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The Americas

South American States

 

Modern Argentina
AD 1862 - Present Day
Incorporating Heads of State (1862-2023)

Located in South America, the republic of Argentina is the world's eighth largest country in terms of its territory. That territory covers a range of climactic zones and several sparsely inhabited or semi-arid regions. For such a large territory it has a small population (in 2020), amounting to about forty-six million. The capital is Buenos Aires, which lies at the heart of the original Spanish colony of 1536. The country borders Chile to the west, Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, and Brazil and Uruguay to the east.

Modern Argentina was born as a federal state out of the ruins of the Argentine Confederation, the ending of the Great War of 1839-1852, and the last burst of the Argentine Civil War of 1852-1861. The use of 'Argentine Confederation' is still valid today, being enshrined in the country's constitution and relating to the northern part of the country. Initially the capital was at Paraná until the civil war, which had rumbled on beneath other conflicts since 1814, saw more blood spilt and Buenos Aires replacing it.

Once Argentina had returned to a peacetime footing, at first under the presidency of General Bartolomé Mitre, it received massive immigration and heavy investment from Europe (from 1870). This made it one of the richest countries in the world, and neutrality throughout the First World War and most of the Second World War certainly helped it maintain high standards of living. However, the Great Depression created instability, and post-war dictatorships slowly destroyed any feeling of security and wealth.

By the 1970s, the country had endured decades of coups and counter-coups, and political discord on a national scale. This led to the repressive military dictatorship which oversaw the seven-year 'dirty war' which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. The bodies of many abductees - known as the 'disappeared' - have never been found, although forensic work continues to recover some of them.

Argentina also remained locked in a self-generated territorial dispute with Britain over the Falklands Islands, which are governed as a British overseas territory but which have been claimed by Buenos Aires since the 1830s. The issue led to war in 1982, when the undefended islands fell to an unannounced invasion which was launched by Argentina's military junta. The islands were almost immediately re-conquered by Britain, with Argentine casualties being three times those of the British. If anything good came of the conflict in Argentinean terms it was the resultant collapse of the junta and a return to a form of democracy.

Torres del Paine, Chile

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from A History of Argentina, Ricardo Levene (1937), from History of Argentina: From the original towns to the time of the Kirchners, Norberto Galasso (Vols 1-2, 2011), from Historical Dictionary of Argentina, Ione S Wright and Lisa M Nekhom (1978), from Colonial Latin America, Mark A Burkholder & Lyman L Johnson (Tenth Edition, Oxford University Press, 2018), from Historical Atlas of the World, R R Palmer (Ed, Chicago, 1963), from The World Almanac and Book of Facts, Luman H Long (Ed, Newspaper Enterprise Association, New York, 1972), from Post (18 May 2013), from Information Please Almanac (Twenty-Sixth Edition, New York, 1972), from Information Please Almanac (Forty-First Edition, Boston, 1988), from Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader (26 October 1999), from Brazil, Rollie E Poppino (Second Edition, New York, 1973), from Times Atlas of World History (Maplewood, New Jersey, 1979), from USA Today (25 October 1999), from Washington Post (2 October 1994, & 19 April 1995, & Besieged President Resigns in Argentina, 21 December 2001, & Argentina Picks Interim President, 22 December 2001, & Argentina Gets a New President-Again, 2 January 2002, & New Argentine Leader's Cabinet to Mix Veterans, Newcomers, 23 May 2003, & Obituary of Jorge Rafael Videla, 18 May 2013), from The 1969 World Almanac and Book of Facts (New York, 1969), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Nations Online, and Latin America in World War I, and Argentina (Rulers.org), and Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), and Mauricio Macri (Los Andes, in Spanish), and Argentina (Zárate's Political Collections), and Argentina presidential election (2023) (The Guardian).)

1862 - 1868

Bartolomé Mitre

First president. Former governor of State of Buenos Aires.

1864 - 1870

As a result of Paraguay's declaration of war against Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay go to war against Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance (which is also known as the Paraguayan War or the Great War in Paraguay). It proves to be a long and costly affair, causing more casualties than any other South American war. Paraguay is utterly defeated, losing almost half its territory.

Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires
The Teatro Colón opera theatre in Buenos Aires first opened its doors in 1908, replacing an 1857 building, and has since been rated as one of the world's best opera houses

1868 - 1874

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

President.

1874 - 1880

Nicolás Avellaneda

President.

1880

Presidential elections on 11 April see Julio Argentino Roca elected as the fourteenth incumbent. Only Buenos Aires and Corrientes fail to support him. In Buenos Aires a rebellion against the outcome brews up in just four days. It lasts until 25 June, leaving around three thousand people dead and a peace agreement in place. It is Roca's liberal policies which start Argentina's subsequent long period of prosperity.

1880 - 1886

Julio Argentino Roca

President. Introduced liberal reforms leading to prosperity.

1886 - 1890

Miguel Juárez Celman

President.

1890 - 1892

Carlos Pellegrini

President.

1892 - 1895

Luis Sáenz Peña

President.

1895 - 1898

José Evaristo Uriburu

President.

1898 - 1904

Julio Argentino Roca

President for the second time.

1904

Argentina intervenes to end the domination of Paraguay by Bernardino Caballero, allowing a return to democratic government. General Benigno Ferreira invades the country from Argentina, supported by various Paraguayan factions, and the fighting lasts for four months before they can take control.

General Bernardino Caballero of Paraguay
Bernardino Caballero, former president and more recently the military power behind the Paraguayan throne, saw his domination ended in 1904 (he died on 26 February 1912)

On 12 December 1904, on board an Argentine gunboat, Paraguay's Colonel Juan Antonio Escurra signs the Pact of Pilcomayo and the Liberal Party subsequently gains power. With the Colorado Party out of office, Brazilian influence on the country declines while that of Argentina increases.

1904 - 1906

Manuel A Quintana

President.

1906 - 1910

José Figueroa Alcorta

President.

1910 - 1914

Roque Sáenz Peña

President.

1912

Argentina undergoes electoral reforms (according to the Almanac, 1972). Victorino de la Plaza acts on behalf of President Sáenz between April and August 1914, at which point de la Plaza succeeds him.

1914 - 1916

Victorino de la Plaza

Acting president (Apr-Aug 1914). President thereafter.

1916 - 1922

Hipólito Irigoyen / Yrigoyen

President. A 'radical'.

1917 - 1918

Unlike many of its neighbours in the Americas, Argentina remains neutral during the First World War against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire. This is despite many in the new immigrant communities voicing strong opinions for supporting their former homelands. Many British and German immigrants return home from Argentina to fight for the countries of their birth.

Vienna in 1918
With the various peoples who made up its ethnically-diverse population pulling apart from it in 1918, Vienna was left with a rump state which greatly reduced its power and significance in post-Austro-Hungarian empire Europe

President Hipólito Yrigoyen expresses detest for this sentiment and instead concentrates on selling war materials to both sides. The subsequent German sinking of several Argentine ships places that profitable neutrality under severe strain, as do anti-German protests in Argentina, so towards the later days of the war it is the allies who gain the best of Argentina's exports.

1922 - 1928

Marcelo T de Alvear

President.

1928 - 1930

Hipólito Irigoyen / Yrigoyen

President. Remained a radical. Deposed in a coup.

1930 - 1933

Argentina's 'Década Infame' ('Infamous Decade') begins now and actually lasts until 1943. It begins with a coup against President Hipólito Yrigoyen (remarkably still in office). Led by José Félix Uriburu this act serves to begin the country's destabilisation, with political corruption and oppression becoming commonplace.

The Great Depression also plays a large role, destroying the businesses of many small farmholders and increasing the need for more expensive importation. An increasing number of now penniless rural folk are forced to migrate to the cities, living in makeshift traveller towns on the urban edges.

In 1933, the writer, philosopher, and politician, Arturo Jauretche joins up with two army colonels to launch an uprising in the Corrientes province of north-eastern Argentina. The uprising fails and Jauretche is detained.

President Hipolito Yrigoyen of Argentina
President Hipólito Yrigoyen, in office twice between 1916 and 1930, survived an assassination attempt during the Great Depression years and helped to ensure the safety of US President Hoover during his visit in 1928, but a military coup in 1930 swept away the country's vestiges of democracy

In the same year, Vice-President Julio Argentino Roca Jr signs the Roca-Runciman Treaty with Great Britain. As Argentina's main economic partner, Britain secures beneficial import and export rates in the face of the Great Depression. The agreement also greatly benefits Argentina whilst tying it closely to Britain in terms of trade. Roca goes so far as to say that Argentina is now '...part of the British Empire'.

1930 - 1932

José Félix Uriburu

Coup leader and self-appointed president of provisional gov.

1932 - 1938

Agustín Pedro Justo

President.

1935

Argentina begins a process of replacing imported goods and services with equivalents which are made at home. This process of rapid industrialisation also triggers the rapid growth of unions, so much so that a forty-eight hour general strike is declared in January 1936. There is minor violence attached to this, with six people being killed.

1938 - 1942

Roberto M Ortiz

President. Incapacitated in 1940, with VP acting in his name.

1942 - 1943

Ramón S Castillo

President (until 4 June 1943).

1943

Over a decade of economic damage which has been caused by the Great Depression has resulted in growing social discontent. Now, another coup is triggered, known as the 'Revolution of '43'. Within the country's military forces a nationalist faction has developed with fascistic leanings, known as the 'Grupo de Oficiales Unidos' (GOU).

Pathe News clip covering the Revolution of '43 in Argentine
Revolt in Argentina, Pathe Gazette item (43/55), Buenos Aires, Argentina: riots break out as General Pedro Ramirez and General Arturo Rawson take over from President Ramon Castillo in a military coup (FILM ID:1842.31)

Shortly after joining itself to another party to form the fascist Recuperacion Nacional political party, it follows Arturo Rawson when he and Pedro Pablo Ramírez depose acting president Ramón Castillo, ending the 'Infamous Decade' but leading to further destabilisation and more coups.

1943

Arturo Rawson Corvalán

Military general and usurper. Three-day 'president'. Deposed.

1943 - 1944

Pedro Pablo Ramírez Machuca

Military general and usurper. Replaced Rawson.

1944 - 1946

Edelmiro Julián Farrell Plaul

Nominated successor.

1945

Argentina joins the Second World War as an ally of the USA and Great Britain on 27 March 1945 against Japan and Germany. With Britain's firm support, it had largely remained superficially neutral, as in the First World War, even in the face of strong pressure from the USA.

Representatives of fifty countries gather at the 'United Nations Conference on International Organization' in California's San Francisco, USA, between 25 April and 26 June 1945. In that time they draft and then sign the UN charter, which creates this new international organisation. It is hoped that it will be able to prevent another world war like the one just ended. Argentina joins the United Nations on 24 October, one day after its formation.

Founding of the United Nations
In San Francisco, USA, in summer 1945, representatives of fifty countries signed the United Nations charter to establish a new, international body which was tasked with upholding the human rights of citizens the world over

1946

Following a rapid series of leaders and coups, General Perón wins an election to become president and head a popularist government alongside his second wife, Eva Perón, née Duarte, as a highly influential figurehead.

The basis of their power is the mass support of the former farmers and other dispossessed who are largely living in slums and shanty towns. With them a movement is born which is known as Peronism, with the supporters called Peronistas (probably made more memorable to the world at large thanks to the stage and screen musical, Evita).

1946 - 1955

Juan Domingo Perón Sosa

President (and dictator, until 21 Sep 1955). Peronist.

1952 - 1955

Eva Perón dies of cancer at the age of thirty-three in 1952. Former army general, President Juan Perón, is deposed by a coup in 1955 which is lead by Lieutenant-General Arturo Arana Ossorio. He flees into exile in Spain. New elections are arranged for the end of the decade and Perón's Peronist party is outlawed (although it does survive and today is largely represented by the Justicialist Party).

Eva and Juan Peron
Maria Eva Duarte de Perón, otherwise known as Eva Perón (centre), was the second wife of President Juan Domingo Perón (on the right) and the First Lady of Argentina between 1946 and her untimely death in 1952, and it was her 'common touch' with the poor which largely created the mystique around her image and life story

1955

José Domingo Molina Gómez

Chairman of the military junta. Arrested and deposed.

1955

Eduardo Ernesto Lonardi Doucet

Conciliatory army lieutenant-general. Ruled 3 mths. Deposed.

1955 - 1958

Pedro Eugenio Aramburu Cilveti

Army general. Allowed elections in 1958.

1956

The Peronistas launch an attempted coup under the leadership of General Juan José Valle. It is largely botched and the general is arrested. He and twenty-six other Peronist militants are executed.

1958

Pedro Eugenio Aramburu allows elections for the next president to go ahead, promptly retiring from the army once his own duties have been concluded. Arturo Frondizi is elected in a one-candidate process, and remains in office for about four years.

1958 - 1962

Arturo Frondizi Ercoli

President after democratic elections. Deposed by coup.

1962

President Arturo Frondizi is deposed by yet another military coup. The fractious Argentine military object to the election of Andrés Framini as governor of the highly prominent and important Buenos Aires province and, despite Frondizi backtracking, they launch a coup which deposes him on 29 March 1962.

1962 - 1963

José María Guido

Civilian allowed, with reluctance, by the army to govern.

1963 - 1966

President Guido annuls 1962's election results, and the Peronist party is again banned. The country remains severely unstable, with rival military factions frequently combating each other for superiority. The Argentine Navy Revolt is triggered in 1963, although this is successfully suppressed. Democratic elections take place which see Arturo Umberto Illia become president.

Peronistas
The marching masses of the Peronistas - vocal supporters of Juan Peron during his first two terms of the presidential office - offer a powerful representation of Argentina's troubled twentieth century

1963 - 1966

Arturo Umberto Illia Francesconi

President. Radical Civic Union of the People. Deposed.

1966

A revolutionary junta secures control of the country, with a military president again in power. Unlike previous coups, this one does not pave the way for fresh democratic elections. The military remains in charge, and political parties are suspended.

1966 - 1970

Juan Carlos Onganía Carballo

Refused to resign, and was toppled by military junta.

1970

Pedro Alberto José Gnavi

Military general.

1970 - 1971

Roberto Marcelo Levingston Laborda

Self-appointed military 'president'. Deposed.

1971 - 1973

Alejandro Agustín Lanusse Gelly

Military. Allowed elections to replace him in office.

1973 - 1976

The elections of 1973 pave the way for the return of Juan Perón. He wins elections to serve a third term as president but his death in 1974 leaves his third wife and vice-president, Isabel Perón, as his successor. A coup in March 1976 displaces her and re-introduces military rule during the worst period of repression the country has seen.

1973

Héctor José Cámpora Demaestre

President (May-Jul). Justicialist Liberation Front.

1973

Raúl Alberto Lastiri

Acting president (Jul-Oct).

1973 - 1974

Juan Domingo Perón Sosa

President (from Oct 1973). Justicialist. Died in office.

1974

Having gained the post of president through democratic means after his various previous adventures in and out of office, Juan Perón dies just a year later, in 1974. His vice-president is his third wife, María Estela Martínez de Perón, usually known as Isabel. She takes up the reigns of power for the next three years.

Isabel Peron, Argentina's first vice-president, and first female president
María Estela Martínez de Perón, or 'Isabelita', as she was usually known, was born in La Rioja in 1931 and was the first Argentine vice-president

1974 - 1976

Isabel Perón

First female president (& widow). Justicialist. Deposed.

1975 - 1976

In September and October 1975, Italo Argentino Luder (Justicialist) is acting president for Perón. But on 26 March 1976 General Roberto Eduardo Viola leads a coup which overthrows Perón. Military commanders form a junta which acts as head of state for five days, but it is this which continues to rule Argentina until 1983.

According to the Post, the coup is led by General Jorge Rafael Videla, the army commander. Perón, whose government has generally fostered anarchy and terror, had appointed him general commander of the army in 1975.

He had ruthlessly and enthusiastically carried out the president's practices of human rights abuses, polishing his techniques for later use during the military rule of the country. On 24 March 1976 he arranges for air force pilots to fly her by helicopter to an isolated province. Then he and his fellow military commanders, General Orlando Ramón Agosti (commander of the air force) and Admiral Emílio Eduardo Massera (commander of the navy) form the junta which will rule until 1983. Perón is deposed to the general relief of the population.

1976 - 1981

Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo

Military 'president' and coup leader.

1981

Roberto Eduardo Viola Prevedini

Military 'president' (Mar-Dec). Deposed.

1981

Carlos Alberto Lacoste

Interim military interim 'president' (Dec only).

1981 - 1982

Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri

Military 'president'. Deposed.

1982

Argentina occupies the Falkland Islands by force. When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sends a British taskforce to reclaim the islands, Peru promises to support Argentina while Chile sides with Britain.

The sinking of the Belgrano
The sinking of the Argentine cruiser the General Belgrano was an act of the first stage of the Falklands War, fought at sea before British troops landed on the islands themselves

The humiliating Argentine defeat forces the collapse of General Galtieri's regime and an eventual return to elected government. Galtieri is almost immediately removed from office and two short-term caretaker presidents oversee the re-establishment of an elected civilian government.

1982

Alfredo Óscar Saint-Jean

Military 'president' (Jun-Jul only).

1982 - 1983

Reynaldo Benito Bignone Ramayón

Military 'president'.

1983

Reynaldo Bignone is unpopular as the military's imposed president. The recessions of the late 1970s have seen minor recoveries but the country's financial state is far from rosy. The climb towards the return of democracy becomes inevitable, and elections are held in October to select a new president. Raúl Alfonsín becomes the country's first elected head of state since Juan Peron in 1973.

1983 - 1989

Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín Foulkes

Democratically-elected president. Radical Civic Union.

1989 - 1999

Carlos Saúl Menem Akil

President. Justicialist.

1999 - 2001

Feranando de la Rúa Bruno

President (until 21 Dec 2001). Radical Civic Union. Resigned.

2001

Argentina experiences the 'December 2001 Uprising' in which rioting and acts of civil unrest take place across the country. The larger cities suffer the most in what is primarily an expression of protest at the continuation of another economic crisis by a largely middle-class demographic.

The country's peso has been tied to the US dollar in an effort to halt the hyperinflation of the late 1980s, but this has left Argentines themselves with little direct control of the country's finances. A revaluation of the dollar in 1997 has worsened Argentina's exports situation, and the crisis reaches breaking point in November 2001 when people start withdrawing their entire savings from the banks.

Argentina's economic crisis of 2001
Argentina reined in inflation during the 1990s by linking the value of the peso to the US dollar, along with heavy privatisation, but a deep recession at the start of the twenty-first century culminated in a default and a further devaluation of the peso

A banking collapse is barely avoided by the imposition of strict spending restrictions, but this is the final spark for the uprising. The president sees that he has no choice but to resign, and ends up fleeing the presidential palace, the Casa Rosada, in a military helicopter.

After this the violence dies down and the country gradually returns to normality, but this takes time, and more than one interim president is caused a good deal of trouble by it before proper elections can take place.

2001

Frederico Ramón Puerta

Acting president (21-23 Dec). Justicialist.

2001 - 2002

Adolfo Rodríguez Saá Páez Montero

Interim president (23 Dec 2001- 1 Jan 2002). Justicialist.

2001 - 2002

Eduardo Óscar Camaño

Acting president (from 31 Dec 2001). Justicialist.

2002 - 2003

Eduardo Alberto Duhalde Maldonado

Interim president, completing de la Rúa's term of office.

2003

The election of Néstor Kirchner to the post of president is the start of a remarkable reversal in the country's economic fortunes. Unemployment is dramatically turned around and social security policies are improved to help the poorest people.

President Néstor Kirchner of Argentina
A former lawyer and governor of Santa Cruz province, Néstor Kirchner not only served a successful first term of office under his own name, he was also 'First Gentleman' during his wife's first term of office

Kirchner is a member of the Justicialist Party, largely seen as the descendant of the Peronists of the mid-twentieth century. He is succeeded as president by his wife, Cristina Kirchner, before dying after suffering a heart attack in 2010.

2003 - 2007

Néstor Kirchner

Democratically-elected president. Died 2010.

2003 - 2010

Kirchner is a member of the Justicialist Party, largely seen as the descendant of the Peronists of the mid-twentieth century. He is succeeded as president by his wife, Cristina Kirchner, before dying after suffering a heart attack in 2010.

2007 - 2015

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

President (and wife of Néstor). Justicialist / Front for Victory.

2012

While never questionable in fact, the ownership of the Falkland Islands is raised by President Cristina Kirchner. She uses the issue to mask her growing unpopularity at home during the thirtieth anniversary of the conflict to expel Argentine troops from the island.

Despite repeated assurances by the islands' residents themselves that they are quite happy to remain British, Kirchner ignores them completely, instead attempting to score political points and garner support amongst likeminded governments. However, Argentina's military power is so weak after years of cutbacks and purges that it is unable to offer a convincing military threat to the islanders' independence.

David Cameron and Cristina Kirchner
President Kirchner fails in an attempt to 'handbag' British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G20 industrial nations summit on 19 June 2012, the attempt largely being seen as an attempt to deflect her declining approval ratings and allegations of financial impropriety at home

2015

Although the president had inherited a successful economy, it has nevertheless remained sluggish since 2011 while inflation has increased. Kirchner's successor as the Peronist 'Front for Victory' candidate is narrowly beaten in the elections of this year following a second round of voting. The new president is Mauricio Macri, the country's first non-Peronist since 1916 to be able to complete a term of office without being deposed.

2015

Federico Pinedo

Acting president (10 hrs, 10 Dec). Republican Proposal.

2015 - 2019

Mauricio Macri

President. Republican Proposal.

2019

Macri has been unable to get on top of the country's economic woes. In fact the GDP has shrunk even further. He loses the 2019 elections by a clear margin, ushering in a Justicialist president who has as his vice-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. This is despite ongoing accusations of corruption during her presidency, and that of her late husband.

2019 - 2023

Alberto Fernández

President. Justicialist / Frente de Todos.

2023

Viewed by many as a weak administrator who is hostage to the views of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Alberto Fernández announces that he will not run during the 2023 presidential elections.

Argentina's President Milei
After surprising Argentina with his victory in the electoral primaries, and then falling short in the first round, Mr Milei curbed some of his excesses and sought to portray himself as more moderate in the runoffs

 

Instead, the election is won, after a second round, by fifty-three year-old Javier Milei, a climate-denying populist who is known by the nickname 'El Loco' ('the Madman'). He vows to abolish the central bank and 'dollarise' the economy in order to overcome a financial calamity which has left forty percent of Argentina's forty-five million citizens in poverty and has pushed inflation to more than 140%.

2023 - On

Javier Milei

President. Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances).

 
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