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Where in the World is Buenos Aires?

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Documentary Buenos Aires The most beautiful of America

Buenos Aires became one of the main cities in the world as the capital of an agrarian exportation country. The paradox of an urban society in an agrarian country was deeply felt in the urban landscape, the politics and culture of this city. A study in prospect of the town must therefore bear as a starting point the form in wich historical contradiction influenced cultural and political habits in Buenos Aires, wich were largely responsible for creating the singular character of Argentine history in this century, by Eddy Bonfim.

Photo from: Wikipedia

THE historic city of Buenos Aires, the capital of the South American nation of Argentina, is not only Argentina’s largest city, but the second largest city in South America. Located on Argentina’s east coast, stretching north-south along the western bank of the Rio de Plata, it is home to stunning architecture, an educated and prosperous population, and is the financial, political, cultural and artistic center of Argentina. Buenos Aires was originally settled by the Spanish as they explored South America, but is heavily influenced by the Italian, French, German and other Europeans who came to the city. The people of Buenos Aires are known as “portenos,” because the city is a port city, and portenos cling to their European heritages. In Buenos Aires, you will see many Italian and German last names along with Spanish. The city’s architecture also bears European influence, its great buildings built in Italian, French and Spanish styles.

Photo: Depiction of Juan de Garay and the second founding of Buenos Aires, 1580

Buenos Aires is home to one of the finest opera houses in the world, the Teatro Colon, and is the birthplace of the tango, a popular and dramatic form of ballroom dancing.

Buenos Aires was first settled by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza in 1536, but Mendoza’s settlers were driven out by native tribes in 1541. In 1580, Spanish explorer Juan de Garay established a second, and permanent settlement. Buenos Aires means “fair wind,” and was an abbreviation for a much longer name Mendoza had given the city years earlier.

A large and lucrative cattle ranching industry also developed. Now too powerful to be attacked by native tribes, Buenos Aires was the target of foreign powers and pirates. In the early 1800s, the city was twice attacked by England. Though neither attack was successful, they convinced the people of Argentina to seek their independence from Spain, which they won in 1816.

However, Argentina would struggle to govern itself. France and Spain both made attempts to gain control of Argentina shortly after it won its independence, but were rebuffed. Internally, conflicts between rich and poor and political differences between the provinces, undermined the government’s stability. Brutal dictators, military juntas, and secret police who arrested, imprisoned, tortured and killed political dissidents, are very much part of Argentina’s, and Buenos Aires, history.

Photo: Corrientes Avenue, reflective of a second construction boom between 1945 and 1980

One of the darkest moments in Buenos Aires history occurred in 1955 when the Argentinean Navy, under the control of political opponents of President Juan Peron, bombed Buenos Aires in an attempt to remove Peron from power. But no chapter of Argentinean history was darker than the period, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, known as the “Dirty War.” Secret police, working for the military junta in control of the country, began to round up people suspected of opposing the government. According to some estimates, 30,000 citizens were executed during this time. Thousands of these people were never seen again, and their fates remain unknown to this day. They became known as the “disappeared,” and every year, the surviving mothers of the “disappeared” stage a march in Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires has now put its political problems behind it, and today is a peaceful, glamorous, sophisticated city, as well as top tourist destination.

Jan. 27, 2012, New York Post Classroom Extra

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