Friday, December 26, 2008

The Tucumán connection

un amigo es como un hermano pero mejor, porque no heredás su ropa
Originally uploaded by quino para los amigos

We hear that the Queensland race relations policy was the inspiration for South African apartheid legislation. Here's another unfortunate southern connection.

The story of the cultural intervention of the sugar industry in the Calchaquí valley plays out as a perfect metaphor of the white Argentina myth. In Congress, Deputy Padilla and fellow Tucumán representative Juan Simón Padrós fought to obtain a legal recognition of the sugar industry as a “white industry.” This unusual label had nothing to do with the color of the product but with the ethnicity of the workers who toiled in fields and mills. Padilla and Padrós invoked the example of Australia, which in 1914 included the sugar industry under the “White Australia Act,” banning Aboriginal and Melanesian workers and receiving in compensation protective tariffs against cheap Javanese sugar. Argentines wanted similar protection against Cuban and Brazilian sugar, which, according to the industrialists’ twisted explanation, competed favorably with Tucumán sugar because of the exploitation of “inferior races.”86 Tucumán industrialists claimed to be forced to hire only white criollo workers, “whose higher living standards could not be compared to the colored workers of Java, Hawaii, etc.” The industrialists took pride in providing jobs for the large criollo population of the northwest but demanded a protective tariff in recognition of their patriotic commitment.

Oscar Chamosa 'Indigenous or Criollo: The Myth of White Argentina in Tucumán’s Calchaquí Valley' Hispanic American Historical Review 2008, 88: 1, pp. 71-106, p. 100

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