Article titled “Trying Times in South America” in Section “General Articles” by JW Westphal

DURING the three years I have been in South America, there have been abundant evidences that this continent is sharing in the general restlessness characterizing the world to-day.

Within this time there has been war between Venezuela and Colombia, and trouble between Venezuela and some of the European powers, and between Colombia and the United States, both of which verged onto a war. War was threatened between Colombia and Panama, between Argentina and Chile, between Brazil and Bolivia, and between Brazil and Peru. There have been serious revolutions in Uruguay and Paraguay, the latter of which is at this writing still continuing. There are serious disturbances which border onto a revolution in Brazil, over compulsory vaccination. Besides the usual quarantines against yellow fever and smallpox, Argentina, Paraguay, northern Chile, and Ecuador have been quarantined against the bubonic plague, while there have also been many local quarantines for the same reason. There have been labor strikes here in Buenos Ayres and other places.

Chief among the things that are agitating the public mind is compulsory Sunday rest. What seemed an impossibility in these countries three years ago, is now an accomplished fact. Both national and local Sunday laws are being made and enforced. Even in the smaller villages, business has entirely ceased on Sunday, or is carried on only in the fore-noon. The ministers and the workmen are especially agitating this question. The latest developments have been a general strike in the city of Buenos Ayres in behalf of a national Sunday-rest law. Other issues, as shorter hours and a better wage, have been added, but the original and principal issue is Sunday rest. The government has been willing to grant a weekly rest law, and let the employer and employee mutually arrange the day. But this is not sufficient; it must be Sunday, the token of papal authority and power. The general disturbances, the destruction of property, the effort to get the employee to break his word and contract with his employer, the resulting losses, and the general stagnation of business — all this is even quite laudable in a Christian (?) enterprise.

When all these and other elements already strained to intensity break loose, as they surely will, what a rushing stream there will be to meet! Truly we have only a short time in which to work.

Buenos Ayres, Argentina.