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Unitarianism

Fishburn and Hughes: A political ideology of the Southern Provinces (later Argentina) which inspired the Wars of Independence from Spain. Its main aim was to develop the supremacy of Buenos Aires at the expense of the interior provinces, whose erstwhile function, to serve the decaying mining centres of Alto Peru, had led them to political conservatism and economic stagnation. The Unitarian leaders were cosmopolitan and free-thinking. Most of them were educated in Europe and drew inspiration from the latest philosophical and political ideas of their time, which they freely imported to Argentina without considering their adaptability to a different historical and geographical context. In their admiration for everything European, the Unitarians despised the criollismo of the Federals, whose adherence to Hispanic traditionalism they regarded as retrograde, not to say barbaric. The more idealistic Unitarian leaders wished to unite the country under one banner. Developing an economic policy based on trade with Europe, they sought to Europeanise the country and its population, making Buenos Aires, as the gateway to Europe, the country's nerve centre and dominant seat of government. But unlike some Federalist leaders they proposed this policy in the interests of the nation as a whole, so that all the provinces would share in the wealth produced. Under the dictatorship of Rosas, Unitarians were persecuted, exiled or assassinated, and though their opposition was silenced their policies were implemented by their arch-enemy Rosas, who brought the anarchical provinces under the rule of Buenos Aires. When in 1852 Rosas was defeated, the main remaining problem for the Unitarians was the status of the province of Buenos Aires. The Federation of Provinces did not wish to acknowledge the supremacy of Buenos Aires, and the Federalists of Buenos Aires did not wish to be integrated into the Federation and share the revenue of the port with other less favoured provinces. Fighting continued, but the supremacy of Unitarianism was firmly established in 1880 with the election of the Unitarian candidate, General Roca. Though existing governments may have been brought down by action from the provinces, Unitarianism, as a general policy, has not met any long-lasting challenge.