Argentine Regional Workers' Federation
The Argentine Regional Workers' Federation (Spanish: Federación Obrera Regional Argentina; abbreviated FORA), founded in 1901, was Argentina's first national labor confederation. It split into two wings in 1915, the larger of which merged into the Argentine Syndicates' Union (USA) in 1922, while the smaller slowly disappeared in the 1930s.
In the second half of the 19th and the 20th century up to around 1920, Argentina experienced rapid economic growth and industrial expansion, thus becoming a world economic power. Foreign capital was the driving force for this development, 92% of the workshops and factories in 1887 being owned by non-Argentinians, according to a census. Similarly, most of the workers in this period were immigrants, 84% according to the same census.
In 1876, the country's first trade union was founded, in 1887 the first national labor organization. In 1879 an anarchist organisation, the International Socialist Circle, was founded in Buenos Aires. Both the industrialization and the labor movement were centered on the capital Buenos Aires and by 1896, there were more thirty trade unions in the city alone. From 1896, the labor movement started developing a clear working-class program and the first sympathy strikes, for example, starting taking place.
The extent of anarchism's influence is disputed: Ronaldo Munck claims that the "dominant tendency in the labour movement was [...] represented by the anarchists of various persuasions", while Ruth Thomspon holds that "a closer examination of Argentine trade unions around the turn of the century suggests that the importance of anarchism has been exaggerated"  and Roberto P. Korzeniewicz contends "that anarchism was not as prevalent within the labour movement in Argentina around the turn of the century as studies of the period have generally maintained", although he concedes that "anarchism achieved greater labour support during the early 1900s". In any case, there was considerable anarchist union activity in the 1890s. Most of the immigration to South America as a whole came from Spain and Italy, the two European countries, in which anarchism was most influential. This immigration included anarchists forced to flee their native countries for political reasons. During his 1885-1889 visit to Argentina the anarchist Errico Malatesta encouraged anarchist involvement in the labor movement. The working class was hardly integrated into the political system at the time. In 1912, 70% of the adult males in Buenos Aires were disenfranchised as foreigners.
 Founding and early years
On March 25 and 26, 1901, 35 delegates from fifty unions met at a congress in the capital to found the syndicalist Argentine Workers' Federation (FOA). The initial membership was under 10,000. Its founding principles were greatly influenced by anarchists, especially Pietro Gori and Antonio Pellicer Paraire. Working class solidarity was seen as the only means of liberating the workers, the general strike being their ultimate weapon in their fight against capital. Accordingly, they rejected party politics including socialist parties.
A wave of successful strikes soon followed. A 1902 strike by the stevedores in Rosario turned into a general strike. In November of the same year, the Buenos Aires dock workers gained the nine-hour-day. The most important strike of this year, that of the fruit handlers, was about to involve the whole membership of the FOA at the height of the harvest, but the government passed the Residence Law allowing the expulsion of subversive aliens to break it.
In 1903, the General Workers' Union (UGT) was established as a more moderate, less anarchist, yet more or less syndicalist rival union. Its founding coincided with a further radicalization of the FOA, which would culminate in 1905. It was also the consequence of the FOA's infighting between the moderate and anarchist factions. In 1903 and 1904, Argentina saw no less than twelve general strikes and many more at individual plants, the FOA being involved in many of them. At the 1903 FOA May Day demonstration a clash with police left two dead and 24 wounded. At a bakers' strike in Rosario one worker was shot by police. By 1904, the FOA had around 11,000 members (although this figure is unreliable).
 1905 congress and further radicalization
At the FOA's fifth congress in 1905, it renamed itself FORA, the Argentine Regional Workers' Federation, to express its internationalism. It also passed a resolution declaring "[t]hat it advises and recommends the widest possible study and propaganda to all its adherents with the object of teaching the workers the economic and philosophical principles of anarchist communism" becoming the programmatic basis of the union for the following years and reflecting the radicalization of the preceding. Anarchism became the sole doctrine in the FORA and socialists left.
The FORA continued to grow quite rapidly, reaching a peak at 30,000 members in 1906.
At the First International Syndicalist Congress in London in 1913, both the FORA and the CORA were represented. Because the FORA could not afford the long trip and because of a lack of time, it did not send a delegate of its own, but gave its mandate to the Italian Alceste De Ambris. The FORA considered the congress a great success and was confident it would lead to the founding of a "purely worker and anti-statist" international.
 1915 congress and split
The FORA's ninth congress, in April 1915, reversed the avowel to anarcho-communism of the fifth. It did not "prounounce itself officially favorable to, nor advise the adoption of, philosophical systems or determined ideologies", effectively renouncing anarchist communism. The move was complemented by the unification of the CORA and the FORA. However, not all agreed on this new set of principles. A minority left the FORA and founded FORA V, as it stuck to the resolution from the fifth congress. The majority FORA became known as the FORA IX, as it was founded at the ninth congress.
The FORA V, which had 10,000 members at the most, was strongest in the interior of the country, where it retained considerable economic power well into the 1920s.
With its cautious and pragmatic approach, the FORA IX grew rapidly from its formation. Though figures are generally unreliable, it claimed a membership of 100,000 to 120,000 by 1919. In a time of economic recession and falling wages, as the result of World War I, it was more intent on defending past achievements, rather than starting risky struggles. During a railway strike in 1917, the FORA V decided to go on the offensive by calling for a general strike, but it was quickly defeated as very few unions participated.
On January 7, 1919, a strike by an anarchist union with tenuous links to the FORA V in Nueva Pompeya led to a shootout between workers and police, troops, and firemen, killing five. Two days later, the police ambushed the 200,000 workers on their way to La Chacarita Cemetery leading to the death of another 39 men. The FORA V had called a general strike after the events on January 7, the FORA IX followed on January 9. On January 11, the FORA IX reached an agreement with the Nueva Pompeya industrialists, who were pressured by the Interior Ministry. In turn, the government agreed to release all prisoners taken during the strikes. As a reaction to the workers' actions, business and military leaders formed the vigilante Argentine Patriotic League. Unimpeded by the government, it attacked labor organizations and militants. In all, between 100 and 700 people died during what became known as the Tragic Week or la Semana Trágica in Spanish.
The outrage over this event caused another peak in strike activity in 1919 with 397 strikes involving over 300,000 workers in Buenos Aires alone. While the FORA IX claimed to have learned its lesson from the Tragic Week and the failed railworkers' strike in 1917, the FORA V experienced short revival in strength during this year.
In August 1910, the FORA IX was able to defeat a proposal for a new labor law, which would have undermined the improvements in working conditions the labor movement had achieved over the past years, with a huge demonstration in Buenos Aires. Although, the organization had previously passed a resolution to bar any individuals holding posts in political parties from doing so in the union federation as well, it now collaborated with socialist party politicians.
 Final years and today
The founding of the Bolshevist Red International of Labor Unions (RILU) in 1920 caused heavy discussions within both FORA organizations. Five out of fifteen committee members quit their positions after the FORA IX refused to join the RILU at its January 1921 conference. The FORA V was split between a pro- and an anti-Bolshevik wing, until the latter was expelled from the union in 1921.
Following lengthy negotiations between the FORA IX and a number of hitherto independent trade unions, the Argentine Syndicates' Union (USA) was founded in March 1922. The pro-Bolshevists from the FORA V also joined. Having the support of socialists, communists, and syndicalists, the USA was more radical than the FORA IX and therefore did not join the social democratic International Federation of Trade Unions, but also remained out of the RILU.
Meanwhile, the anarchist FORA V was in steady decline. It was dissolved shortly before the installation of José Félix Uriburu's military dictatorship. This FORA still exists and agroups Dutch workers, workshops workers, artisans and little propertarians, intellectuals, and some young activists, and it's federated to International Workers Association (the anarcho-syndicalist international).
- ↑ Munck 1987, pg. 20.
- ↑ Rubio, José Luis. Las internacionales obreras en América. Madrid: 1971. p. 47
- ↑ Munck 1987, pg. 20-21 and Simon 1946, pg. 39.
- ↑ Munck 1987, pg. 22.
- ↑ Thomspon 1984, pg. 82.
- ↑ Korzeniewicz 1989, pg. 25 and pg. 27 respectively.
- ↑ Simon 1946, pg. 38.
- ↑ Munck 1987, pg. 22.
- ↑ Thomspon 1990, pg. 167-168.
- ↑ Simon 1946, pg. 39.
- ↑ Munck 1987, pg. 25.
- ↑ Thomspon 1990, pg. 169.
- ↑ Simon 1946, pg. 40 and Thomspon 1990, pg. 169.
- ↑ Simon 1946, pg. 40, 42 and Thomspon 1990, pg. 169-170.
- ↑ Thomspon 1990, pg. 169, 173; Oved 1997; Simon 1946, pg. 40.
- ↑ Munck 1987, pg. 29.
- ↑ Thomspon 1990, pg. 172.
- ↑ Thorpe 1989, pg. 70, 82; Gras 1971, pg. 92.
- ↑ Thompson 1990, pg. 173.
- ↑ Thompson 1990, pg. 173-174.
- ↑ Thompson 1990, pg. 173-174.
- ↑ Thompson 1990, pg. 175-176.
- ↑ Thompson 1990, pg. 177-178.
- ↑ Thomspon 1990, pg. 178-179.
- ↑ Thomspon 1990, pg. 179.
- ↑ Thompson 1990, pg. 179.
- ↑ Oved 1997.
- Gras, Christian. Alfred Rosmer et le mouvement révolutionaire international (in French), Paris: Libraire François Maspero.
- Roberto P., (1989). "The Labour Movement and the State in Argentina, 1887-1907," Bulletin of Latin American Research, 8, 25–45.
- Ronaldo, (1987). "Cycles of Class Struggle and the Making of the Working Class in Argentina, 1890-1920," Journal of Latin American Studies, 19, 19–39.
- Oved, Yaacov (1997). The Uniqueness of Anarchism in Argentina. Tel Aviv University. URL accessed on November 8, 2007.
- S. Fanny, (1946). "Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism in South America," The Hispanic American Historical Review, 26, 38–59.
- Ruth, (1984). "The Limitations of Ideology in the Early Argentine Labour Movement: Anarchism in the Trade Unions, 1890-1920," Journal of Latin American Studies, 16, 81–99.
- Thompson, Ruth (1990), [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Argentine Syndicalism: Reformism before Revolution"], in van der Linden, Marcel; Thorpe, Wayne, Revolutionary Syndicalism: an International Perspective, Aldershot: Scolar Press, pp. 167-183, ISBN 0-85967-815-6
- Thorpe, Wayne . "The Workers Themselves": Revolutionary Syndicalism and International Labour, 1913-1923, Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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