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By W. Albert

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Clearly then, railways were a crucial factor in opening up Brazil. But at what cost? It has been argued that because lines were built essentially to connect areas of export production to the ports no national system was established and the wider impact of the railways was therefore limited. Mattoon [1977] contends that although the potential for economic and social transformation was 48 Table x Railway Development in Bra;:;iI1854-1930 km oftrack in operation in theyear ending: 1854 15 1900 15,316 1860 223 1910 21,326 1870 745 1920 28,535 1880 3398 1930 32,478 1890 9973 Sources: L.

Because of the coffee plant's extreme sensitivity to frost and to substantial variations in yield, output tends to vary quite markedly from one year to the next, resulting in either glut or scarcity on the world market. At the same time, the demand for coffee tended to be relatively inelastic, the quantity sold not varying significantly with changes 51 in prices . These factors combined to make the profitability of coffee production extremely uncertain. To make matters worse, planters had little access to long-term loans and therefore became heavily indebted, especially in bad years, to export merchants and other middlemen.

He maintains that the growth of Buenos Aires' foreign trade provided improved market opportunities for products from the interior, and that it was mainly inadequate transport facilities which prevented dynamic development in the more distant provinces. This argument needs to be substantiated in greater detail. Rosas was overthrown in 1852, a decade later provincial unity was established by Mitre, and national unification was finally achieved in 1880 when Buenos Aires became the Argentine capital.

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