LATIN AMERICA

Argentina: 200 tumultuous years

The nation celebrates the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain, and ponders how it once competed with the US before deteriorating under dictatorships and crises

Children in Florencio Varela, right outside Buenos Aires.
Children in Florencio Varela, right outside Buenos Aires.Ricardo Ceppi

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On July 9, Argentina will celebrate 200 years of history as an independent nation.

Since signing the independence declaration in the northern city of Tucumán, the country has gone through a complicated process of national organization which, sometimes, led to violence.Turmoil become a trend. This rich land never knew peace, squandering its good years on dictatorships and economic crises.

Now, Argentina has taken another sharp turn in its political direction as it celebrates its bicentennial with its first non-Peronist, non-radical government since the advent of democracy, under conservative President Mauricio Macri.

As the eternal conflict between Peronists and anti-Peronists rages on, a divided Argentina will celebrate its sovereignty while honoring its cultural link to Spain. King emeritus Juan Carlos will participate in a ceremony in Tucumán to demonstrate these ties.

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The agricultural export business owned by Buenos Aires elites that allowed the country to become the fifth largest world economy in 1916 continues to thrive despite Juan Domingo Perón’s attempts at industrialization in the 1940s.

Since then, Argentina has lived through several economic crises that destroyed its potential to become an international power, a destiny that, a little over 100 years ago, seemed within arm’s reach as the country competed eye-to-eye with the United States.

Today, Argentina ranks 23rd by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world, although wealth redistribution policies that began in the mid-20th century have improved the overall quality of life.

King emeritus Juan Carlos will participate in a ceremony in Tucumán to demonstrate the ties between both nations

Meanwhile, military governments, which erupted onto the political scene from time to time since the 1930 coup d’état against Hipólito Irigoyen, now seem to be a thing of the past. The dictatorship that began in 1976 was the most violent regime Argentina has ever known, but it was also the last one.

On December 10, the country will mark its 33rd successive year of democracy, the longest period in its history.

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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