Buenos Aires: Recent History

When you visit Buenos Aires you will find a bustling, busy city. There is no more crime and violence than you find in most cities in the world, and a lot less than some. Probably the most enlivening action you will see is the tango, and perhaps a little antagonism in the polo or soccer matches. However, this was not always so.

Argentina and Buenos Aires went through some turbulent times in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 1800s the citys political status was still undecided. There was strong and violent disagreement between the more conservative provinces in Argentina and the progressive ideas of Buenos Aires.

Between 1853 and 1860 Buenos Aires Province with Buenos Aires City as its capital seceded from the rest of Argentina. Finally agreement was reached in 1880 when Buenos Aires City on its own was federalized, and the mayor appointed by the President of Argentina.

By the 20th century, Buenos Aires economy grew as the railroad and port ensured that the riches of the fertile pampas plains of Argentina flowed into the industrial areas of the city. The wide avenues and the tallest buildings of the time in South America were built as well as the continents first underground system.

By the 1920s immigrants from Europe were flooding into Buenos Aires. It took on a distinctly cosmopolitan flavor. It endowed Argentina with the reputation of a wealthy country. However, with many poverty stricken work seekers streaming in from Europe and the neighboring provinces and countries, shanty towns or villas miseria started springing up. These began to produce severe social troubles.

Several noteworthy events rocked the City of Buenos Aires during the past century:

* In the Plaza de Mayo the famous demonstration took place on 17 October 1945 to demand the release of the colorful and controversial Juan Domingo Peron who served several terms as President of Argentina, and with his second and third wives, made a huge impact on that country.

* Amidst the political turmoil the Plaza de Mayo was bombed by rebel in the Navy on the 16th June 1955 and 364 civilians were killed. The uprising led to yet another downfall of President Peron.

* In the 1970s there was fighting between far left and far right factions. Isabel Peron was President at the time, having taken over from her husband after his demise in 1974.

* In 1976 Jorge Rafael Videla led a military coup de etat. This led to the appalling situation of 30,000 desaparecidos being kidnapped and killed by the military.

* In 1982, was the outbreak of the Falklands War or Guerra de las Malvinas.

* Since then two bombs have targeted Jewish citizens. The Israeli Embassy bomb killed 29 and injured 242 in 1992 and in 1994 a bomb in the AMIA Jewish building killed 85 and injured hundreds more.

In 1993 the Argentine Constitution was amended so that Buenos Aires became an autonomous federal state and was no longer required to have a mayor appointed by the President of Argentina. At last the residents and voters in Buenos Aires City had the right to elect their own choice of mayor. This person would be the Head of Government of the City of Buenos Aires. In June 1996, the first elected mayor was appointed.