History of Corrientes

Corrientes, Between War and Peace The native people who dwelled the area occupied by Corrientes at present were the Guaraníes. They were divided into various tribes. They had a mood for war, which printed particular features on the region and on its historical records. The settlement of the Jesuit missions on the Uruguay River began with the foundation of Santa Ana on the Iberá Lagoon in 1615. In 1626, Yapeyú was founded. The borders of Yapeyú and the jurisdiction of Corrientes were marked by the course of the Miriñay River. The civilizing undertaking carried out by the Company of Jesus in the settlements of the Uruguay River was a high exponent of organization in the religious, cultural, social and economical scopes. Once their real aims changed, the encomiendas became a slavery system that kept countless tribes far from the civilizing actions and encouraged them to remain under a constant state of rebelliousness and hostility. That condition of incessant struggle, with primitive and wild features, gave rise to an extraordinary warrior spirit in the Corrientes people. Corrientes also had to put up with the decisions made by the governors of the Río de la Plata, who tended to favor the interests of the Company of Jesus. When the Jesuit missions left the area, the conflict came to an end. The first colonizing expedition that arrived in the River Plate was Juan Díaz de Solís', in January 1516. He disembarked on the shores of Uruguay. After this settlement, Solís was attacked and killed by the local Indians. It was not until June 1527 that Sebastián Caboto got deep into the Paraná River and founded the Sancti Spiritus Fort. Then, he returned to Spain in 1530, carrying the legend of “The Silver Mountain Range and the lands of the White King". That legend led Charles I to finance Pedro de Mendoza's overseas expedition in 1536. The governor of Asunción del Paraguay, Juan Torres de Vera y Aragón, along with Hernando Arias de Saavedra, founded the City of San Juan de Vera de las Siete Corrientes on the spot known as Punta Arazatí -which in the Guaraní tongue means “guayabo wood”-, in the territory occupied today by Corrientes, in April 3, 1588. Thus, a port was consolidated in order to guarantee further backup for navigation, exploration and colonization of the lands spreading between the River Plate and the Paraguay River. As a result of the mixture between the Spaniards and the Indians, moods and features that distinguished both races appeared among the population. Two languages were spoken indistinctly: Spanish and Guaraní. The violence used by the Spaniards to dominate the natives turned out to be counterproductive and harmful for the pacific development of life in these territories. Once the city was founded and the surrounding shires occupied, relationships between the conquerors and the Guaraní Indians living in the area became more peaceful. The foundation core of the city of Corrientes was made up by bilingual mestizos coming from Asunción, the founding city. That is to say, individuals who spoke Guaraní and Spanish, in that order of preference. The Spanish families that arrived in the area after three years soon acquired the tongue of the Guaraníes and the mestizos, and their very children, born there, were bilingual since childhood. These ethnical and linguistic elements gave shape to the primitive society of Corrientes. The period of the conquest and colonization filtered in some bellicosity among the men from Corrientes. In 1763, the movement of comuneros (villagers) of the Paraguay had repercussions in Corrientes, where a group called "comuneros correntinos" (villagers from Corrientes) was formed by men who wanted to get rid of the central government. In 1630, the black race was introduced. In 1807, Corrientes passed its first heroism test when it contributed to defend Buenos Aires from the English invasions with the Cuerpo de Cazadores Correntinos (Body of Hunters from Corrientes). Since 1818 and until 1820, Corrientes was occupied by Andrés Guaykurarí, who led the Indians in the missions. Corrientes recovered its freedom due to the uprising led by Lucio Mansilla against López Jordán. In December 11, 1821, during the government of Juan José Fernández Blanco, the Constitution of the Province of Corrientes was proclaimed. It was Pedro Ferré, its first governor, who introduced bill notes in 1826. In December 28, 1839, governor Genaro Berón de Astrada, authorized by the Congress, declared war against Rosas. On December 31, Rosas' troops defeated the soldiers from Corrientes and Berón de Astrada was tortured and executed in the battle of Pago Largo. Echagüe took hold of Corrientes. In January 28, Corrientes declared war against Rosas once again, but Uribe, leading 9,000 men, defeated the army from Corrientes in the Battle of Arroyo Grande. Victories and defeats followed one another and Corrientes could not beat Rosas, until in 1852, Urquiza's army and the forces from Corrientes, led by Coronel Miguel Virasoro (governor of Corrientes), defeated Rosas' armies in the battle of Monte Caseros. In April 24, 1855, the municipality regime was established. On April 25, that same yar, the Constitutional Convention was settled down and on October 12, the Provincial Constitution was proclaimed. In May 25, 1865, the Paraguayan forces invaded the area. Escuadra and his army took the city of Corrientes. The armies from Corrientes defended the province with weapons bought by each fighter until Buenos Aires sent its troops. The war lasted until 1869. In 1889, don Gervasio J. Ruiz became governor. Revolutionary strikes continued until Valentín Virasoro took office. He started a stage of peaceful changes of government, while the Liberal and Autonomist parties followed one another among great strain and political struggle. In 1909, both parties became united. Since the second half of the XIX century, countless villages and colonies have been founded, which led to the definitive population of the province.
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