By Noreen Bowden | May 26, 2009
Argentina was once a powerful draw for Irish emigrants, although it is difficult to imagine given the country’s economic troubles today. How did it go from being an economic powerhouse to its current status today? Alan Beattie in the Financial Times documents the decline in a comparison of the policies pursued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States and Argentina.
As he points out,
“Before the Great Depression of the 1930s, Argentina was among the 10 richest countries in the world. The millions of emigrant Italians and Irish fleeing poverty at the end of the 19th century were torn between the two: Buenos Aires or New York? The pampas or the prairie?
A hundred years later there was no choice at all. One had gone on to be among the most successful economies ever. The other was a broken husk.”
Beattie points out that America chose openness, innovation, skilled immigration and industrialisation – while Argentina concentrated land and political power in the hands of an elite who shunned the risk-taking nature of industrialisation until it was too late.
The article is worth reading for anyone interested in the history of the home of the largest non-English-speaking Irish diaspora community.