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ARGENTINA

intense enthusiasm followed, and Buenos Aires was en fête for the following three days. The vice-president of the confederation, Carlos Pellegrini, who had been minister of war under presidents Avellaneda and Roca and had had much administrative experience, succeeded without opposition to the vacant post.

Much satisfaction was shown in Europe at the fall of President Celman, for investors had suffered heavily by the way in which the resources of Argentina had been dissipated by a corrupt government, and hopes were entertained Pellegrini president. that the uprising of public opinion against his financial methods signified a more honest conduct of the national affairs in the future. Great expectations were entertained of the ability of President Pellegrini to establish a sound administration, and he succeeded in forming a ministry which gave general satisfaction throughout the country. General Roca was induced to undertake the duties of minister of the interior, and his influence in the provinces was sufficient to check any attempts to stir up disturbances at Córdoba or elsewhere. The most onerous post of all, that of minister of finance, was confided to Dr Vicente Lopez, who, though he was not of marked financial ability, was at least a man of untiring industry and of a personal integrity that was above suspicion. But the economic and financial situation was one of almost hopeless embarrassment and confusion, and Pellegrini proved himself incapable of grappling with it. Instead of facing the difficulties, the president preferred to put off the day of reckoning by flooding the country with inconvertible notes, with the result that the financial crisis became more and more aggravated. Through the rapid depreciation of Argentine credit, the great firm of Baring Brothers, the financial agents of the government in London, became so heavily involved that they were forced into liquidation, November 1890. The consequences of this catastrophe were felt far and wide, and in the spring of 1891 both the Banco Nacional and the Banco de la provincia de Buenos Aires were unable to meet their obligations. Amidst this sea of financial troubles the government drifted helplessly on, without showing any inclination or capacity to initiate a strong policy of reform in the methods of administration which had done so much to ruin the country.

It is little wonder that, in these circumstances, the choice of a successor to Pellegrini, whose term of office expired in 1892, should have been felt to possess peculiar importance. General Bartolomé Mitre was proposed by the porteños as their candidate. He had been absent from Argentina on a journey to Europe, and on his return in April 1891, a popular reception was given to him at which 50,000 persons attended. A petition was presented to him begging him to be a candidate for the presidency, and with some reluctance the veteran leader gave his consent. His partisans, however, found themselves confronted by a compact provincial party, who proposed to put forward the other strong man of the republic, General Roca, to oppose him. But the two generals were equally averse to a contest à outrance, which could only end in civil war. They met accordingly at a conference known as El Acuerdo, and it was arranged that both should withdraw, and that a non-party candidate should be selected who should receive the support of them both. The choice fell upon Dr Saenz Peña, a judge of the supreme court, and a man universally respected, who had never taken any part in political life. This compact aroused the bitter enmity of Dr Leandro Alem, who did his utmost to stir up the Union Civica to a campaign against the neutral candidate. Finding that the more conservative section of the union would not follow him, Alem formed a new association to which he gave the name of Union Civica Radical. Such was his energy, that soon a network of branches of the Union Civica Radical was organized throughout the republic, and Dr Bernardo Irigoyen was put forward as a rival candidate to Dr Saenz Peña. But Alem was not content with constitutional opposition to the Acuerdo, and his movement soon assumed the character of a revolutionary propaganda against the national government. His violence gave Pellegrini the opportunity of taking active steps to preserve the peace. In April 1892 Alem and his chief colleagues were arrested and sent into exile.

In the following month (May), the presidential elections were held; Dr Saenz Peña was declared duly elected, and Dr José Uriburu, the minister in Chile, was chosen as vice-president.

The idea of Dr Saenz Peña was to conduct the government on common sense and non-partisan lines, in fact to translate into practical politics the principles which underlay the compromise of the Acuerdo. He was a straightforward Saenz Peña president. and honourable man, who tried his best to do his duty in a position that had been forced upon him, and was in no sense of the word his own seeking. No sooner, however, was he installed in office than difficulties began to crop up on all sides, and he quickly discovered that to attempt to govern without the aid of a majority in congress was practically impossible. He had had no experience of political life, and he refused to create the support he needed by using his presidential prerogative to build up a political majority. Obstruction met his well-meant efforts to promote the general good, and before twelve months of the presidential term had run public affairs were at a deadlock. Dr Alem, who had been permitted to return from exile, was not slow to profit by the occasion. Embittered by his treatment in 1892, he openly preached the advisability of an armed rising to overthrow the existing administration. Public opinion had been outraged by the immunity with which the governors of certain provinces, and more particularly Dr Julio Costa, the governor of the province of Buenos Aires, had been allowed to maintain local forces, by the aid of which they exacted the payment of illegal taxes and exercised other acts of injustice and oppression. A number of officers of the army and navy agreed to lend assistance to a revolutionary outbreak, and towards the end of July 1893 matters came to a head. The population of Buenos Aires assembled in armed bodies with the avowed intention of ejecting the governor from office, and electing in his stead a man who would give them a just administration. The president was for some time in doubt whether he had any right to intervene in provincial affairs, but eventually troops were despatched to La Plata. There was no serious fighting. Negotiations were soon opened which quickly led to the resignation of Costa, and the return of the insurgents to their homes. While these disturbances were taking place in the province of Buenos Aires, another revolutionary rising was in progress in Santa Fé. Here the efforts of Dr Alem succeeded in supplying a large body of rebels with arms and ammunition, and he was able, by a bold attack, to seize the town of Rosario and there establish the revolutionary headquarters. This capture so alarmed the national government that a force was sent under the command of Roca to put down the insurrection. The revolt speedily collapsed before this redoubtable commander, and Alem and the other leaders surrendered. They were sentenced to banishment in Staten Island at the pleasure of the federal government.

But the suppression of disorder did not relieve the tension between the congress and the executive. During the whole of the 1894 session, the attitude of senators and deputies alike was one of pronounced hostility to the president. All his acts were opposed, legislation was at a standstill and every effort was made to force Dr Saenz Peña to resign. But although he experienced the utmost difficulty in forming a cabinet, the president was obstinate in his determination to retain office without identifying himself with any party. A definite issue was therefore sought by the congress on which to join battle, and it arose out of the death sentences which had been pronounced on certain naval and military officers who had been implicated in the Santa Fé outbreak. The president had made up his mind that the sentence must be carried out; the congress by a great majority were resolved not to permit the death penalty to be inflicted. It was a one-sided struggle, for without the consent of the congress the president could not raise any money for supplies, and congress refused to vote the budget. But heavy expenses had been incurred in putting down revolutionary movements in various parts of the provinces, and war with Chile