Italians in Argentina: 20th Century
Second Generation of Italians in Argentina
The need to adopt repressive measures by the upper classes found strong supporters given that among immigrants there were anarchists and socialists, which was seen as a threat to the status quo. In 1902 and in 1910 Congress passed a series of oppressive laws towards the Italian community. On this occasion, Italian immigrants were backed up by the Italian community and, mainly “La Patria Degli Italiani”, the biggest newspaper of Buenos Aires written exclusively in Italian. Thus they were able to convince some deputies to petition before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that he intervene and prevent arrests and expulsions.
The Italian community, in response to the aggressive policy implemented by the Argentine government, saw a surge in nationalistic tendencies and ideas. For example, the Italian newspaper “La Patria Degli Italiani” encouraged Italian migrants to celebrate national holidays, to honor the official representatives of Italy (like Mussolini), not to change their names, to teach the language to their children and to marry only other Italians.
However, when Dr. Roque Sáenz Peña became president of Argentina in 1920, he did pass an electoral law granting the right of universal suffrage to all Italians living on Argentinean soil. Thus, Italian Argentines were granted full citizenship rights and were able to participate in and influence political elections in the country. Assimilation of Italians into the status quo was thus facilitated and, although Italian traditions would still be kept alive, the Italian community started calling and thinking of Argentina as home. Also, their children grew up in this territory and they were able to achieve economic prosperity, which meant that many of them were able to send their kids to school, college etc. In other words, the business they had established began to flourish and, since they were given full rights, they were also able to buy land and build houses etc.