- History of Argentina
This article is about the
historyof Argentina. See also history of South America, history of Latin America, history of the Americas, and the history of present-day nations and states.
The area now known as Argentina was relatively sparsely populated until the period of
European colonization. The Diaguitaof northwestern Argentina lived on the edges of the expanding Inca Empire; the Guaranílived farther east and north east. In the North were the Quechua peoples, and Patagonia was inhabited by other tribes known as Tehuelches. One of the most dominant Tehuelche tribes that continues to influence Argentina to this day was the Mapuche tribe, from which the famous Argentine word "che" is derived.Fact|date=June 2008
panish colonial era
Europeans first arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. The Spanish navigator
Juan Díaz de Solísvisited the territory which is now Argentinain 1516 and in 1536 the Spaniards founded a small settlement. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of what would later become the city Buenos Airesin 1580, as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Settlers initially arrived primarily overland from Peru.
The natural ports on the
Río de la Plata estuarycould not be used because all communications and commerce were meant to be made through the port of Lima, a condition that led to contrabandbecoming the normal means of commerce in cities such as Asunción, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo.
The Spanish raised the status of this region by establishing the
Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata(in Spanish: Virreinato del Río de la Plata) in 1776. This short-lived viceroyalty comprised today's Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, as well as much of present-day Bolivia. Buenos Airesbecame a flourishing port only after the creation of the Viceroyalty, as the revenues from the Potosí, the increasing maritime activity in terms of goods rather than precious metals, the production of cattlefor the exportof leatherand other products, and other political reasons, made it gradually become one of the most important commercial centers of the region.
The viceroyalty was, however, shortlived due to lack of internal cohesion among the many regions of which it was constituted and to lack of Spanish support. It collapsed when Napoleon successfully invaded
Spainand overthrew the Spanish monarchy.
British invasions of the Río de la Platain 1806 and 1807 had also boosted the confidence of the colonists after they had successfully stood up against one of the world powers.
Birth of Argentina
News of the
French Revolutionand the American Revolutionary Warbrought liberal ideas to Latin America. After the French seized power in Spain, Buenos Airesformed its own junta on May 25, 1810and invited the other provinces to join. Two states emerged in what is now Argentina:
United Provinces of South America
Liga FederalOther provinces through the reluctance of some factions and the centralist tendencies of the more radical activists delayed a combined State. In the meantime, Paraguaydeclared its independence in 1811.Military campaigns led by General José de San Martínbetween 1814 and 1817 made independence increasingly a reality. In 1820 Liga Federalwas crushed by forces of the United Provinces of South Americaand Portugal armies from Brazil and its provinces absorbed into United Provinces of South America. Argentines revere San Martín, who campaigned in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, as the hero of their national independence. On July 9, 1816, a Congress gathered in Tucumán(the Congress of Tucumán) and finally issued a formal declaration of independence from Spain. Boliviadeclared itself independent in 1825, and Uruguaywas created in 1828 as a result of the Argentina-Brazil War.
United Kingdomofficially recognized Argentinian independence in 1825, with the signing of a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation on February 2; the British chargé d'affairesin Buenos Aires, Woodbine Parish, signed on behalf of his country.
Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist "unitarios" waged a lengthy conflict against federalists to determine the future of the nation. The dominant figure of this period was the federalist
Juan Manuel de Rosas, who is generally considered a dictator. He ruled the province of Buenos Aires from 1829 to 1852 while acting as a caretaker of the external relations for the whole country, which lacked any other form of federal government. Rosas was far more concerned with establishing his own dominance in Buenos Aires than with any principled federalism. He developed a paramilitary force of his own, "La Mazorca" ("the Corncob"), which earned the federalists the derogatory nickname of "mazorqueros", while they preferred to be known as "The Holy Federation". This feared band was also nicknamed "más horca" ("more gallows"), which is a homophone of "La Mazorca" in Spanish.
After a revolution under General
Justo José de Urquiza, a defecting federalist supported by Uruguayand Brazil, Argentinenational unity was at least nominally established, and a constitution promulgated in 1853. The constitution was strongly defended in moving oratory by the patriot and Franciscan Mamerto Esquiú, after whom one of the country's departments is named.
During the early part of this period, Argentina was largely a country of Spanish immigrants and their descendants, known as "criollos". Some of them gathered in
Buenos Airesand other cities, others living on the " pampas" as gauchos. Descendants of African slaves were present in significant numbers, but most eventually merged with the general population. Indigenous peoples inhabited the mountainous northwestern and the southern regions.The rural economy at this time was based almost entirely on animal husbandry (cattle and sheep). While Argentina's fertile lands were ideal for the cultivation of cereal crops, the country lacked a large enough labor force to support an arable sector. As a consequence, capital-intensive economic activities such as livestock raising dominated domestic production. Meanwhile Indians continued to menace the Southern frontier. As Borges has written, Argentinahad achieved its independence from Spain, but the Spanish conquest of Argentinawas still incomplete. Economically, as Fernand Braudelsuggested (1984, p. 413 [ Braudel, Fernand, 1984. "The Perspective of the World", vol. III of "Civilization and Capitalism" (1979)] ), Argentina exchanged Spanish masters for a new dependence on British capital as the end of Spanish rule was followed by heavy investment by the City of London, in 1824-1825 (see also Economy of Argentina).
The emergence of modern Argentina
Two forces combined to create the modern Argentine nation in the late 19th century: the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and integration of Argentina into the world economy.
Foreign investmentand immigrationfrom Europe aided this economic revolution. Investment, primarily British, came in such fields as railroads and ports, but the foreign owners expected to retain control. The migrants who worked to develop Argentina's resources, especially the western pampas, came from throughout Europe, just as in the United States.
By 1859, the unity of Argentina was largely secured, although it would be two decades more before the centralists completed their victory over the federalists. In 1862, the National Assembly selected the liberal politician
Bartolomé Mitreas president; in 1868, he was succeeded by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento.
During this period (1865–1870), the bloody
War of the Triple Alliancewas fought by Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay against Paraguay. In the following decade, General Julio Argentino Rocaestablished Buenos Aires's dominance over the "pampas" (see Conquest of the Desert) and the "unitarios" victory over the federalists; in 1880, Roca became president.
The years from 1880 to 1929 brought Argentina increased economic prosperity, mainly by way of export-led growth. The economy was increasingly oriented towards export of agricultural commodities, particularly goods like beef and wheat, while the growth of domestic industry remained hindered by imports of cheap manufactured products. While international demand for Argentine agricultural goods was central to economic development, equally important was the inflow of foreign capital, particularly from Great Britain. At that time, Argentina received some of the highest levels of foreign investment in Latin America. In the midst of this economic expansion, the Law 1420 of Common Education of 1884 guaranteed universal, free, non-religious education to all children.
Roca's government and those that followed were aligned with the Argentine
oligarchy, especially the great land owners. In 1890, while Argentina was strongly affected by the Long Depression, members of the Civic Unionengaged themselves in the Revolution of the Park, a failed uprising against the presidency of Miguel Juárez Celman( National Autonomist Party). Though it failed in its main goals, the revolution forced Juárez Celman's resignation and marked the decline of the elite of the Generation of '80. Clarín. [http://www.clarin.com/diario/especiales/yrigoyen/textos/rev_1890.htm "Yrigoyen, de la Ley Sáenz Peña al Golpe de Estado"] .]
From about 1900, Argentine nationalism began to identify Argentina with
Europeand the United States of America rather than with the rest of Latin America. In 1904, Alfredo Palacios, a member of Juan B. Justo's Socialist Party (founded in 1896), became the first Socialist deputee of Argentina, as a representant of the workers' neighborhood La Bocaof Buenos Aires. He helped create many laws including the Ley Palacios against sexual exploitation, and others regulating child and woman labor, working hours and Sunday rest.
In 1912, President
Roque Sáenz Peña, one of the most progressive among the conservatives, established universal, secret and obligatory male suffrage with the Law 8,871.
Yrigoyen's administration and the Radicals
Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, led by
Hipólito Yrigoyen, won control of the government through the first national elections made at universal suffrage. 745,000 citizens were allowed to vote, on a total population of 7,5 millions (immigrants, which represented much of the population, were not allowed to vote), of which 400,000 abstained themselves [ Felipe Pigna, "Los Mitos de la Historia Argentina, 3", 2006, ed. Planeta, p.38 ] . Yrigoyen, however, only obtained 45% of the votes, which did not allow him a majority in Parliament, where the conservatives remained the first force. Thus, on 80 draft laws proposed by the executive, only 26 were voted by the conservative majority [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.42 ] . The moderate agricultural reform was refused by the Parliament, as well as a tax on interests and the creation of a Bank of the Republic (which was to have the missions of the current Central Bank) [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.42] .
Despite this conservative opposition, the
Radical Civic Union(UCR), with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina's expanding middle class as well as to social groups previously excluded from power. Yrigoyen's policy was to "fix" the system, by enacting necessary reforms which would enable the agroindustrial export model to preserve itself [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.39] . It alterned moderate social reforms with repression of the social movements. In 1918, an estudiantine movement started at the University of Cordoba, which eventually led to the University Reform, which quickly spread to the rest of America. In May '68, French students recalled the Cordoba movement [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.51] .
Thus, on one hand, the Tragic Week of January 1919, during which the
Argentine Regional Workers' Federation(FORA, founded in 1901) had called for a general strike after a police shooting, ended up in 700 killed and 4,000 injured [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.88] . General Luis Dellepianemarched on Buenos Aires to re-establish civil order. Despite being called for by some to initiate a coup against Yrigoyen, he remained loyal to the President, at the sole condition that the latter would allow him a free hand on the repression of the demonstrations. Social movements thereafter continued in the "Forestal" British company, and in Patagonia, where Hector Varela headed the military repression, assisted by the Argentine Patriotic League, killing 1,500 [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.100 ] .
On the other hand, Yrigoyen's administration enacted the Labor Code establishing the
right to strikein 1921, implemented minimum wages laws and collective contracts. It also initiated the creation of the " Dirección General de Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales" (YPF), the oil state company, in June 1922. Radicalism rejected class struggleand vouched for social conciliation [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.44 ] .
Meanwhile, the Radicals continued Argentina's neutrality policy during
World War I, despite the United States' urge to push them into declaring war to the Triple Alliance. Neutrality enabled Argentina to export goods to Europe, in particular to Great Britain, as well as to issue credit to the belligerent powers. Germany sank two Argentine civilian ships, "Monte Protegido" on April 4, 1917 and the "Toro", but the diplomatic incident only ended with the expulsion of the German ambassador, Karl von Luxburg. Yrigoyen organized a Conference of Neutral Powers in Buenos Aires, to oppose the United States' attempt to bring American states in the European war, and also supported Sandino's resistance in Nicaragua [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.58] .
In September 1922, Yrigoyen's administration refused to follow the "
cordon sanitaire" policy enacted against the Soviet Union, and, basing itself on the assistance given to Austria after the war, decided to send to the USSR a 5 millions pesos assistance [ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.59] .
The same year, Yrigoyen was replaced by his rival inside the UCR,
Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear, an aristocrat, who defeated Norberto Piñero's " Concentración Nacional" (conservatives) with 458,457 votes against 200,080. Alvear brought to his cabinet personalities belonging to the traditional ruling classes, such as José Nicolás Matienzoat the Interior Ministry, Ángel Gallardoat Foreign Relations, Agustín P. Justoat the War Ministry, Manuel Domecq Garcíaat the Marine and Rafael Herrera Vegasat the Haciendas. Alvera's supporters founded the " Unión Cívica Radical Antipersonalista", opposed to Yrigoyen's party.
During the early 1920s, the rise of the anarchist movement, fueled by the arrival of recent emigres and deportees from Europe, spawned a new generation of left-wing activism in Argentina. The new left, mostly anarchists and
anarcho-communists, rejected the incremental progressivism of the old Radical and Socialist elements in Argentina in favor of immediate action. The extremists, such as Severino Di Giovanni, openly espoused violence and 'propaganda by the deed'. A wave of bombings and shootouts with police culiminated in an attempt to assassinate U.S. President Herbert Hooveron his visit to Argentina in 1928.
In 1921, the
counter-revolutionary" Logia General San Martín" was founded, and diffused nationalist ideas in the military until its dissolution in 1926. Three years later, the misnamed " Liga Republicana" (Republican League) was founded by Roberto de Laferrere, on the model of Mussolini's Black shirts. The Argentinian Right found its major influences in the 19th century Spanish writer Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayoand in the French royalist Charles Maurras[ Felipe Pigna, 2006, p.125-128 ] . Also in 1922, the poet Leopoldo Lugones, who had turned towards fascism, made a famous speech in Lima, known as "the time of the sword", in presence of the War Minister and future dictator Agustín P. Justo, which called for a military coup and the establishment of a military dictatorship.
Yrigoyen was re-elected in 1928, defeating the Antipersonalistas' candidate,
Leopoldo Melo, who was also supported by the Confederation of the Right-wings, formed after a gathering organised by Julio Argentino Roca, Jr..
The Infamous Decade of the 1930s
In 1929, Argentina had the world's 4th highest
per capita GDP. These years of prosperity ended with the Crash of 1929and the ensuing worldwide Great Depression. In 1930, a military coup, supported by the Argentine Patriotic League, forced aged Hipólito Yrigoyen from power, and replaced him by José Félix Uriburu. Support for the coup was bolstered by the sagging Argentine economy as well as a string of bomb attacks and shootings involving radical anarchists, which alienated moderate elements of Argentine society and angered the conservative right, who had long been agitating for decisive action by the military forces.
The military coup initiated the period known as the "
Infamous Decade", characterised by electoral fraud, persecution of the political opposition (mainly against the UCR) and generalised government corruption, against the background of the Great Depression.
Roca-Runciman Treatypassed between Argentina and Great Britain, which greatly favourized the British economy, was strongly denounced by the leftist FORJA, headed by Arturo Jauretcheand other opponents to Marcelo Alvear's decision, in 1934, to end with the UCR's absentionist stance towards Agustín Pedro Justo's military regime (1932-1938).
The collapse of international trade led to industrial growth focused on
import substitution, leading to a stronger economic independence (relatively, because oil production in the country was dominated by foreign companies, mostly from the U.S., something that Yrigoyen wanted to stop and one of the reasons for the external support of the military coup). At the same time, a climate of increasing political conflict arose, with confrontation between right-wing fascists and leftist radicals, with military-oriented conservatives controlling the government. Though many claimed the polls to be fraudulent, Roberto Ortizwas elected president in 1937 and took office the next year, but due to his fragile health he was followed (de-facto in 1940; de-jure in 1942) by his vice-president Ramón Castillo. Argentina was officially neutral during most of World War IIalthough the public remained divided. However, the military governments that ruled during the period 1943-1946 favoured the Axis Powers, although towards the end of the war Argentina entered on the Alliedside.
The rise of Juan and Eva Perón (1945-1955)
Using fraud and force when necessary, the governments of the 1930s (retrospectively known as "Década Infame", the Infamous Decade) attempted to contain the currents of economic and political change that eventually led to the ascendance of
Juan Domingo Perón. New social and political forces were seeking political power, including a modern military and labor movements that emerged from the growing urban working class.
The military ousted Argentina's constitutional government in 1943. Perón, then an army colonel, was quickly promoted to Secretary of War, but focused mainly on unions, supporting such groups as the
General Confederation of Labour(CGT). However the military Junta felt threatened by his spreading popularity among the huge masses. He was arrested and jailed without a charge. However, a historic protest of October 17, 1945, led by the CGT and other unions led to Perón's release and eventual victory in elections on February 20, 1946. He aggressively pursued policies aimed at giving an economic and political voice to the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. In 1947, Perón announced the first five-year plan based on the growth of nationalized industries. Perón's dynamic wife, Eva Perón, known as Evita, was a former actress from a working class background. Evita helped her husband develop strength with labor and women's groups. Through her influence, women obtained the right to vote in 1947. Her death from cancer in 1952 cost Perón a key political ally.
In 1949, Perón pushed through a
constitutional amendmentto allow him to run for a second term, which he won in 1952, but a military coup (" Revolución Libertadora") led by Eduardo Lonardideposed him in 1955. He was forced into exile, eventually settling in Francoist Spain. Even in exile, he remained popular with the Argentine masses.
The "Revolución Libertadora", a Catholic nationalist putsch (1955-1958)
In Argentina, the 1950s and 1960s were marked by frequent
coups d'état, low economic growth in the 1950s and high growth rates in the 1960s. Argentina faced problems of continued social and labor demands. Argentine painter Antonio Berni's works reflected the social tragedies of these times, painting in particular life in the " villas miseria" (shanty towns).
Following the "
Revolución Libertadora" military coup, Eduardo Lonardiheld power only briefly and was succeeded by Pedro Aramburu, president from November 13, 1955to May 1, 1958. In June 1956, two Peronist generals, Juan José Valleand Raul Tanco, attempted a coup against Aramburu, criticizing an important purge in the army, the abrogation of social reforms and persecution against trade-union leaders. They also demanded liberation of all political and labor activists and the return to the constitutional order. The uprising was quickly crushed: General Valle and other members of the military were executed, and twenty civilians were arrested at their homes and their bodies thrown in the León Suarez dumping ground.
Along with the June 1955 "Casa Rosada" bombing on the
Plaza de Mayo, the León Suarez massacreis one of the important events that started a cycle of violence. Pedro Aramburu was later kidnapped and executed for this massacre, in 1970, by Fernando Abal Medina, Emilio Angel Maza, Mario Firmenichand others, who would later form the " Montoneros" movement. [Julio A. Troxler, a "revolutionary Peronist", was one of the few men who escaped the massacre. All the others were dumped in León Suarez, in Buenos Aires Province. Rodolfo Walshnoted Troxler's testimony in "Operation Massacre". In 1973, under Cámpora's government, Troxler became Buenos Aires police chief, but was assassinated by the Triple A during Isabel Perón's government. Rodolfo Walsh was murdered after Videla's 1976 coup.]
In 1956, special elections were held to reform the constitution. The Radical Party under
Ricardo Balbínwon a majority, although 25% of all ballots were turned in blank as a protest by the banned Peronist party. Also in support of Peronism, the left wing of the Radical Party, led by Arturo Frondizi, left the Constitutional Assembly. The Assembly was severely damaged by that defection and was only able to restore the Constitution of 1853 with the sole addition of the Article 14 "bis", which enumerated some social rights.
Presidency of Frondizi (1958-1962)
Frondizi, UCRI's candidate, won the presidential elections of 1958, obtaining approximately 4,000,000 votes against 2,500,000 for Ricardo Balbín (with 800,000 neutral votes). From
Caracas, Peron supported Frondizi and called upon his supporters to vote for him, as a means toward the end of prohibition of the Peronist movement and the re-establishment of the workers' social legislation voted during Peron's leadership.
On one hand, Frondizi appointed
Álvaro Alsogarayas Minister of Economy to placate powerful agrarian interests and other conservatives. A member of the powerful military dynasty Alsogaray, Álvaro, who had already been Minister of Industry under Aramburu's military rule, devalued the peso and imposed credit control.
On the other hand, Frondizi followed a laic program, which rose concerns among the Catholic nationalist forces, leading to the organization, between 1960 and 1962, of the far-right
Tacuara Nationalist Movement.
The Tacuara, the "first
urban guerrillagroup in Argentina" [ Daniel Gutman, "Tacuara, historia de la primera guerrilla urbana argentina" ] , engaged in several anti-semitic bombings, in particular following Adolf Eichmann's sequestration by the MOSSADin 1960. During the visit of Dwight Eisenhowerto Argentina, in February 1962 (Eisenhower had been until 1961 President of the United States), the Tacuara headed nationalist demonstrations against him, leading to the imprisonment of several of their leaders, among whom Joe Baxter[ [http://www.irlandeses.org/dilab_baxterj.htm Baxter, José Luis] entry at the " Dictionary of Irish Latin American Biography" en icon] .
1962 coup and Guido's interim
However, Frondizi's government ended in 1962 with intervention yet again by the military, after a series of local elections were won by the Peronist candidates.
José María Guido, chairman of the senate, claimed the presidency on constitutional grounds before the deeply divided Armed Forces were able to agree on a name.
Presidency of Illia (1963-1966)
In new elections in 1963, neither Peronists nor Communists were allowed to participate.
Arturo Illiaof the Radical People's Party won these elections; regional elections and by-elections over the next few years favored Peronists.
On the other hand, the Tacuara were outlawed by Illia in 1965, some of its members ultimately turning to the Peronist Left (such as
Joe Baxter) while other remained on their far-right positions (such as Alberto Ezcurra Uriburu, who would work with the Triple A).
The military dictatorship (from Onganía to Lanusse, 1966-1973)
Along with worker unrest, this led to another coup in June 1966, misnamed as the "
Revolución Argentina", which established General Juan Carlos Onganíaas "de facto" president, supported by several leaders of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), among whom the general secretary Augusto Vandor. This led to a series of military-appointed presidents and the implementation of neoliberal policies, supported by multinationals, employers' federation, part of the more or less corrupt workers' movement, and the press.
While preceding military coups were aimed at establishing temporary, transitional "
junta"s, the "Revolución Argentina" headed by Onganía aimed at establishing a new political and social order, opposed both to liberal democracyand Communism, which gave to the Armed Forces of Argentinaa leading, political role in the economic rationalization of the country. The political scientist Guillermo O'Donnellnamed this type of regime "authoritarian-bureaucratic state" [ Guillermo O'Donnell, "El Estado Burocrático Autoritario", (1982)] , in reference both to the "Revolución Argentina", the Brazilian military regime (1964-1985), Augusto Pinochet's regime (starting in 1973) and Juan María Bordaberry's regime in Uruguay.
Onganía's Minister of Economy,
Adalbert Krieger Vasena, decreed a freeze of wages' increase and a 40% devaluation, which strongly affected the state of the Argentinian economy, in particular of the agricultural sector, favorizing foreign capital. Vasena suspended collective labour conventions, reformed the hydrocarburs law which had established a partial monopoly of the " Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales" (YPF) state enterprise, as well as passing a law facilitating expulsions in case of fault of payment of rent. Finally, the right to strikewas suspended (Law 16,936) and several other laws reversed progress made concerning labor lawsthrough-out the preceding years.
The workers' movement divided itself between Vandoristas, who supported a "Peronism without Peron" line (Vandor declared that "to save Perón, one has to be against Perón") and advocated negotiation with the junta, and Peronists, themselves divided.
In July 1966, Onganía ordered the violent dislodge of five faculties of the
Universidad de Buenos Aires(UBA) in Argentinaon July 29 1966by the Federal Police, an event known as " La Noche de los Bastones Largos" ("The Night of the Long Police Sticks"). The faculties had been taken by the students, professors and graduates (members of the autonomous government of the university) who opposed the military government's measure of intervening the universities and revoke the regime of the 1918 university reform. The university repression led to the exile of 301 university professors, among whom Manuel Sadosky, Tulio Halperín Donghi, Sergio Bagúand Risieri Frondizi[Marta Slemenson et al, "Emigración de científicos argentinos. Organización de un éxodo a América Latina "(?, Buenos Aires, 1970:118) ] .
End of May 1968, General
Julio Alsogaraydissented from Onganía, and rumors spread about a possible coup d'état, Algosaray leading the conservative opposition to Onganía. Finally, at the end of the month, Onganía dismissed the leaders of the Armed Forces: Alejandro Lanussereplaced Julio Alsogaray, Pedro Gnavireplaced Benigno Varela, and Jorge Martínez Zuviríareplaced Adolfo Alvarez.
On 19 September 1968, two important events affected Revolutionary Peronism. On one hand,
John William Cooke, former personal delegate of Perón and ideologist of the Peronist Left, as well as a friend of Fidel Castro, died from natural causes. On the other hand, a small group (13 men and one woman) who aimed at establishing a " foco" in Tucuman Province, in order to head the resistance against the junta, was captured Oscar R. Anzorena, "Tiempo de violencia y utopía (1966-1976)", Editorial Contrapunto, 1987, p.48 es icon ] . Among them, Envar El Kadre, then a leader of the Peronist Youth.
In 1969, the "
CGT de los Argentinos" (CGTA, headed by the graphist Raimundo Ongaro) headed social movements, in particular the Cordobazo, as well as other movements in Tucuman and Santa Fe. While Perón managed a reconciliation with Augusto Vandor, head of the CGT Azopardo, he followed, in particular through the voice of his delegate Jorge Paladino, a cautious line of opposition to the military junta, criticizing with moderation the neoliberal policies of the junta but waiting for discontent inside the government ("hay que desencillar hasta que aclare", said Perón, advocating patience). Thus, Onganía had an interview with 46 CGT delegates, among whom Vandor, who agreed on "participationism" with the military junta, thus uniting themselves with the "Nueva Corriente de Opinión" headed by José Alonso and Rogelio Coria.
In December 1969, more than 20 priests, members of the "
Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer Mundo" (MSTM, Movement of Priests for the Third World), marched on the " Casa Rosada" to present to Onganía a petition pleading him to abandon the eradication plan of " villas miserias" (shanty towns) Oscar Anzorena, 1987, p.49 ] .
Meanwhile, Onganía implemented
corporatismpolicies, experimenting in particular in Cordoba, underneath Carlos Caballero's governance. The same year, the Movement of Priests for the Third World issued a declaration supporting Socialist revolutionary movements, which lead to the Catholic hierarchy, by the voice of Juan Carlos Aramburu, coadjutor archbishop of Buenos Aires, to proscribe priests from making political or social declarations Oscar Anzorena, 1987, p.53 ] .
Various armed actions, headed by the "
Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación" (FAL), composed by former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, occurred in April 1969, leading to several arrests among FAL members. These were the first left-wing urban guerrillaactions in Argentina. Beside these isolated actions, the Cordobazouprising of 1969, called forth by the CGT de los Argentinos, and its Cordobese leader, Agustín Tosco, prompted demonstrations in the entire country. The same year, the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP) was formed as the military branch of the Trotskyist Workers' Revolutionary Party, leading an armed struggle against the dictatorship.
The last of the military presidents "de facto",
Alejandro Lanusse, was appointed in 1971 and attempted to re-establish democracy amidst an atmosphere of continuing Peronist worker protests.
Juan and Isabel Perón return from exile
March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections for the first time in ten years. Perón was prevented from running, but voters elected his stand-in, Dr. Hector Cámpora, as President. Cámpora defeated his Radical Civic Unionopponent. Cámpora acceded to his functions on May 25, which was saluted by a massive popular gathering of the Peronist Youth movement, Montoneros, FAR and FAP ("Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas") in the Plaza de Mayo. Cámpora assumed a strong stance against right-wing Peronists, declaring during his first speech: "La sangre derramada no será negociada" ("Spilled blood will not be negotiated"). Cuban president Osvaldo Dorticós and Chilean president Salvador Allendewere present at his inauguration, while William P. Rogers, U.S. Secretary of State, and Uruguayanpresident Juan Bordaberry, could not attend, blocked in their car by demonstrators. Political prisoners were liberated on the same day, under the pressure of the demonstrators. Cámpora's government included progressive figures such as Interior Minister Esteban Righi and Education Minister Jorge Taina, but also included members of the labor and political right-wing Peronist factions, such as José López Rega, Perón's personal secretary and Minister of Social Welfare, and a member of the P2 Masonic lodge. [Miguel Bonasso, "El Presidente que no fue. Los archivos occultos del peronismo" ("The President who wasn't; the hidden archives of Peronism"), Planeta, Buenos Aires, 1997.] Perón's followers also commanded strong majorities in both houses of Congress.
Hector Cámpora's government followed a traditional Peronist economic policy, supporting the national market and redistributing wealth. One of José Ber Gelbard's first measures as minister of economics was to augment workers' wages. However, the
1973 oil crisisseriously affected Argentina's oil-dependent economy. Almost 600 social conflicts, strikes or occupations occurred in Cámpora's first month.
Amidst escalating terror from right and left alike, Perón decided to return and assume the presidency. On
June 20, 1973, two million people waited for him at Ezeiza airport. From Perón's speaking platform, camouflaged far-right gunmen, some of them from the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance("Triple A", founded by José López Rega), fired on the masses, shooting at the Peronist Youth movement and the " Montoneros", killing at least thirteen and injuring more than three hundred (this became known as the Ezeiza massacre). [Horacio Verbitsky, "Ezeiza", Contrapunto, Buenos Aires, 1985.] Cámpora and vice-president Solano Lima resigned on July 13. Deputy Raúl Alberto Lastiri, José López Rega's son-in-law and also a P2 member, was then promoted to the Presidency to organize elections. Cámpora's followers such as Chancellor Juan Carlos Puig and Interior Minister Esteban Righi were immediately replaced by Alberto J. Vignes and Benito Llambi, and the "Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo' (ERP - People's Revolutionary Army) declared a "dissolved terrorist organization". On September 23, Perón won the elections with 61.85% of the votes, with his third wife, María Estela Isabel Martínez de Perón, as vice-president.
Peronist right-wing factions won a decisive victory and Perón assumed the Presidency in October 1973, a month after Pinochet's coup in Chile. Violent acts, including by the Triple A, continued to threaten public order. On
September 25, José Ignacio Rucci, CGT trade-union's Secretary General and one of Perón's friend, was assassinated, allegedly by the Montoneros. The government resorted to a number of emergency decrees, including the implementation of special executive authority to deal with violence. This allowed the government to imprison persons indefinitely without charge.
Perón died on
July 1, 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but her administration was undermined by economic downfall (inflation was skyrocketing and GDP contracted), Peronist intra-party struggles, and growing acts of terrorism by insurgents such as the ERP and paramilitary movements. Montoneros, led by Mario Firmenich, cautiously decided to go underground after Peron's death. Isabel Perón was removed from office by the military coup on March 24, 1976.
The Dirty War
Following the coup against Isabel Perón, the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta led consecutively by Videla, Viola, Galtieri and Bignone until
December 10, 1983. These "de facto" leaders termed their government programme " National Reorganization Process". On the basis of this programme, the ruling junta tried to start economic recovery by favouring some pro-market reforms and deregulation. The aim was also to attract foreign investment.
Using the tactics adopted by the
Montoneros(left-wing Peronists) and Trotskyist Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo(People's Revolutionary Army or ERP) as justification, the armed forces, among them the " Batallón de Inteligencia 601" and SIDE, applied harsh measures against all who opposed or were suspected of opposing the dictatorship. The " ideological war" doctrine of the Argentine military focused on eliminating the social base of insurgency. In practice that meant liquidating many middle class students, intellectuals and labor organizers, most of whom had few ties to the guerrillas. By the end of the 1970s, such tactics had suppressed the insurgents, but Argentina suffered terribly from the ends-justifies-the-means attitude adopted by the military (see also Theory of the two demons). The costs of what the armed forces called the "Dirty War" were high in terms of lives lost and basic human rights violated. About 1,500 deaths may be attributed to various guerrilla attacks and assassinations. The 1984 Commission on the Disappeared documented the disappearance and probable death at the hands of the military regime of about 11,000 people, relatively few of whom were likely Montonero or ERP cadres. About 900 more disappeared during the right-wing Peronist government prior to the coup. Human rights groups estimate that over 30,000 persons became "disappeared" (i. e. arrested and secretly executed without trial) during the 1976–1983 period; still others went into exile. Few dared to speak out, except the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, mothers of the dead and disappeared, who began holding vigils in April 1977, demanding (unsuccessfully) an accounting for these crimes.
Serious economic problems, mounting charges of corruption, public revulsion in the face of human rights abuses and, finally, the country's 1982 defeat by the
United Kingdomin the Falklands Warfollowing Argentina's unsuccessful attempt to seize the Falkland Islandsall combined to discredit the Argentine military regime. Under strong public pressure, the junta lifted bans on political parties and gradually restored basic political liberties.
Beagle conflictbegan to brew in the 1960s, when Argentina began to claim that the Picton, Lennox and Nueva islands in the Beagle Channelwere rightfully hers. 1971 Chile and Argentina sign an agreement formally submitting the Beagle Channel issue to binding Beagle Channel Arbitration. On May 2, 1977 the court ruled that the islands and all adjacent formations belonged to Chile. See the [http://untreaty.un.org/cod/riaa/cases/vol_XXI/53-264.pdf Report and decision of the Court of Arbitration] .
On 25 January 1978 the Argentina military junta led by General
Jorge Videladeclared the award fundamentally null and intensified their claim over the islands. On 22. December 1978, Argentina started [See Argentine newspaper [http://www.clarin.com/suplementos/zona/1998/12/20/i-00401e.htm Clarín] of Buenos Aires, 20 December 1998] the Operation Soberaniaover the disputed islands, but the invasion was halted due to: [See Alejandro Luis Corbacho "Predicting the probability of war during brinkmanship crisis: The Beagle and the Malvinas conflicts" http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1016843 (p.45)] :: "(The newspaper Clarín explained some years later that such caution was based,) in part, on military concerns. In order to achieve a victory, certain objectives had to be reached before the seventh day after the attack. Some military leaders considered this not enough time due to the difficulty involved in transportation through the passes over the Andean Mountains."and in cite 46:: "According to Clarín, two consequences were feared. First, those who were dubious feared a possible regionalization of the conflict. Second, as a consequence, the conflict could acquire great power proportions. In the first case decisionmakers speculated that Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil might intervene. Then the great powers could take sides. In this case, the resolution of the conflict would depend not on the combatants, but on the countries that supplied the weapons."
In December that year, moments before Videla signed a declaration of war against Chile,
Pope John Paul IIagreed to mediate between the two nations. The Pope's envoy, Antonio Samoré, successfully averted war and proposed a new definitive boundary in which the three disputed islands would remain Chilean. Argentina and Chile both agreed to Samoré's proposal and signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina, ending that dispute.
The democratic transition (from 1983 to today)
October 30, 1983, Argentines went to the polls to choose a president; vice-president; and national, provincial, and local officials in elections found by international observers to be fair and honest. The country returned to constitutional rule after Raúl Alfonsín, candidate of the Radical Civic Union("Unión Cívica Radical", UCR), received 52% of the popular vote for president. He began a 6-year term of office on December 10, 1983. Five days later, he created the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP), led by Argentine writer Ernesto Sábato. However, it was also under Alfonsín's presidency that the December 24, 1986"Ley de Punto Final" (" Full Stop Law") was voted, granting amnesty to all acts committed before December 10, 1983. It would not be until June 2005's Supreme Court decision to overturn all amnesty laws that investigations could be started again [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4093018.stm] .
During the Alfonsín administration, a
Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentinawith Chile was signed and the roots of the Mercosurtrade bloc were established.
In 1985 and 1987, large turnouts for mid-term elections demonstrated continued public support for a strong and vigorous democratic system. The UCR-led government took steps to resolve some of the nation's most pressing problems, including accounting for those who disappeared during military rule, establishing civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidating democratic institutions. However, constant friction with the military, failure to resolve endemic economic problems (such as chronic
inflation), and an inability to maintain public confidence undermined the effectiveness of the Alfonsín government, which left office six months early after Peronist candidate Carlos Saúl Menem won the 1989 presidential elections.
Carlos Menemlaunched a major overhaul of Argentine domestic policy. Large-scale structural reforms dramatically reversed the role of the state in Argentine economic life. Ironically, the Peronist Menem oversaw the privatizationof many of the industries Perón had nationalized. A decisive leader pressing a controversial agenda, Menem was not reluctant to use the presidency's powers to issue "emergency" decrees (formally "decretos de necesidad y urgencia") when the Congress was unable to reach consensus on his proposed reforms. Those powers were curtailed somewhat when the constitution was reformed in 1994 as a result of the so-called Olivos Pact with the opposition Radical Party. That arrangement opened the way for Menem to seek and win reelection with 50% of the vote in the three-way 1995 presidential race. Carlos Menem's neoliberalpolicies were heavily contested, giving rise to the Piqueteromovement.
The 1995 election saw the emergence of the moderate-left FrePaSo political alliance. This alternative to the two traditional political parties in Argentina was particularly strong in Buenos Aires but lacked the national infrastructure of the Peronists and Radicals. In an important development in Argentina's political life, all three major parties in the 1999 race espoused
free marketeconomic policies. In October 1999, the UCR-FrePaSo Alliance's presidential candidate, Fernando de la Rúa, defeated Peronist candidate Eduardo Duhalde. Having taken office in December 1999, De la Rúa not only continued the previous administration's neoliberal free market economic policies but followed an IMF-sponsored program of government spending cuts, revenue increases, and provincial revenue-sharing reforms to get the federal fiscal deficitunder control. De la Rúa pursued labor law reform and business-promotion measures aimed at stimulating the economy and increasing employment, but with catastrophic results. The effects of these measures were the absolute opposite of what was expected. The recessionthat had started during the last part of Menem's term grew deeper.
The 2001 economic crisis
Towards the end of 2001, Argentina faced grave economic problems. The IMF pressed Argentina to service its
external debt, effectively forcing Argentina to devalue the Argentine peso, which had been pegged to the U.S. dollar. On November 1, 2001, as people's fears that the peso would be devalued caused massive withdrawal of bank deposits and capital flight, de la Rúa's Minister of Economy Domingo Cavallopassed regulations severely limiting withdrawals, effectively freezing the peso-denominated assets of the Argentine middle class, while the dollar-denominated foreign accounts of the wealthy were shielded from devaluation. (The freezing of the bank accounts was informally named " corralito".)
The overall economy declined drastically during December 2001. The resulting riots led to dozens of deaths. The Minister of Economy Domingo Cavallo resigned, but that did not prevent the collapse of De la Rúa's administration. On
December 20de la Rúa also resigned, but the political crisis was extremely serious, as a result of the previous resignation of the vice-president Carlos "Chacho" Álvarez in 2000. The president of the Senate became interim president until the National Congress elected, two days later, Adolfo Rodríguez Saáto finish De la Rúa's term. But Rodríguez Saá resigned a week later on December 31, leaving the power to the president of the Chamber of Deputies (as the Senate was undergoing their annual renovation of its president) as interim.
January 2, 2002, the National Congress elected the Peronist Eduardo Duhalde, a losing candidate in the most recent presidential election, as president. The peso was first devalued by 29%, and then the dollar peg was abandoned; by July 2002, the national currency had depreciated to one-quarter of its former value.
The recovery and the Kirchner era
President Duhalde faced a country in turmoil. His administration had to deal with a wave of protests (middle-class
cacerolazos and unemployed piqueteros), and did so with a relatively tolerant policy, intending to minimize violence. As inflation became a serious issue and the effects of the crisis became apparent in the form of increased unemployment and poverty, Duhalde chose a moderate, low-profile economist, Roberto Lavagna, as his Minister of Economy. The economic measures implemented brought inflation under control, encouraged import substitutionto provide jobs, re-create the industrial base of the country, and provide basic goods and services.
After a year, Duhalde deemed his tasks fulfilled and, pressured by certain political factors, called for elections, which in April 2003 brought
Néstor Kirchner, the left-of-centre Peronist governor of Santa Cruz, to power.
President Kirchner took office on
25 May, 2003. He reshuffled the leadership of the Armed Forces, overturned controversial amnesty laws that protected members of the 1976- 1983dictatorship from prosecution, and kept Lavagna on as economy minister for most of his presidency. Kirchner's administration saw a strong economic rebound. During the four years of his presidency, real GDP growth averaged 9% per year, income distribution was improved, and unemployment and poverty figures were slashed in half.
The 2007 general election took place in ten provinces in September and Kirchner's
Front for Victorywon in six provinces. Hermes Binnerwas elected governor of Santa Fe, defeating the Peronist Rafael Bielsa, Kirchner's former Minister of Foreign Affairs. Binner thus became the first Socialist governor in Argentina's history, and the first non-Justicialist to rule the rather wealthy Santa Fe province (making 21% of Argentina's exportsndash although almost 1/3 of the local population lives under the poverty threshold[http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3222,36-951026@51-946547,0.html Pour la première fois, un socialiste est élu gouverneur d'une province argentine] , " Le Monde", 4 September 2007 fr icon] ) since 1983. [http://www.clarin.com/diario/2007/09/03/elpais/p-00315.htm Ganó Binner y el socialismo sacó al PJ de la Gobernación de Santa Fe] , " Clarin", 3 September 2007 es icon] Center-left Fabiana Ríos(ARI) became the first woman to be elected governor of Tierra del Fuego, while the right-wing Mauricio Macriwas elected Mayor of Buenos Aires (a similar office to governor) in June 2007.
On December 10, 2007,
Cristina Fernández de Kirchnertook over the presidency from her husband, after winning elections with 44% of the vote. She kept many of her husband's ministers, but implied that she would introduce changes to the country during her presidency. She appointed molecular biologist Lino Barañao as minister of science in her cabinet. Fernández says she will create a new ministry for science and technology to boost innovation, and stated that she would make "necessary corrections" to help the inflation problem in Argentina, and seek to promote foreign investment. In contrast with her husband's administration, which was seen as somewhat isolationist, Fernández has shown interest in promoting better ties with the United States, Europe, and Brazil.
On March 10, 2008, a serious crisis between the Government and the farming industry exploded as a result of a rise of what many call unconstitutional taxes. Grain producers, dairy farmers and livestock farmers of all kinds and from different parts of the country decided to stop the sowing, harvesting and commercialization of their products. Many parts of society expressed their dissatisfaction with the acts and decisions of the Government, stating that these taxes were confiscatory and that the President was following the explicit directives of her husband,
Néstor Kirchner, former President of the Republic. Many other groups support them, resorting on some occasions to violence and arrogance towards regular citizens. The conflict is now beyond a simple dispute between the farmers and the Government and it shows different visions for the way in which the country should function. Neither side has found a solution to the crisis and a conflict that has lasted for almost one hundred days continues without positive expectations of what may happen. Even though the general economic situation of the country is good and it is unlikely for another crisis similar to the one of 2001 to take place, many believe that Argentina is wasting its opportunities to succeed as a food producer country in a world that requires large amounts of food.
* Anzorena, Oscar R. "Tiempo de violencia y utopía (1966-1976)", Editorial Contrapunto, 1987, p.48 es icon
*Braudel, Fernand, 1984. "The Perspective of the World," vol. III of "Civilization and Capitalism" (1979)
* Carlos A.Floria and César A. García Belsunce, 1971. "Historia de los Argentinos" I and II; ISBN 84-599-5081-6
Tomas Eloy Martinezhas written a number of books from the point-of-view of an Argentine journalist and intellectual affected by the entire Peron/Military period. A few have been translated into English ("Santa Evita", "The Peron Novel").
*Pigna, Felipe, "Los Mitos de la Historia Argentina, 3"', 2006, ed. Planeta es icon
List of Presidents of Argentina
State-Church relations in Argentina
History of Argentine nationality
* [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/26516.htm U.S. State Department Background Note: Argentina]
* [http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ac09 History World: History of Argentina]
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