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Argentina, general strike (Semana Trágica), 1919

Eduardo Sartelli

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place South America » Argentina

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics police, revolution, socialism, strikes, violence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00122.x


Semana Trágica , or “tragic week,” refers to the workers' insurrection that took place in Buenos Aires in January 1919. The term alludes to the bloody outcome of the event, which shook Argentine society and briefly transported it to the climate of the Russian Revolution. The events of the Semana Trágica need to be framed in the international and local dynamics of class struggle. At the local level, they begin with the 1916–17 successful strike of the Maritime Worker Federation (FOM), the union of coasting trade ships workers, and ends with the 1921 failed general strike. At the international level, Semana Trágica inscribes itself in the revolutionary wave by cutting across a significant part of the world, in particular under the influence of the Russian and German revolutions. Looking at the phenomenon from the standpoint of economic and social trends, the period framing the event includes the economic and social crisis following World War I. In that juncture, between 1916 and 1921, wages fell, unemployment was more than 20 percent of the economically active population, and immigration came to an end. From a political perspective, the events of January 1919 were determined by the development of bourgeois democracy, installed in Argentina after the 1912 Sáenz Peña Law established secret and universal male suffrage. Seen in the context of proletarian history, the event inscribes ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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