• U.S.

ARGENTINA: Boss v. Slaves

4 minute read

Thoroughly vexed at U. S. citizens, last week, was the great Argentine political “Boss,” Dr. Hipolito Irigoyen, who has just caused himself to be elected President of Argentina by a 2 to 1 majority.

That feat, which inscrutable “Boss” Irigoyen accomplished without making a single campaign speech, might well attract U. S. attention. Instead, last week, while the final Argentine ballots were being counted, eager U. S. citizens were snapping up in best selling quantities a book called The Road to Buenos Ayres.* The snappers neither knew nor cared about Argentina’s President-Elect; but they eagerly scanned the new best seller because it tells how exceedingly women of the class called “White Slaves” flourish in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.

Therefore stern, close-lipped President-Elect Irigoyen was thoroughly vexed, last week, and perhaps slightly perturbed at the effect which The Road to Buenos Ayres may have upon U. S. friendship for Argentina.None knows better than “Boss” Irigoyen how much truth is in the book; for as a youth he was a Police Captain in Buenos Aires (1873) and later Chief of Police (1890).

The Road. Only a French journalist could chatter of White Slavery with such inoffensive skimming swiftness as Monsieur Albert Londres has attained in The Road to Buenos Ayres. The man is a magpie—a shrewd one—and a correspondent of Le Petit Parisien. When Argentine passport officials asked dapper Magpie Londres why he proposed to land at Buenos Aires, he blithely chirped: “Mes amis, I have come to see your souteneurs, your pimps.”

Shortly Monsieur Londres found, as the League of Nations had discovered before him, that the problem of the male souteneur is, if possible, more basic than that of the white slave herself. If is the souteneur who sniffs about Europe until he finds a poor and not too homely “baggage,” wins her by offering food if she is starving, buys her from debased parents if necessary, scrubs her up if she is filthy, and smuggles her out to the Argentine on a passport doctored or forged to show that the “baggage” is not “underweight” (i.e. under the age of consent).

Monsieur Londres claims that the masters of white slaves cannot and do not retain them against their wills; but explains that the women sink rapidly into acceptance of their voluntary enchattlement and permit themselves to be transferred by purchase and sale.

Monsieur Londres concludes—. “The foundation of prostitution is hunger. . . . Poverty is like a foreign country. Only those who have lived there know anything about it. … I assert that 80 per cent of the French girls who go out to console lonely men on the other side of the world have been brought to this by want.”

The suggested cure for white slavery, then, is economic, since judicial remedies continue to prove ineffective. When the penury of the lower classes in France and Eastern Europe has been ameliorated their daughters will not choose, thinks Monsieur Londres, to go out to the chief regions of white slave consumption: Latin America & Egypt.

Irigoyen. Citizens of the U. S. who rose above best seller snapping, last week, were rewarded with leisure in which to inspect “Boss” Irigoyen and ponder the healthy and rapid material progress of Argentina.

Dr. Hipolito Irigoyen has made the mere existence of his commanding personality a major political issue in Argentina. During the election just completed his followers styled themselves “Personalists”; and the opposition candidate, Dr. Leopoldo Mello, ran on an “Anti-Personalist” platform. That is to say Dr. Mello appealed, unsuccessfully, to the electorate to repudiate the personal rule of the Chief Executive, which Dr. Irigoyen established when he was last President of Argentina (1916-22). The subsequent retirement from office of “Boss” Irigoyen occurred merely because an Argentine cannot constitutionally be elected President for two successiveterms. His successor as President was the present Chief Executive of Argentina, Dr. Marcelo T. de Alvear, whose six-year term began in 1922 and expires Oct. 12, 1928, when Dr. Irigoyen will be inaugurated.That “Boss” Irigoyen has maintained his silent “personal” rule all the while is an undoubted fact. Though his years are now three score and fifteen he retains the hard, firm jaw and penetrating glance of a fighter who fears no opponent.

Far more interesting to Argentines, last week, than the threadbare problem of white slavery was the arrival of a staff of U. S. engineers to survey for the Argentina Government a proposed canal route which would span South America across the low lands of Patagonia and link Argentina with Chile by a cheap water transport route. The canal, estimated to cost $500,000,000, would serve purely for local transport, and be in no sense competitive with the big ditch at Panama, 4,000 miles to the North.

*By Albert Londres—Boni & Livcright— ($2.50).

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