A brief history lesson prior to your fly fishing adventure:

BEGINNINGS

After the first travels of Christopher Columbus, in 1492, subsequent expeditions sailed out for the new world. One of them, led by Amerigo Vespucci, in 1502, was responsible for the Spaniards' first encounter with the lands that would later become the Argentine territory. By that time, this area of the south and Patagonia was inhabited by different groups of mostly nomadic indigenous peoples.

A short time afterwards, in 1516, in a failed attempt to find a passage connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, Juan Díaz de Solís had to end his expedition near the banks of Plata River. It was in these lands that Solís found his death by the Indians. Sebastián Gaboto, his successor, arrived with a new expedition sent by the Spanish King, Charles V. Gaboto established the first Spanish settlement, Fort Sancti Spiritu, in 1527.

In 1534, the conquest was left in the hands of Pedro de Mendoza, thanks to an agreement signed with Charles V. Two years later, Nuestra Señora del Buen Ayre was founded near the banks of Plata River. After Mendoza's death in Spain and the dismantlement of Nuestra Señora del Buen Ayre by the Indians, the Spanish Capital was moved in 1541 to Asuncion, Paraguay.

The definitive founding of Buenos Aires took place in 1580, by Juan de Garay, who in turn colonized most of the Argentine territory. The governorship was divided into two intendances in 1617, Asunción and Buenos Aires. From then on, different governors succeeded while missionary activity became stronger and the rivalry between Spain and Portugal, regarding the American colonies, increased.

After the establishment of the Virreinato del Río de la Plata in 1776, these lands began to stand out as a political and economic units of some relevance; a fact which did not pass unnoticed to British eyes. Furthermore, the decline of the Spanish empire brought about the attempted invasions by England in 1806 and 1807. Nevertheless, the sudden English attack ended in failure thanks to the strong resistance by the natives.

The first colonizers to arrive in South America were Spaniards. In a way, this happened by mere chance since they were basically searching for a passage to India. Motivated by the prospects of finding precious metals, it is not surprising that the Spanish crown should consider Lima rather than Buenos Aires, which only had virgin lands and nomadic tribes with hostile natives. That is why the Viceroyalty of Peru developed slowly, always under the shadows of the Inca Empire.

It was the interest aroused by the development of the port of Buenos Aires for countries such as Portugal (which expanded its colonizing campaigns up to Plata River), England and France, (which carried out expeditions in Patagonia and Malvinas) that made Spain aware of the importance and autonomy of this region.

Thus the Viceroyalty of Plata River was created in 1776. In the beginning, population density was distributed among different points of the interior, but, thanks to the prosperity of the stockbreeders and the merits of the port of Buenos Aires, from which leather, tallow and wool were exported, economic activity became increasingly centered in Buenos Aires.

When May Revolution broke out in 1810, Plata River was a valued business center which sought to get rid of the Spanish monopoly. European powers such as England, which was stronger than the worn-out Spanish empire, boosted the dismemberment of the Viceroyalty.

After the Napoleonic invasion of Spain and the consequent imprisonment of their king, a revolutionary wave broke out in the colony still ruled by the Virreinato del Río de la Plata. Perhaps under the influence of the recent independence processes in other countries, the criollos (natives) became their own policy-makers on May, 25, 1810.

On July, 9, 1816, the Congress of Tucumán proclaimed the independence of the Provincias Unidas de América del Sur (United Provinces of the South). But difficulties were far from ending and, in fact, had only just begun.

The first constitution enacted in 1819, created the legal framework for a unitary country; that is, the powers would center in the capital city. As could be expected, the provinces opposed this situation and proposed a federal regime which would give them some scope for autonomy. There was a bloody fight between Unitarians and Federals that dominated the political scene during the first long years of the young country.

In 1825, the fundamental law changed the name of Provincias Unidas de América del Sur to Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata. Finally, the 1826 Constitution made the United Provinces into the Argentine Nation. At this very moment there was a dismemberment of the territories which had made up the Virreinato del Río de la Plata. This breakdown became evident with the insurrection of the Banda Oriental (today Uruguay) and its subsequent surrender to Brazil.

Federalism partly achieved its goals with the 1853 Constitution, which, while establishing its regime, could not put an end to the confrontations between Buenos Aires and the provinces. The power of Buenos Aires as a city-port and a "master key" to the livestock exports (the basis of the Argentine economy) would condition the history of the country.



MODERNIZATION

When the War of Paraguay (1865-1870) ended (a war in which the alliance of Argentina with Uruguay and Brazil was named the Triple Alliance), the country began a stage of economic growth based on the export of livestock and agricultural products. This took place in a political background characterized by a long-awaited calm and finally the federalization of Buenos Aires in 1880.

The advent of modernity in the country brought new values and its own problems. For instance, there was a rise of new social sectors: the working classes, the industrial bourgeoisie and the middle classes, with the addition of large quantities of European (mostly Italian and Spanish) immigrants.

Democracy supervised the whole process although sometimes circumstances and governments had little to do with democratic policies. The confrontation between conservatives and radicals marked this stage, until, in 1930, the government came to a violent end due to a coup d'état led by General José Félix Uriburu. Institutional instability and the alternation of civil and military governments marked the political situation of the country over the next two decades. The crisis also impinged on the economy and confrontations between the agricultural, livestock and industrialist sectors had a leading role in Argentina's past instability.

Under these conditions President Juan Domingo Perón took office in 1946, with the support of vast popular masses. The implementation of new economical and social policies characterized Perón's two consecutive mandates. In 1955, however, a new coup d'état put an end to the Peronist government.

Between 1976 and 1983, Argentina lived its most heart-rending period. The military dictatorships which succeeded each other during those years were the most violent in the country's history. The systematic violation of the Human Rights and the accumulation of a monstrous foreign debt were the legacies of the military governments.

At last, in 1983, the country recovered its political foothold and its own stable democracy, which is still in force today.


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