History's Journal

April 12th, 1917: Argentina Maintains Its Neutrality in the First World War

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During the Great War in Europe, the majority of Latin American countries, Mexico among them, remained neutral. Until 1917, the Latin American participation was limited to the sale of supplies to the warring countries.

However, the entrance of United States to the armed conflict favored that Cuba, Panama, Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay, declared war to Germany, although only Brazil sent troops to Europe. At first, Argentina’s government supported the decision of United States of taking part in the war, even President Hipólito Yrigoyen declared to the press that he was ready to declare war to Germany, but in the end, he remained neutral in face of the conflict.

This stance was due to its commercial interests, because it had sold cereals, meat and other products to the Allied countries as well as to the Central Empires. Despite it all, like many neutral countries, Argentina suffered attacks to its merchant ships by German submarines in European coasts. Despite the Congress stance in favor of Argentina entering the war, President Yrigoyen remained inflexible in his neutral policy, but sympathizing with the allied cause.

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