Argentina History is a roller coaster ride often out of control.

Argentina history


Argentina history begins with nomadic hunters and gathers who at one time were part of the Inca Empire. In 1516. The Spanish explorer Jaun Diaz de Solis claimed the Rio de la Plata and surrounding area for Spain. Argentina history – 1535. Pedro Mendoza tried to settle the area that is now Buenos Aires but had difficulty with hostile natives and finding food. After 5 years he was forced to leave the area. However in 1538 Domingo Martinez de Irala settled an area north of Buenos Aires called Asension where silver was mined and from this location the Spanish explorers were able to thrive and settle the region. Spanish settlers from Peru established Santiago del Estero, the first permanent settlement on what is now Argentine soil, in 1553. In 1580 the resettlement of Buenos Aires began and in 1620 the entire area was attached to the viceroyalty of Peru for administrative purposes. In 1776 what is now present-day Argentina was separated from Peru and incorporated as the viceroyalty of La Plata.

Argentina history 1806 – A rouge British fleet attacked Buenos Aires who offered no defense. 2 months later a citizen army took back the city. In 1807 the British government attacked Buenos Aires again and were defeated. This bolstered the soldiers fighting abilities and began an independence movement. Argentina history 1808 – Napoleon had concurred Spain and overthrew King Ferdenand the 7th which began a revolution in La Plata(South America). In 1810 they overthrew the government and installed a provisional counsel in the name of Ferdenand the 7th. But soon the counsel broke with the Spanish representatives and a campaign for freedom of the entire region began. A few victories in 1812 and 1813 liberated some areas that were dived in to 14 providences. In 1814, Jose de San Martin took control of the Northern army and crossed the Andes mountains and helped Chile and Peru gain independence from Spanish reign. He is still regarded as a national here in Argentina history and is buried in the Cathedral at Plaza de Mayo.

Argentina history Argentina history begins- On July 9 1816, delegates from the providences claimed independence from Spain and formed the United Providences of South America. However there was disagreement on the form of government and a civil war began from 1819 to 1820. Anarchy ruled until 1829. A war with Brazil happened during 1825 to 1827 and Uruguay became an independent nation as a result after Brazil was defeated. In 1829 General Juan Manuel de Rosas was elected governor of the province of Buenos Aires and restored order to the providences. He was a federalist and dictator and ruled with a strong fist. He was able to crush all opposition for over 20 years and turned the area into The Argentine Confederation.

Argentina history is divided into two sections. Before and after General Rosas.

Argentina history 1852 -General Justo Urquiza, with the help of Brazil and Uruguay, overthrew Rosas and a federal constitution was written. Urquiza became the first president of the Argentine Republic. However the province of Buenos Aires refused to recognize the constitution and in 1861 General Bartolome Mitre defeated the national army and was elected president in 1862. He designated Buenos Aires as the nations capital and the province of Buenos Aires controlled the rest of the country.

Argentina hisotry 1865 – The war of the Triple Alliance began. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay eventually defeated Paraguay in 1870. From 1869-1880, the War of the Desert was a conquest to clear the Pampas region of hostile Native Americans. General Julio A. Roca was successful in doing this and opened up huge amounts of farmland. In 1880 Roca was elected president and separated the Province of Buenos Aires from controlling the rest of the nation. In 1881 a boundary dispute over the eastern half of Tierra del Fuego with Chile was settled. In 1895 the US settled a boundary dispute with Brazil and awarded Argentina 25,000 square miles. In 1902 Great Britain settled a boundary dispute with Chile over the Patagonia frontier.

Argentin history 1880 – Immigrants from Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Poland flooded the city in search of better lives and to fulfill a dream. It was during this time that brothels sprang up all over the city to cater to the single men coming from Europe. One way the brothels challenged the competition was to employ musicians who created the music we now call Tango.

The good old days.

Argentina history 1900 – By 1900 Argentina emerged as one of the leading nations in South America. The economy was based on cattle and grain production and Europe was filled with their products. There was a saying in Europe, “rich as Argentineans”. During this period Argentina beef became world famous. This is largely due to the mild and moist climate in the region and excellent soil. During World War 1, Argentina remained neutral although often helped the Allies with food and supplies. Buenos Aires history From about 1900 Argentina began to identify with Europe and the US rather than with the rest of Latin America. During this time the British invested heavily in building railways and the first subway in South America. In 1916 the Radicals, led by Hipólito Yrigoyen, won control of the government. The Radicals, with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, supported Argentina’s expanding middle class as well as to elites previously excluded from power.


In 1929 the world economic troubles also affected Argentina causing political and social unrest. Economic conditions improved during the administration of General Auguston Justo, but political turbulence intensified, culminating in an unsuccessful Radical uprising in 1933 and 1934. In 1936 Roberto M. Ortiz was elected president by his supporters who were pro dictatorship. However Ortiz actually strengthened democracy during his presidency. The electoral process was overhauled and steps were taken to rid the country of active German agents.

World War 2

In the beginning of World War 2, Argentina declared neutrality although worked closely with other nations on hemispheric defenses. In 1940 Ortiz resigned as president due to illness and vice president Ramon S. Castillo took over in 1942. Castillo felt differently than Ortiz and refused to end relations with Germany and Japan. One year later, General Arturo Rawson and his military group overthrew Castillo because he wanted to end relations with the Axis powers. However, the night before Rawson took office, his supporters forced him to resign. General Pedro Ramerez took over as president and dissolved all political parties and political newspapers and put a tight lid on democracy in Argentina. And in 1944 finally cut relations with Japan and Germany which was a complete foreign policy reversal. One month after doing this, a military group who was afraid of a war with Germany, forced Ramerez from office. The man responisible for this was Ramerez’s chief of labor relations Colonel Juan Domingo Peron.


Peron suppressed democratic activity and gave aid to German agents in order to stave off war with Germany and the USA accused Argentina of aiding the Axis powers. In 1945 when it seemed that Germany would loose the war, Argentina declared war on Germany and when the war was over became a member of the United Nations. In 1946 democratic elections were held again in Argentina.

Peron won the election easily. He promised higher wages and better living to his supporters in the working class. After elected he married the former actress Eva Duarte who managed labor relations and social services until she died in 1952. Evita was loved by millions and she was skillful in promoting her husbands career and her own. She helped to give women the right to vote and then was asked to run for vice president. However she turned this down due to illness. Her death was a monumental event in Argentina and 17 people were crushed to death at her funeral. Her body was stolen, copied, sent to Milan for 20 years, and stolen again. Now it rests in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

picture of Casa Rosada Argentina history 1946 – Peron laid out a 5 year plan to improve the economy through industrializing. And in 1947 he deported German agents and expropriated 60 German companies. Argentina history 1949 – Peron created a new constitution, which allowed presidential renomination and announced he would run for office again. This angered his opponents and the press so Peron began to jail many of these people. He also expropriated La Prensa, the largest Buenos Aires newspaper at the time. Argentina history 1952 – The election was scheduled for February but the Peron government postponed it and put restrictions on the competition. The election was held in November and Peron won easily and the Congress as well.

Argentin history 1953 – Peron laid out a second 5 year plan which added agricultural output including Argentina wine and beef. Also during 1953 Argentina signed trade agreements with Chile, The Soviet Union and Great Britain and the country made a profit for the first time since 1950. Argentin history 1954 – Peron accused the Catholic church of fostering agitation against the government and a separation of church and state began.

Argentina history 1955 – On September 16 1955 the Argentina Navy, Air force and Army staged a rebellion in Buenos Aires. 4000 people were killed during the 3-day civil war. Bombs were dropped on the Casa Rosada and the center of Buenos Aires. Peron resigned and went into exile at Paraguay and then Spain.

On September 20 the insurgent leader Major General Eduardo Lonardi took office as provisional president, promising to restore democratic government. In less than two months the Lonardi government was itself overthrown in a bloodless revolt led by Major General Pedro Eugenio Aramburu. Aramburu felt that Peronisim had not been crushed enough. Argentin history 1956 – a Peronist revolt took place but was stopped and Aramburu executed 28 Peronists. Congressional elections were held in July. The Peronist party was forbidden to function but Peron instructed them to cast blank ballots. A fourth of all votes were blank votes, which exceeded the votes from any other single party.

Argentin history 1958 – presidential elections were held and Frondizi won the presidency with Peronist and Communist support. Argentina has always suffered from terrible inflation and in 1959 began borrowing foreign money. Argentin history 1960 – Argentina borrowed $1 billion from the US. At this time the country also became a member of the Latin American Free Trade Association until 1980.

Argentina history 1962 elections thar year, peronists were the majority still. However military leaders felt Frondizi was too much of a Peronist and forced him to leave office before the presidential election. Jose Maria Guido, was president of the Senate and took Frondizi’s chair in office. Both Peronistas and Communists were barred from the national elections of July 1963 and Arturo Illia, a moderate of the People’s Radical party, was elected president. Illia tried to control rising prices, shortages, and labor unrest by fixing prices and instituting minimum-wage laws.

Argentina history Argentina history 1966 -Labor unrest continued and the Peronists gained more seats in government. This resulted in a military coup which dictated several presidents. Argentin history 1971 – General Alejandro Auguston Lanusse became president and began to steer towards democracy again however civil unrest and violent demonstrations began and the economy worsened. The Peronistas had grown increasingly vocal, and they nominated Peron for the presidency. He stayed in Spain and Hector J. Campora was nominated in his place.


Argentina history – 1973 and 1974 proved to be another roller coaster ride for the Argentina government. Peronistas swept the elections in March 1973, and Campora was inaugurated as president. And terrorism escalated with kidnappings, soaring ransom demands, and killings. June 20 1973 Peron returned to Buenos Aires and a riot broke out resulting in 380 deaths. Campora resigned, and in September Peron was elected president, with more than 61 percent of the votes. Argentina history 1974 – However in July of 1974 Peron died in office and his third wife, Isabel de Peron, became the first woman president of a modern Latin American state.

Troubled Times

Argentina history 1975 – The cost of living increased by 335 percent, and strikes and demonstrations for higher wages were daily. The left and right parties killed over 700 people in kidnappings and terrorism. Lieutenant General Jorge Rafael Videla, seized power on March 24, 1976 with a military coup and imposed martial law. The economy remained chaotic. Videla launched a campaign of terror against political opponents and in 1977 the Argentine Commission for Human Rights, in Geneva, blamed the regime for 2300 political murders, 10,000 political arrests, and 20,000 to 30,000 disappearances. This was called the ideological war and many of its victims were middle class students and intellectuals. Today it is known as the Dirty War. Argentina history 1978 – The mother of these victims began holding demonstrations in Plaza de Mayo which continue to this day.



Argentina history 1981 – Videla was succeeded as president in March by Field Marshal Roberto Viola. In December 1981 the commander in chief of the army, General Leopoldo Galtieri removed Viola and took office. Galtieri’s government rallied the country behind it in April 1982 by forcibly occupying the British-held Falkland Islands. After a brief war Great Britain recaptured the islands in and the discredited Galtieri was replaced by Major General Reynaldo Bignone.


Argentina history 1983 – Argentina held its first presidential election in a decade in October 1983. Inflation was at 900 percent. Raul Alfonsin of the Radical party took office and reorganized the military, charged former leaders with human rights abuse, restructured debt, and introduced a new currency. Inflation still soared and in May 1989 the Peronist candidate, Carlos Saul Menem, was elected president.

Argentina history 1990 – During the early 1990s, his government stalled inflation, balanced the budget, sold off state enterprises to private investors, and rescheduled the nation’s debts to commercial banks. In 1992 full diplomatic relations with Britain were restored, helping to heal the wounds of the Falklands War. Menem shortened the presidential term from six to four years and in 1994 signed an agreement to be a nuclear weapons free state. Menem ruled for 10 years was the first president in decades to actually finish his full terms.

Argentina history 1999 – Fernado De la Rue was elected president but was forced to resign due to the increasing economic crisis in 2001. During this time the Argentina peso was devalued to pay off foreign debt and the IMF. Violent riots erupted at banks and even in Congress resulting in dozens of deaths. Minister of Economy Domingo Cavallo passed regulations severely limiting withdrawals, freezing the peso-denominated assets of the Argentine middle class.

5 presidents in 2 months

Argentina history 2001 – After De la Rue resigned, the president of the Senate became president for 2 days. Adolfo Rodríguez Saá was then elected by the Congress but resigned a week later. This left the president of the Congress as president of the nation for 2 days. On Jan 2 2002 the national Congress elected Peronist Eduardo Duhalde, who had previously lost the recent presidential elections, as president. Duhalde faced a country sinking into povery and unemployment and riots and demonstrations. He hired Roberto Lavagna as Minister of Economy who controlled prices, encouraged global companies for jobs, and provide basic goods and services. After one year, Duhalde was pressured to hold elections and did so and in 2003 Nestor Kirchner took office and is currently the president. Next election is in 2007.


The latest installment of Argentina history has been the remarkable economic comeback of Argentina and the ability to pay off its debt in recent years. Today industry continues to be Argentina beef and wine exports as well as grains and leather. The country has a thriving TV and cinema industry and the arts have begun to flourish and Tango has emerged as the national dance. Football (soccer) is a national obsession. Tourism is a priority for the government as well as attracting global companies to provide jobs. Argentina tries to remain as independent as possible to regain economic stability.


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About the author of this blog.

Tom Wick is an American expat living in Buenos Aires. An expert travel consultant and tour guide offering free travel inforamtion and private guided tours of Buenos Aires.

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