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Hipolito Yrigoyen

Juan Hipolito del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Irigoyen Alem was twice President of Argentina (from 1916 to 1922 and again from 1928 to 1930). Yrigoyen (he signed that way to distinguish himself from Bernardo de Irigoyen's political ideas) was popularly known as "el peludo" (The hairy armadillo) due to his introverted character and aversion to be seen in public. Pro-Yrigoyen political supporters were known as "personalistas", a rude suggestion that they were sycophants of Yrigoyen, anti-Yrigoyen elements, not surprisingly, were known as "anti-personalistas".

Yrigoyen was a schoolteacher before turning to politics, Irigoyen in 1896 became the leader of the Radical Party, putting his personal stamp on it for the next four decades. He fought electoral corruption by boycotting elections until after reforms were carried out in 1912. Four years later, he was elected president. Most popular with the middle class, which for the first time felt it was part of the political process, Irigoyen kept Argentina out of World War I, allowing it to profit from the high beef prices on the world market. He was elected president by a large margin in 1928. In December of that year, U.S. President-elect Herbert Hoover visited Argentina on a goodwill tour, meeting with President Irigoyen on policies regarding trade and tariffs. Radical anarchist elements attempted to assassinate Hoover by attempting to place a bomb near his rail car, but the bomber was arrested before he could complete his work. President Irigoyen accompanied Hoover thereafter as a personal guarantee of safety until he left the country.

In late 1929, the worldwide depression occurred, greatly affecting Argentina's economy and causing much unrest in the country. Irigoyen's inability to deal with the crisis, combined with increasing levels of violence between left-wing and right-wing elements in the country caused his removal from office by an army coup in 1930.

Freedom activist

He was born in Buenos Aires, and worked as a school teacher before entering politics. In 1891 he co-founded the Radical Civic Union (Union Civica Radical), together with his uncle, Leandro Alem. Following Alem's suicide in 1896, Hipolito Yrigoyen assumed sole leadership of the Radical Civic Union. It adopted a policy of intransigency, a position of total opposition to the regime known as "The Agreement". Established by electoral fraud, this was an agreed formula among the political parties of that time for alternating in power. The Radical Civic Union took up arms in 1893 and again in 1905. Later, however, Yrigoyen adopted a policy of nonviolence, pursuing instead the strategy of "revolutionary abstention", a total boycott of all polls until 1912, when President Roque Saenz Pena was forced to agree to the passage of the Saenz Pena Law, which established secret, universal, and compulsory male suffrage.

First presidency (19161922)

Yrigoyen was elected President of Argentina in 1916. He frequently found himself hemmed in, however, as the Senate was appointed by the legislatures of the provinces, most of which were controlled by the opposition. Several times, Yrigoyen resorted to federal intervention by declaring a state of emergency, which deepened the confrontation with the establishment. Yrigoyen was popular, however, among middle class voters, who felt integrated for the first time in political process, and the Argentinian economy prospered under his leadership. Yrigoyen preserved Argentine neutrality during World War I, which turned out to be a boon, owing to higher beef prices and the opening up of many new markets to Argentina's primary exports (meat and cereals). During this time Argentina experienced a significant economic rise, known as "the granary of the world", its gross domestic product per capita placed it among the wealthiest nations on earth. Constitutionally barred from re-election, Yrigoyen was succeeded by Marcelo T. de Alvear.

Second presidency (19281930)

On the expiration of Alvear's term in 1928, Yrigoyen was overwhelmingly elected President for the second time. In his late seventies, he found himself surrounded by aides who censored his access to news reports, hiding from him the reality of the effects of the Great Depression, which hit towards the end of 1929. On December 24 of this year he survived an assassination attempt.

Fascist and conservative sectors of the army and the intelligence (such as Leopoldo Lugones) plotted openly for a regime change. On September 6, 1930, Yrigoyen was deposed in a military coup by Jose Felix Uriburu. This was the first military coup since the adoption of the Argentine constitution.

Twilight years

After his overthrow, Yrigoyen was placed under house arrest and confined several times to Isla Martin Garcia. He died in Buenos Aires.

Hipolito Yrigoyen was buried in La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.


Enciclopedia Libre Universal en Espanol - Hipolito Yrigoyen. Original version in Spanish, released under GNU FDL

See also

El Apostol, a 1917 satirical film featuring Hipolito Yrigoyen (also the world's oldest animated feature film)

History of Argentina

External links

National Hipolito Yrigoyen Institute

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