Topic: Buenos Aires Historical
Plaza de Mayo: the heart of the Argentine politics
It is known around the globe that Argentina is a very political country. In the country of the broad pampas, the great wine and the sensual tango dance, everyone has a saying regarding politics and you will see Argentines heatedly arguing about politics almost everywhere, from a city park to a cab, a downtown café or a social club. This society takes very seriously its deliberation role in the Republican organization of the Nation. And as such the individuals that altogether compose the society take part in politically significant actions thru means of public demonstrations. The center-point for these demonstrations has always been the political trademark space of the Nation: Plaza de Mayo, home to the governmental palace known as the Pink house.
See Video Clip:
For over two centuries, two blocks conforming up the famous Plaza de Mayo have been the stage upon which most crucial decisive facts take place staging the turning points of the country’s history. Experts in politics and sociology agree on the central role this particular stage plays in the political evolution of the country. It is not that the people gathered in the plaza are the decision makers of our politics, but it is indeed true that no important decisions were made without the public support of the People demonstrating in the Plaza. Hence the phrase “A ruler who does not rule upon the plaza cannot govern the country”, meaning that the public opinion expressed on the Plaza de Mayo on his favor or against the government’s precepts, is key to furthering any governmental decisions.
This tradition dates from the early days of the independence back in 1800. In May 1810, when the inhabitants of the Viceroyalty of the River Plate were discussing their independence from the Spanish Crown, distinguished Creole citizens gathered together in the place where today stands the Plaza de Mayo –back then known as the Plaza de la Victoria- to demand their Independence in front of the Cabildo (the governmental offices of the Colony). History text books tell that they demonstrated their will for independence under a strong rain, standing by the Cabildo in aims to pressure the authorities who were deliberating for several days. Once the decision was made the representatives communicated it to the awaiting crowd who celebrated with cheers and victory tears, and soon after the crowd took over the fort across the Cabildo. This fort was later on demolished and in that place a new building was constructed: the Pink House of Government.
In 1884, the Plaza de la Victoria becomes Plaza de Mayo in honor of the May Revolution of Independence. The Plaza de Mayo, with its new name, would become the center for the Argentine political life.
Back in 1890, the first modern political party was created under the name Civic Union, and to honor its creation the party organized its first political rally marching towards the Plaza de Mayo. That enormous gathering of people became a significant social event as it marks the first political act of masses of the contemporary Argentine History. The impact of the meeting was of such importance that it destabilized the corrupt government of President Juarez Celman forcing him to resign and call upon national elections.
Two decades after this political demonstration, the famous Plaza de Mayo would become the main stage for the May Revolution Centennial Celebration, featuring parades, bands and celebrity visitors…
By the 1930s the Plaza de Mayo was already a trademark spot in the country, the heart of the political and social masses that chose this particular location to speak their mind. On September 8th the first dictator of modern Argentina Jose Felix Uriburu arrives to the presidency after overthrowing UCR party president Hipolito Yrigoyen with a military coupe d’etat. The fact that this political move had a strong support in the upper and middle classes of Buenos Aires was evident in its first public appearance, when President Uriburu decides to take the presidential sworn in the balcony of the Pink house facing a packed plaza de Mayo.
This act is known as the appropriation of the public space by the ruling classes. However it won’t be long until the masses of working humble origin take upon the public space. On October 17th 1945, millions of workers from all around the country gathered together at the Plaza de Mayo to ask for the liberation of a populist Cornel that would soon become a massive public figure: Juan Domingo Peron. This was a turning point in the argentine history and the way the people did politics. It was a moment in which tables changed and actions awarded new meanings to public spaces. From then on, the Plaza de Mayo would no longer act as a ruling class public space, but more of a popular lower class tribune thru which the “dispossessed”, as Peron used to call them, spoke up their mind.
A couple of years latter the famous scene from the Evita Musical took place. A packed Plaza de Mayo with Peronist followers was cheering for Evita whom they wanted to be vice president for the reelection of the General Juan Domingo. Evita was very ill, being eaten up by a deadly cancer; she addressed the masses, asking them not to cry for her… soon after the woman who had awarded the Female Argentines their right to vote passed away.
After being reelected for a second term in 1952 Peron governed Argentina for three more years before he was overturned by the National Navy and Air Forces. The overturn took place during a terrible bombing. The place bombed was the famous Plaza de Mayo.
Peron was forced to a long 18 year long exile and the traditional public political activity was tried to keep silenced. The political movement relocated from the plaza de Mayo to other public spaces to express its ideas and ideals.
The masses would regain the Plaza in 1974, during the demonstrations of May 1st when the Peronist leader was reestablished as the Nation’s president.
Soon after the forces of the Military leaders would retake upon the democratic government opening a dark period in the Argentine history. Marshal Law was established together with a myriad of human rights violations. The only courageous ones enough to protest were the relatives and mothers of the abducted civilians.
On April 30th 1977, the organization Madres de Plaza de Mayo regained control of the Plaza to demand the appearance with life of their children and grand children.
During the early 1980s a big demonstration of Unions and Syndicates takes upon the Plaza de Mayo to demand the end of the Military government. But the demand was darkened by the declaration of the Falkland Island war on April 2nd 1982. The war was a failure and it aided in the ending of the dictatorship.
On December 10th 1983 the Argentine people would regain control of the Plaza de Mayo as they celebrated the elections of the new democratic president Raul Alfonsin. Once again the Plaza de Mayo belonged to the people, who made their voice to be heard to those in power.
From then on, the Plaza de Mayo regained its social and political meaning being the center point for all sorts of public and cultural demonstrations.
In 1986, when the Argentine Soccer team won the Mexico World cup, the Plaza de Mayo was the chosen stage for the celebrations that took place. In the years to come the plaza would still be the selected scenario for the people of the Nation to express and speak up their minds.
The most recent event in this line of action were the demonstrations and protests of December 19th and 20th back in 2001, when millions of Argentines gathered together to express their discontent with the economical and social policies the government of Fernando De La Rua was furthering against the interests of the majority of the citizens. The result was De La Rua’s resignation and the opening of a broad economical and political crisis that only in recent years has become to a closure to open an era of growth and development.
See Video Clip of a live demonstration in Plaza de Mayo marking the 30 anniversary of the Military Golpe de Estado of 1974. PRESS HERE: Filmed with my Sony Ericsson P990i, on 24 March 2007 by Bob Frassinetti. It’s a long video so it might take some time to down load.
So if you are interested in Art, Design or Antiques, and you are travelling to Buenos Aires, Argentina and need help, please feel free to email us…….Please feel free to contact Bob Frassinetti with thsi email address: Email: Bob Frassinetti. Press here to go back to web blog:Daily Updates on Art, Antiques, Collectibles as well as travel information for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Phone me thru Skype, ID: Bob Frassinetti or you can also chat with me using Yahoo or My Space links below, press here:
Find me on MySpace and be my friend!
Phone me direct to my mobile phone: 00 54 911 44 75 39 83. Or when in B's A's: 15 44 75 39 83. Or to my studio: 00 54 11 47 92 47 87 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bob Frassinetti Copyright 2007 Roberto Dario Frassinetti