Argentina’s historical experience was strongly influenced by an upper class largely of European descent that emerged from the colonial period. By its independence in 1816, Argentine society was largely formed around the metropolis of Buenos Aires, the primary port through which the produce of the pampas was shipped to foreign markets. Argentina’s economic development during much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was characterized by heavy involvement in international trade, largely in commodities such as beef and grains. Unlike much of the Argentine political elite and most of his fellow officers, Colonel Juan Domingo Perón astutely comprehended the importance of the working class as an untapped and unchannelled political force. Through his position as secretary of labor, the colonel soon campaigned for, and received, working-class support. Dissatisfaction with most of the civilian political elite, the ongoing “threat” of Peronism, and the failure of democratic experimentation, led the military to consider corporatist ideas of governing society and managing the economy.