Saturday, June 25, 2005

Argentina, A Brief History of 19th Century

A Brief History of 19th Century Argentina - Summary of events and trends in 1810-1890 Argentina by Heath S. Douglas, a graduate student at Mississippi State University. The career of Juan Manuel Rosas seems particularly noteworthy in a scandalous outragous dictator sort of way.

From the site:

The biggest mistake one can make when studying Argentina in the 1800s is to assume that it was a true union from independence. The country declared itself independent of Spain in 1810, but it was decades before there was a true unity in Argentina, and some people will argue that unity is not complete even today. Old Argentina, or the northwest, was not under the power of emerging Buenos Aires in the early 1800s, and sectionalism was rampant throughout the country. The mainly rural northwest resisted all attempts by the porteƱos of Buenos Aires to exercise power.

By 1826 the people began to realize something had to be done to unify the country. So there was a meeting in Buenos Aires. A new constitution was written and Bernardino Rivadavia was elected president. The provinces took offense to this, so Rivadavia resigned and civil war ensued from 1826-1828.

It was at this time of civil war that the most influential man in 19th century Argentine history arose, Juan Manuel de Rosas. In 1829 he was elected to a three year term as a federalist, meaning he was an advocate of a government sharing power between the national and provincial sectors, as opposed to an unitario, who would support the idea of a strong central government. Rosas was really nothing more than a gaucho (an Argentine cowboy). But he managed to make alliance with the Catholic Church and even was successful in enacting laws to improve education. Yet despite his success, he left after his term ended in 1832 to help drive out natives in the south and open up more lands for civilization. These achievements of course made Rosas a national hero, and all the while his wife was back in Buenos Aires stirring things up. This would eventually give Juan Manuel de Rosas the chance to again be the savior of Argentina. As the situation worsened in Buenos Aires, it became ever easier for Rosas to ride back in and take power. He did this in 1835 and was elected to a five year term as president. What he did was establish a dictatorship. Opponents were exiled or killed, and school children were taught of the "Great Rosas".

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