Argentine War of Independence
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The Primera Junta or First Assembly is the name given by history to the first government that appeared in Argentina after the May Revolution. The junta operated out of El Fuerte , which had been used since 1776 as a residence by the viceroys. Once the junta, which initially only had representatives from Buenos Aires, was expanded with the addition of deputies from the other cities of the former Rio de la Plata, it became popularly known as the Junta Grande.
Creation of the Primera Junta
This Juntaofficially named the Junta Provisional Gubernativa de las Provincias del Rio de la Plata a nombre del Senor Don Fernando VII (Provisional Governing Junta of the Provinces of Rio de la Plata in the Name of Senor Don Ferdinand VII)allegedly meant to govern in the name of the King of Spain, while he was imprisoned by Napoleon Bonaparte. Juntas were a form of transitional or emergency government, which attempted to maintain Spanish sovereignty, that emerged during the Napoleonic invasion in Spanish cities that had not succumbed to the French. The most important for Spanish America was the Junta of Seville, which claimed sovereignty over the overseas possessions, given the fact that the province of Seville historically had enjoyed exclusive rights to the American trade. Its claims had been rejected by Spanish Americans, and its authority was quickly superseded by a Supreme Central Junta of Spain, which included American representation.
When the Supreme Central Junta abolished itself in 1810, the politically active inhabitants of Buenos Aires saw no better moment than this to establish a local government. They had been influenced by the recent democratic and republican philosophical wave and were also concerned about the commercial monopoly exerted by the Spanish crown, which was suffocating the local economy. Historically Buenos Aires province had partially mitigated this problem through contraband. Local politicians, such as former council member and legal advisor to the viceroy, Juan Jose Castelli, who wanted a change towards self-government and free commerce, cited traditional Spanish political theory and argued that the King being imprisoned, sovereignty had returned to the people. The people were to assume the government until the King returned, just like the subjects in Spain had done two years earlier with the establishment of juntas. The Viceroy and his supporters countered that the colonies belonged to Spain and did not just have a political relationship with only the King. Therefore they should follow any governmental body established in Spain as the legal authority, namely the Supreme Central Junta of Spain and its successor, the Council of Regency.
The meeting of a Buenos Aires cabildo abierto during May 22, 1810, came under strong pressure from the militias and a crowd that formed in front of the cabildo hall on the Plaza Mayor (today the Plaza de Mayo), up to May 25. The crowd favoured the stance of the local politicians, and the cabildo ended up creating the Primera Junta, the first form of local government in the territory that would later become Argentina. Spain would never recover its dominion over that territory. From the very beginning of the new government, two factions manifested their differences, a more radical one, whose visible leader was the Junta's Secretary, Mariano Moreno, and the conservative wing that supported the Junta's President, Cornelio Saavedra.
In general the principles of the May Revolution were popular sovereignty, principle of representativeness and federalization, division of powers and duration of the mandates, and publication of the government's actions
Members of the Primera Junta
* Cornelio Saavedra
* Mariano Moreno
* Juan Jose Paso
* Manuel Alberti
* Miguel de Azcuenaga
* Manuel Belgrano
* Juan Jose Castelli
* Domingo Matheu
* Juan Larrea
The Primera Junta's Duration and Transformation
The junta's main actions and accomplishments were many. It invited the provinces to send deputies to participate in a Congress (May 27), created La Gazeta de Buenos Aires by a decree, making it the first newspaper to be used for creole political propaganda, founded the Public Library and fomented primary education, attended to Native American needs and the health care of the general population, created the first Navy Squad and the Army, created the Department of Commerce and War, opened the Military School of Mathematics, opened new ports to speed up exportation of products, promoted the selling of lands in border zones, to incite population of the whole territory and take advantage of the natural resources, ordered the vanishment of the viceroy Cisneros, ordered the arrest of Santiago de Liniers, sent Mariano Moreno in a diplomatic mission to London, after his resignation as junta secretary, sent military expeditions to Paraguay and Upper Peru.
The dynamic secretary of the Primera Junta, Mariano Moreno, quickly relegated president Cornelio Saveedra to second place. Militia authorities, fearing the loss of power by Saavedra, pressured the Junta to control Moreno. Moreno, on the other hand, succeeded getting the approval of decrees that limited Saavedra and others. By December 1810 tension reached its peak. Saavedra got the support of deputies sent by the provices from the interior of country but which had not yet been allowed to join the Junta. With this backing Saavedra gave Moreno his most serious political setback: he forced Moreno to present his resignation on December 18. With this resignation, the integration of the deputies from the other provinces to the Junta became possible.
Created on May 25, 1810, the Primera Junta was thus transformed on December 18 of the same year into the new Junta Grande by the introduction of representatives from other provinces of Rio de la Plata.
Halperin-Donghi, Tulio. Politics, Economics, and Society in Argentina in the Revolutionary Period. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1975. ISBN 9780521204934
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Primera Junta