July 9 1816 – Argentina declares independence from Spain

July 9 1816 – Argentina declares independence from Spain
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The Argentine Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1816 was the culmination of the independence struggle that was sparked off in 1806-07. It also marked the high point of the Argentine War of Independence, initiated in 1810 by patriotic leaders including Juan Jose Castelli, Jose de San Martin, and Manuel Belgrano. The assembly, which met at San Miguel de Tucuman to declare complete independence from Spanish authority, also made provisions for an autonomous constitution and established United Provinces of South America, which remains one of the legal names of the Argentine Republic. The independence of Argentina was recognized by various states much later, though. While the US recognized the declaration of independence in 1822, Spain was among the last to recognize it in 1857. Despite the declaration, the Argentine constitution could only be drafted in 1853 after a prolonged Civil War by a Constituent Assembly in Santa Fe. The constitution was actively championed by the patriot Mamerto Esquiú.

The indigenous Argentine settlers were native Indian tribes such as the Mapuche, Guaraní, and Quechua. The land was sparsely populated and the natives were hostile to any foreign intrusion. The Incas were prevented from entering through Bolivia. The earliest Spaniard to land in Argentina was Juan de Solís who reached the shores of the Río de la Plata in 1516. The natives waged a war against de Solís who was captured and put to death. Later Spaniards who landed in Argentina include Ferdinand de Magellan en route his Voyage Round the World, Sebastian Cabot who came down the Paraná River and Diego García who sailed the Paraguay River to get there. None of them stayed long as the native tribes demolished their settlements and resisted any foreign colonies in their land. In 1536, Pedro de Mendoza arrived from Spain with a number of troops. He founded the settlement of Santa María del Buen Aire, which later came to be known as Buenos Aires. Later in the 1570s and 1580s, more Spaniards poured into modern-day Argentina. Córdoba, La Rioja, Salta, Santiago del Estero, San Salvador de Jujuy, and Tucumán are among the oldest towns to come up in Argentina. With the reestablishment of Buenos Aires by Juan de Garay, Spain did gain a strong foothold in the land; however the key settlement of the region was undoubtedly the northern colony of Peru.

With the success of the French Revolution and the American Revolutionary War, Latin American nations were also swept by a wave of liberal ideas. Spain established the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata in 1776 and in one sweeping gesture all of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and parts of Bolivia were united. Buenos Aires which had suffered economic neglect due to its inability to trade without Spanish approval now started to revive and flourish and became the financial and political center of the region. Maritime trade thrived, revenues poured in from the mines at Potosi, trade in leather goods and other finished products boomed. This infused the inhabitants with much confidence in their economic abilities. The viceroyalty itself was short-lived and disintegrated with Napoleon’s invasion of Spain which led to the deposition of Spanish monarch, Ferdinand VII.

The economic boom in Buenos Aires made it a target of British invaders who were mired in the Peninsular Wars. In 1806 and again in 1807, the British colonists attacked Argentina but were successfully repulsed without any support from Spain. The victory over the great colonial power without Spain’s backing provided Argentines the confidence necessary to spark off a wave of nationalism.

The growing frustration with the incompetence of the Spanish crown boiled over with the French invasion and successful conquest of Spain. The traders and merchants of Buenos Aires funded the revolutionary struggle for independence that broke out. Thinkers such as Simon Bolivar championed the cause of Latin-American nationalism.

By May 25, 1810, the cabildo council of Buenos Aires had done away with the Spanish viceroyalty and had announced indigenous governance of the United Provinces (including Argentina) on behalf of King Fernando VII. The city’s own Primera Junta had been formed and representatives from the other provinces were invited to join in. Disagreement among the various factions and a lack of cohesion among the provinces delayed the formal declaration of independence. General José de San Martín led a number of military campaigns in Argentina and other South American countries between 1814 and 1817 and the demand for independence from Spain became increasingly vociferous.

By early 1816, Napoleon had faced a resounding defeat at Waterloo. By this time representatives of the various provinces met in San Miguel de Tucumán to discuss the declaration of independence. On July 9, the Bazán family home became the venue for the representatives to proclaim the nation’s independence. The Bazán house is now known as Casa Histórica de la Independencia museum and July 9 is still celebrated as the Argentine Independence Day.

With the proclamation of their independence from Spanish rule, the formation of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata was sealed but there was much left to be decided. Though the Acta de la Declaración de la Independencia Argentina had been signed, the junta could not reach a unanimous decision about the form of government that would be best suited to rule the nascent nation. While the delegates were unable to reach a consensus, the issue of the government escalated to a full-blown civil war by 1819. Bolivia declared its independence in 1825 and Uruguay in 1828.

The Civil War in Argentina was dominated by federalist Juan Manuel de Rosas who governed between 1829 and 1852. While Manuel de Rosas effectively managed Argentina’s foreign relations, he came to be known as a tyrannical authoritarian. Rosas was overthrown by a popular revolution under the leadership of General Justo José de Urquiza. A united Argentina became a reality, and a constitution was drafted in 1853. Despite the various struggles faced by the country in constituting the government, the declaration of independence remains an incident of defining national pride for the nation.

Important milestones

In 1930, a coup led by General Uriburu overthrew Hipolito Yrigoyen, who was re-elected as the president of Argentina in 1928. In 1932, civilian rule was restored.

In 1939, World War 2 started. Argentina proclaimed its neutrality in the war.

In 1942, following the Japanese attack on the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour, Argentina refuses to cut off diplomatic relations with Japan and Germany.

In 1944, Argentina ended its diplomatic relations with Germany and Japan and in 1945 declared war on the two counties.

In 1946, Peron won elections and put his wife Eva Peron – ‘Evita’ – in charge of labor relations.

In 1949, the powers of the President were further strengthened with the introduction of a new constitution. Legislation providing jail terms for anyone showing disrespect for the government was passed by the Congress, which was dominated by Peron’s supporters.

In September 1955, the three branches of the armed forces staged a coup leading to the resignation of Peron who ultimately took refuge in Paraguay.

In March 1973, the Peronist party won elections. Peron returned to Buenos Aires in June and became President in September following the resignation of Campora.

In April 1982, Argentine forces occupied British-held Falklands Islands leading to the Falklands War between the two nations. In June, the United Kingdom recaptured the islands.

In 1989, an economic austerity program was introduced, following the election of Carlos Menem as president.

In 1990, Argentina restored full diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom.

In 1992, Argentina introduced a new currency, the peso.

In 1994, 86 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires was bombed.

In February 2001, Argentina called back its ambassador to Cuba after President Castro accused Argentina of ‘licking the yankee boot’.

In 2009, the government of Argentina declared a state of emergency over worst drought that hit the country in decades.

In July 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.

Interesting facts

1. Political parties in Argentina have their own beers. The trend was started by the Peron Peron bar, which released its blonde beer, Evita. It is also offering “Montonero”, which is named after the 1970s guerrilla group. The “Double K” is in honor of Argentine leader Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband, president Nestor Kirchner.

2. Before becoming the Pontiff, Pope Francis I was a nightclub bouncer in Buenos Aires.

3. Argentina is home to more psychologists per capita than anywhere else in the world.

4. Argentina was the first country to replace anthropometry with fingerprints. Juan Vucetich made the first criminal fingerprint identification.

5. In 2001, Argentina had five presidents in just 10 days.

6. The government in Lionel Messi’s hometown Rosario banned parents from naming children after the soccer superstar. Officials said a flood of babies named Messi could cause confusion.

7. Though Che Guevara was an Argentinean, he was basically a Cuban

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