Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Argentina´s Bicentennary: 200 Years of the Mayo Revolution

Today, Argentina is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Mayo Revolution. In 1810, King Carlos IV and his son, Fernando VII, abdicated as Kings of Spain. As a result, the Spanish colonnies in the south - the "virreinatos" - were allowed to govern their affairs. This led to the "Mayo Revolution," and the "Open Cabildo" claimed that it was the representative of the will of the people. There are, of course, many accounts of the Mayo Revolution. But the most usual one says that the Revolution, as it is usually the case, was due to the fact that local producers were not allowed to export to countries other than Spain. We are told that the Revolution was led by liberal thinkers like Mariano Moreno, who supported ending trade barriers and the Spanish trading monopoly in the virreinato.

Regardless of what is the proper explanation of the Mayo Revolution, 200 years have gone by. Today, 2 million people celebrated in downtown Buenos Aires. The celebration had started last Saturday and, perhaps, the two highest moments were re-opening of Teatro Colón, a magnificent opera house, very well-known for its incredible acoustics, and the light and sound show at the Cabildo at Plaza de Mayo - the main square, where the historical political speeches took place.

The celebrations did not go without critics. Left wing parties and picketeers camped at the National Congress under the "we have nothing to celebrate" slogan, in opposition to the official celebration. Also, other social sectors as the agricultural sector celebrated the anniversary, but did not attend the official celebration in downtown Buenos Aires.

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