Argentina’s Tragic Week
Exactly ninety years ago on this day in people’s history, four workers were killed in Buenos Aires, Argentina starting ‘la semana tragica’ or the tragic week. On January 7th, 1919, military officers used deadly force against striking workers echoing the worldwide demand for an eight hour day and improved wages in the Vesena Iron Workers plant in the capital city. The unleashing of such repression by President Hipolito Yrigoyen of the Radical Civic Union Party was met by organized workers calling for a general strike. Two days after the start of the tragic week, the Federacion Obrera Regional Argentina or FORA mobilized hundreds of thousands of people into the streets. The military, police and company vigilante groups cracked down on the general strike as hundreds of workers were killed and more than 50,000 were arrested during the tragic week.
A young military officer named Juan Peron was said to have been effected by the orders he was given to carry out during the tragic week, birthing his desire for the corporatist state he would later carry out in Argentina, but as journalist Marie Trigona has stated, the tragic week also bore indelible effects on the working class movement struggling for rights into the 21st century.