From colonization to agreements with Chile

The European penetration in Argentina began in 1516, the year in which Juan Díaz de Solís touched the estuary of the Río de la Plata. The territories of the Río de la Plata, definitively occupied by the Spaniards in 1536, when Buenos Aires was founded, were governed until 1591 with the adelantados system, then with that of the governorate. Only in 1602 did the colony obtain the first export permit from Spain, which favored its development. In 1776 it was elevated to the viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, then subdivided into 8 administrations, at the head of each of which was an intendant governor.

The first aspirations for independence matured in the Napoleonic era: in 1806-07 it was the local forces, with S. de Liniers, who successfully fought the English and in May 1810 the patriots replaced Viceroy B. Cisneros with a provisional government council of the Río della Plata ‘. Thus took place the definitive detachment from Spain, but strong internal conflicts immediately emerged, due on the one hand to the differences between the conservative C. Saavedra and the democrat M. Moreno, and on the other to the tendency towards caudillism, a phenomenon widespread throughout Latin America whereby the political direction of a country was entrusted to the military leader who had seized power with a coup d’état. Independence officially proclaimed at the congress of Tucumán (9 July 1816), endowed on 11 May 1819 with a republican and moderately liberal Constitution, the Argentina experienced a period of severe anarchy (1819-21), from which he came out thanks to B. Rivadavia, but with the sad legacy of a bitter struggle between federalists and unitaries, which continued even after the ferocious dictatorship of JM de Rosas, which resulted in detachment of Buenos Aires and closed only in 1862, with the advent of President B. Miter, who was able to successfully enter the fight between JJ de Urquiza and M. Derqui. Shortly after, with the long war against Paraguay (1865-70), the phase of international conflicts in which the Argentina had participated: the age-old border question with Chile was peacefully settled through the agreements of 1881 and 1896.

The tension with the USA and Perón’s politics

Internal politics centered on the contrasts between the radical party, which ruled from 1916 to 1930 and had its greatest exponent in H. Irigoyen, and the conservative party (later called national democrat). Opposed Irigoyen by a coup d’état, power passed to the concordancia group (coalition of conservatives, radicals, dissidents and independent socialists) with presidents Argentina Justo (1932-38) and R. Ortiz (1938-42). When the Second World War broke out, the Argentina accentuated the policy of autonomy from the USA and, while accepting ‘continental solidarity’ (conferences of Lima, 1938, and of Rio de Janeiro, 1941), he strove to remain neutral towards the powers of the Tripartite, especially under the vice-presidency of R. Castillo (July 1940). The tension with the USA, and with other American states, intensified after the military coups of June 4 and 7, 1943, carried out by P. Ramírez, in favor of the Axis, and only eased when EJ Farrell declared war on Germany and to Japan(March 27, 1945) and adhered to the Chapultepec Act (1945), obtaining admission to the San Francisco conference (signing of the United Nations Pact, September 8, 1945). Meanwhile, the political rise of Colonel JD Perón had begun, who in 1946 obtained victory in the presidential elections, in the wake of the nationalist reaction against ‘North American pressure’, and managed to gradually strengthen his power, also favored by the popularity of his wife Eva Duarte, called Evita. On 11 March 1949 the Constituent Assembly voted a new Constitution inspired by nationalistic ideals and with the aim of strengthening presidential authority (claim of the Falkland Islands, economic autarky and social reforms, limitation of freedom of discussion and of the press) and on 11 November 1951 Perón was re-elected president. While the currency suffered a strong devaluation, following the huge military expenses, opposition grew between the conservative and Catholic strata. In June 1955 there was a first attempt at revolt by naval aviation, which was forcefully rejected by the Peronists; three months later, a new naval uprising, supported by units of the army and air force, was successful: Perón fled to Paraguay and the presidency was assumed by General E. Lonardi, ousted a few months later by General PE Aramburu. The provisional government immediately tried to restore democratic normality, but the masses of workers, who had seen their standard of living rise, proved loyal to the deposed dictator. The elections of March 1958 gave victory to the so-called intransigents of Argentina Frondizi, who proved to be able to exploit the conflicts within the armed forces, divided between coup leaders and legalists, but he attracted criticism from the Peronists and the left for having reinstated the privileges taken from the Church by Perón. For Argentina history, please check

The economic crisis and military dictatorships

Despite the efforts made to restore the national economy, at the end of 1961 the economic crisis always seemed acute. When then, in the regional elections of 1962, the Peronist party Frente Justicialista, readmitted to legality, obtained a surprising victory, Frondizi was deposed by the military, led by General JC Onganía. The government of the country then passed into the hands of the president of the senate JM Guido, and from 1963 into those of Argentina Illía, winner of the July elections with the Unión cívica radical del pueblo. But the worsening of the economic situation and Illía’s attempt to reconcile the Peronists led to a new military coup (1966) and to the dictatorial regime of General Onganía. The opposition intensified; armed groups dedicated to urban warfare were formed; strong tensions in the Peronist movement also led to the split of the powerful Confederación general del trabajo(CGT), between an Orthodox wing and a more left-oriented one. In 1970 a new military coup overthrew Onganía which was succeeded by General RM Levingston, followed, on March 25, 1971, by General Argentina Lanusse. He tried to start a work of national pacification and announced general elections for 10 March 1973. But that date marked the resounding success of H. Cámpora, a very faithful lieutenant of Perón who soon resigned to make way for the latter. Returning to Argentina from the long Spanish exile, Perón was then confirmed as president by a triumphal popular consultation. Perón’s young wife, ME Martínez, known as Isabelita, was appointed to the vice-presidency, in charge of ensuring continuity in case of impediment of the now elderly president. This singular event, defined as a ‘consensual coup d’état’, had the approval of the military and the political opposition. When Perón died, on July 1, 1974, he was succeeded, as expected, by his wife, who confirmed in the role of secretary to the presidency the Minister of Social Welfare JL Rega, belonging to the conservative wing of the party and disliked by young Peronists. Antigovernment guerrilla activity resumed, while the extreme right-wing squads called Argentine anticommunist Alianza(AAA) created a widespread climate of terror. Decreed a state of siege as early as 1974, the following year Rega, accused of inspiring the action of the AAA, was forced to resign. Meanwhile, the economic situation recorded a surge in inflation and the worsening of the conflict between the CGT and the government.

In the face of worsening social instability, a new government was formed and the Ministry of the Interior entrusted to the military, while General JR Videla took advantage of the total crisis of the institutions to carry out a coup d’état in 1976. Significant was the presentation of an economic plan characterized by the reversal of the positions of the Peronists, that is, favorable to the investments of foreign capital and the blocking of inflation, in a general framework of return to an economy based on large farms and large land ownership. The military also launched a harsh repressive regime against all political opposition, reaching the most extreme points through the phenomenon of the ‘disappearance’ of political opponents (tens of thousands of disappeared) with negative consequences also on US investments. The failure of Videla’s economic policy led to his replacement with General RE Viola (1981), who was soon succeeded by General L. Galtieri. Faced with the worsening of the economic situation and the growing protest against the regime, in the spring of 1982 Galtieri attempted the diversion of the nationalist mobilization and decided to invade the FalklandIslands. The defeat of the Argentine troops accelerated the decomposition of the regime; Galtieri was forced to resign and his replacement, R. Bignone, was pushed by popular pressure to announce the return to democracy.

Argentina Recent History

Argentina Recent History
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