In 1881 President Roca offered for public purchase by auction the lands in the southwest of the province of Buenos Aires, the Pampa Central, and the Neuquen district, these lands having been rendered habitable after the campaign of 1878 against the Indians.
It was evident that the president intended to use all the influence which the party in power could exercise, to secure the return of General Julio Roca, who had distinguished himself in 1878 by a successful campaign against the warlike Indian tribes bordering on the Andes.
After several skirmishes, the national army commanded by General Roca, containing many troops seasoned in Indian campaigns, assaulted the portenos posted before Buenos Aires, and after two days' hard fighting (20th and 21st July) forced its way into the town.
Hitherto General Roca had been regarded only in his capacity as a soldier, and not from the point of view of an administrator.
One of the first notable acts of the Roca administration was to declare the city of Buenos Aires the property of the national government.