Recognizing ourselves is the first thing that gives us identity, what tells us who and what we are, like when we introduce ourselves to a stranger, saying our name is the first step to reach that particularity. In the case of our country, however, it was a territory that as part of its history -and different interests- was called in various ways until it reached the name we know today.
The first association of the area with a proper name was made by the Spanish navigator Juan Díaz de Solís in 1516. Solís called the region “Sweet sea” (in reference to its dimension since the water was not salty, since it was a river) but years later, and due to these same conditions, its name would change when it was baptized again by the Italian Sebastián Gaboto as Silver river.
By the year 1554, the situation would change again with its appearance in one of the cartographic pieces of the Portuguese Lopo Homen. On this occasion, the denomination was his “Argentine Land”, which comes from the Latin Argentum and means silver. Later, in 1602, when a book with these maps was published in Lisbon, the term “Argentina”, but then it was not something official and even less well known in the area to which it referred.
The Latinization of the name appears in 1602, when the Spanish priest Martin del Barco Centenerapublished a long poem on the history of the Silver river and of the kingdoms of Peru, Tucumán and the south of present-day Brazil, under the title Argentina.
Centenera, who did not stand out for her qualities or social behavior, which caused her to lose the “inquisitorial office” when she arrived in Lima, presents herself as a person who accepts the truth of what is happening, and who constantly urges the reader to Trust your narrative. When he, who arrived as a member of Juan Ortiz de Zárate’s expedition, in his text mentions the monstrous, he refers to the excess and scarcity that afflict the conqueror: hunger, anthropophagy and the adversity of the climate. . But he also stops to describe the mighty river tributaries. And it is in that reference that he used the term “Argentine” as an adjective to name the Río Paraná (Argentine River) and its region, while Argentina turned out to be the name chosen for the poem.
As to “Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata”, this was born as an interpretation of the road when observing the passage from Potosí to Buenos Aires. The anecdotal thing is that despite not finding the riches, that fabulous previous idea of the wonders that he hoped to discover, and it never happens, Centenera ends up defining the expedition in which he arrived as intruders in the territory, and his final legacy becomes a kind of denunciation of the true objective of the conqueror: not be to evangelize but to enrich.
Some ten years later, in 1612, the first historian born in the territory, Ruy Diaz de Guzman published the book History of the Discovery, Population, and Conquest of the Río de la Platacalling the territory as “Argentine Land, Silver Land or Silver Land” .
Poetry and myth prevailed in this imaginary of believing that these lands were a path to a silver or golden paradise, that in these lands countless treasures were waiting to be discovered, perhaps these treasures were not gold and silver but the land itself.
Then to organize, control its colonies, be able to counteract smuggling in the South Atlantic and taking advantage of occupied England -which was in the middle of the War of Independence of its northern colonies- the King Carlos III of Spain decided through the so-called “Bourbon Reforms” to create in 1776 the Viceroyalty of the River Plate with capital in Buenos Aires. But it would not be the final toponym.
The denomination adopted, from 1810, was United Provinces of the River Plate, but the curious fact is that, three years later, it is already called the way we know it today in the original version of the national anthem presented in the Assembly of the year 1813 by Vicente López y Planes:
“…Argentines dares to you!
The pride of the vile invader,
Your fields are already counting
So many glories to tread victorious…”
However, it was not yet time. In 1816, Congress proclaimed independence, using the name of “United Provinces of the Río de la Plata in South America”.
In the war of emancipation the term was not used frequently. term “Argentina”the apparent reason is that this was associated with the hegemonic Buenos Aires, and therefore, did not include an integration factor between the provinces.
With the Constitution of the Argentinian republicof December 24, 1826, this designation is made official, although due to its unitary nature, the Constitution never entered into force but it did set the precedent for the term.
Some time later and due to the confrontation between the federals and the unitaries, Juan M. de Rosas adopted the use of the denomination “Argentine Confederation”, “Republic of the Argentine Confederation” and “Argentine Federation”.
Already without the figure of the Buenos Aires Caudillo, the 1853 constitution was sanctioned in the name of the people of the Argentine Confederation, but the National Convention of Santa Fe modified the constitutional text promulgating it on October 1, 1860.
On October 8, in the city of Paraná, the President Santiago Derqui decreed that “being convenient in this regard to establish uniformity in administrative acts, the Government has come to agree that for all these acts the denomination Argentinian republic” established in article 35.
Silver, Silverthis precious metal that lent us its name indefinitely is the one that perhaps marks us with our particular idiosyncrasy, in which -ironically as thought since the conquest-, the wealth of these lands is, in reality, in so many other things.