The Spanish arrived in 1516 and ruled the country for 300 years. In 1806, a British force overpowered Spanish military in Buenos Aires and attacked the Malvinas Islands, also called the Falkland Islands. Local residents recaptured the capital, but never regained control of the islands. These events led to the loosening of Spain's grip on Argentina. In 1810, Napoleon's forces conquered all major Spanish cities in Spain and the Argentine people were empowered to take control of their country. They gained independence in 1816. In 1946, Juan Perón became president due to his popularity with the working class. His wife, Eva, known as Evita, formed a foundation and gave out cash and benefits to the poor. When she died of cancer in 1952, the people were very sad. She was a symbol of hope to all the poor in Argentina. Juan Perón was forced out of office after he tried to increase his powers. Even after he left office, his followers continued to fight for political power. After many violent years and near civil war, Perón was re-elected president and his new wife, Isabel, became vice president. He died suddenly and Isabel became president and soon the country's economy fell apart. The military took control of the country in 1976, and a period of violence called the "dirty war" ensued, during which as many as 20,000-30,000 revolutionaries or sympathizers were killed. In 1982, the president of Argentina, General Leopoldo Galtieri invaded the Falkland Islands off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean thinking the British wouldn't put up a fight. Galtieri miscalculated and British forces won an easy victory. After the defeat, the country moved toward democracy and civilian rule.