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date: 24 September 2017

Folk Festivals, Community Development, and the Sugar Industry Crisis in Tucumán, Argentina, 1966–1973

Summary and Keywords

In the late 1960s, the sugar-growing province of Tucumán, Argentina, was undergoing the deepest economic crisis of its history. In 1966, eleven large sugar mills closed by order of the national government, then ruled by military dictator Juan Carlos Onganía. The mills closure left a quarter of the province’s labor force unemployed, which, in turns, prompted a massive rural exodus and a permanent state of social unrest. Paradoxically, at the same time, the suddenly impoverished region was experiencing a boom of folk music festivals organized by small cities and rural towns, including those severely hit by the sugar industry crisis. This essay explores the context of the folk festival phenomenon, analyzing the role of town notables and local civic organizations in responding to the crisis brought about by the closure of the mills. The festivals were, in fact, part of a wider effort of local towns to develop their infrastructure and social services. By organizing festivals and fostering community development, local notables acted as a counterweight to the activism of the working class, generating spaces of consent that aided the military government’s plans to reorder the provincial economy.

Keywords: folk music, festival, Tucumán province, sugar industry, military government 1966–1973, civil society

In October 1966, as a sharp economic crisis rattled the province of Tucumán in the heart of Argentina’s sugar country, the parents and teachers of a vocational high school in Concepción, a small town in the south of that province, organized a folk festival to raise funds for the construction of a school building. In September of that year, the military government of General Carlos Onganía foreclosed several sugar mills that were under government receivership. By 1970, eleven sugar mills, or ingenios, had closed down, slashing the total number of Tucumán mills from twenty-seven to seventeen and leaving the families of tens of thousands of workers and the small farmers that supplied the mills in complete ruin. To everyone’s surprise, the Concepción High School festival was a huge success. By 1970, the school festival had become a major cultural event that billed nationally acclaimed folk musicians and attracted thousands of visitors. The sugar-producing towns of Aguilares, Monteros, Famaillá, and Simoca followed the example, organizing folk festivals that quickly developed into major events. The festivals continued attracting top-ticket folk musicians and large audiences even as the province became a hotbed of social conflict and guerrilla activity in the early 1970s. That conflict reached its nadir in February 1975 as the national government put the province under military occupation, marking the beginning of the infamous Dirty War.

Understandably, histories on Tucumán in the sixties and seventies tend to highlight the deep social and ideological rifts that fed into the guerrilla insurgency and the ensuing repression.1 The 1966 closure of Tucumán ingenios continues to stir controversy, constituting one of the province’s more endurable, to borrow Steve Stern’s term, memory knots.2 In that context, the success of Tucumán’s folk festivals seems out of place: Why would communities undergoing unprecedented economic and demographic turmoil expend so much energy and money to procure popular entertainment? The citizens of Tucumán’s small towns were certainly not oblivious to the social crisis that surrounded them: discharged sugar workers continuously organized demonstrations, occupations, petitions, marches, and road blockades, often receiving the support of their communities. Yet, those direct actions coincided with a surge in community celebrations, generating odd situations in which one town was protesting, blocking the streets with burning tires, while the next one down the road was celebrating with music, wine, and empanadas. Understanding these overlapping experiences provides a more complete picture of the everyday life in rural Tucumán, and, by extension, in Argentina during this critical period.

By focusing on the folklore festival of Concepción, it is possible to examine how rural Tucumán grappled with economic and political uncertainty during the military government of 1966–1973. The festival organizers, parents, and teachers of the ENET (National School of Technical Education) of Concepción were widely praised in Tucumán as a model of civic engagement and meticulous organization. They managed to collect the funds to build the school and to draw recognition for their efforts from provincial and national authorities. They also provided a model of fundraising and community development to other towns in the sugar country. While festivals and demonstrations pursued the common goal of community survival, they coexisted in a fraught environment of political and social tension. Protesters were overwhelmingly workers of Peronist extraction, often supported by parish priests and labor union representatives, who rejected the military regime both for ideological and pragmatic reasons. In general, working-class protesters placed their demands and anger directly on the provincial and national governments, bypassing the local notables who, effectively, had little decision-making power within the military regime. Those local notables, however, were only circumstantial allies in the context of the sugar crisis. (They are referred to as “local notables” because although they had local influence and prestige, they cannot be understood as “elite” when compared to national economic and political powerbrokers, including the absentee sugar mill owners who lived in Tucumán city or in Buenos Aires.3) A middling sector of storeowners, professionals, teachers, and medium-size landowners, the local notables were in charge of organizing the festivals. They too held apprehensions about the future of the sugar industry, but in contrast to the workers, they shared the overall goals of economic and social modernization espoused by the military government. Under the apparently frivolous task of organizing festivals, the town notables also were looking to exercise moral authority over festival attendees, many of whom were members of the working class sorely in need of entertainment. The festival was only one event in a full-year calendar of activities in which town notables worked hand in hand with the provincial authorities. Ultimately, town notables aligned themselves with the military regime in their goal of changing the country in order to render social protest null. The argument presented here is that Tucumán’s small-town notables counterbalanced the destabilizing potential of the rural working-class activism by promoting community-building activities, of which the folk festival was one salient example.

Community and Developmental Economy in 1960s Tucumán

The festivals were, in fact, communal enterprises attuned with the notion of “community development” that predominated in official discourse in 1960s Argentina. This notion, popularized in Latin America during the Alliance for Progress era, proposed that economic growth at the local level required the active involvement of citizens, creating strong communities that in turn would work as a buffer against the spread of radicalized ideologies.4 Originally, in the early sixties, the focus of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank was on the development of infrastructure and big energy projects. The military coup of 1966 coincided with a change of focus among the Washington-based lending organizations. Without abandoning large projects, the second stage of the Washington-led development program took aim at ameliorating living conditions at the local level. It did not take long for the Argentine government to learn the new tune.5 Indeed, the new development plans assigned a central role for neighborhood centers (centros vecinales) and voluntary associations of different stripes. These civic institutions, which had existed in Argentina for a long time, demanded the expansion and improvement of public services from power distribution, pavement, and sewers to education and health.6 But if they interpellated the state, they also collaborated in the physical process of laying down service infrastructure, donating land, raising funds, and volunteering free labor. With the help of government subsidies, some neighborhood associations achieved moderate success in their goal of extending the benefits of modernity beyond the urbanized provincial capitals. To cover part of the costs, neighborhood associations resorted to organizing different kinds of fundraising events. More often than not, folk music was the accompaniment for those events.

In Tucumán, this process took place in a context of increasing economic malaise and social protest. In January 1961, a large number of small cane farmers demonstrated in the town of Monteros against the politics of the national and provincial governments (at that time under control of the “developmentalist” wing of the Radical Party), demanding the impeachment of the national minister of finance, Alvaro Alzogaray.7 A year later, as the chamber of sugar producers recognized that they were incapable of paying current wages, unionized workers occupied several mills.8 Violence engulfed the province as demonstrations and occupations multiplied through the summer of 1962.9 The cycle began again in 1966 as sugar prices reached yet a new low, and the national government floated the idea that it would impose production quotas to equilibrate the market. In April of that year, an offhand declaration by a minister of interior denying the existence of poverty and hunger in Tucumán prompted the workers of Ingenio Santa Rosa to block roads, attack the offices of the sugar mill, and vandalize the local police station.10 Two months later, the police dispersed a group of cañeros who were demanding back payments for the cane supplied to Ingenio Nuñorco in Monteros. Two women and one man were hospitalized with bullet wounds.11 Farmers, workers, and industrialists blamed one another for the rapidly deteriorating social conditions, only agreeing on denouncing the national government’s lack of interest.12 When the government finally acted, it took everyone by surprise.

In June 1966, General Carlos Onganía became the self-appointed president of Argentina, and the province of Tucumán came under federal control. The following July, when General Onganía visited Tucumán to celebrate the sesquicentennial of Argentine independence, the different sectors of the sugar industry rushed to meet the dictator, requesting more subsidies and the squashing of plans to limit production. Onganía did not respond. Soon the newspapers began reporting the arrival to the provincial airport of several military air transports carrying federal policemen and gendarmes in combat gear, noting that the troops were swiftly deployed through the countryside.13 In quick succession, officials from the federal Ministry of Finances, backed up by police detachments, occupied Ingenio San Antonio, Santa Ana, Esperanza, Lastenia, La Trinidad, Bella Vista, and Nueva Baviera, closing their operations.14 Each of those ingenios was linked to a dependent mill town and a supply network of cane farms, some as small as ten acres, extending for dozens of miles around.15 Though there were still seventeen other mills in operation in the province, Tucumán was badly damaged, unemployment was rampant, and public health plummeted. Even the middle class in the provincial capital reacted with dismay to the government’s blunt measure. College and high-school students brought their discontent to the streets, with flash riots taking place every night. Meantime, the national government promised investment and the installation of modern private industries, some of which eventually came but hardly in the amount needed to make up for the accrued job loss. By 1970, according to the Office of the Census, 150,000 people, or 22 percent of the total province’s population, had emigrated out of the province.16 Amidst economic disaster, some in Tucumán turned to folk music to spur the local communities out of the malaise. Surprisingly, this proved a reasonable choice.

Argentine Folk Music and the Festival Developmental Model

The relationship between Tucumán, sugar, and folklore has deep roots. Tucumán, with its northwestern neighbors, is home to the oldest agricultural communities in Argentina. From the Andean valleys to the east to the riverine plains of Santiago del Estero to the west, agricultural societies have built villages and walled towns since pre-Hispanic times. In 1550 the Spanish established a string of haciendas destined to supply the silver-mining camps in today’s Bolivia. In those haciendas, the Spanish resettled indigenous captives, creating a peasantry that by adopting the Spanish language and Catholic religion and traditions, and in some cases intermarrying with Spanish settlers, became the Criollo population of the Argentine interior.17 Scattered ruins of indigenous fortifications, 17th-century Spanish convents, and hacienda houses still reveal the longevity of the Argentine northwestern societies. Other testimonies of the old times appear in less tangible monuments: children’s games dating from medieval Spain, stories of numina and elves with Kechwa names, and songs, lot of them, played with rustic instruments (guitar, drums, fiddle, harp, pan flutes). The variety of rhythms and their names—vidala, chaya, zamba, chacarera, gato, cueca, huayno, baguala, malambo—reflects a diversity of indigenous, African, colonial Spanish, and more recent European immigrant influences. All of this made of Tucumán and the northwest Argentina’s foremost source of folk culture.

Before there were radios, stereos, and television, folklorists and musicologists treaded the scrubland and hillsides of the northwest in search of those folk songs and tales. While some of them were academic researchers, others were aspiring musicians and poets who wanted, using a common refrain, to “suckle from sources.” Among the researcher musicians were a few talented and driven individuals such as Andres Chazarreta, Atahualpa Yupanqui (b. Hector Chavero), and Buenaventura Luna (b. Eusebio Dojorti), who led the growing body of professional musicians that transformed folk music into an artistic profession in the first half of the 20th century. By the mid-1950s, folk music had become a fully formed professional genre with its own composers, producers, interpreters, and critics. It also enjoyed a large following in every province and among every segment of the population. Ironically, but not unlike other contemporary cases, as sociologist Pablo Vila noted, the main consumers of mass-produced folk music were mostly urban Argentines, including many with no family or cultural ties with the interior.18 In the 1960s, just as radio transmitters and record players were making inroads in the countryside, folk festivals attracted audiences from the communities where folk music originated.

Though a small number of festivals had existed in Argentina since the 1930s, it was not until the early 1960s that the folk festivals became a sizable phenomenon. The spearhead of this movement was the town of Cosquín, a mountain retreat in the central province of Córdoba, which, in 1961, first combined performances by well-known professional folk musicians with vocational troupes in a week-long festival.19 By the end of that decade, the Cosquín National Folk Festival had become Argentina’s biggest artistic event, attracting hundreds of artists and over a hundred thousand visitors. Other localities followed Cosquín’s lead, competing to lure the growing flow of summer vacationers to the interior of Argentina. By 1973, there were more than twenty major festivals across the country. Today, there are almost 200 festivals that boast the category of “national,” while the number of provincial, municipal, and unaffiliated festivals must be counted in the thousands.20 Though Cosquín is the largest folk festival in the country, Jesús María, another small town located in the rich agricultural lowlands of Córdoba, represents the most successful model of community organization of massive folk entertainment.21 By hiring famous rodeo riders from different localities in Córdoba and Buenos Aires provinces, as well as popular folk music numbers, the organizers managed to attract 25,000 spectators in the first edition of the festival in 1966.22 Three years later they built an amphitheater where up to 40,000 seated spectators could follow the mustangs’ jumps and kicks as well as the steps and moves of zamba dancers. In 2015 Jesús María celebrated its fiftieth festival, obtaining seven million pesos in profits to benefit the parents and teacher associations of Colonia Caroya and Jesús María.23After all these years, the festival continues to be a model of civic responsibility and self-management.

Civic Life, Local Notables, and Folk Festivals in Tucumán’s Sugar Towns

In the early 1950s, the string of sugar towns lining the Aconquija foothills south of Tucumán’s capital seemed poised to follow the same developmental model essayed in the most prosperous towns of Córdoba and the pampas region. Founded or reorganized at the height of the sugar boom at the turn of the 19th century, Famaillá, Monteros, Concepción, Aguilares, and Alberdi, all departmental seats, had acquired a modern appearance that recollects Santa Fe and Córdoba rural towns: compact rows of one-story, brick-and-mortar houses on tree-lined, paved streets. Surrounding or nearby the leafy central plaza stood the neoclassic and mission-style facades of the municipal house, the head parish church, the National Bank, the Bank of Tucumán, and the local police headquarters, the Colegio Nacional (a federally sponsored high school), and depending on the size of the town, three or four movie theaters. These towns also hosted the political life of their departments, with several political parties competing for the mayoral and council seats. At the center of the small-town civic life there was a group of actively engaged citizens that constituted the town notables. As noted, they came primarily from a middling sector of doctors, lawyers, traders and retailers, technicians, educators, and white-collar workers. As each of those towns lay in proximity to a major sugar mill, it was usual for most of the technical and administrative staff to live within the town perimeter and to participate in its civic life. Though European immigrants were not as numerous in the northwest as they were in the pampas region, their presence was noticeable in the small towns of Tucumán.24 While small in numbers, the immigrant population was quite diverse. In addition to the ubiquitous Italians and Spaniards, the sugar economy also attracted a contingent of French and British citizens as well as Syrian-Lebanese (both Christian and Muslims) settlers.25 Together with a number of residents of old Argentine stock, those immigrants and their children constituted the bulk of the small but active class of local notables.

The sociability of the notables functioned around societies and clubs where male engineers, doctors, and government employees spent their leisure hours discussing politics, business, and different ways to lead their towns on the path of progress. Concepción, with a population of 15,000 in 1960, was certainly on such a path until the sugar industry reached a roadblock in 1966. Concepción was, in fact, the largest city in Tucumán outside the capital metro area and one of the few to prevent population loss in that decade. In 1970 Concepción had 20,694 inhabitants; in contrast, nearby Santa Ana saw its population sink from 11,771 to 2,414 in only four years.26 Though the middle class of Concepción was small compared to the total population, it enjoyed, at least until 1966, a relatively stable position. Its prosperity depended not only on the proximity of two mid-size sugar mills, Ingenio La Corona and La Trinidad, but also on the town’s central location within the sugar district, which made the city a mayor commercial hub supplying retailers in the south of the province with everything from food and wine to pharmaceuticals, construction materials, and car parts.27 In the late fifties and sixties, members of this middle class joined a new crop of voluntary associations, such as the Lion’s Club, the Rotary Club, centros vecinales, and parent-teacher organizations, that came to dynamize small-town civic life in Tucumán, taking over the role of Catholic charities. The public service character of the new associations dovetailed nicely with the national government’s goals of incorporating local communities in their developmental plans. In the early 1960s in Concepción, enterprising neighbors funded other types of associations that also catered to middle-class interests, including two cooperative credit unions, the Concepción Photo Club, the Mountain Climbing Club, the Aero Club, and a vocational theater troupe. With the onset of the sugar crisis in September 1966, these organizations coalesced around the town’s first folklore festival.

The catalyst, as noted, was the desire to build the facilities for a technical high school. The citizens of Concepción had already secured formal permission from the national government for the creation of a technical high school. In 1961, the organizing committee obtained a hectare of land from a private donation to build the school campus. As was often the case, however, education authorities were quick to create the school, but failed to appropriate funds for the physical facilities. Thus, Concepción’s technical school existed on the books, and had students, a principal, faculty, and staff, but it did not have a building. This forced the school to crowd its students into borrowed rooms at other schools and to use private workshops for the technical classes. As one of the teachers recollects, by 1966 it was clear that neither the provincial nor the national government was willing to commit funds for the construction of a school building, so the principal, Antonio Rodriguez Muerda, with his faculty, parents, and students, decided to take the task upon themselves.28 The solution they came up with was to organize a large folk festival, something many associations in Tucumán had been doing in previous years on a limited basis.29 The construction of a complex vocational school campus, with costly machine equipment, entailed significantly more money than could be earned through festivals profits, and none could have guaranteed that the proceeds would compensate for the outlays, but the organizers proved to the authorities that they make their part of the effort, and demanded the provincial and national authorities for the necessary funds to build the school.

For the first festival, the organizers managed to attract a wide range of sponsors, from the municipality, which offered General Mitre plaza and Main Street as a location for the festival, to the Rotary Club and Club de Leones, which donated funds, and the Tiro Federal, which offered its sports field for the central stage.30 Concepción parents and teachers staffed food, beverage, and craft kiosks. According to the newspaper, the first festival was a resounding success, attracting visitors from the entire province, who generated a joyful atmosphere along with some cash profits.31 Secondary students not only from throughout Tucumán but also Catamarca responded to the call, sending delegations of vocational music and dance troupes to take part in the folk contests, which were the festival’s central event. Among the winners in different dance and music categories were representatives from Catamarca, Famaillá, Lules, Monteros, Tafí Viejo, Alberdi, the capital, and just one from Concepción. Photographs of the event show packed audiences of adults and teenagers in an expansive but dignified mood.

With repeat experiences in August 1967 and September 1968, the Concepción Folk Festival became an annual event that enjoyed widespread support from all segments of society. While the organization was still headed by the technical school teachers and parents, in 1967 the list of co-sponsors and contributors grew to include a number of civic institutions, three major sugar mills, five financial institutions, fifty-three small business and retailers, and sixty-one individual professionals.32 A year later the organizing committee expanded to include delegates from, in addition to the local Rotary and Lion’s clubs, the Public Library Association, Southern-Tucumán Football League, Belgrano Athletic Club, the Spanish Mutual Aid Society, the Syrian-Lebanese Association, the Aero-Club, the Motorcycle Club, the Foto Club, Concepción Social and Sporting Club, and the Chamber of Commerce.33 In sum, the entire civil society of Concepción rallied behind the festival in support of both the technical school and the local economy. To better accommodate the sponsors’ interest, the organizers included an industrial and commercial side fair where local and provincial businesses could advertise their products to the visitors. In only three installments, the festival of Concepción grew from the modest initiative of a committed group of teachers and parents to raise funds to build a school into a point of pride for the entire town.

The experience of the Concepción Folk Festival had its counterparts in other Tucumán towns such as Monteros, Lules, Simoca, Famaillá, and Alberdi, which organized similar festivals just as the national government went on shutting down struggling sugar mills in their immediate area of influence.34 The festival modalities varied, as organizers sought to singularize their offerings. In contrast to Concepción, the Monteros Folk Festival was a governmental initiative, first organized by the municipal Culture and Tourism Commission and then moved to the jurisdiction of the provincial government. Monteros modeled its festival on the Cosquín National Folk Festival, in Córdoba, featuring several professional musicians over contiguous nights. Similar to Cosquín, too, the Monteros festival invited delegations of musicians and folk ballets from different provinces to compete in different categories. They hoped to, and did, attract attendants from the entire region, managing to become one of the most popular festivals by attendance in the northwest.35 The neighboring town of Lules organized a festival dubbed the “First Municipal Folk Festival,” calling municipalities from the region to compete with their best folk musicians and dancers.36 Eventually, Lules became a star-loaded festival sponsored by Lules’s favorite son, Ramón “Palito” Ortega, Argentina’s top pop singer, who had been born in one of the housing units of the troubled Ingenio Mercedes.37 Further south, in Ciudad Alberdi, the approach to the festival was more modest and socially conscious. Organized by the local chapter of the Argentine Catholic Youth Action as a fundraiser for their cooperative housing project, it convoked only vocational troupes from the area (although in 1967 they received the fortuitous visit of self-styled folk singer Jorge Cafrune, who was passing by the city in his attempt to travel the entire country on horseback).38 In Simoca, economically strapped neighbors calculated that the town’s centuries-old traditional market fair and specialization of building “sulkies” (horse-drawn buggies) could be transformed into a national tourist attraction.39 They were right; their two festivals, the Simoca Fair Festival and the National Sulky Festival, still attract over 50,000 visitors each year. In Famaillá, the first festival in 1968 convoked all of the province’s peñas, or folk music associations, to compete in music and dance.40 Decades later, when Famaillá decided to rename itself as the national capital of empanadas, its festival became the National Festival of Empanadas. All of these festivals succeeded in becoming annual events and shared many characteristics, combining vocational troupes, professional acts, arts and crafts fairs, and the promotion of the town’s distinctive staple, whether buggies as in Simoca, or empanadas as in Famaillá.

A review of the folk festivals in La Gaceta, Tucumán’s newspaper of record, highly commended the efforts of those localities to shoulder the crisis with imagination and compromise.41 The newspaper saw the organization of festivals and fairs as a movement that marked the rise of Tucumán small towns. Choosing folklore as a conduit was the most important accomplishment of that movement, for folklore was, in the view of the editorialist, a form of popular entertainment that reconnected the people of the province with the traditional past and their collective identity. The newspaper praised the different civic associations involved in the festival organizations for establishing horizontal links among themselves and with peer organizations in neighboring provinces. The newspaper’s support of festivals is also evident in the illustration of those events with pictures of well-groomed teenagers performing folk music for adoring audiences. This youth represented a ray of hope beaming over a depressed province. Those pictures would have certainly pleased the provincial notables, affected as they were by the prospects of an imploding social order.

In its two first years, the Concepción Folk Festival was primarily a talent competition among vocational and school music groups, but in 1968 organizers decided to add a professional show to the existing structure. In a newspaper interview, principal Rodríguez Muerda announced that the committee had contacted the agents of the biggest names in Argentine folk music.42 Though they eventually trimmed their initial list, the organizers managed to sign contracts with the salteño quartet Los Chalchaleros and Tucumán’s star folk singer, Mercedes Sosa. While Sosa was born and educated in Tucumán, by 1968 she was living in Buenos Aires and had achieved the status of leading Argentine folk singer due to her extraordinary voice and unique repertoire. By the late 1960s she had made a routine of returning to her home province every spring (of the Southern Hemisphere) and participating in the modest festivals in the sugar country where her family originated. As a founding member of the left-leaning Nuevo Cancionero (New Songbook) Movement, with links to the Communist party and similar movements in Latin America, Sosa was also a known sustainer of left-wing political positions.43 The lineup for the festival of Concepción also included a Buenos Aires–based female folk singer, Marián Farías Gomez, who interpreted songs from left-leaning composers and experimented with vocal arrangements and harmonies. That kind of artistic flare was not common in small-town folk festivals, for which organizers sought popular numbers such as Los Chalchaleros, Hermanos Abalos, and Los Tucu-Tucu. These all-male conjuntos, usually made up of two or three acoustic guitars, percussion, and harmonized voices, were largely apolitical and relayed a crowd-pleasing repertoire of bucolic zambas and fast-tempo chacareras.

The presence of Mercedes Sosa, Los Chalchaleros, and Farías Gomez in Concepción was part of the efforts to raise the festival’s profile. For its third year, in 1968, and thanks to the contribution of an ever-growing list of sponsors, the festival was able to build a large, ornamented stage and offer significant prizes for the various talent contenders. Still, the organizers wanted to indicate that the festival was primarily an educational event aimed to “stir an authentic passion for all things Argentine among the teenage population, in their formative stage, of this school and similar ones.”44 Because of this educational goal, the organizers banned “typical scenes [costumbrismo] and expressions that would affect the attending public.” In other words, they banned the typical double-entendre and crude jokes that many Argentine folk musicians, both professional and unpaid locals, tended to insert in between songs. This also excluded the stand-up comedians who had long been part and parcel of the typical Argentine folk festival format. The admonition fit well with the strict formality of the teachers and parents who organized the event, as well as with the trove of provincial notables who visited the festival, such as provincial minster of finances José María Nougués, and president of Tucumán Economic Federation José Chebeia, both special guests at the festival’s opening ceremony.

The 1968 Concepción Folk Festival lasted for six days, attracting people from Tucumán city and the rest of the province. In the afternoons, attendees could visit the stands offering food and arts and crafts. Special kiosks staffed by members of the agricultural extension station offered brochures and demonstrations of new crops adapted to the region, such as avocado and peanuts. At nightfall, a bonfire was built in the central square and some of the musical numbers began to warm the spirits. After about 8 p.m., the vocational groups began showcasing their talents in the first artistic segment of the night. From 10 p.m. to midnight, the major numbers succeeded each other on the main stage. From midnight to 3 a.m., the multitude broke up into cacharpayas, smaller groups of musicians and members of the public who spread out throughout the festival grounds and shared impromptu songs and dances. Though big numbers usually played on the last night of the festival, at smaller festivals such as Concepción, the big-ticket artists appeared whenever it fit their busy agendas. In 1968, Mercedes Sosa and Los Chalchaleros shared the stage on the first day. Sosa, however, made an unplanned appearance at the opening bonfire on the second day, regaling her co-provincials with an intimate rendering of her world-class act. According to news reports, the festival of 1968 was an unmitigated success both in attendance (over 3,000 ticket payers every night) and the quality of the artists.45

By 1969 the Concepción Folk Festival had achieved the status of a major event. Concepciones seemed aware of the accolades they had received for their organizational acumen. The principal of the school boasted that, thanks to the festivals, they had been able to build twelve classrooms with seats for 300 students.46 Major Moisés Andole highlighted that the festival was able to both raise funds and increase business in town, while also offering a high quality show at a reasonable price to the impoverished public of the province.47 Bojos Molaies, president of the Concepción Chamber of Commerce, saw in the festival an opportunity to turn the south of Tucumán into a tourist attraction and example of private-sector entrepreneurship.48 The fact that twenty-five Tucumán-based industrial companies showcased their products in stands set up on the festival ground supported Molaies’s view. The event was certainly a commercial success. The estimated 1,270 pounds of beef (for empanadas), 700 pounds of chorizo, 500 gallons of wine, and 500 gallons of beer barely covered the demand. In total, the 1969 festival produced over four million pesos, or 10 percent of the estimated cost of the school building.49 In its last weekend, 15,000 spectators filled the festival grounds, no doubt attracted by the presence on stage of Horacio Guarany, a card-carrying Communist folk singer.50 It took another five festivals for the teachers and parents of the technical school to raise the funds to complete and equip the school, showing the national and provincial authorities that they had done more than their fair share in collaborating with the community development model.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, by organizing folk festivals, the small towns of Tucumán were buying into a de facto government whose political and economic decisions had caused their economic misery in the first place.51 The association of governmental institutions with these festivals was amply justified in the cultural and social policies of the military government. As mentioned above, the provincial government, municipal authorities, and civic associations co-sponsored the folk performances and contests, offering free use of facilities and sound systems. Official institutions, including the provincial government, the secretaries of culture and tourism, the agricultural extension office, and local municipalities also offered financial and logistic support to the festivals and fairs. Nevertheless, events unfolding in the countryside of Tucumán tested the limits of the collaborative model touted by the regime.

Folk Festivals in the Crisis of the Military Government, 1969–1973

In the smaller mill towns, which depended exclusively on a single sugar mill, the practice and theory of community development were upended by the more pressing needs of everyday survival as economic conditions continued to deteriorate from 1968 to 1970. Newspaper reports from various towns reveal a pervasive mix of gloom and determination among the unemployed workers and their families who decided to stay in the rapidly deteriorating mill towns. As one former employee of Ingenio Santa Ana put it, “I’d rather die of hunger in the shadows of the mill chimneys than in the shadows of the obelisk” (a downtown Buenos Aires landmark).52 In Los Ralos, not far from the provincial capital, a cotton mill opened in the place of the former ingenio, but according to local resident Juan Marquez, it did not bring a solution to their woes, and eventually started to withhold wages and reduce personnel.53 To make matters worse, the textile company did not take on the public services that had been covered by the defunct sugar mill, and so the infirmary lost its staff, the dirt streets fell into disrepair, and wild bushes overran the plaza. Héctor René Magallanes from Cevil Redondo told the story of how the former employees of one sugar mill, possibly the San José, organized a neighborhood association to act as the town caretaker.54 The association took charge of the mill infirmary, where health professionals found evidence of malnutrition among children. In the interview Magallanes explains:

In spite of everything we celebrated Carnival … The ballroom was always full of dancers, even though consumption was minimal. In spite of everything, too, we decided to stay put, buying the houses that used to belong to the mill.55

The same collective spirit that moved the Cevil Redondo workers to celebrate carnival amidst a high incidence of infant malnutrition may have motivated the attendees of the folk festivals.

It is possible to observe that, by 1969, there was a disjunction between the provincial small bourgeoisie that continued to endorse the state-led process of community development and working-class organizations that, in contrast to the town notables, did not accept the status quo and continued to fight for the reopening of lost mills. In 1967 and 1968, those unions continued to call for strikes and mass protests, which often ended in clashes.56 In December 1968, at Bella Vista, a “Defense Committee” made up of workers from the Ingenio Bella Vista and their neighbors conducted a pilgrimage to a nearby Catholic sanctuary to pray for the continued operation of the mill, which was under receivership and had fired a number of workers at the end of the previous harvest season.57 The following month the same group organized a demonstration in front of the mill, pleading judicial authorities to rescue the company and preserve jobs.58 The committee received endorsement from the church, labor unions, local business owners, and the federation of neighborhood centers in Tucumán. As the authorities failed to communicate the state of the bankruptcy process, the committee decided to stage a march to the provincial capital. The police stopped the marchers while en route, fearing a violent confrontation if the marchers reached the city. The authorities also promised to send a delegation to Buenos Aires to negotiate with the national authorities for funding to keep the mill operational. The negotiations did take place but to no avail, and the sugar mill closed its gates for good that year. The provincial government, probably following orders from Buenos Aires, made clear that it would only tolerate community actions as long as they did not cross certain boundaries.

What were those boundaries? On April 10, the population of Villa Quinteros found out when they attempted to stop the motorcade of Governor Avellaneda and his cabinet as they were traveling in the direction of Concepción, where he was to hold a town hall meeting.59 Alerted earlier that day that the governor was going to travel through town, men and women together blocked the road with the intention of “inviting Governor Avellaneda to have a conversation in Villa Quinteros about the local problems.”60 But instead of the governor, the town received the visit of an anti-mutiny detachment of the Federal Police recently deployed to the province, which rushed to open the road with tear gas and rubber bullets.61 The blockade was mostly manned by some 500 ex-workers from the Ingenio San Ramón, then employed by the Operation Tucumán job program, and their families. They attempted to resist, but as police reinforcements arrived from the capital, the protesters’ ranks broke up and they ran into their homes for shelter. In a surprising move, the police began shooting tear gas cans through windows, tearing down doors, and dragging protesters into the streets. Amidst the chaos, resident Alejandro Mahiub received a direct rubber bullet impact in his chest while inside his own home. The police loaded him into a vehicle, but when they noticed the prisoner was bleeding, they dropped him off in an empty overgrown lot, where family members found him hours later.

Elsewhere in Argentina, social conflict also quickened. Through the month of May 1969, student demonstrations, supported by the labor unions, continued across the country, resulting in the police killing of three students in different events. On May 29 in Córdoba, a massive rebellion of workers and students, later known as the Cordobazo, took over the city from downtown to its industrial belt. Protestors clashed with the police, destroyed banks and the branch offices of multinational corporations, and demanded the end of the dictatorship and its economic policies.62 By the end of the day there were three other deaths plus hundreds of injuries and detainees. Onganía put the restive provinces under martial law. Tucumán did not remain on the sidelines of the popular uprising. Beginning on the night of May 27, even before the events in Córdoba began to unfold, students at the National University of Tucumán (UNT) barricaded themselves on campus and around town. For the next few days they fended off several police attempts to dislodge them.63 On May 30, the conflict spilled out from the capital, as high-school students demonstrated in Simoca, Monteros and Tafí Viejo. In Bella Vista the sugar workers torched a police station while their peers from several mill towns around Tucumán city attempted to converge upon the capital.64 The provincial government reacted with decisive force, taking scores of detainees. Facing an existential threat, the military regime that for three years had taken pride in its self-restraint changed its silk gloves for spiked gauntlets.

A new cycle of protests began in May 1970, as students across the country took to the streets to commemorate the first anniversary of the Cordobazo. Students at the National University of Tucumán proved as determined to make their voices heard as their peers in the pampas.65 Onganía’s calculated response involved the usual mix of police repression and social subsidies. Nevertheless, a new political actor erupted onto the scene, conveying social discontent with the language of political assassination. In June 1970, a commando of urban guerrillas kidnaped and killed former military dictator Eugenio Aramburu.66 The Onganía government did not survive the fracas, as the rest of the military brass ordered him removed on June 8, 1970. The new strongman, General Agustín Lanusse, first as chief of staff and then as president, oversaw the descent of Argentina into political violence. Tucumán became one of its epicenters. While rural mill towns continued to demand the creation of new jobs, Tucumán became the center of student mobilization and occasional daredevil urban guerrilla action.67 By November 1970, the college student strike had evolved into a full-grown rebellion known as the Tucumanazo. The spark was an ongoing educators strike that brought together public school teachers, college professors, and students and coincided with the occupation of several sugar mills by their workers.68 On November 11, in anticipation of the nation-wide strike called for the next day, UNT students occupied the university buildings, taking the university president as hostage, and set up barricades through downtown Tucumán. On the twelfth, workers from different unions joined the students. The police and the military moved to end the rebellion, leaving scores of injured and detainees.69 The military commander in charge of the repression, future dictator Colonel Jorge Rafael Videla, saved the day for the regime, avoiding fatal casualties and preventing the situation, in his own words, “from becoming a second cordobazo.”70

From that day on, the social landscape of Tucumán became deeply fractured between those who gave up hope for remission in the sugar industry crisis and those who still bought into the government’s policy of community development. This dualism may help explain why, in spite of mounting social uprisings and repression, the folk festivals in Tucumán continued to thrive. In 1969, even as the aftershocks of the Cordobazo reverberated through Tucumán, the town of La Cocha was celebrating the National Tobacco Festival. Popular musicians Los Chalchaleros, Chango Nieto, and Los Tucu-Tucu drew multitudes to that tiny town in the southernmost tip of the province.71 In September 1970, as tensions mounted on the eve of the Tucumanazo, Concepción held yet another record-setting festival. Likewise, Monteros went ahead with its programmed festival even as the rebellion in the provincial capital wasstill simmering.72 The organizers expressed that for contractual reasons the festival could not being cancelled, but stated that this did “not mean that they were not listening to the worker’s reasons, nor ignoring the people’s demands.”73 It must be mentioned that the main organizers of the Monteros festival were the municipality and the provincial government, local representatives of the reviled military government. In a bizarre overlap of experiences, while Monteros festival attendees reveled in the exhilarating performances of Horacio Guarany and Mercedes Sosa, thirty-five miles to the north, Videla’s troops were combing the provincial capital for holdouts, breaking into union locales and private homes.74

For the next five years the cycles of social unrest and popular celebration continued, succeeding one another and overlapping without apparent contradiction. The dramatic political changes taking place at the provincial and national levels certainly had an effect on the working class’s desire and ability to air their demands. In early 1971, after the Tucumanazo and similar events in other provinces, especially Córdoba, the armed forces found it increasingly difficult to sustain the authoritarian bureaucratic regime they’d set up in 1966. In March 1971, a new de facto president, General Agustín Lanusse, was sworn into office and soon began negotiations with the political parties for a democratic transition, including envoys from the exiled former president Juan Perón. While the military government turned the focus of its repressive apparatus to the still-growing threat of Marxist guerrillas, political parties, unions, students, journalists, and other social actors began enjoying a good measure of freedom of assembly and expression. The political opening translated into a greater mobilization of local-level social organizations, but, as the military government set the date for general elections for March 1973, party politics and unions overran the public space. On Election Day, March 11, 1973, Tucumanos overwhelmingly showed their loyalty to Perón’s party, voting for Perón’s surrogate, Héctor Cámpora. In the province’s southern electoral district, Cámpora obtained 62 percent of the vote, half of the total number of votes his ticket obtained in the province.75 Cámpora oversaw a brief left-wing Peronist government, which in Tucumán translated into an escalating confrontation between the labor grassroots, supported by the leftist Peronist Youth, and the rightist, but also Peronist, union leaders. Workers engaged in dozens of strikes and factory occupations between March and June 1973.76 Cámpora’s government ended with a new call for elections in September of the same year. This time, Perón himself was elected. The senescent caudillo, who returned to the country amidst bloody street fights between his left- and right-wing followers, restored the ascendancy of his party’s right wing against the wishes of the radicalized leftist sectors. Perón’s death in July 1973 led to a new Peronist government led by his third wife, María Estela Martínez, who steered the government further to the right as the Peronist youth and guerrilla organizations refused to recognize her.

During this same time period, between 1971 and 1974, folk festivals across the country reached their golden age. This was due to a combination of factors. Folk music still enjoyed overwhelming popular support, and festival organizers had accumulated experience and logistical acumen. They had available to them a deep bench of professional musicians not yet culled by the ideological censorship that followed the coup of 1976. Folk musicians were in fact quite diverse in their political and aesthetic positions, which in turn made festivals attractive to different audiences. A single event could feature steadfast leftist artists like Atahualpa Yupanqui, Horacio Guarany, and Mercedes Sosa and patriotic right-wingers like Roberto Rimoldi Fraga (son-in-law of General Lanusse) and, until his premature death in early 1973, Hernán Figueroa Reyes. The bulk of festivals, nevertheless, lined up a mix of centrists and apolitical musicians who sang about bucolic landscapes and unrequited love.

Nationwide, the most successful folk festivals were located in the province of Córdoba, where the two major national festivals, Cosquín and Jesús María, received hundreds of thousands of visitors during the typical summer vacation month of January. Tucumán could not compete with Córdoba in attracting similar number of tourists, but it took advantage of summer vacations to schedule different folkloric attractions. The mountain retreat of Tafí del Valle scheduled a successful folk festival—dubbed the Provincial Cheese Festival—for the summer month of February, and the rural village of Amaicha in the Calchaquí Valley continued reviving the National Pachamama Festival, which purportedly represented the indigenous carnival traditions of the valley, also celebrated during summer.77 Still, the dates for most popular festivals in Tucumán—Concepción, Monteros, Lules, and, after 1971, Tafí Viejo—fell in the spring, between September and November. Though this was the off-season for tourism, the spring festivals coincided with the end of the sugar production cycle, when most ingenios cancelled their debts with suppliers and cash flow in the region increased considerably. The fact that this was also off-season for folk festivals in Córdoba and the rest of the country made it possible for Tucumanos to hire top-ticket musicians who otherwise would have been impossible to attract.

In the rarified political climate of the Peronist restitution of 1973, folk festivals continued thriving in apparent independence from politics. The same town notables continued to organize the large festivals, in coordination with the Peronist authorities, in the same way they had with the military authorities for the previous six years, and, reportedly, with similar success.78 Through 1975, however, under the constitutional government of Estela Martínez, the overall political environment deteriorated sharply. Tucumán became the center of the nationwide struggle between the Peronist left and the Peronist right and home of the PRT (Workers’ Revolutionary Party) and its military branch, the ERP (People’s Revolutionary Army), which openly defied the legitimacy of the Peronist authorities.79 At some point in 1974, ERP guerrillas established a stronghold in the heavily forested foothills of the Aconquija range, just a few miles south of Tucumán city. A division of the Argentine Army sent to suffocate the ERP hotspot set up headquarters in the beleaguered mill town of Ingenio Santa Lucia and extended direct control over Lules, Famaillá, and Monteros. Deadly confrontations between the guerrillas and the military made national headlines. Meanwhile in Tucumán city, right-wing paramilitary groups reigned supreme, bombing houses, kidnapping known leftists, and leaving gruesome reminders of their power by dumping the corpses of their tortured victims in busy downtown intersections. By the end of 1975 the army sent in a new commander, General Antonio Bussi, to step up the pace of the counterinsurgency campaign. In a public ceremony, a visibly angered Bussi promised not only to exterminate the Marxist guerrillas but also their enablers and sympathizers, whoever they were—which he did, and brutally.80 On March 24, 1976, shortly after Bussi turned Tucumán into a preview of the Dirty War, the military returned to government, closing the chaotic era of Estela Martínez’s government and imposing a bloodstained “peace” that made the years of General Onganía feel like a democratic spring.

Would Tucumanos stop celebrating their folk festivals amidst this new setting of widespread death and fear? Of course not, but changes in the overall public life, of which the folk festival phenomenon was part, were inevitable. In departments under its direct control, and following standard counterinsurgency doctrine, the army took over most social services, establishing logistic battalions to clean sewage lines, paint schoolhouses, and fix up parks and playground sets. Army commanders re-energized patriotic commemorations, organizing parades where soldiers marched alongside schoolchildren and boy and girl scouts. That year and the next, Lules, Monteros, and Famaillá, the towns in the middle of the army’s operation, skipped their regular folk festivals. However, towns located farther away from the theater of operations, such as Ciudad Alberdi and Tafí Viejo, experienced a noticeable growth in their festivals. The Concepción technical school building was practically complete by 1974, so principal Rodríguez Muerda and his colleagues discontinued their participation in the folk festival they’d created in 1966. In 1975, Concepción’s newly formed Small Business Union took over the organization of a much-diminished festival that could not compete with its neighbor and new rival, the Sugar Harvest Festival of Ciudad Alberdi. With the most popular and creative folk musicians in exile, and under an atmosphere of fear and censorship, the overall folk festival phenomenon suffered a setback across the country. It would take the return of democracy in 1983, and a generational renovation in the folk music scene that took place in the early 1990s, for the folk festivals of the interior to shine again.

Folk Festivals under Military Rule between Consent and Resistance

The boom of folk festivals in the 1960s and early 1970s in Argentine provinces like Tucumán was partly a product of the community development paradigm fostered in Latin America by multilateral lending organizations and U.S. technicians. The notion of community development, of course, exceeded the procurement of popular entertainment, and aimed at engaging local communities in development projects outlined by national and provincial governments in compliance. Small-town notables, accustomed to an active role in non-partisan civic life, bought into the community development plans that brought them subsidies for social services in exchange for personal commitment. Due to the wide appeal of folk music, the organization of folk festivals became not only a practical fundraising device but also a method to involve community members across classes and political loyalties.

None of this took place in a political vacuum. In the case of Tucumán between 1966 and 1973, the military government that supplied the funds and requested collaboration was the same that slayed the provincial economy with the closure of eleven of its twenty-seven sugar mills. In the southern half of the province, the heart of Argentina’s sugar country, entire communities suffered, including retailers and professionals who depended on the annual cash injection brought by the sugar harvest. But the brunt of the economic collapse fell upon mill employees, whose daily lives, from wages to housing to health services, depended entirely on the ingenio. De facto president General Onganía authorized a contingency plan to help the province transition into a diversified economy, which, ideally, would have included multiple cash crops and transnational manufacturing plants. Part of the plan was to support municipalities in improving material infrastructure and providing basic social services, especially in health and housing. Notable citizens of Concepción and other southern Tucumán towns paid heed to the national government’s call, putting their voluntary associations to work in community development plans. Ultimately, the local notables tried to preserve their ascendancy by showing concern and solidarity with the communities where they lived.

After 1966 the province of Tucumán descended into a spiral of social conflict, political violence, insurgency, and repression, generating headlines in the national newspapers. Behind the cycles of dramatic events was an economically depressed population suffering long-term high unemployment and depopulation. Working-class men and women, both urban and rural, joined middle-class students in protesting the military-controlled provincial and national government. But daily life in the rural communities was not entirely defined by economic suffering and labor and political mobilization. Folk festivals provided an occasion for non-confrontational civic engagement and a few days of meaningful entertainment, which, for some perhaps, made the appalling reality more endurable.

Discussion of the Literature

This essay benefits from three different areas in Argentine historiography: history of social and labor movements, popular-culture studies, and the history of civil society and civic associations. The history of social and labor movements is the most developed of the three areas for the period of this study (1966–1973). During those years, while Juan Perón was in the exile and the Peronist party banned by order of the military, the labor movement remained staunchly loyal to Perón. Daniel James’s influential Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class explains the enduring identification of the working class with Perón as the expression of a form of social citizenship developed in the early years of the Peronist rule. James explores the dynamics of the Peronist labor movement during Perón’s exile, analyzing the division between a minority “combative” sector that opposed any collaboration with the dictatorship and a majority that accepted a modus vivendi with the military while waiting for the repatriation of their leader. A focal point in this period is the Cordobazo, the May 1969 rebellion of students and workers in the province of Cordoba, subject of several works that analyze the ideology and actions of the different actors as well as the historical repercussion of the event.81 The Cordobazo was part of a cycle of social protest spreading through the interior provincial cities with epicenters in Corrientes, Rosario, and Tucumán. In Tucumán, a student-worker demonstration in November 1970, promptly dubbed as the Tucumanazo, was only partially a local response to the process set forth by the Córdoba rebellion. As historians Emilio Crenzel and Silvia Nassif show, Tucumán’s students and workers acted in accordance with their own tradition of organization and resistance and in reaction to Tucumán’s specific problems.82 Those problems continued well into the 1970s, when the province became the national center of rural guerrilla activities and the site of a brutal counterinsurgency campaign.83 The 1969 series of provincial uprisings are also treated in two recent English-language works: Valeria Manzano’s The Age of Youth in Argentina and Sebastián Carrasai’s The Argentine Silent Majority.84 Both Manzano and Carrasai take popular culture both as subject of study and as sources to illuminate their cases studies. In doing so, they take part in a larger trend in Argentine historiography of incorporating popular culture.

The study of popular culture is a growing area within Argentine history, and folk music is getting some of the attention it deserves. Atahualpa Yupanqui (b. Hector Chavero), a leading member of the Argentine folk music movement in the 1930 to 1960 period and creator of a style of socially conscious folk ballads, has been the subject of several biographies as well as scholarly essays studying his lyrics, musical production, and political connections.85 Similarly, internationally renowned Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa was also the subject of a mass-market biography in Spanish by Rodolfo Braceli, while Illa Carrillo Rodríguez and Matt Karush have published scholarly book chapters exploring issues of gender and regional and ethnic identity in Sosa’s career.86 Though Mercedes Sosa was an exceptional artist, she was also the most salient member of a movement known as the New Song (Nuevo Cancionero or Nueva Canción). The movement took inspiration from both Yupanqui and Chilean folk singer Violeta Parra in associating folk rhythms with lyrics that denounce the exploitation and living conditions of rural workers.87 The movement also explored the fusion of different Latin American folk rhythms and instruments as well as incorporating musical languages from international pop. Folk festivals are generally not a well-researched topic anywhere. Fortunately, Jane Florine has done extensive research on the Cosquín National Folk Festival of Argentina as well as on other regional festivals; her book on Cosquín, in Spanish, is currently in production.88

The study of civil society and civic associations is a well-developed area within Argentine history. Most works, however, focus on the late-19th and the first half of the 20th century, often overlapping with both urban history and the history of migrant communities. Several works have studied the role of Buenos Aires neighborhood associations as the sites that defined lower-middle-class identity and social practices.89 One of the few cases in which civil society studies moved outside the perimeter of the national capital is Kristine Ruggiero’s work on La Paz, Entre Rio province, which looks into the social life of a rural town of European-immigrant settlement.90 A number of recent studies on civil society in Tucumán can be found in a several recent essays collections.91 As Argentine historians have moved toward localized histories, less centered on state and political actors, it is likely that more works on the intersection of popular culture and civil society will be available in the near future.

Primary Sources

The main source for the history of Argentina in the second half of the 20th century is the printed press. The most complete collection of newspapers and magazines from both Buenos Aires and the provinces is available at the Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno de Buenos Aires. The small library of SADAIC (Argentine Society of Music Composers) possesses the best collection of publications specializing in Argentine folk music. Documents on economic development and social policies produced by the national government and its agencies can be consulted at the Archivo General de la Nación—Archivo Intermedio. Although all the documents in that repository are accessible to the public, only a small portion are individually cataloged. Unfortunately, few institutional repositories hold primary documents produced for the period of this study in Tucumán. The Archivo Histórico de Tucumán preserves both official and private documents as well as newspaper collections, but few of its collections contain items pertaining to the second half of the 20th. Pamphlets and small-run printed documents can be found at different libraries in Tucumán city, including the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Biblioteca Popular Sociedad Sarmiento, and Biblioteca Popular Alberdi.

Further Reading

Adamovsky, Ezequiel. Historia de la clase media argentina: Apogeo y decadencia de una ilusión. Buenos Aires: Planeta, 2009.Find this resource:

Altamirano, Carlos. “La pequeña burguesía: una clase en el purgatorio.” In Peronismo y cultura de Izquierda Buenos Aires. Edited by Carlos Altamirano. Buenos Aries: Siglo XXI, 2011.Find this resource:

Brennan, James P.The Labor Wars in Córdoba, 1955–1976. Ideology, Work and Labor Politics in an Argentine Industrial City. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

Bustelo, Julieta. “La formación de la Unión Cañeros Independientes de Tucumán, El nuevo asociacionismo de los cañeros en los origins del Peronismo.” Mundo Agrario 13.25 (2012).Find this resource:

Carrillo Rodriguez, Illa. “The Revolutionary Patria and Its New (Wo)Men: Gendered Tropes of Political Agency and Popular Identity in Argentine Folk Music of the Long 1960s.” In The Militant Song Movement in Latin America: Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Edited by Pablo Vila, 229–248. Boulder, CO: Lexington Books, 2014.Find this resource:

Chamosa, Oscar. The Argentine Folklore Movement: Sugar Elites, Criollo Workers and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Chamosa, Oscar. Breve historia del movimiento folclórico argentino: Identidad, cultura y nación. Buenos Aires: EDHASA, 2012.Find this resource:

Correa, Gustavo F., Jorge Carrizo, and David Corbalan. “Memoria y violencia política en la argentina reciente: de organizaciones sociales a grupos armados, La Cocha, Tucumán, 1970.” Revista Escuela de Historia. Online Journal 8.2 (2009). Accessed on October 24, 2016.Find this resource:

De Riz, Liliana. La política en suspenso, 19661976. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2000.Find this resource:

Farres Cavagnaro, Juan. El desarrollo de la comunidad y el sistema cooperativo. Mendoza, Argentina: Instituto de Estudios Políticos para América Latina, 1965.Find this resource:

Ferreyra, Silvana. “La descentralización en el proyecto municipal del Partido Socialista Democrático: Del imaginario tocquevilliano a las recetas eficientistas (1958–1966). Nuevo Mundo/Mundos Nuevos. Online Journal (June 2013). URL: Accessed on October 24, 2016.Find this resource:

Florine, Jane. “El Festival Nacional de Folklore y La búsqueda de identidad Nacional Argentina.” Proceedings of the V Congreso Latinoamericano IASPM, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 21–24, 2004.Find this resource:

Franco, Marina. Un enemigo para la nación: orden interno, violencia y subversión, 1973–76. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2012.Find this resource:

García Delgado, Daniel and Juan Silva. “El movimiento vecinal y la democracia: participación y control en el Gran Buenos Aires.” In Los nuevos movimientos sociales. Edited by Elizabeth Jelin, 67–90. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1989.Find this resource:

James, Daniel. Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1988.Find this resource:

Lenci, María Laura. “La radicalización de los católicos en la Argentina: Peronismo, Cristianismo y Revolución.” Cuadernos del Centro de Investigaciones Socio-Históricas 4 (1998): 175–199.Find this resource:

Manzano, Valeria. The Age of Youth in Argentina: Culture, Politics, and Sexuality from Perón to Videla. Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Moyano, María José. Argentina’s Lost Patrol: Armed Struggle, 19691979. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Nassif, Silvia. Tucumanazos, una huella histórica de luchas populares. San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: UNT Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, 2012.Find this resource:

Osatinsky, Ariel. “Estructura productiva, actividad azucarera y mercado de trabajo en Tucumán (1930–1970).” Revista Historia Americana y Argentina 47.1 (2012): 41–70.Find this resource:

Pucci, Roberto. Historia de la destrucción de una provincial: Tucumán 1966. Tucumán, Argentina: Del Pago Chico Ed., 2008.Find this resource:

Sigal, Silvia. Acción obrera en una situación de crisis: Tucumán 19661968. Buenos Aires: Instituto Di Tella, 1974.Find this resource:

Sigal, Silvia and Eliseo Verón. Perón o muerte: Los fundamentos discursivos del fenómeno peronista. Buenos Aires: Legasa, 1986.Find this resource:

Taire, Carlos. El último grito: 1974, la huelga de los obreros tucumanos de la FOTIA. San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: Del Pago Chico Ed., 2005.Find this resource:

Ullivarri, María. “Sindicatos en la ‘capital del azúcar’: Organización y lucha en el mundo del trabajo de la provincial de Tucumán (Argentina), 1930–1943. Historia Agraria 55 (2011): 101–133.Find this resource:

Vessuri, Hebe. Colonización y diversificación agrícola en Tucumán. San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, 1973.Find this resource:

Vila, Pablo. “Tango, folklore y rock: apuntes sobre música, política y sociedad en Argentina,” Cahiers du Monde Hispanique et Luso-Brésilien 48.1 (1987): 81–93.Find this resource:

Voth, Donald E. and Marcie Brewster. “An Overview of International Community Development.” In Community Development in Perspective. Edited by James Christenson and Jerry W. Robison, 218–306. Ames: Iowa State Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Zerda de Cainzo, Hilda. Ciudades y Pueblos de Tucumán. San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: Editorial UNSTA, 2003.Find this resource:


(1.) See Silvia Nassif, Tucumanazos, una huella histórica de luchas populares (San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: UNT Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, 2012); Gustavo F. Correa, Jorge Carrizo, and David Corbalan, “Memoria y violencia política en la argentina reciente: de organizaciones sociales a grupos armados, La Cocha, Tucumán, 1970,” Revista Escuela de Historia 8.2 (2009), Accessed April 5, 2016; Silvia Sigal, Acción Obrera en una situación de crisis: Tucumán 1966–1968 (Buenos Aires: Instituto Di Tella, 1973); Carlos Taire, El último grito: 1974, la huelga de los obreros tucumanos de la FOTIA (San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: Del Pago Chico Ed., 2005). On the broader Argentine context see also Carlos Altamirano, “Memoria del 69,” Estudios 4 (1994): 9–13; James P. Brennan, The Labor Wars in Córdoba, 1955–1976, Ideology, Work and Labor Politics in an Argentine Industrial City (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993); Sebastián Carassai, The Argentine Silent Majority: Middle Classes, Politics, Violence and Memory in the Seventies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Manzano, Valeria. The Age of Youth in Argentina: Culture, Politics, and Sexuality from Perón to Videla (Chapel Hill: North Carolina); Liliana De Riz, La política en suspenso, 1966–1976 (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2000); María José Moyano, Argentina’s Lost Patrol: Armed Struggle, 1969–1979 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995); Pablo Pozzi, Por las sendas argentinas: El PRT-ERP, la guerrilla marxista (Buenos Aires: EUDEBA, 2001); and Silvia Sigal and Eliseo Verón, Perón o muerte: Los fundamentos discursivos del fenómeno peronista (Buenos Aires: Legasa, 1986).

(2.) Roberto Pucci, Historia de la destrucción de una provincial: Tucumán 1966 (San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: Del Pago Chico Ed., 2008), 1–29.

(3.) Ezequiel Adamovsky, Historia de la clase media argentina: Apogeo y decadencia de una ilusión (Buenos Aires: Planeta, 2009); and Carlos Altamirano, “La pequeña burguesía: una clase en el purgatorio,” in Peronismo y cultura de izquierda, ed. Carlos Altamirano (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2011).

(4.) Stephen Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area in the World: Communist John F. Kennedy Confronts Communist Revolution in Latin America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 25–28. See also Juan Farres Cavagnaro, El desarrollo de la comunidad y el sistema cooperative (Mendoza: Instituto de Estudios Políticos para América Latina, 1965); Donald E. Voth and Marcie Brewster, “An Overview of International Community Development,” in Community Development in Perspective, eds. James Christenson and Jerry W. Robison (Ames: Iowa State Press, 1989): 281–306.

(5.) “El Presidente clausuró ayer la primer reunión sobre promoción y asistencia de la comunidad,” La Gaceta, April 1, 1967, 1.

(6.) Silvana Ferreyra, “La descentralización en el proyecto municipal del Partido Socialista Democrático: Del imaginario tocquevilliano a las recetas eficientistas (1958–1966),” Nuevo Mundo/Mundos Nuevos (June 2013), Accessed on May 5, 2015; and Daniel García Delgado and Juan Silva, “El movimiento vecinal y la democracia: participación y control en el Gran Buenos Aires,” in Los nuevos movimientos sociales, ed. Elizabeth Jelin (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1989).

(7.) “Monteros: Gran Concentración De Cañeros,” La Gaceta, January 30, 1961, 1.

(8.) “Obreros del ingenio San José ocuparon el establecimiento,” La Gaceta, January 9, 1962, 6; “Hubo demoras en el Bella Vista por el pago de Aguinaldo,” La Gaceta, January 10, 1962, 6.

(9.) “Nuevos incidentes en Santa Lucía, tres heridos,” La Gaceta, March 8, 1962, 8.

(10.) “Ingenio Santa Rosa: Violenta reacción obrera,” La Gaceta, April 16, 1966, 1.

(11.) “Incidentes entre cañeros y la policia en Monteros,” La Gaceta, 1966, June 9, 1966, 1.

(12.) Nassif, Tucumanazos, 93–96.

(13.) “Arribaron tropas federales,” La Gaceta, August 18, 1966, 6.

(14.) “Intervienen 7 ingenios,” La Gaceta, August 23, 1966.

(15.) Ariel Osatinsky, “Estructura productiva, actividad azucarera y mercado de trabajo en Tucumán (1930–1970),” Revista Historia Americana y Argentina 47.1 (2012): 41–70.

(16.) Argentine Republic, Censo nacional de población, familias y vivienda 1970, Vol. 1 (Buenos Aires: INDEC, c. 1971), 20.

(17.) More on this topic in Oscar Chamosa, The Argentine Folklore Movement: Sugar Elites, Criollo Workers and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010), 13–38.

(18.) Vila, Pablo. “Tango, folklore y rock: apuntes sobre música, política y sociedad en Argentina,” Cahiers du Monde Hispanique et Luso-Brésilien 48.1 (1987): 81–93. See also Oscar Chamosa, Breve historia del movimiento folclórico argentino: Identidad, cultura y nación (Buenos Aires, EDHASA, 2012), 143–187.

(19.) Jane Florine, “El Festival Nacional de Folklore y La búsqueda de identidad Nacional Argentina.” Proceedings of the V Congreso Latinoamericano IASPM, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 21–25, 2004.

(20.) This figure results from surveying provincial tourist official websites.

(21.) “Propician Jesús María como capital nacional de la doma,” La Voz del Interior, June 6, 1965, 10.

(22.) “Jesus María: Entre potros, jinetes y guitarras,” La Voz del Interior, January 11, 1966, 14.

(23.) Accessed on May 18, 2015.

(24.) Argentine Republic, IV Censo Nacional –Vol 1. Población (Buenos Aires: Dirección Nacional del Registro Estadístico, 1948), 1, 426.

(25.) Among the 132 founders of the city of Concepción in 1904 there were six individuals with British last names, three French, and three Germans. Hilda Zerda de Cainzo, Ciudades y Pueblos de Tucumán, (San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina: Editorial UNSTA, 2003), 73; and Argentine Republic, IV Censo Nacional, vol. 1, 432.

(26.) Argentine Republic, Censo nacional de población, familias y vivienda: Resultados Provisionales, localidades con mas de mil habitantes 1970 (Buenos Aires: INDEC, 1971), 50

(27.) Argentine Republic, Censo nacional económico: Comercio y prestaciones de servicios, vol. 8 (Buenos Aires, INDEC, 1964), 199–201.

(28.) “La escuela que se construyó a base de festivales,” La Gaceta December 1, 2014, 14.

(29.) A few examples: “Hará tertulias de folklore el Club Tucumán de Basketball,” La Gaceta, January 25, 1956; 5; “Festival folklórico en el club Marcos Paz,” La Gaceta, January 26, 1962; “Un festival habrá hoy un centro,” La Gaceta, January 7, 1961, 7; and “Escuela 27 de Pala Pala: Acto folklórico a beneficio,” La Gaceta, November 23, 1964, 9.

(30.) “El festival pro-escuela técnica se iniciará hoy,” La Gaceta, October 1, 1966. 7; “El festival folklórico de Concepción,” La Gaceta, October 1, 1966, 1.

(31.) “El Festival de Concepción,” La Gaceta, October 2, 1966, 2.

(32.) “Aportes para el festival y feria de Concepción: Las embajadas y los stands.” La Gaceta, August 25, 1967, 9; “II Festival Folklorico,” La Gaceta, September 2, 1967, 3.

(33.) “Fiesta folklórica en Concepción,” La Gaceta, August 12, 1968, 7.

(34.) “Conjunto Los Chayeros: Ganadores del Concurso Provincial de Folklore,” La Gaceta, October 22, 1964, 7; “Concurso Folklórico: Fiesta de Cristo Rey,” La Gaceta, November 9, 1964, 9; “Se elige conjunto folklórico para festival del Automóvil Club,” La Gaceta, November 25, 1964, 15; and “Las Cacharpayas: conjuntos folklóricos recorrerán las calles céntricas,” La Gaceta, October 1, 1965, 7.

(35.) “El II Festival de Folklore del Noroeste se realizará en Monteros,” La Gaceta, October 20, 1966, 7; and “Destacados valores folklóricos en el III Festival de Monteros,” La Gaceta, November 18, 1967, 8.

(36.) “Panorama artístico: Lules y su festival,” La Gaceta, August 27, 1967, 13.

(37.) “Palito Ortega estará hoy en Lules,” La Gaceta, September 18, 1971, 10.

(38.) “Cafrune actuará en Ciudad Alberdi,” La Gaceta, November 17, 1967, 7.

(39.) “Simoca: Harán un festival de folklore,” La Gaceta, October 8, 1966, 7.

(40.) “Famaillá comenzará el 9 el Festival Folklórico,” La Gaceta, August 1, 1968, 13.

(41.) “Los festivales en marcha: la política folklórica,” La Gaceta, August 18, 1968, 13.

(42.) “Concepción: Preparan el III Festival Folklórico,” La Gaceta, July 14, 1968, 11.

(43.) Illa Carrillo Rodriguez, “The Revolutionary Patria and its New (Wo)Men: Gendered Tropes of Political Agency and Popular Identity in Argentine Folk Music of the Long 1960s,” in The Militant Song Movement in Latin America: Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, ed. Pablo Vila (Boulder, CO: Lexington Books, 2014): 229–248.

(44.) “Exigencias del reglamento del Festival por Escuela Técnica,” La Gaceta, August 31, 1968, 7.

(45.) “Finalizó el festival de Concepción,” La Gaceta, September 10, 1968, 10.

(46.) “El festival de Concepción: Esfuerzo de la Comunidad para el sur de la provincial,” La Gaceta, September 10, 8.

(47.) “El festival folklórico posibilita una efectiva participación de la comunidad,” La Gaceta, September 10, 1969, 8.

(48.) “El Festival de Folklore abre las perspectivas turísticas del sur,” La Gaceta, September 11, 1969, 12.

(49.) “Gestiones por un nuevo edificio para la ENET N° 1 de Concepción,” La Gaceta, November 24, 1969.

(50.) “Concluyó el festival de Concepción,” La Gaceta, September 16, 1969.

(51.) “Fomentarán la acción comunitaria en Tucumán,” La Gaceta, March 30, 1968, 1.

(52.) “Santa Ana: Exodo y forzada desocupación,” La Gaceta, March 10, 1968, 18.

(53.) “Los Ralos: Desolación, éxodo y esperanzas frustradas,” La Gaceta, April 15, 1969, 8.

(54.) “La ‘changa’: Institución en las areas fabriles extinguidas,” La Gaceta, March 17, 1968, 10.

(55.) “La ‘changa’: Institución en las areas fabriles extinguidas,” La Gaceta, March 17, 1968, 10.

(56.) “Manifestación obrera en Ingenio Amalia al término de oficio religioso,” La Gaceta, February 9, 1968, 6.

(57.) “La población de Bella Vista hará una peregrinación a la Reducción,” La Gaceta, December 8, 1968, 10.

(58.) “Hoy se reclamará por el mantenimiento del Ingenio Bella Vista,” La Gaceta, January 15, 1969, 3.

(59.) Nassif, Tucumanazos, 135–143.

(60.) “Vecinos de Villa Quinteros denuncian la acción policial,” La Gaceta, April 10, 1969, 2.

(61.) “Enérgica represión policial en Villa Quinteros,” La Gaceta, April 10, 1969, 1.

(62.) Brennan, Labor Wars in Córdoba, 136–169; and Manzano, Age of Youth in Argentina, 166–168.

(63.) “Hubo refriegas y disturbios en diferentes partes de la ciudad,” La Gaceta, May 18, 1969, 7; and Nassif, Tucumanazos, 173–178.

(64.) “El gobierno se refiere a los sucesos que han ocurrido en nuestra provincial,” La Gaceta, June 1, 1969, 15.

(65.) “Durante protestas estudiantiles se efectuaron detenciones,” La Gaceta, May 23, 1970, 6.

(66.) Moyano, Argentina’s Lost Patrol, 25–29.

(67.) Nassif, Tucumanazos, 245–250.

(68.) “El gobernador exortó a los maestros a reintegrarse,” La Gaceta, August 30, 1970, 10.

(69.) “Numerosos heridos y contuses hubo en los incidents de ayer,” La Gaceta, November 12, 1970, 3.

(70.) “El Tucumanazo que no llegó a Cordobazo,” La Gaceta, November 12, 1970, 2.

(71.) “Finaliza esta noche la Fiesta Nacional del Tabaco,” La Gaceta, July 1, 1969, 12.

(72.) “Exitosa inauguación del festival de Monteros,” La Gaceta, November 14, 1970, 12.

(73.) “El paro obrero no alterará la realización del festival,” La Gaceta, November 13, 1970, 13.

(74.) “Dos dias de violencia se vivieron el jueves y ayer en nuestra ciudad,” La Gaceta, November 14, 1970, 1.

(75.) “El FREJULI también triunfa con amplitud en la provincial,” La Gaceta, March 12, 1973, 1–2.

(76.) “Durante dos horas los obreros del Ingenio Santa Rosa cortaron la ruta 38,” La Gaceta, February 21, 1973, 5; “Sigue la huelga de los obreros de vialidad,” La Gaceta, Aprril 25, 1973; and “Jovenes peronistas siguieron ayer ocupando reparticiones,” La Gaceta, June 15, 1973, 8.

(77.) “V Fiesta Provincial del Queso en Tafí del Valle,” La Gaceta, February 16, 1973, 6; and “Festejos de la Pachamama en Amaicha del Valle,” La Gaceta, February 22, 1973, 11.

(78.) “Festival Folklórico ‘Aguilares: Capital de la Zafra,’ La Gaceta, October 11, 1973; “Simoca: finalizó el festival del sulki,” La Gaceta, October 14, 1973; and “El jueves dará comienzo el IX festival folklórico de Monteros,” La Gaceta, November 6, 1973.

(79.) “Solicitada: Resistir el autogolpe contrarevolucionario, PRT-ERP,” La Gaceta, July 25, 1973, 2; and Moyano, Argentina’s Lost Patrol, 57, 105–107.

(80.) “El nuevo comandante de la V Brigada,” La Gaceta, December 19, 1975, 1.

(81.) Brennan, Labor Wars in Córdoba; and Mónica Gordillo, Córdoba en los 60: La experiencia del sindicalismo combativo (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, 1999).

(82.) Emilio Crenzel, El Tucumanazo (Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, 1997); and Silvia Nassif, Tucumanazos.

(83.) Moyano, Argentina’s Lost Patrol.

(84.) Manzano, Age of Youth in Argentina; and Sebastián Carrasai, The Argentine Silent Majority: Middle Classes, Politics, Violence and Memory in the Seventies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014).

(85.) Sergio Pujol, En nombre del folklore: Biografía de Atahualpa Yupanqui (Buenos Aires: Emece, 2008); Ricardo Kaliman, Alhajita es tu canto: El capital simbólico de Atahualpa Yupanqui (Tucumán: Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, 2003); Yolanda Fabiola Orquera, “Marxismo, peronismo, indocriollismo: Atahualpa Yupanqui y el Norte Argentino,” Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 27 (2008): 195–199; and Carlos Molinero and Pablo Vila, “Atahualpa Yupanqui: The Latin American Precursor of the Militant Song Movement,” in The Militant Song Movement in Latin America: Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, ed. Pablo Vila (Boulder, CO: Lexington Books, 2014), 163–192.

(86.) Rodolfo Braceli, Mercedes Sosa: La Negra (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 2003); Illa Carrillo Rodríguez, “Latinoamericana de Tucumán, Mercedes Sosa y los itineraries de la música popular argentina en la larga década del sesenta,” in Ese Ardiente Jardín de la República: Formación y desarticulación de un campo cultural: Tucumán, 1890–1970, ed. Yolanda Orquera, (Córdoba, Argentina: Alción Editora, 2007); and Mathew Karush, “Indigenous Argentina and Revolutionary Latin America, Mercedes Sosa and the Multiple Meanings of Folk Music,” in Musicians in Transit: Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music, ed. Mathew Karush (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016): 142–178.

(87.) Chamosa, Breve historia; Molinero and Vila, “A Brief History of the Militant Song Movement,” 193–227; Carrillo Rodríguez, “The Revolutionary Patria and its New (Wo)Men,” 229–247.

(88.) Jane Florine, “Una cosecha de coplas: Música y significado cultural en el Festival Nacional de Folklore Argentino” (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Gourmet Musical, 2016).

(89.) Leandro H. Gutiérrez and Luis Alberto Romero, Sectores populares, cultura y política: Buenos Aires en la entreguerra (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1995); Luciano de Privitellio, Vecinos y ciudadanos: Política y sociedad en la Buenos Aires de entreguerras (Buenos Aires: Editorial Siglo XXI, 2003); Eduardo J. Míguez and Fernando Devoto, eds., Asociacionismo, trabajo e identidad étnica: Los italianos en América Latina en una perspectiva comparada (Buenos Aires: Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos, 1992); and Diego Armus, ed., Mundo urbano y cultura popular (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1990).

(90.) Kristine Ruggiero, And Here the World Ends: The Life of an Argentine Village (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988).

(91.) María Celia Bravo and Sandra Fernandez, eds., Formando el espacio public: Asociacionismo y política: Siglos XIX y XX (Tucumán, Argentina: Editorial de la Universidad de Tucumán, 2014); and Yolanda Fabiola Orquera, ed., Ese Ardiente Jardín de la República: Formación y desarticulación de un campo cultural: Tucumán, 1890–1970 (Córdoba, Argentina: Alción Editora, 2010).