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Visiting the Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires, Argentina: historic Presidential Palace overlooking Plaza de Mayo
An intense history
For a host of historical and architectural reasons, the sight of the Casa Rosada (Pink House) in the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires is one which can arouse emotions wrought of weighty events and artistic impressions.
The building has been the seat of Argentina's President since the late 19th century (1). Here it was that General Juan Domingo Perón and First Lady Eva Duarte de Perón regaled their followers in highly emotional rallies. It is from here that President Isabel Martínez de Perón was dramatically airlifted by helicopter on March 24 1976, in the course of the military coup which installed what was known as the Process of National Reorganization (Spanish: Proceso de Reorganización Nacional )(2). It was in front of this building, on the Plaza de Mayo (May Square) that the mothers of the 'disappeared' campaigned for justice. It was here that Military leader General Galtieri received US Secretary of State Alexander Haig for crisis talks during the Falklands (Spanish: Malvinas ) conflict in 1982. It was here that President Raúl Alfonsín was installed in 1983 upon the reestablishment of Argentina's constitutional government.
The current building dates from the late 19th century, emerging from earlier public buildings on the same site. Among the architects who worked on the Casa Rosada was Francesco Tamburini (1846-1891), who was particularly responsible for the pillared, Italianate archway linking what had previously been separate structures.
September 7, 2012
(1) Technically it is the seat of government, with the official Presidential residence (not always used by Argentina's Presidents) being Quinta de Olivos, at Olivos, Buenos Aires province.
(2) This process which took on highly repressive aspects — some estimates give 30,000 as the number of people who disappeared at the hands of the authorities; others, less than a third of that number — is sometimes portrayed as brute militarism replacing a democratic President. However, the situation was more complex than this; because under the administration removed in March 1976, rival armed groups had been exacting a high toll in lives; Social Affairs Minister José López Rega under President Isabel Martínez de Perón (who, bizarrely, shared her minister's occultist preoccupations) is widely reckoned to be responsible for the deaths of many hundreds of political victims, and Marxist guerrillas waged a sanguinary conflict. Thus, in its early days the Junta which lasted until 1983 was supposedly the bringer of peace and order, with the support of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; but its repressive tendencies soon became apparent. Yet it can be hard for foreigners with strong preconceptions to grasp that, initially, the events of March 24, 1976 were actually welcomed by most Argentinians.
Also worth seeing
Visitor attractions Buenos Aires abound, but some of these include: the Metropolitan Cathedral, also facing Plaza de Mayo; the Congress Palace; the Obelisk and July 9 Avenue. Travellers to Buenos Aires may also find an excursion convenient to Montevideo (distance: 230.4 kilometres) in neighbouring Uruguay.
How to get there : United Airlines flies from Washington-Dulles Airport to Ministro Pistarini International Airport (or: 'Ezeiza'; Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Ministro Pistarini ), Buenos Aires , where car rental is available. Please check with appropriate consular sources regarding any visa requirements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date travel information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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