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In the Office of the High Commissioner for Canada in London two important changes took place. These were the appointments of the Hon. Peter C. Larkin as High Commissioner in succession to Sir George Perley, and Mr. Lucien T. Pacaud (formerly Member of Parliament for Megantic, P.Q.), as Secretary to the High Commissioner's Office, following the retirement of Mr. W. L. Griffith.
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From the political point of view the year 1922 has proved an eventful one for Argentina. On October 12 the Presidential term of office of Doctor Irigoyen came to an end, and Doctor Marcelo Alvear was raised to the Presidency. The election of this high official proved a very popular one not only in Argentina itself, but throughout Europe and the United States. Before assuming office the President made a tour of various European countries, including Great Britain, with the happiest results as regards the respective foreign relations. The political outlook may be said to be very favourable in almost every respect.
As regards labour, the problems of which for some years now have vexed Argentine statesmen as well as a number of foreign capitalists owning a stake in that Republic, the situation here, too, shows a distinct improvement. Strikes have tended steadily to decrease in number, and the attempted lawlessness of the strikers which was so marked a feature of the years 1918 and 1919 seems practically to have died away.
In industry and commerce, on the other hand, the situation has been unfavourable. The low prices which have ruled both in the meat and grain markets have militated strongly against the success of the agricultural interests. To such an extent has this become evident that the Argentine Government has sent to Great Britain a special commissioner, Señor Nicolas Calvo, to investigate the conditions of the British meat market. Notwithstanding these unfortunate circumstances, the general commercial tone in the Republic has remained healthy; very considerable strides have been made in recently organised local industries, and there seems no doubt that the near future will show a very marked improvement in almost every respectan improvement, indeed, which is already being felt by the British-owned railways, the situation of which has altered very much for the better during the past twelve months. The rate of exchange, moreover, has steadily tended to improve.
One of the principal events in Brazil was the celebration of the centenary of the Republic. For the occasion an important Exhibition was held in Rio de Janeiro (opened on September 7). The British Pavilion was perhaps the most important of its kind, and the ceremonies were marked by the visit of a powerful British Fleet. Special missions also came from many other countries, and a delegation of members of the British House of Commons was likewise present. On the occasion of the centenary festivities it was officially announced that the population of the Republic, which in 1822 scarcely attained four million people, had now risen to over thirty million. The centenary year was employed for the creation of a National History Museum in Rio.
On November 15 Doctor Arturo da Silva Bernades was elected President in place of Doctor Epitacio da Silva Pesoa. The last act of the retiring President was to sign a decree sanctioning the establishment of a wireless telephone service on Brazilian territory. Plans were also passed for the founding of a new naval port and dockyard at Ribeira, which, it is considered, will afford a powerful naval base.
In commerce, the year 1922 has proved anything but favourable to Brazilian interests. It is true that a certain revival has occurred in the gold-mining industry, but the staple products of the Republic, such as coffee, sugar, and rubber, have remained in a depressed condition, while the very marked fall in the Brazilian exchange has proved rather a disastrous factor in the working of the various Brazilian industries.
CHILE. In Chile the main political situation as regards home affairs remained unchanged. In foreign affairs the old-standing difficulties with Peru concerning the ownership of the nitrate provinces (Tacna and Arica) were the subject of constant negotiations, and at one time it appeared as though the matter would be completely settled before the end of the year. This seems to have proved beyond the power of the various negotiators, whether in Santiago, Lima, or Washington. There are some, however, who speak hopefully of an actual settlement in the course of the coming year. In this respect it may be mentioned that Señor Agustin Edwards, the Chilean Minister to Great Britain, has been appointed President of the League of Nations,
Commercially, Chile still suffers from the depression which has affected the Republic for the past few years, although there are symptoms of a somewhat improved situation. As in the case of Brazil, the exchange has told heavily against the country. One of the first signs of a completely new movement is a projected law to limit the extension of wine-growing lands, and to prevent the sale of alcoholic liquors in the various zones of the Republic.
On November 10 the northern coast of Chile suffered from a severe earthquake, which, accompanied by a gigantic tidal wave, wrought great havoc in the various coastal regions and was responsible for great material damage,
COLOMBIA During the past year General Jorge Holguin has been replaced as President by General Ospina, on the expiration of the former's term of office. The movement towards industrial development which began to be significant in 1921 has continued, and it is likely that the railway communications will be greatly improved in the course of the coming year. Civil aviation is also being carried out on a growing scale with marked success. One of the most important results of this will be that before long the capital, Bogota, will be rendered far more accessible.
Cuba, after a period of severe depression, has now regained much of its prosperity. The chief factor in bringing about this condition of affairs is the improvement of the sugar market, on which the island largely depends. Various new banking institutions are now being planned, and very considerable industrial development is anticipated by the Cubans.
The symptoms of progress inaugurated under the government of the President, General Obregon, have continued, and, on the whole, it may be said that the situation of Mexico is in à more satisfactory condition than has been the case for a number of years.
Relations with foreign countries continue to extend, and, although Mexico is not yet diplomatically recognised either in Great Britain or the United States, it is likely that, if the present conditions continue, this event will come about in the near future.
PERU. In Peru the chief points of interest have been industrial and commercial. The United States has shown itself extremely active in its attention to Peruvian internal enterprise, while numerous plans are being considered by capitalists in Great Britain to further the development of many of those districts which have hitherto remained practically untouched. The political difficulties with Chile have been alluded to in the note on that Republic.
URUGUAY From the political point of view there is nothing of importance to record in Uruguay. Notwithstanding the advanced social enactments of the Government, strikes are still prevalent from time to time, one of the most notable of last year being that of the telephone employees.
Considerable progress has been made with the transport links with Argentina, and, in addition to the aviation service, a more rapid steamship service is now available between Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
Commercially, much the same circumstances have affected Uruguay as Argentina, and the low prices ruling in the cattle market have adversely affected the Uruguayan landed interests.
Quite lately some notable marble quarries have been discovered in the neighbourhood of Colonia.
A new treaty in connexion with coastal trade has been inaugurated between this Republic and Argentina.
OTHER REPUBLICS. In the remaining Republics of Latin America there is little of importance to record. In Venezuela a spirit of industrial enterprise has become evident; in Nicaragua the formidable volcano of Santiago was in constant eruption during the month of September; in Paraguay civil war between the Government and the rebels continued well-nigh throughout the whole of the year; and in Guatemala General José Maria Orellana was elected President.
On the whole, it may be said that the entire continent is awaiting the reconstruction of the finances of the world in general before being in a position to resume the natural prosperity due to its own products and resources. The condition of nearly all the Republics, however, has been one of tranquillity.
AUSTRALASIA: THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA-NEW
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA, DURING 1922 the chief problems faced by Australians were curiously similar to those in the United Kingdom. On the economic side, there was the unwillingness of organised Labour to assent to wage reductions necessitated by the fall in world values. In politics, there was the effort to oust a “ Win the War" Government, which finally necessitated a General Election in December.
The difficulty of adjusting wages to falling prices was the greater problem, because the level of wages in Australia is largely determined by minimum wage awards in the Federal Arbitration Court, the basis being the 78. a day laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins in the Harvesters' Case in 1907. Early in 1922 the high wage level threatened to bring about a paralysis
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of the manufacturing industries. Thus, the greater part of the steel industry at Newcastle in New South Wales was forced to close down. During 1921 there had been similar decisions regarding the Mount Lyell Mine in Tasmania and the Mount Morgan Mine in Queensland. In both cases the workers, when faced with a reduction of wages, replied that the matter was one for the Arbitration Court. In New South Wales, the wage problem was further complicated because in February, 1922, Mr. Dooley, the Labour Premier, announced that his Government, if successful at the polls, would legislate to maintain a basic wage of 41. 58. for the whole of 1922. Such action would have removed the determination of the living wage from an independent court of law to the Governments of the day in the various Australian States. The problem of the adjustment of wages to falling prices was now so complex that Mr. Hughes, the Australian Prime Minister, called an Economic Conference, including representatives of capital and labour, which met in Sydney on February 22. The Trade Unions of Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland refused to send delegates. The masters were represented by members of the Central Council of Employers, the Commonwealth Steamship Owners' Association, the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd., the Mines and Metals Association, the Associated Chambers of Manufacturers, the Collieries Proprietors' Association, and the Graziers' Federal Council of Australia. The employees' representatives were drawn from the Trades and Labour Councils of Sydney, Hobart, and Perth, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, the Coal and Shale Employees' Federation, and the Australasian Society of Engineers. There were acrimonious debates, in the course of which the Labour delegates insisted that the masters should accept the principle that all unemployment should be met by an insurance provided by the industry. The delegates of the masters promised to recommend employers to adopt this proposal and also accepted the principle of a minimum wage. On the other hand, the proposals of the masters included the abolition of all limitation on output, no reduction of hours below forty-eight hours a week, and piece-work and profit-sharing where possible. In place of the existing wage arbitration system, the employers suggested a single Court, composed of Federal and State Judges, to determine hours and minimum wages and systematise awards for the whole of Australia. The Labour delegates took strong objection to the suggested fortyeight hours week, saying that any attempt to lengthen the working week beyond forty-four hours was a retrograde step. Their own proposal for meeting the crisis was the socialisation of industry, with workers' control. In the meantime, a commission, including Federal and State representatives and delegates nominated by employers and Trade Unions, should be appointed, with instructions to respect the three basic claims of the workers: No reduction in wages or lengthening of hours;