Slovene Ethnic Press in Argentina until the Second Word War
The Slovenes began settling in Argentina as early as the second half of the 19th century. The main wave came in the 1920s and '30s and by the early 1930s, there were over 20.000 Slovene immigrants in Argentina. The author surveys the Slovene periodicals in Argentina which were of leftist, liberal and Catholic tendencies. Gospodarstvo began publication in 1926 as Argentina's first Slovene language newspaper. Slovenski tednik appeared in the late 1920s, followed by Slovenski dom and Novi list which began publication in the early 1930s. In 1937, Slovenski tednik and Novi list merged to form Slovenski list and in 1933 Duhovno življenje began publication.
Argentina was one of the central South American countries where the publishing of Slovene periodicals, newspapers and books was developed Slovenes began to settle down in this country approximately in 1878, however, most of them emigrated there in 1920s and 1930s. The majority arrived from the Slovene ethnic territories that were given to Italy after the First World War. As a result, the ethnic and social equilibrium maintained for hundreds of years was destroyed and the Slovene Littoral with Istria, which the Italians called as the Julian Province, was seized by a severe economic crisis. From 1922 on, Mussolini's fascist regime Worsened the situation in this territory by advocating accelerated assimilation of the Slovene population. The fascist authorities used no middle terms and systematically began to destroy all Slovene political, economic and cultural Organizations. The oppressed and impoverished Slovenes were compelled to emigrate. After the First World War immigration restrictions imposed by U. S. authorities forced many Slovenes from the Julian Province (and the rest of the Slovene territory) to emmigrate to South America - Argentina in particular.
At the beginning of the 1930s there were already over 20,000 Slovenes in Argentina. Apart from the problems they ran into in this new and at times hostile environment, the Slovenes rather quickly began to found their organizations which included choirs and various associations. Once these organizations were founded the need of publishing journals and reviews arose. The newspapers and the associations' activities were essentially controlled by the different groups. The strongest one was formed by left-wing emigrants, which united themselves and in 1925 founded the worker organization "Ljudski Oder". A second group was formed by the Liberals whose central organization was the "Slovensko prosvetno društvo I" (Slovene cultural society 1) founded in 1929. A third group was formed by the Sokols. Which could be defined as Yugoslav nationalists.
The communists exerted strong influence on the leftist group. Their presence was emphasized by the newspapers published by the worker organization "Ljudski oder". The leftist newspaper was the Delavski list which was issued from 1928 to 1930, Borba which was issued from 1931 to 1934 and Delavski glas which was issued from 1932 to 1934. The "Ljudski oder" also published a monthly cultural review called Njiva during the years 1937 - 1934.
The oldest Slovene newspaper in Argentina was Gospodarstvo. It was first issued in June 1926 and continued to be issued until December 1930. Its editor, Ciril Jekovec, was a member of the Sokol society, nevertheless the paper was not political. Articles were published in Serbo-Croatian, Spanish and Slovene. For a few months in 1927 a supplement was issued in Czech. The editor of the Slovene part was Rudolf Leban.
At the beginning of the 1930s opposition between the Sokols and the moderate Liberals grew more intense. The Sokols finaly separated from the "Slovensko prosvetno društvo I" and founded their own independent association. Some of them published a paper, Slovenski dom, in March 1932 but it was issued for only a month. In 1933 a group of more moderate Yugoslav patriots began to publish a weekly called Novi list. This Weekly was edited by Dr. Viktor Kjuder, the former editor of the Slovene daily Edinost of Trist, which the fascist authorities in Italy suppresed in 1928. The weekly Novi list was edited well and continued to be published till December 1936.
The liberal group along with its central organization, "Slovensko prosvetno društvo I", began to publish the Slovenski tednik from April 1929 to December 1936. Its editors were Peter Čebokli, Srečko Ferfolja and at last Jan Kacin. The Slovenski tednik began to look at what was going on in Yugoslavia with criticism after the reinstatement of King Alexander I. Karadjordjevic's dictatorship. This was one of the major reasons of the conflicts among the far too fervent Yugoslav patriots belonging to the Sokols.
In the mid-thirties the authoritarian regime in Yugoslavia slightly gave way to more democratic principles. This fact somewhat soothed the tension in the homeland and in Yugoslav emigrant circles. The tension between the Sokols and the moderate Liberals in the Slovene immigration community in Argentina also seemed to calm down. On behalf of the Yugoslav ambassador dr. Izidor Cankar's intervention, two groups began to collaborate at the end of 1936 and later on in 1938 joined to form the society "Slovenski dom". The leftist group insisted upon its position regardless of what had been going on previously and continued its own way.
In 1937 the Slovenski tednik and Novi list joined to form the weekly Slovenski list which soon became the organ of the Society "Slovenski dom". Slovenski list was issued from January 1937 to September 1946. Its editors were Viktor Kjuder, Jan Kacin and then Viktor Kjuder again in collaboration with Josip Svageli. This paper was orientated towards liberal and democratic ideas, whereas while Jan Kacin had been its editor, it was inclined towards the Left. After Kacin's resignation in 1940, the paper reassumed its initial political positions. Religious publications were also issued among the Slovene immigrants in Argentina. The first of these was Izseljenec which was issued by a priest, Anton Mrkun, in 1928. However, his efforts were made in vain.
The emigrant priest, Jožef Kastelic, ran into better luck when he began to publish a religious and family review, Duhovno življenje, in 1933. At first, Duhovno življenje was issued as a supplement of the Slovenski tednik but soon became independent and was acknowledged by a large number of readers. In 1938 the emigrant priest, Janez Hladnik, became editor of Duhovno življenje which published articles based on religious arguments as well as articles dealing with matters of actuality and qualitative literary contributions. This review is still regularly published and it is the only Slovene publication in Argentina that has been published uninterruptedly since before the Second World War.
During the period before the Second World War journalism was majorly developed among the Slovene immigrants in Argentina. Some journalists such as Jan Kacin, France Krasovec and the priest Janez Hladnik were capable of writing articles with a certain literary value as well. The only original Slovene book published in this period in Argentina was written by Guido Joseph Jug. He titled this book Izseljenec in which he describes the fate of a Slovene emigrant forced to abandon his homeland because of the ruling dictatorial regime and leave for an unfriendly foreign country.
Slovene immigration publications issued in Argentina during the period before the Second World War remain behind in quantity and quality in comparison with what was contemporarily published in the USA. Nevertheless, they represent an inestimable source of information regarding the economic, cultural and political aspects of life of the earlier Slovene immigration in Argentina.