was threatened upon the question of a dispute concerning the boundaries between the two republics. In January 1895 a special session of congress was summoned to take into consideration the financial proposals of the government, which included an increase in the naval and military estimates. Congress, however, had now got their opportunity, and they used the time of national stress to bring increased pressure to bear upon the president. On the 21st of January Dr Saenz Peña at last perceived that his position was untenable, and he handed in his resignation. It was accepted at once by the chambers, and the vice-president, Dr José Uriburu, became president of the republic for the three years and nine months of Peña’s term which remained unexpired.
Uriburu was neither a politician nor a statesman, but had spent the greater portion of his life abroad in the diplomatic service. His knowledge of foreign affairs was, however, peculiarly useful at a juncture when boundary questions Uriburu President. were the subjects that chiefly attracted public attention. After disputes with Brazil, extending over fifteen years, about the territory of “Misiones,” the matter had been submitted to the arbitration of the president of the United States. In March 1895 President Cleveland gave his decision, which was wholly favourable to the contention of Brazil. The Argentine government, though disappointed at the result, accepted the award loyally. The boundary dispute with Chile, to which reference has already been made, was of a more serious character. The dispute was of old standing. Already in 1884 a protocol had been signed between the contending parties, by which it was agreed that the frontier should follow the line where “the highest peaks of the Andine ranges divide the watershed.” This definition unfortunately ignored the fact that the Andes do not run from north to south in one continuous line, but are separated into cordilleras with valleys between them, and covering in their total breadth a considerable extent of country. Difference of opinion, therefore, arose as to the interpretation of the protocol, the Argentines insisting that the boundary should run from highest peak to highest peak, the Chileans that it should follow the highest points of the watershed. The quarrel at length became acute, and on both sides the populace clamoured from time to time for an appeal to arms, and the resources of both countries were squandered in military and naval preparations for a struggle. Nevertheless despite these obstacles, President Uriburu did something during his term of office to relieve the nation’s financial difficulties. In 1896 a bill was passed by congress, which authorized the state by the issue of national bonds to assume the provincial external indebtedness. This proof of the desire of the Argentine government to meet honestly all its obligations did much to restore its credit abroad. Uriburu found in 1897 the financial position so far improved that he was able to resume cash payments on the entire foreign debt.
In 1898 there was another presidential election. Public opinion, excited by the prospect of a war with Chile, naturally supported the candidature of General Roca, and he was elected without opposition (12th October 1898). Roca President. The first question which he had to handle was the Chilean boundary dispute. During the last months of President Uriburu’s administration, matters had reached a climax, especially in connexion with the delimitation in a district known as the Puña de Atacama. In August an ultimatum was received from Chile demanding arbitration. After some hesitation, on the advice of Roca the Argentines agreed to the demand, and peace was maintained. The principle of arbitration being accepted, the conditions were quickly arranged. The question of the Puña de Atacama was referred to a tribunal composed of the United States minister to Argentina and of one Argentine and one Chilean delegate; that of the southern frontier in Patagonia to the British crown. One of the first steps of President Roca, after his accession to office, was to arrange a meeting with the president of Chile at the Straits of Magellan. At their conference all difficulties were discussed and settled, and an undertaking was given on both sides to put a stop to warlike preparations. The decision of the representative of the United States was given in April 1899. Although the Chileans professed dissatisfaction, no active opposition was raised, and the terms were duly ratified. In his message to congress, on the 1st of May 1899, General Roca spoke strongly of the immediate necessity of a reform in the methods of administering justice, the expediency of a revision of the electoral law, and the imperative need of a reconstruction of the department of public instruction. The administration of justice, he declared, had fallen to so low an ebb as to be practically non-existent. By the powerful influence of the president, government measures were sanctioned by the legislature dealing with the abuses which had been condemned. On the 31st of August of the same year a series of proposals upon the currency question was submitted to congress by the president, whose real object was to counteract the too rapid appreciation of the inconvertible paper money. The official value of the dollar was fixed at 44 cents gold for all government purposes. The violent fluctuations in the value of the paper dollar, which caused so much damage to trade and industry, were thus checked. In October 1900 Dr Manuel Campos Salles, president of Brazil, paid a visit to Buenos Aires, and was received with great demonstrations of friendliness. The aggressive attitude of Chile towards Bolivia was causing considerable anxiety, and Argentina and Brazil wished to show that they were united in opposing a policy which aimed at acquiring an extension of territory by force of arms. The feeling of enmity between Chile and Argentina was indeed anything but extinct. The delay of the arbitration tribunal in London in giving its decision in the matter of the disputed boundary in Patagonia led to a crop of wild rumours being disseminated, and to a revival of animosity between the two peoples. In December 1901 warlike preparations were being carried on in both states, and the outbreak of active hostilities appeared to be imminent. At the critical moment the British government, urged to move in the matter by the British residents in both countries, who feared that war would mean the financial ruin of both Chile and Argentina, used its utmost influence both at Santiago and Buenos Aires to allay the misunderstandings; and negotiations were set on foot which ended in a treaty for the cessation of further armaments being signed, June 1902. The award of King Edward VII. upon the delimitation of the boundary was given a few months later, and was received without controversy and ratified by both governments.
To the calm resourcefulness and level-headedness of President Roca at a very difficult and critical juncture must be largely ascribed the preservation of peace, and the permanent removal of a dispute that had aroused so much irritation. His term Quintana and Alcorta Presidents. of office came to an end in 1904, when Dr Manuel Quintana was elected president and Dr José Figueroa Alcorta vice-president, both having Roca’s support. Dr Quintana at the time of his election was sixty-four years of age. He proved a hard-working progressive president, who did much for the development of communications and the opening up of the interior of the country. He died amidst general regret in March 1906, and was succeeded by Dr Alcorta for the remaining years of his term. (G. E.)