latin America; Falklands, Arlt, ITT, Martinez and Foraker


On Dec. 2, 1931, Maximiliano Hernández Martínez ousted elected president Arturo Araujo, to whom he served as minster of war. On January 22 of 1932, Martínez ordered the massacre of ten to forty thousand campesinos across western Salvador. Although Martínez is often attempted to be explained through his occult beliefs, it is the precarious nature of his government and its repressive nature that is the true culprit to his sudden collapse today in 1944 (65 years ago). The briefly democratic coup against Martínez did not last long, but the reverberations were intense. With his fall came the fall of General Ubico in Guatemala, ushering the first period of real democracy on the isthmus, and challenges to Somoza in Nicaragua. Yet Martínez’s rise is just as enormous as his fall – unfortunately the correlation ends there. With Martínez came a new era of repression, with his exit came only more.


Today in 1982 (27 years ago) Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands occupied by Great Britain. Neither country declared war, but the provocation cost nearly 700 Argentina lives as well as nearly 300 British lives. On April 3, 1982, the United Nations Security Counsel condemned the action by Argentina and called for the cessation of violence in the islands. The war began under the auspices of patriotism and a sagging economy. The effects of war toppled the military dictatorship that had been in power for a decade. On April 14, only twelve days into the battle, the Junta surrendered. In Britain, Thatcher and the Right were vindicated while in Argentina, the Junta fell (it is up to you to say who may have won the war). Raúl Alfonsín, who passed away on Tuesday, was elected a year later on October 30, 1983. The Falklands still play a role in the imagination of Argentina.


Roberto Arlt, the Argentine writer, was born 109 years ago today. Author of El juguete rabioso (Mad Toy), Los siete locos (Seven Madmen) and Los lanzallamas (Flamethrowers), Arlt is seen as a huge influence to “Boom” generation – as well as the current crop of Argentine writers spinning tales about Buenos Aires. Arlt was dark and funny – his abusive childhood believed to have tilted with characters in innovative ways. He is know for his “anguished, half insane” characters. Like Borges, and many in Argentina, especially Buenos Aires, Arlt was a columnist and reporter and often wrote about the mundane to the insane of Argentine life at all angles. In 1935 he spent a year in Spain and North Africa and dreamed of the United States. Yet Arlt would die before he could go, in 1942, by a stroke believed to have been caused by his workload. He was only 42.


In 1968, ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph) had invested nearly $200 million into Chilean minerals, specifically, copper – which, according to Laura Allende, “over a 42 year period the copper companies earned $420 billion on original investments totalling $35 million.” In 1970, Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile, although ITT channeled $700,000 into Jorge Allesandri’s bank account. We all know about “make the economy scream” – Kissinger’s phrase on what the US will do to countries that step out of the Washington line – and that is what happened. Until 1973, no lending occurred in Chile. Upon Allende’s overthrow, lines of credit emerged within hours. (See more on the covert actions of Chile online). ITT, as the documents show, provided aid as well as plans for the overthrow of Allende for it’s own material interest. “What’s wrong with looking after No. 1,” ITT would answer. Chileans can think of a host of reasons.


Today in 1900 (109 years ago), what became known as the Foraker Act passed through Congress. It would be signed on April 12 by President McKinley. The act created a civilian government in Puerto Rico and was, ironically, also referred to as the Organic Act – a joke on the inorganic nature of Puerto Rico independence? Or the implanted seeds of US democracy on the once rebellious grounds of San Juan? Either way, the law cemented the relationship that began in 1898 with the peaceful ceding of the island to US imperial interests that eyed, among other things, Cuba and the Philippines. This was followed by the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917 that applied US citizenship to Puerto Ricans – which is seen as a way to conscript new recruits for the Great War in Europe. It wouldn’t be until 1952 that Puerto Rico would be allowed to draft its own Constitution, but that’s another story.


~ by Daniel on April 2, 2009.

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