Hipólito Yrigoyen

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Hipólito Yrigoyen
Yrigoyen en ventanilla del ferrocarril viaje a Santa Fe campaña electoral de 1926..jpg
15th and 17th President of Argentina
In office
12 October 1928 – 6 September 1930 (1928-10-12 – 1930-09-06)
Vice PresidentEnrique Martínez
Preceded byMarcelo T. de Alvear
Succeeded byJosé Félix Uriburu
In office
12 October 1916 – 11 October 1922 (1916-10-12 – 1922-10-11)
Vice PresidentPelagio Luna
Preceded byVictorino de la Plaza
Succeeded byMarcelo T. de Alvear
Personal details
Born(1852-07-12)12 July 1852
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died3 July 1933(1933-07-03) (aged 80)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Political partyRadical Civic Union
ProfessionLawyer, teacher

Juan Hipólito del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Yrigoyen (12 July 1852 – 3 July 1933) was a two-time President of Argentina who served his first term from 1916 to 1922 and his second term from 1928 to 1930.

His activism became the prime impetus behind the obtainment of universal suffrage in Argentina in 1912. Known as "the father of the poor," Yrigoyen presided over a rise in the standard of living of Argentina's working class together with the passage of a number of progressive social reforms, including improvements in factory conditions, regulation of working hours, compulsory pensions, and the introduction of a universally accessible public education system.


Freedom activist[edit]

He was born in Buenos Aires and worked as a school teacher before entering politics. In 1882 he became a Freemason.[1] In 1891 he co-founded the Radical Civic Union together with his uncle, Leandro Alem. Yrigoyen was popularly known as "el peludo" (the hairy armadillo) due to his introverted character and aversion to being seen in public.

Following Alem's suicide in 1896, Yrigoyen assumed sole leadership of the Radical Civic Union. It adopted a policy of intransigence, 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 Sáenz Peña was forced to agree to the passage of the Sáenz Peña Law, which established secret, universal, and compulsory male suffrage.

First Presidency, 1916–1922[edit]

Yrigoyen was elected President of Argentina in 1916. He frequently found himself hemmed in, however, as the Argentine Senate was appointed by the legislatures of the provinces, most of which were controlled by the opposition. Several times, Yrigoyen resorted to federal intervention in numerous provinces by declaring a state of emergency, removing willful governors, and deepening the confrontation with the landed establishment.

Official portrait, 1916

Yrigoyen was popular, however, among middle and working 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).

Yrigoyen also promoted energy independence for the rapidly growing country, obtaining Congressional support for the establishment of the YPF state oil concern, and appointing as its first director General Enrique Mosconi, the most prominent advocate for industrialization in the Argentine military at the time. Generous credit and subsidies were also extended to small farmers, while Yrigoyen settled wage disputes in favour of the unions.[2]

Following four years of recession caused by war-related shortages of credit and supplies, the Argentine economy experienced significant economic growth, expanding by over 40% from 1917 to 1922. Argentina was known as "the granary of the world", its gross domestic product per capita placing it among the wealthiest nations on earth.[3]

Yrigoyen also expanded the bureaucracy and increased public spending to support his urban constituents following an economic crisis in 1919, although the rise in urban living standards was gained at the cost of higher inflation, which adversely affected the export economy.[4] Constitutionally barred from re-election, Yrigoyen was succeeded by Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear.

Second Presidency, 1928–1930[edit]

On the expiration of Alvear's term in 1928, Yrigoyen was overwhelmingly elected President for the second time. In December of that year, U.S. President-elect Herbert Hoover visited Argentina on a goodwill tour, meeting with President Yrigoyen 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 Yrigoyen accompanied Hoover thereafter as a personal guarantee of safety until he left the country.

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 24 December of this year he survived an assassination attempt.

Fascist and conservative sectors of the army plotted openly for a regime change, as did Standard Oil of New Jersey, who opposed both the president's efforts to curb oil smuggling from Salta Province to Bolivia, as well as the existence of YPF itself.[5] On 6 September 1930, Yrigoyen was deposed in a military coup led by General José Félix Uriburu. This was the first military coup since the adoption of the Argentine constitution. After the coup d'état Enrique Pérez Colman, Minister of Finance in the Yrigoyen cabinet; General Moscini, former Director of oil fields; General Baldrich and a number of Yrigoyenist deputies were under arrest by the provisional government of General Uriburu.

The new government of Uriburu adopted the most severe measures to prevent reprisals and counter-revolutionary tactics by friends of the ousted administration of ex–President Yrigoyen. The aforementioned Yrigoyenist personalities were later released. [6]

Later life[edit]

After his overthrow, Yrigoyen was placed under house arrest and confined several times to Martín García Island. He died in Buenos Aires in 1933 and was buried in La Recoleta Cemetery.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 September 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ The Penguin History of Latin America by Edwin Williamson
  3. ^ Lewis, John. The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism. University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
  4. ^ The Penguin History of Latin America by Edwin Williamson
  5. ^ Wirth, John. The Oil Business in Latin America. Beard Books, 2001.
  6. ^ Associated Press Despatch. New Govt. Takes Speedy Action Against Enemy. Ottawa Citizen, Sep 9 1930

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Victorino de la Plaza
President of Argentina
Succeeded by
Marcelo T. de Alvear
Preceded by
Marcelo T. de Alvear
President of Argentina
Succeeded by
José Félix Uriburu