Today in the Americas, Buenos Aires and Óscar Arias

Buenos Aires

The Founding of Buenos Aires

“The City of Our Lady Saint Mary of the Fair Winds” (Ciudad de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre), also known as Buenos Aires, Argentina, was founded today in 1536 by Pedro de Mendoza. Mendoza founded the city in what is today the San Telmo district, south of the city’s current center.

Mendoza was not the first to discover Buenos Aires. Juan Díaz de Solís was the first European in the Río de la Plata during his excursion in 1516. He was eventually attacked and killed by Charrúa tribe, an unlikely event today, in Uruguay.

Like my native Roanoke, Virginia, Buenos Aires was abandoned shortly after its founding until 1580 when Juan de Garay arrived via the Paraná River from Paraguay.

Oscar Arias

Óscar Arias

In 1984, the governments of Columbia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela (known as the Contadora Group) began to attempt at negotiating with Central American countries in an attempt to quell the violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. This group of foreign ministers drafted an accord meant to stop the violence. The plan fell through and the violence intensified.

On this day in 1986, Óscar Arias was elected President of Costa Rica, the only Central American country not smoldering in flames. In February 1987, Arias met with the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Hondruas in San Jose, Costa Rica. He presented each man with a set of accords that were based upon the Contadora drafts but went beyond them.

What became known as the Esquipulas II (after a Guatemalan town) held that each country would have to take specific steps toward democratization and negotiation with insurgents. It required “National Reconciliation,” which included creating a dialogue with opposition, amnesty for both sides, and a National Reconciliation Committee (which Guatemala is known for). It urged each government to promote an

authentic participatory and pluralistic democratic process involving promotion of social justice, respect for human rights, sovereignty, territorial integrity of the States, and the right of all countries to determine freely and without outside interference of any kind their economic, political and social models…

The plan urged free elections, cessation of aid to “Irregular forces or to Insurrectional Movements,” and agreements to sociably interact as nations with one another and reduce the levels of violence in the region.

The “Arias Peace Plan” was signed by all presidents on August 7, 1987. Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

Arias is currently the President of Costa Rica after the Constitutional Court voided an amendment that forbade re-elections. Arias, on March 7, 2006, defeated Ottón Solís by 18,169 votes (1.2%). Arias will more than likely to be remembered as the man who presided for Costa Rica changing from a coffee and banana state to a flower and tourism state. While that may be more appealing, he will be remembered as moving, along with the rest of Latin America in the 1980s, away from traditional models of economic development and into the neoliberal model.


~ by Daniel on February 2, 2009.

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