Argentina - Country history and economic development

1580. The Spanish establish a permanent colony in what is now Buenos Aires.

1776. Buenos Aires, a flourishing port, is made the seat of the newly established Vice Royalty of Rio de la Plata. The population of the Vice Royalty reaches 20,000.

1816. Jose de San Martin leads the struggle for independence in Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Argentina gains full independence and is initially called the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.

1819-20. Civil war between those Argentines who favor a strong central government and those who advocate a federal system with the provinces retaining significant political power.

1829. General Juan Manuel de Rosas is elected president. He institutes a federal system and the country's name is changed to the Argentine Confederation.

1853. Rosas is overthrown and a new constitution is promulgated. The nation changes its name to the Argentine Republic.

1879-80. The War of the Desert between Argentine troops and settlers and Native Americans ends with an Argentine victory. The suppression of the Native American tribes opens up the interior regions of the country for settlement by Europeans and greatly expands the area under agricultural cultivation.

1916. The period of conservative control of Argentina is ended following the election of a Radical Civic Union (URC) candidate as president.

1930. President Hipolito Yrigoyen of the URC party is overthrown by a military coup.

1943. A coup brings Juan Peron to power as part of a military government.

1946. Juan Peron is elected president.

1947. Peron announces the first of his 5-year economic plans. Women gain the right to vote.

1949. A new constitution is promulgated.

1952. Peron is reelected in an election marred by corruption and irregularities. Evita Peron dies from cancer.

1953. The government implements the second 5-year economic plan. Under this plan a number of commercial trade treaties are signed, including accords with Great Britain, Chile, and the Soviet Union. These agreements lead to a favorable balance of trade, but inflation rises to 200 percent and prompts widespread economic problems.

1955. The military ousts Peron from power in a civil war in which at least 4,000 people are killed.

1956. The constitution of 1949 is rescinded and the nation reverts to the 1853 constitution.

1959. The nation begins receiving substantial foreign loans and economic aid. By the following year, Argentina has received US$1 billion from the United States alone. These loans help maintain economic stability and high wages in spite of growing inflation.

1960-1980. Argentina is a member of the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA). During this period, Argentine trade with other nations in Latin America expands significantly.

1973. Argentina has general elections which return Peron to power with his third wife as vice-president.

1974. Peron dies in office and is succeeded by his wife, Maria Estela.

1975. There is increasing instability in the nation as terrorist activities by both left-wing and right-wing extremist groups claim the lives of some 700 people in a one-year span. After inflation reaches 335 percent, there are widespread strikes and unrest as workers seek higher wages.

1976. The military again takes power and the constitution is once again rescinded. From 1976 to 1983 10,000 people "disappear" (the majority are secretly taken prisoner by the government and tortured and killed).

1980. The Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) replaces LAFTA. LAIA initiates a number of agreements which reduce tariffs between Latin American nations.

1982. Argentina is defeated by the United Kingdom in the Falkland Islands war after Argentine forces invade and conquer the territory known to the Argentines as the Malvinas Islands.

1983. The nation has democratic elections after popular pressure forces the military to cede power. Raul Alfonsin of the URC is elected president and the constitution is reinstated.

1989. Carlos Menem of the Peronist Party is elected president.

1990. A dramatic period of decline in the fisheries sector begins and, by 1993, exports of swordfish cease entirely and are not resumed until 1998.

1991. Reforms are initiated that ultimately fix the peso to the U.S. dollar. Laws are enacted to liberalize the telecommunications industry.

1992. Diplomatic and trade relations, which had been severed as a result of the Falkland Islands War, are reestablished with Great Britain.

1993. A new law liberalizes the mining sector and leads to dramatic growth in the industry.

1994. The constitution is amended. The U.S. and Argentina sign a bilateral investment treaty. All restrictions on foreign ownership of banks are rescinded.

1995. Menem is reelected president. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay join together in a free trade agreement known as MERCOSUR.

1997. The United States allows imports of Argentine beef for the first time in 60 years. The government initiates a program to establish a number of free trade zones in order to increase trade.

1999. Fernando de la Rua of the Alliance is elected president. Argentina assumes the chairmanship of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Negotiating Committee. The nation undergoes a recession in which GDP drops 3 percent and exports by 25 percent.

2000. Argentina and Brazil negotiate new agreements that strengthen MERCOSUR by further lowering trade barriers.

2001. The recession continues. Unemployment rises to approximately 20 percent. In mid-December, 2 days of rioting sweep the nation and lead to President de la Rua's resignation. Predictions are made that the Argentine government soon will default on debts totaling almost US$100 billion.

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