Juan Perón: Wikis


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Juan Domingo Perón

In office
October 12, 1973 – July 1, 1974
Vice President Isabel Martínez
Preceded by Raúl Lastiri
Succeeded by Isabel Martínez

29th President of Argentina
(Two Terms)
In office
June 4, 1946 – June 3, 1952
June 4, 1952 – September 21, 1955
Vice President Hortensio Quijano (1946–52)
None (1952–54)
Alberto Teisaire (1954–55)
Preceded by Edelmiro Farrell
Succeeded by José Domingo Molina

In office
July 8, 1944 – October 10, 1945
President Edelmiro Julián Farrell
Preceded by Edelmiro Julián Farrell

In office
1952 – September 21, 1955
President Juan Perón
Preceded by Maria Eva Duarte de Perón

Born October 8, 1895(1895-10-08)
Lobos, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died July 1, 1974 (aged 78)
Olivos, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Argentine
Political party Justicialist
Spouse(s) Aurelia Tizón (1929–1938)
Eva Duarte (1945–1952)
Isabel Martínez (1961–1974)
Relations Mario Tomás Perón (father)
Juana Sosa Toledo (mother)
Profession Military, Secretary of Labor

Juan Domingo Perón (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxwan ðoˈmiŋgo peɾˈon] October 8, 1895 – July 1, 1974) was an Argentine general and politician, elected three times as President of Argentina, after serving in several government positions, including the Secretary of Labor and the Vice Presidency. He was overthrown in a military coup in 1955. He returned to power in 1973 and served for nine months, until his death in 1974 when he was succeeded by his third wife, Isabel Martínez.

Perón and his second wife, Eva, were immensely popular among many Argentinians, and to this day they are still considered icons by the Peronist Party. The Peróns' followers praised their efforts to eliminate poverty and to dignify labor, while their detractors considered them demagogues and dictators. The Peróns gave their name to the political movement known as peronismo, which in present-day Argentina is represented mainly by the Justicialist Party.


Childhood and youth

Perón was born in Lobos, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina on October 8, 1895. He was the son of Mario Tomás Perón, a farmer whose family was partly Scottish and Sardinian, and Juana Sosa Toledo, of partly Spanish and indigenous descent. Research undertaken by the Argentine journalist and writer Tomás Eloy Martínez in his books "Memoirs of the General", "The Perón Novel," and "The Lives of the General" indicates that Perón was probably illegitimate. When his parents married, they acknowledged Juan and his brother. It is believed this information was denied for years because it would have likely ruined Perón's career.[1] Both the books "Memoirs of the General" and "The Lives of the General" are biographical in nature, not fiction. In "The Lives of the General", on page 75 he quotes the date of 5 September 1901 as the marriage date and as his source the "Registro del Estado Civil of the Capital, Section 5" signed by Hernan H. Rubio which he says was authenticated on 8 May 1972.

Perón received a strict Catholic upbringing. His father migrated to the Patagonia region, where he purchased a sheep ranch; the undertaking failed, however, and the Peróns returned to Buenos Aires Province. He entered military school in 1911 at age 16 and, after graduation, he progressed through the ranks. Perón married his first wife, Aurelia Tizón ("Potota," as Perón fondly called her), on January 5, 1929, but she died of uterine cancer nine years later. In 1938, he was sent to Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Albania and Yugoslavia as a military observer, and became familiar with Benito Mussolini's government and other European governments of the time.[2]

Military government of 1943–1946

President Edelmiro Farrell (left) and his benefactor, Vice President Juan Perón, April, 1945.
Coronel J. D. Peron 1945-09-18 (1-3).ogg
Vice President Perón delivers his "from work to home" speech. (Spanish)

A June 1943 coup d’état was led by General Arturo Rawson against conservative President Ramón Castillo, who had been fraudulently elected to office.[3] The military was opposed to Governor Robustiano Patrón Costas, Castillo's hand-picked successor, the principal landowner in Salta Province, as well as a main stockholder in its sugar industry.

As a colonel, Perón took a significant part in the military coup by the GOU (United Officers' Group, a secret society) against the conservative civilian government of Castillo. At first an assistant to Secretary of War General Edelmiro Farrell, under the administration of General Pedro Ramírez, he later became the head of the then-insignificant Department of Labor. Perón's work in the Labor Department led to an alliance with the socialist and syndicalist movements in the Argentine labor unions. This caused his power and influence to increase in the military government.

After the coup, socialists from the CGT-Nº1 labor union, through mercantile labor leader Ángel Borlenghi and railroad union lawyer Juan Atilio Bramuglia, made contact with Perón and fellow GOU Colonel Domingo Mercante. They established an alliance to promote labor laws that had long been demanded by the workers' movement, to strengthen the unions, and to transform the Department of Labor into a more significant government office. Perón had the Department of Labor elevated to a cabinet-level secretariat in November 1943.[4]

Demonstration for Perón's release on one of Argentina's most fateful days (October 17 1945)

This post received national exposure following the devastating January 1944 San Juan earthquake, claiming over 10,000 lives and leveling the Andes range city. Junta leader Pedro Ramírez entrusted fundraising efforts to Perón, who marshalled celebrities from Argentina's large film industry and other public figures; for months, a giant thermometer hung from the Buenos Aires Obelisk. The effort's success earned Perón massive public approval and introduced him to a minor radio matinee star, Eva Duarte.[5]

The Peróns at their 1945 wedding.

Following President Ramírez's January 1944 suspension of diplomatic relations with the Axis Powers (against whom the new junta would declare war in March 1945), the GOU junta unseated him in favor of General Edelmiro Farrell, whose advent Perón was instrumental in. Perón became Vice President and Secretary of War, while retaining his Labor portfolio, leveraging his authority on behalf of striking abattoir workers and the right to unionize, he became increasingly thought of as presidential timber. On September 18, 1945, he delivered an address billed as "from work to home and from home to work." The speech, prefaced by an excoriation of the conservative opposition, provoked an ovation declaring that "we've passed social reforms to make the Argentine people proud to live where they live, once again." This move fed growing rivalries against the vice president and, on October 9, 1945, he was forced to resign by opponents within the armed forces. Perón was arrested four days later; but mass demonstrations organized by the CGT forced his release on October 17. His paramour, Eva Duarte, became hugely popular after helping the CGT organize the demonstration; known as "Evita", she helped Perón gain support with labor and women's groups. She and Perón were married on October 22.[5]

Domestic policy and first term (1946–1952)

Perón and his running mate, Hortensio Quijano, leveraged popular support to victory over a Radical Civic Union-led opposition alliance by about 11% in the February 24, 1946 presidential elections.

Perón on the cover of a labor union newsletter, 1945.
Ángel Borlenghi, an erstwhile socialist who, as Interior Minister, oversaw new labor courts and the opposition.

Perón's candidacy on the Labor Party ticket, announced the day after the October 17, 1945, mobilization, became a lightning rod that rallied an unusually diverse opposition against it. The majority of the centrist Radical Civic Union (UCR), the Socialist Party, Communist Party of Argentina and most of the conservative National Autonomist Party (in power during most of the 1874-1916 era), had already been forged into a fractious alliance in June by interests in the financial sector and the chamber of commerce, united solely by the goal of keeping Perón from the Casa Rosada. Organizing a massive kick-off rally in front of Congress on December 8, the Democratic Union nominated José Tamborini and Enrique Mosca, two prominent UCR congressmen. The alliance, however, failed to win over several prominent lawmakers, such as Congressmen Ricardo Balbín and Arturo Frondizi and former Córdoba governor Amadeo Sabattini, all of whom opposed the Union's ties to conservative interests. In a bid to support their campaign, U.S. Ambassador Spruille Braden published a white paper accusing Perón, President Farrell and others of Fascist ties and, fluent in Spanish, addressed Democratic Union rallies in person. Braden's move backfired, however, when Perón seized on this to make the election a choice between "Perón or Braden," while prevailing on the president to sign the nationalization of the Central Bank and the extension of mandatory Christmas bonuses, a shrewd move that contributed to his decisive victory.[6]

When Perón became president on June 4, 1946, his two stated goals were social justice and economic independence. These two goals avoided Cold War entanglements which would have occurred by choosing capitalism over socialism or vice versa, but there were no concrete means to achieve those goals. Perón instructed his economic advisors to develop a five-year plan aimed at increasing workers' pay, achieving full employment, stimulating industrial growth of over 40% while diversifying the sector (then dominated by food processing), and greatly improving transportation, communication, energy and social infrastructure (in the private, as well as public, sectors).[7]

Perón's planning prominently included political considerations, of course. Numerous military allies were fielded as candidates, notably Colonel Domingo Mercante who, when elected Governor the paramount Province of Buenos Aires, became renowned for his housing program. Having brought him to power, the General Conference of Labour (CGT) was given overwhelming support by the new administration, which introduced labour courts and filled its cabinet with labor union appointees, such as Atilio Bramuglia (Foreign Ministry) and Ángel Borlenghi (Interior Ministry, which, in Argentina, oversees law enforcement). It also made room for amenable wealthy industrialists (Central Bank President Miguel Miranda) and socialists like José Figuerola, a Spanish economist who had years earlier advised that nation's ill-fated regime of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Intervention of their behalf by Perón's appointees encouraged the CGT to call strikes in the face of employers reluctant to grant benefits or honor new labor legislation. Strike activity (500,000 working days lost in 1945) leapt to 2 million in 1946 and to over 3 million in 1947, helping wrest needed labor reforms, though permanently aligning large employers against the Peronists. Labor unions themselves grew in ranks from around 500,000 to over 2 million by 1950, primarily in the CGT, Argentina's paramount labor union since.[7] As the country's labor force numbered around 5 million people at the time, this made Argentina's labor force the most unionized in Latin America.[8]

President Perón (right) signs the nationalization of British-owned railways watched by Ambassador Sir Reginald Leeper, March, 1948.

During the first half of the 20th century, a widening gap had existed between the classes which Perón hoped to close through the increase of wages and employment, making the nation more pluralistic and less reliant on foreign trade. Even before he took office in 1946, President Perón took dramatic steps that he felt would result in a more economically independent Argentina, better insulated from events such as World War II; Perón believed there would be a third.[9] The reduced availability of imports and the war's beneficial effects on both the quantity and price of Argentine exports had combined to create a US$1.7 billion cumulative surplus during those years.[10] In his first two years in office alone, he nationalized the Central Bank, paid off its billion-dollar debt to the Bank of England, nationalized the railways (mostly owned by British and French companies), merchant marine, universities, public utilities, public transport (then, mostly tramways) and, probably most significantly, created a single purchaser for the nation's mostly export-oriented grains and oilseeds, the Institute for the Promotion of Trade (IAPI). The IAPI wrested control of Argentina's famed grain export sector from entrenched conglomerates like Bunge y Born; but began shortchanging growers when commodity prices fell after 1948.[5]

The "Third Way," Perón’s foreign policy, was first articulated in 1949 to avoid bipolar Cold War divisions and keep other world powers such as the United States and the Soviet Union as allies rather than enemies. Diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, severed since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918, were restored, opening the door to grain sales to the shortage-stricken Soviets.[11] Even as relations with the U.S. deteriorated, Perón made efforts to mitigate the misunderstandings, something made easier with Truman's replacement of the hostile Braden with Ambassador George Messersmith, who negotiated the release of Argentine assets in the U.S. in exchange for preferential treatment for U.S. goods, followed by Argentine ratification of the Act of Chapultepec, a centerpiece of Truman's Latin America policy. He even proposed the enlistment of Argentine troops into the Korean Conflict in 1950 under UN auspices (a move retracted in the face of public opposition).[12] Perón, however, was adamantly opposed to borrowing from foreign credit markets, preferring to float bonds domestically. He refused to enter the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (precursor to the World Trade Organization) or the International Monetary Fund.[7] Perón did, however, believe that international sports created goodwill, hosting the 1950 World Basketball Championship and the 1951 Pan American Games, both of which Argentine athletes won resoundingly. His bid to host the 1956 Olympic Games in Buenos Aires was defeated by the International Olympic Committee by one vote, however.

As president, Perón took an active interest in the development of sports in Argentina, hosting international events and sponsoring athletes like boxing great José María Gatica (left).

Perón's bid for economic independence was complicated by a number of inherited external factors. Great Britain owed Argentina over 150 million pounds Sterling (nearly US$450 million) from agricultural exports to that nation during the war. This debt was mostly in the form of Argentine Central Bank reserves which, per the 1933 Roca-Runciman Treaty, were deposited in the Bank of England. The money was useless to the Argentine government, however, because the treaty allowed Bank of England to hold the funds in trust, something British planners could not compromise on as a result of that country's debts accrued under the Lend-Lease Act.[7] In the market for U.S. made machinery, Argentina's pound Sterling surpluses earned after 1946 (worth over US$200 million) were made convertible to dollars by a treaty negotiated by Central Bank President Miguel Miranda; but after a year, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee suspended the provision and, due to political disputes between Perón and the U.S. government (as well as to pressure by the U.S. agricultural lobby through the Agricultural Act of 1949), Argentine foreign exchange earnings via its exports to the U.S. fell, turning a US$100 million surplus with the U.S. into a US$300 million deficit. The combined pressure practically devoured Argentina's liquid reserves and Miranda issued a temporary restriction on the outflow of dollars to U.S. banks. Perón accepted the transfer of over 24,000 km (15,000 mi) of British-owned railways (over half the total in Argentina) in exchange for the debt in March 1948. The nationalization of privately and foreign-owned cargo ships, as well as the purchase of others, nearly tripled the national mechant marine to 1.2 million tons' displacement, reducing the need for over US$100 million in shipping fees (then the largest source of Argentina's invisible balance deficit) and leading to the inaugural of the Río Santiago Shipyards at Ensenada (on line to the present day).[13][14]

Reservoir of the Valle Grande hydroelectric dam, near San Rafael, Mendoza.
Repairs at the Río Santiago Shipyards.

Accelerating emphasis on an economic policy centerpiece dating from the 1920s, Perón had record investments made into Argentina's infrastructure. Investing over US$100 million to modernize the railways (originally built on a myriad of incompatible gauges), he also nationalized a number of small, regional air carriers, forging them into Aerolíneas Argentinas in 1950. The airline, equipped with 36 new DC-3 and DC-4 aircraft, also counted with a new international airport and a 22 km (14 mi) freeway into Buenos Aires. This freeway was followed by one between Rosario and Santa Fe. Perón had mixed success in expanding the country's inadequate electric grid, which grew by only a fourth during his tenure. Argentina's installed hydroelectric capacity leapt from 45 to 350 MW during his first term (to about a fifth of the total public grid), while also enchancing fossil fuel availability, inaugurating Río Turbio (Argentina's only active coal mine) and the 1949 completion of a gas pipeline between Comodoro Rivadavia and Buenos Aires. The 1700 km (1060 mi) pipeline allowed natural gas production to quickly rise from 300,000 m3 to 15 million m3 daily, making the country self-sufficient in the critical energy staple. The pipeline was, at the time, the longest in the World.[15] Oil production, however, rose only by about a fourth and, as most manufacturing was powered by on-site generators and the number of motor vehicles grew by a third,[16] the need for imports grew from 40% to half the consumption, costing the national balance sheet over US$300 million a year (over a fifth of the import bill).[17]

A hospital near Rosario, one of hundreds built during the Perón years.

Perón's government is well-remembered for its record social investments. Introducing a Ministry of Health to the cabinet, its first head, neurologist Dr. Ramón Carrillo, oversaw the completion of over 4,200 health care facilities.[18] Related works included over 1,000 kindergartens and over 8,000 schools, including several hundred technological, nursing and teachers' schools, among an array of other public investments.[19] The new Minister of Public Works, General Juan Pistarini, oversaw the construction of 650,000 new, public sector homes, as well as of the new international airport, one of the largest in the world at the time.[20] The reactivation of the dormant National Mortgage Bank also spurred private-sector housing development: averaging over 8 units per 1,000 inhabitants (150,000 a year), the pace was, at the time, at par with that of the United States and one of the highest rates of residential construction in the world.[7]

Perón also prioritized the modernization of the Argentine Armed Forces, particularly its Air Force. Between 1947 and 1950, Argentina manufactured two advanced jet aircraft called Pulqui I (designed by the Argentine engineers Cardehilac, Morchio and Ricciardi with the French engineer Émile Dewoitine, condemned in France in absentia for collaborationism), and Pulqui II designed by German engineer Kurt Tank. In the test flights, the planes were flown by Lieutenant Edmundo Osvaldo Weiss and Tank himself, reaching 1000 km/h with the Pulqui II. Argentina continued testing the Pulqui II until 1959; in the tests, two pilots lost their lives.[21] The Pulqui project opened the door to two successful Argentinian planes: the IA 58 Pucará and the IA 63 Pampa manufactured at the Aircraft Factory of Córdoba.[22]

Production line at the state military industries facility, 1950; on line since 1927, Perón's budgets modernized and expanded the complex.
The CNEA's work resulted in a research reactor by 1957, one of the World's first.

In 1951, Perón announced that the Huemul Project would produce nuclear fusion before any other country. The project was led by an Austrian, Ronald Richter, who had been recommended by Kurt Tank. Tank expected to power his aircraft with Richter's invention. Perón announced that energy produced by the fusion process would be delivered in milk-bottle sized containers. Richter announced success in 1951, but no proof was given. The next year, Perón appointed a scientific team to investigate Richter's activities. Reports by José Antonio Balseiro and Mario Báncora revealed that the project was a fraud. After that, the Huemul Project was transferred to the Centro Atómico Bariloche (CAB) of the new National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) and to the physics institute of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, later named Instituto Balseiro (IB).[2]Crawley, Eduardo.A House Divided: Argentina, 1880–1980. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.</ref>

Success was short-lived. Following a lumbering recovery during 1933 to 1945, from 1946 to 1948, Argentina did experience direct benefit from Perón's five-year plan. GDP expanded by over a fourth during that brief boom, about as much as it had during the previous decade. Using roughly half the US$1.7 billion in reserves inherited from wartime surpluses for nationalizations, economic development agencies devoted most of the other half to finance both public and private investments; indeed, the roughly 70% jump in domestic fixed investment was accounted for mostly by industrial growth in the private sector.[7] All this much needed activity exposed an intrinsic weakness in the plan: it subsidized growth which, in the short term, led to a wave of imports of the capital goods that local industry could not supply and, where the end of the war (despite the climate of disputes) had allowed Argentine exports to rise from US$700 million to US$1.6 billion, these changes led to skyrocketing imports (from US$300 million to US$1.6 billion), thus erasing the surplus by 1948.[23]

Exports fell sharply, to around US$1.1 billion during the 1949–54 era (a severe 1952 drought trimmed this to US$700 million),[23] due in part to a deterioration in terms of trade of about a third. The Central Bank was forced to devalue the peso at an unprecedented rate: the peso lost about 70% of its value from early 1948 to early 1950, leading to a decline in the imports fueling industrial growth and to recession. Short of central bank reserves, Perón was forced to borrow US$125 million from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to cover a number of private banks' debts to U.S. institutions, without which their insolvency would have become a central bank liability.[24] Austerity and better harvests in 1950 helped finance a recovery in 1951; but inflation, having risen from 13% in 1948 to 31% in 1949, reached 50% in late 1951 before stabilizing, and a second, sharper recession soon followed.[25] Workers' purchasing power, by 1952, had declined 20% from its 1948 high and GDP, having leapt by a fourth during Perón's first two years, saw zero growth from 1948 to 1952 (the U.S. economy, by contrast, grew by about a fourth in the same interim).[7]

The growing incidence of strikes, increasingly directed against Perón as the economy slid into stagflation in late 1948, was dealt with through the expulsion of willful organizers from the CGT ranks. To consolidate his political grasp on the eve of colder economic winds, Perón called for a broad constitutional reform in September. The elected convention (whose opposition members soon resigned) approved the wholesale replacement of the 1853 Constitution of Argentina with a new magna carta in March, explicitly guaranteeing social reforms; but also allowing the mass nationalization of natural resources and public services, as well as the re-election of the president.[15]

An August 1951 rally organized by the CGT for a Perón-Evita ticket failed to overcome military objections to her becoming VP. The ailing first lady withdrew.

U.S. policy also helped thwart Argentine growth during the Perón years. These disputes likely stemmed from the United States’ displeasure at Perón’s plans of anti-imperialist self-industrialization; by placing such embargoes on Argentina, the U.S. hoped to discourage the nation in its pursuit of becoming economically sovereign during a time when the world was divided into two spheres. U.S. interests feared losing their stake, as they had large commercial investments (over a billion dollars) vested in Argentina through the oil and meat packing industries, besides being a mechanical goods provider to Argentina. His ability to effectively deal with points of contention abroad was equally hampered by Perón's own mistrust of potential rivals, which harmed foreign relations with Bramuglia's 1949 dismissal.[2]

The rising influence of theorist George F. Kennan, a staunch anti-communist, within U.S. foreign policy circles fed suspicion in the minds of American officials that Argentine aims for economic sovereignty and neutrality were Perón’s disguise for a resurgence of communism in the Americas, and disposed the U.S. Congress to a strong dislike of Perón and his government. Their most detrimental act was the 1948 exclusion of Argentina exports from the Marshall Plan, the landmark Truman administration effort to combat communism and help rebuild war-torn European nations by offering U.S. aid. This contributed to Argentine financial crises after 1948 and, according to Perón biographer Joseph Page, “the Marshall Plan drove a final nail into the coffin that bore Perón’s ambitions to transform Argentina into an industrial power.” The policy deprived Argentina of potential agricultural markets in Western Europe, to the benefit of Canadian exporters, for instance.[5]

Eva Perón's influence and contribution

First Lady Eva Perón (left) tending to the needy in her capacity as head of her foundation.

Eva Perón was instrumental as a symbol of hope to the common labourer during the first five-year plan. When she died in 1952, the year of the presidential elections, the people felt they had lost an ally. Coming from humble origins, she was loathed by the elite but adored by the poor for her work with the sick, elderly, and orphans. It was due to her behind-the-scenes work that women’s suffrage was granted in 1947 and a feminist wing of the 3rd party in Argentina was formed. Simultaneous to Perón’s five-year plans flourished a women’s movement, focusing largely on the rights of women, the poor and invalids, pushed forth by Evita.

The Chapadmalal vacation resort, near Mar del Plata.
Partial view of the "Children's Republic" theme park.

Although her exact role in the politics of Perón’s first term remains disputed, it is clear that Eva had a great effect on her husband’s presidency by sowing the ideas of social justice and equality into the national discourse. She stated, "It is not philanthropy, nor is it charity… It is not even social welfare; to me, it is strict justice… I do nothing but return to the poor what the rest of us owe them, because we had taken it away from them unjustly."[5]

The Eva Perón Foundation, established by the first lady in 1948, is perhaps the greatest contribution to her husband's social policy. Enjoying an annual budget of around US$50 million (nearly 1% of GDP at the time),[26] the Foundation had 14,000 employees and was responsible for hundreds of new schools, clinics, old-age homes and holiday facilities, and distributed hundreds of thousands of household necessities, physicians' visits and scholarships, among other benefits. Among the best-known of the Foundation's many massive construction projects are the Evita City development south of Buenos Aires (25,000 homes) and the "Children's Republic," a theme park based on tales from the Brothers Grimm. Following Perón's 1955 ouster, twenty of these construction projects were abandoned incomplete and the foundation's US$290 million endowment was liquidated.[27]

Eva wanted to convey her stance in regards to her husband’s political decisions and the direction Argentina had taken within the years of his presidency. The portion of the five-year plans which argued for full employment, public healthcare and housing, labour benefits, and raises are thus an indirect result of Eva’s influence on the policy-making of Perón in his first term, as historians note that he, at first, merely wanted to keep imperialists out of Argentina and create effective businesses. The humanitarian relief efforts embedded in the five-year plan are Eva’s creation, which endeared the Peronist movement to the working-class people from which Eva herself had come. Her strong ties to the poor and her position as Perón’s wife brought credibility to his promises during his first presidential term and ushered in a new wave of supporters. The first lady's willingness to replace the ailing Hortensio Quijano as Perón's running mate for the 1951 campaign was defeated by her own frail health and by military opposition. An August 22 rally organized for her by the CGT on Buenos Aires' wide Nueve de Julio Avenue failed to turn the tide and, on September 28, reactionary elements in the Argentine Army attempted a coup against Perón. The mutiny, though unsuccessful, marked the end of the first lady's political hopes. She died the following July.[5]

Opposition and repression

Among upper-class Argentines, improvement of the workers' situation was a source of resentment; industrial workers from rural areas had formerly been treated as servants. It was common for better-off Argentines to refer to these workers using racist slurs like "little black heads" (cabecitas negras, the name of a bird), "greased" (grasas which came from people with grease on their hands or fingernails, i.e. blue-collar workers), "un-shirted" (descamisados, since they doffed their shirts to perform manual labor). Conservative Radical Civic Union Congressman Ernesto Sammartino mused that Perón's voters were a "zoological flood" (aluvión zoológico).[28] In the 1940s, upper-class students were the first to oppose Peronist workers, with the slogan: "No to cheap shoe dictatorship" (No a la dictadura de las alpargatas). A graffito revealing the strong opposition between Peronists and anti-Peronists appeared in upper-class districts in the 1950s, "Long live cancer!" (¡Viva el cáncer!), when Eva Perón was dying of cancer.[29] She died of cervical cancer in 1952 at the age of thirty-three.[30]

At a time when credentialed teaching personnel were in short supply, Perón had over 1,500 university faculty fired,[7] notably author Jorge Luis Borges, who was named "poultry inspector" at the Buenos Aires Municipal Wholesale Market (a post he refused).[31] Weiss (2005, p. 45) recalls events in the universities:

As a young student in Buenos Aires in the early 1950s, I well remember the graffiti found on many an empty wall all over town: "Build the Fatherland. Kill a Student" (Haga patria, mate un estudiante). Perón opposed the universities, which questioned his methods and his goals. A well-remembered slogan was, Alpargatas sí, libros no ("Shoes? Yes! Books? No!"). Universities were then 'intervened'. In some, a Peronist mediocrity was appointed rector. Others were closed for years."

Union leader Cipriano Reyes, jailed for years for turning against Perón.

Nor was the labor movement that had brought Perón to power exempt from the iron fist. Elections in 1946 to the post of Secretary General of the CGT resulted in telephone workers' union leader Luis Gay's victory over Perón's nominee, former retail workers' leader Ángel Borlenghi—both central figures in Perón's famed October 17th comeback. Privately bemused, the president had Luis Gay expelled from the CGT three months later, replacing him with José Espejo, a little-known rank-and-filer close to the first lady. This was done on unsubstantiated charges of collusion with Perón's archenemy, former Ambassador Spruille Braden.[7] The meat-packers' union leader, Cipriano Reyes, turned against Perón when he replaced the Labor Party with the Peronist Party in 1947. Organizing a strike against Perón himself, Reyes was promptly arrested on the charge of plotting against the lives of the president and first lady, an unsolved mystery to this day. Tortured in prison, he was denied parole five years later, freed only following the regime's 1955 downfall.[32] Cipriano Reyes was one of hundreds of Perón's opponents treated to a "complimentary stay" at Buenos Aires' Ramos Mejía General Hospital, one of whose basements was converted into a police detention center where torture became routine.[33]

The populist leader was intolerant of both left-wing and conservative opposition. Though violence was also employed, Perón preferred to deprive the opposition of their access to media. Interior Minister Borlenghi personally administered El Laborista, the leading official news daily. A personal friend of Evita's, Carlos Aloé, oversaw an array of leisure magazines published by Editorial Haynes, which the Peronist Party bought a majority stake in. Through the Secretary of the Media, Raúl Apold, socialist dailies such as La Vanguardia or Democracia and conservative ones like La Prensa or La Razón were simply closed or expropriated in favor of the CGT or ALEA, the regime's new state media company.[6] Intimidation of the press, long an obstacle to the Argentine media, increased: 110 publications were closed down between 1943 and 1946, while others such as La Nación and Roberto Noble's Clarín became more cautious and self-censoring.[34] Perón appeared more threatened by dissident artists than by opposition political figures (though UCR leader Ricardo Balbín spent most of 1950 in jail). Numerous prominent cultural and intellectual figures were imprisoned (publisher and critic Victoria Ocampo, for one) or forced into exile, among them comedienne Niní Marshall, film maker Luis Saslavsky, pianist Osvaldo Pugliese and actress Libertad Lamarque, victim of a personal rivalry with Eva Perón.[35]

Perón and Fascism

Protection of Nazi war criminals

Perón believed that Italian leader Benito Mussolini was one of the greatest men of the century.[36] After World War II, Argentina became a leading haven for Nazi war criminals, with explicit protection from Perón. Uki Goñi showed in his 1998 book that Nazis and French and Belgian collaborationists, including Pierre Daye, met Perón in the President's official residence, the Casa Rosada (Pink House). In this meeting, a network was created with support by the Argentine Immigration Service and the Foreign Office. The Swiss Chief of Police Heinrich Rothmund [1] and the Croatian Roman Catholic priest Krunoslav Draganović also helped organize the ratline [37]. According to Goñi, 1948 was the most active year, during which Carlos Fuldner was in Switzerland with a special passport describing him as "special envoy of the President of Argentina." In 1946, Cardinal Antonio Caggiano went to the Vatican in the name of the Argentine government, and offered refuge for French collaborationists who had fled to Rome [37].

An investigation of 22,000 documents by the DAIA in 1997 discovered that the network was managed by Rodolfo Freude who had an office in the Casa Rosada and was close to Eva Perón's brother, Juan Duarte. According to Ronald Newton, Ludwig Freude, Rodolfo's father, was probably the local representative of the Office Three secret service headed by Joachim von Ribbentrop, with probably more influence than the German ambassador Edmund von Thermann. He had met Perón in the 1930s, and had contacts with Generals Juan Pistarini, Domingo Martínez and José Molina. Ludwig Freude's house became the meetingplace for Nazis and Argentine military officers supporting the Axis. In 1943, he traveled with Perón to Europe to attempt an arms deal with Germany.[38]

Nazi exile network principal Rodolfo Freude (2nd from left) and President Perón (2nd from right), who appointed Freude Director of the Argentine Intelligence Secretariat.

Examples of Nazis and collaborators who relocated to Argentina include Emile Dewoitine, who arrived in May 1946 and worked on the Pulqui jet, Erich Priebke, who arrived in 1947, Josef Mengele in 1949, Adolf Eichmann in 1950, his adjutant Franz Stangl, Austrian representative of Spitzy in Spain, Reinhard Spitzy, Charles Lescat, editor of Je Suis Partout in Vichy France, SS functionary Ludwig Lienhardt, German industrialist Ludwig Freude, SS-Hauptsturmführer Klaus Barbie.

Many members of the notorious Croatian Ustaše (including their leader, Ante Pavelić) took refuge in Argentina, as did Milan Stojadinović, the former collaborationist Prime Minister of occupied Yugoslavia [39]. In 1946 Stojadinović went to Rio de Janeiro, and then to Buenos Aires, where he was reunited with his family. Stojadinović spent the rest of his life as presidential advisor on economic and financial affairs to governments in Argentina and founded the financial newspaper El Economista.

A Croatian priest, Krunoslav Draganović, organizer of the San Girolamo ratline, was authorized by Perón to assist Nazi operatives to come to Argentina and evade prosecution in Europe after World War II,[39], in particular the Ustaše. Ante Pavelić became a security advisor of Perón, before leaving for Francoist Spain in 1957.[40]

As in the United States (Operation Paperclip), Argentina also welcomed displaced German scientists such as Kurt Tank and Ronald Richter. Some of these refugees took important roles in Perón's Argentina, such as French collaborationist Jacques de Mahieu, who became an ideologue of the Peronist movement, before becoming mentor to a Roman Catholic nationalist youth group in the 1960s. Belgian collaborationist Pierre Daye became editor of a Peronist magazine. Rodolfo Freude, Ludwig's son, became Perón's chief of presidential intelligence in his first term. Milan Stojadinović founded El Economista (The Economist magazine) in 1951, which still carries his name on its masthead.

Recently, Goñi's research, drawing on investigations in Argentine, Swiss, American, British and Belgian government archives, as well as numerous interviews and other sources, was detailed in The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón's Argentina (2002), showing how escape routes known as ratlines were used by former NSDAP members and like-minded people to escape trial and judgment.[41] Goñi places particular emphasis on the part played by Perón's government in organizing the ratlines, as well as documenting the aid of Swiss and Vatican authorities in their flight.[citation needed] The Argentine consulate in Barcelona gave false passports to fleeing Nazi war criminals and collaborationists.

Perón and the Jewish and German communities of Argentina

When I realized that Perón, contrary to previous governments, gave Jewish citizens access to public office, I began to change my way of thinking about Argentine politics...

Ezequiel Zabotinsky, president of the Jewish-Peronist Organizacion Israelita Argentina, 1952–1955 [42]

Juan Perón and José Ber Gelbard

Fraser and Navarro write that Juan Perón was a complicated man who over the years stood for many different, often contradictory, things.[43] In the book Inside Argentina from Perón to Menem author Laurence Levine, former president of the US-Argentine Chamber of Commerce, writes, "although anti-Semitism existed in Argentina, Perón's own views and his political associations were not anti-Semitic...." Laurence also writes that one of Perón's advisors was a Jewish man from Poland named José Ber Gelbard.[44] U.S. Ambassador George S. Messersmith visited Argentina in 1947 during the first term of Juan Perón. Messersmith noted, "There is not as much social discrimination against Jews here as there is right in New York or in most places at home..."[6]

Golda Meir talks with Evita Perón on Meir's visit to Argentina, 1951

Perón sought out other Jewish Argentines as government advisers, besides Ber Gelbard. The powerful Secretary of Media, Raúl Apold, also Jewish, was (ironically) called "Perón´s Goebbels." He favoured the creation of institutions like New Zion (Nueva Sión), the Argentine-Jewish Institute of Culture and Information, presided by Simón Mirelman, and the Argentine-Israeli Chamber of Commerce. Also, he named Rabbi Amran Blum the first Jewish professor of philosophy in the National University of Buenos Aires. After being the first Latin American government to acknowledge the State of Israel, he sent a Jewish ambassador, Pablo Mangel to that country. Education and Diplomacy were the two strongholds of Catholic nationalism, and both appointments were highly symbolic. The same goes for the 1946 decision of allowing Jewish army privates to celebrate their holidays, which was aimed at fostering the Jewish position in another traditionally Catholic institution, the army. Argentina signed a generous commercial agreement with Israel that granted favourable terms for Israeli acquisitions of Argentine commodities, and also the Eva Perón Foundation sent significant humanitarian aid. Chaim Weizmann and Golda Meir expressed their gratitude during their visit to Buenos Aires in 1951.

Evita and Juan Perón at the Plaza de Mayo, 1951. Raúl Apold is visible behind Perón.

The German Argentine community in Argentina is the third largest ethnic group in the country, after the Spanish Argentines and the Italian Argentines. The German Argentine community predates Juan Perón's presidency, going back as far as the time of the unification of Germany. Laurence Levine writes that Perón found German civilization too "rigid" and therefore had a "distaste" for it.[44] Crassweller writes that while Juan Perón's own personal preference was for Hispanic culture, with which he felt a spiritual affinity, Perón was "pragmatic" in dealing with the diverse populace of Argentina.[6]

While Juan Perón's Argentina allowed many Nazi criminals to take refuge in Argentina, Juan Perón's Argentina also accepted more Jewish immigrants than any other country in Latin America, which in part accounts for the fact that Argentina to this day has a population of over 200,000 Jewish citizens, the largest in Latin America, the third largest in the Americas, and the sixth largest in the world.[45][46][47][48] The Jewish Virtual Library writes that while Juan Perón had sympathized with the Axis powers, "Perón also expressed sympathy for Jewish rights and established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949. Since then, more than 45,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel from Argentina." [49]

Tomás Eloy Martínez, professor of Latin American studies at Rutgers University, writes that Juan Perón allowed Nazi criminals into the country in hopes of acquiring advanced German technology developed during the war. Martínez also notes that Eva Perón played no part in allowing Nazis into the country.[50]

Perón's second term

Perón and the ailing Evita during his second inaugural parade, June 1952. Eva died the following month.

Facing only token UCR and Socialist Party opposition and despite being unable to field his popular wife, Eva, as a running mate, Perón was re-elected in 1951 by a margin of over 30%. This election was the first to have extended suffrage to Argentine women and the first in Argentina to be televised: Perón inaugurated Channel 13 public television that October. He began his second term in June 1952 with serious economic problems, however, compounded by a severe drought that helped lead to a US$500 million trade deficit (depleting reserves). Perón called employers and unions to a Productivity Congress to regulate social conflict through dialogue; but, the conference failed without reaching an agreement. Divisions among Peronists intensified, and the President's worsening mistrust led to the forced resignation of numerous valuable allies, notably Buenos Aires Province Governor Domingo Mercante.[5] Again on the defensive, Perón accelerated generals' promotions and extended them other benefits, notably the construction of the Alas Building, a residential complex for Air Force officers 41 stories and 141 m (463 ft) high.[51]

Opposition to Perón grew bolder following the first lady's July 26, 1952, passing. On April 15, 1953, a terrorist group (never identified) detonated two bombs in a public rally at Plaza de Mayo, killing 7 and injuring 95. Amid the chaos, Perón exhorted the crowd to take reprisals; they made their way to their adversaries' gathering places, the Socialist Party headquarters and the aristocratic Jockey Club (both housed in magnificent turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts buildings), and burned them to the ground.

Designed and manufactured in Argentina, the Justicialist was part of Perón's effort to develop a local auto industry.

A stalemate of sorts ensued between Perón and his opposition and, despite austerity measures taken late in 1952 to remedy the country's unsustainable trade deficit, the president remained generally popular. In March 1954, Perón called Vice-Presidential elections to replace the late Hortensio Quijano, which his candidate won by a nearly two-to-one margin. Given what he felt was as solid a mandate as ever and with inflation in single digits and the economy on a more secure footing, Perón ventured into a new policy: the creation of incentives designed to attract foreign investment.

The Alas Building under construction.

Drawn to an economy with the highest living standard in Latin America and a new steel mill in San Nicolás de los Arroyos, automakers FIAT and Kaiser Motors responded to the initiave by breaking ground on new facilities in the city of Córdoba, as did the freight truck division of Daimler-Benz, the first such investments since General Motors' Argentine assembly line opened in 1926. Perón also signed an important exploration contract with Standard Oil of California, in May 1955, consolidating his new policy of substituting the two largest sources of that era's chronic trade deficits (imported petroleum and motor vehicles) with local production brought in through foreign investment. The centrist Radical Civic Union's 1951 Vice-Presidential nominee, Arturo Frondizi, publicly condemned what he considered to be an anti-patriotic decision; as president three years later, however, he himself signed exploration contracts with foreign oil companies.

As 1954 drew to a close, Perón unveiled reforms far more controversial to the normally conservative Argentine public, the legalization of divorce and of prostitution. The Roman Catholic Church's Argentine leaders, whose support of Perón's government had been steadily waning since the advent of the Eva Perón Foundation, were now open antagonists of the man they called "the tyrant." Though much of Argentina's media had, since 1950, been either controlled or monitored by the administration, lurid pieces on "the tyrant's" ongoing relationship with an underage girl, something Perón never denied, filled the gossip pages.[3] Pressed by reporters on whether his supposed new paramour was, as the magazines claimed, thirteen years of age, the witty, fifty-nine year-old Perón responded that he was "not superstitious."[1]Martínez, Tomás Eloy. La Novela de Perón. Vintage Books, 1997.</ref>

Before long, however, the president's humor on the subject ran out and, following the expulsion of two Catholic priests he believed to be behind his recent image problems, Perón was excommunicated by Pope Pius XII on June 15, 1955. The following day, Péron called for a rally of support on the Plaza de Mayo, a time-honored custom among Argentine presidents during a challenge. However, as he spoke before a crowd of thousands, Navy fighter jets flew overhead and dropped bombs into the crowded square below before seeking refuge in Uruguay.

Scene in the Plaza de Mayo following a failed coup attempt against Perón, June 16, 1955. He was deposed three months later.

The incident, part of a coup attempt against Perón, killed 364 people and was, from a historical perspective, the only air assault ever on Argentine soil, as well as a portent of the mayhem that Argentine society would suffer in the 1970s.[3] It, moreover, touched off a wave of reprisals on the part of Peronists. Reminiscent of the incidents in 1953, Peronist crowds ransacked eleven Buenos Aires churches, including the Metropolitan Cathedral. On September 16, 1955, a nationalist Catholic group from both the Army and Navy, led by General Eduardo Lonardi, General Pedro E. Aramburu and Admiral Isaac Rojas, led a revolt from Córdoba. Taking power in a coup three days later, which they named Revolución Libertadora (the "Liberating Revolution"). Perón barely escaped with his life, fleeing on a gunboat provided by Paraguayan leader Alfredo Stroessner, up the Paraná River.

At that point Argentina was more politically polarized than it had been since 1880. The landowning elites and other conservatives pointed to an exchange rate that had rocketed from 4 to 30 pesos per dollar and consumer prices that had risen nearly fivefold.[25] Employers and moderates generally agreed, qualifying that with the fact the economy had grown by over 40% (the best showing since the 1920s).[52] The underprivileged and humanitarians looked back upon the era as one in which real wages grew by over a third and better working conditions arrived alongside benefits like pensions, health care, paid vacations and the construction of record numbers of needed schools, hospitals, works of infrastructure and housing.

Exile (1955–1973)

The new leader, General Eduardo Lonardi, waves in a 1955 newsmagazine cover. His gradualist approach to "de-Perónization" led to his prompt ouster.
First meeting of the Junta's Civilian Advisory Board, 1955. Despite great pressure to the contrary, the board recommended that most of Perón's social reforms be kept in place.

The new military regime went to great lengths to destroy both the President's and Eva Perón's reputation, putting up public exhibits of what they maintained was the Peróns' scandalously sumptous taste for antiques, jewelry, roadsters, yachts and other luxuries. They also accused other Peronist leaders of corruption; but, ultimately, though many were prosecuted, no one was convicted. The junta's first leader, Eduardo Lonardi, appointed a Civilian Advisory Board. Its preference for a gradual approach to de-Perónization helped lead to Lonardi's ouster, however (though most of the board's recommendations stood the new president's scrutiny).

Lonardi's replacement, General Pedro Aramburu, decreed the mere mention of Juan or Eva Perón's name to be illegal. Throughout Argentina, Peronism and the very display of Peronist mementoes was banned. Partly in response to these and other excesses, Peronists and moderates in the army organized a counter-coup against Aramburu, in June 1956. Possessing an efficient intelligence network, however, Aramburu foiled the plan, having the plot's leader, General Juan José Valle, and 26 others executed. Aramburu turned to similarly drastic means in trying to rid the country of the spectre of the Peróns, themselves. Eva Perón's cadaver was removed from its display at CGT headquarters and ordered hidden under another name in a modest grave in Milan, Italy. Perón himself, for the time residing in Caracas, Venezuela at the kindness of ill-fated President Marcos Pérez Jiménez, suffered a number of attempted kidnappings and assassinations ordered by Aramburu.[53]

Continuing to exert considerable direct influence over Argentine politics despite the ongoing ban of Peronism or the Justicialist Party as Argentina geared for the 1958 elections, Perón instructed his supporters to cast their ballots for the moderate Arturo Frondizi, a splinter candidate within the Peronists' largest opposition party, the Radical Civic Union (UCR). Frondizi went on to defeat the better-known (but, more anti-Peronist) UCR leader, Ricardo Balbín. Perón backed a "Popular Union" in 1962, and when its candidate for governor of Buenos Aires Province (Andrés Framini) was elected, Frondizi was forced to resign by the military. Unable to secure a new alliance, Perón advised his followers to cast blank ballots in the 1963 elections, demonstrating direct control over one fifth of the electorate.[7]

Perón's stay in Venezuela had been cut short by the 1958 ouster of General Pérez Jiménez. In Panama, he met the nightclub singer María Estela Martínez (known as "Isabel"). Eventually settling in Madrid, Spain under the protection of Francisco Franco, he married Isabel in 1961 and was admitted back into the Catholic Church in 1963. Following a failed December 1964 attempt to return to Buenos Aires, he sent his wife to Argentina in 1965, to meet political dissidents there. She organized a meeting in the house of Bernardo Alberte, Perón's delegate and sponsor of various left-wing Peronist movements such as the CGT de los Argentinos (CGTA), an offshoot of the umbrella CGT union. During Isabel's visit, adviser Raúl Lastiri introduced her to his father-in-law, José López Rega. A policeman with an interest in the occult, he won Isabel's trust through their common dislike of Jorge Antonio, a prominent Argentine industrialist and the Peronist movement's main financial backer during their perilous 1960s.[54] Accompanying her to Spain, López Rega worked for Perón's security before becoming the couple's personal secretary. A return of the peronist Popular Union in 1965 and their victories in congressional elections that year helped lead to the moderate President Arturo Illia's overthrow and the return of dictatorship.[7]

Perón became increasingly unable to control the CGT, itself. Though he had the support of its Secretary General, José Alonso, others in the union favored distancing the CGT from the exiled leader. Chief among them, Steel and Metalworkers Union head Augusto Vandor challenged Perón from 1965 to 1968 with mottos such as "Peronism without Perón" and "to save Perón, one has to be against Perón." Dictator Juan Carlos Onganía's continued repression of labor demands, however, helped lead to Vandor's rapproachment with Perón—a development cut short by Vandor's as-yet unsolved 1969 murder. Labor agitation increased; the CGTA, in particular, organized opposition to the dictatorship between 1968 and 1972, and it would have an important role in the May–June 1969 Cordobazo insurrection.[6]

Student unrest in Rosario, 1969 (the Rosariazo). Unable to return on his volition, Perón began rallying besieged leftist students (the very people he had repressed in office).
UCR leader Ricardo Balbín, Conservative Horacio Thedy and Perón's delegate, Daniel Paladino (middle three) find rare common cause after General Levingston's 1970 power grab. Their joint Hour of the People statement helped lead to elections in 1973 (and to Perón's return).

Perón began courting the far left during Onganía's dictatorship. In his book La Hora de los Pueblos (1968), Perón enounced the main principles of his purported new Tricontinental political vision:

Mao is at the head of Asia, Nasser of Africa, De Gaulle of the old Europe and Castro of Latin America.[55]

He supported the more militant unions and maintained close links with the Montoneros, a far-left Catholic Peronist group. On June 1, 1970, the Montoneros kidnapped and assassinated former anti-Peronist President Pedro Aramburu in retaliation for the June 1956 mass execution of a Peronist uprising against the junta. In 1971, he sent two letters to the film director Octavio Getino, one congratulating him for his work with Fernando Solanas and Gerardo Vallejo, in the Grupo Cine Liberación, and another concerning two film documentaries, La Revolución Justicialista and Actualización política y doctrinaria.[56]

He also cultivated ties with conservatives and the far right. He supported conservatives such as Ricardo Balbín, leader of the UCR and an old Perón opponent, against competition within the UCR itself. Members of the right-wing Tacuara Nationalist Movement, considered the first Argentine guerrilla group, also turned towards him. Founded in the early 1960s, the Tacuaras were a fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-conformist group founded on the model of Primo de Rivera's Falange, and at first strongly opposed Peronism. However, they split after the 1959 Cuban Revolution into three groups: the one most opposed to the Peronist alliance, led by Catholic priest Julio Meinvielle, retained the original hard-line stance; the New Argentina Movement (MNA), headed by Dardo Cabo, was founded on June 9, 1961, to commemorate General Valle’s Peronist uprising on the same date in 1956, and became the precursor to all modern Catholic nationalist groups in Argentina; finally, Joe Baxter and José Luis Nell, who joined the Peronism believing in its capacity for revolution, created the Revolutionary Nationalist Tacuara Movement (MNRT), which, without forsaking nationalism, broke from the Church, and abandoned anti-Semitism. Baxter’s MNRT became progressively Marxist, and many of the Montoneros and of the ERP’s leaders came from this group.[6]

Following Onganía's replacement in June 1970, General Roberto M. Levingston, former military attachée at the Argentine Embassy in Washington D.C., proposed the replacement of Argentina's myriad political parties with "four or five" (vetted by the Revolución Argentina regime). This attempt to govern indefintely against the will of the different political parties united Peronists and their opposition in a joint declaration of 11 November 1970, named la Hora del Pueblo (The Hour of the People), which called for free and immediate democratic elections to put an end to the political crisis. The declaration was signed by the Radical Civic Union (UCRP), the Justicialist Party (Peronist Party), the Argentine Socialist Party (PSA), the Democratic Progressive Party (PCP) and the Partido Bloquista (PB).[7]

The opposition's call for elections led to Levingston's replacement by General Alejandro Lanusse, in March 1971. Faced with strong opposition and social conflicts, General Lanusse declared his intention to restore constitutional democracy by 1973, and called for elections but excluded the Peronist Party from participating to it. Lanusse tried to implement starting in July 1971 the Gran Acuerdo Nacional (Great National Agreement), which was to find an honorable exit for the military junta without allowing Peronism to participate in the election. The proposal was rejected by Perón, who formed the FRECILINA (Frente Cívico de Liberación Nacional, Civic Front of National Liberation), headed by his new delegate Héctor José Cámpora (a member of the Peronist Left). The alliance gathered his Justicialist Party and the Integration and Development Movement (MID), headed by Arturo Frondizi. FRECILINA pressed for free and unrestricted elections, which took place on March 11, 1973.

The third term (1973–1974)

Perón hosts the head of the opposition U.C.R. Ricardo Balbín at his home in preparations for the 1973 campaign.

General elections were held on March 11, 1973. Perón was banned from running, but a stand-in, Héctor Cámpora, a left-wing Peronist and his personal secretary, was elected and took office on May 25. On June 20, 1973, Perón returned from Spain to end his 18-year exile. According to Página 12 newspaper, Licio Gelli, headmaster of Propaganda Due, had provided an Alitalia plane to return Perón to his native country.[57] Gelli was part of a committee supporting Perón, along with Carlos Saúl Menem (future President of Argentina, 1989–1999).[57] The former Italian Premier Giulio Andreotti recalled an encounter between Perón, his wife Isabel Martínez and Gelli, saying that Perón knelt before Licio Gelli to salute him.[57]

On the day of Perón's return, a crowd of left-wing Peronists (estimated at 3.5 million) gathered at the Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires to welcome him. Perón was accompanied by Cámpora, whose first measures were to grant amnesty to all political prisoners and re-establish relations with Cuba, helping Fidel Castro break the United States embargo against Cuba. This, along with his social policies, had earned him the opposition of right-wing Peronists, including the trade-unionist bureaucracy.

Left-wing students' support for Perón waned after the leader made them guilty by association for the growing wave of violence.
José López Rega, Perón's personal secretary, proved a detrimental influence over the aging leader, leveraging this for corruption and revenge.

Camouflaged snipers, including members of the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (Triple A), opened fire on the crowd at the airport. The left-wing Peronist Youth Organization and the Montoneros had been trapped. At least 13 people were killed and 365 injured in this episode, which became known as the Ezeiza massacre.[58]

Cámpora and Vice President Vicente Solano Lima resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections, this time with Perón's participation as the Justicialist Party nominee. Argentina faced mounting political instability, and Perón was viewed by many as the country's only hope for prosperity and safety. UCR leader Ricardo Balbín and Perón contemplated a Peronist-Radical joint government, but opposition in both parties made this impossible. Besides opposition among Peronists, Ricardo Balbín had to consider opposition within the UCR itself, led by Raúl Alfonsín, a leader among the UCR's center-left. Perón received 62% of the vote, returning him to the presidency. He began his third term on October 12, 1973, with Isabel, his wife, as Vice President.

Upon Cámpora's inaugural, Perón had him appoint a trusted policy adviser to the critical Economy Ministry, José Ber Gelbard. Inheriting an economy that had doubled in output since 1955 with little indebtedness and only modest new foreign investment, inflation had become a fixture in daily life and was worsening: consumer prices rose by 80% in the year to May 1973 (triple the long-term average, up to then). Making this a policy priority, Ber Gelbard crafted a "social pact" in hopes of finding a happy median between the needs of management and labor. Providing a framework for negotiating price controls, guidelines for collective bargaining and a package of subsidies and credits, the pact was promptly signed by the CGT (then the largest labor union in South America) and management (represented by Julio Broner and the CGE). The measure was largely successful, initially: inflation slowed to 12% and real wages rose by over 20% during the first year. GDP growth accelerated from 3% in 1972 to over 6% in 1974. The plan also envisaged the paydown of Argentina's growing public external debt, then around US$8 billion, within four years. The 1973 oil shock, however, forced Ber Gelbard to rethink the Central Bank's projected reserves and, accordingly, undid planned reductions in stubborn budget deficits, then around US$2 billion a year (4% of GDP), and, by mid-1974, led to growing public doubts on the viability of the plan.[7]

Perón greets his public at the Plaza de Mayo for the last time, June 12, 1974.
The funeral cortège in Buenos Aires.

Perón's third term was also marked by an escalating conflict between the Peronist left- and right-wing factions. This turmoil was fueled primarily by calls for repression against the left on the part of leading CGT figures, a growing segment of the armed forces (particularly the navy) and right-wing radicals within his own party, notably Perón's most fascist adviser, José López Rega. López Rega, appointed Minister of Social Welfare, was in practice given power far beyond his purview, soon controlling up to 30 percent of the federal budget.[7] Diverting increasing funds, he formed the Triple A, a death sq­ that soon began targeting not only the violent left; but moderate opposition, as well.[54] The Montoneros became marginalized in the Peronist movement and were mocked by Perón himself after the Ezeiza massacre. In his speech to the governors on August 2, 1973, Perón openly criticized radical Argentine youth for a lack of political maturity. The rift between Perón and the far left became irreconciliable following the September 25, 1973, murder of José Ignacio Rucci, the moderately conservative Secretary General of CGT. Enraged, Perón enlisted López Rega to target left-wing opponents. Shortly after Perón's attack on left-wing Peronism, the Montoneros went underground. The murder itself, a commando ambush in front of Rucci's Buenos Aires residence long attributed to the Montoneros (whose record of violence had been well-established by then), remains arguably Argentina's most prominent unsolved mystery.[59] Another guerrilla group, the Guevarists ERP, also opposed the right-wing Peronists, and started engaging in armed struggle, attempting to create a foco in Tucumán, a historically underdeveloped province in Argentina's largely rural northwest.

Perón maintained a good deal of attention on economic issues during all this, keeping a full schedule of policy meetings and presiding over the inaugural of the Atucha I Nuclear Power Plant (Latin America's first) in April. The reactor, begun while he was in exile, was the fruition of work started in the 1950s by the National Atomic Energy Commission, his landmark bureau. Perón was reunited with another friend from the 1950s—Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner—on June 16 to sign the bilateral treaty that broke ground on Yacyretá Hydroelectric Dam (the world's second-largest). Arriving in Asunción during an autumn rainstorm, he refused an umbrella while reviewing the honor guard. Perón returned to Buenos Aires with clear signs of pneumonia and, on June 28, the president suffered a series of heart attacks. The Vice-President, on a trade mission in Europe, returned urgently, secretly sworn in on an interim basis on June 29. Following a promising day, Perón suffered a final attack on July 1, 1974, recommending that his wife, Isabel, rely on Balbín for support. He was 78. At the president's burial Balbín uttered an historic phrase: "This old adversary bids farewell to a friend."[5]

Isabel Perón succeeded her husband to the presidency, but proved incapable of managing the country's political and economic problems, including the left-wing insurgency and the reactions of the extreme right. Ignoring her late husband's advice, Isabel gave Balbín no role in her new government, instead granting broad powers to López Rega, who started a "dirty war" against political opponents.

Isabel Perón's term ended abruptly on March 24, 1976 by a military coup d'état. A military junta, headed by Jorge Rafael Videla took control of the country, starting the self-styled National Reorganization Process. The junta combined widespread persecution of political dissidents with state terrorism. The death toll rose to thousands (at least 9,000, with human rights organizations claiming it was closer to 30,000). Many of these were "the disappeared" (desaparecidos), people kidnapped and executed without trial or record.

Mausoleum and legacy

Also see Hands of Perón.
Bust of Juan Perón in the city of Rosario.

Perón was buried in La Chacarita Cemetery in Buenos Aires. In 1987, his tomb was desecrated, and his hands and some personal effects, including his sword, were stolen.[60] Perón’s hands were cut off with a chainsaw. A ransom letter asking for $8 million dollars was sent to some Peronist members of Congress. This profanation was a ritualistic act to condemn Perón's spirit to eternal unrest, according to journalists David Cox and Damian Nabot in their book La segunda muerte (Peron's Second Death), who connected it to Licio Gelli and military officers involved during Argentina's Dirty War. The bizarre incident remains unresolved.[61]

On 17 October 2006 his body was moved to a mausoleum at his former summer residence, rebuilt as a museum, in the Buenos Aires suburb of San Vicente. A few people were injured in riots, as Peronist trade unions fought over access to the ceremony. The police contained the violence enough for the procession to move to the mausoleum. This move of Perón's body offered his self-proclaimed illegitimate daughter the opportunity to obtain a DNA sample from his corpse. The woman, Martha Holgado, 72, had been trying for 15 years to do this DNA analysis, which, in November 2006, proved she was not his daughter.[62][63]

His namesake Peronist movement, to the present day a struggle of ideologically diverse and competing interests, remains the central political development of Argentina since 1945.


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  2. ^ a b c Crawley, Eduardo.A House Divided: Argentina, 1880–1980. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.
  3. ^ a b c Rock, David. Authoritarian Argentina. University of California Press, 1993.
  4. ^ (Baily,84; López, 401)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Page, Joseph. Perón, a Biography. Random House, 1983.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Crassweller, David. Perón and the Enigmas of Argentina. W.W. Norton and Company. 1987: 221. ISBN 0-393-30543-0
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  8. ^ St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide.
  9. ^ National Geographic Magazine. December, 1994.
  10. ^ National Geographic Magazine. March, 1975.
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  13. ^ Monografias
  14. ^ Astillero
  15. ^ a b Todo Argentina
  16. ^ Coche Argentino
  17. ^ Szusterman, Celia.Frondizi: La política del desconcierto. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1998.
  18. ^ Biografía de Ramon Carrillo
  19. ^ Perón y la educación
  20. ^ Soldados digital: Pistarini, el hacedor (Spanish)
  21. ^ El proyecto Pulqui: propaganda peronista de la época
  22. ^ http://www.reconstruccion2005.com.ar/0412/aviacion.htm La aviación militar apunta a Cordoba como vector comercial del poder aéreo
  23. ^ a b INDEC: comercio exterior
  24. ^ Potash, Robert. The Army and Politics in Argentina. Stanford University Press, 1996.
  25. ^ a b INDEC (precios)
  26. ^ Eva Perón Foundation
  27. ^ Fundación Eva Perón
  28. ^ Quoted by Hugo Gambini in his book "Historia del peronismo"
  29. ^ Galeano, Eduardo. Memorias del Fuego. México, Siglo XXI, 1990
  30. ^ Lerner, BH (2000). The illness and death of Eva Perón: cancer, politics, and secrecy. Lancet 355:1988–1991
  31. ^ Taringa
  32. ^ Clarín
  33. ^ Feitlowitz, Marguerite. A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  34. ^ Foster et al. (1998), Culture and Customs of Argentina, Greenwood, p. 62, ISBN 9780313303197, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=iZ-rJyz2pSsC&pg=PA62 
  35. ^ Palermo online
  36. ^ Eatwell, Roger (1999). Contemporary Political Ideologies. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 196. ISBN 9780826451736. 
  37. ^ a b La Odessa que creó Perón, Pagina/12, 15 December 2002 (Spanish)
  38. ^ La rama nazi de Perón, La Nacion, 16 February 1997 (Spanish)
  39. ^ a b Mark Falcoff, Perón's Nazi Ties, Time, November 9, 1998, vol 152, n°19
  40. ^ Yossi Melman, Tied up in the Rat Lines, Haaretz, 17 January 2006
  41. ^ Uki Goñi, The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón's Argentina (2002) (Granta Books, 2002, ISBN 1862075816)
  42. ^ "The Jews and Perón: Communal Politics and National Identity in Peronist Argentina, 1946–1955" by Lawrence D. Bell Page 10. Retrieved May 2, 2008
  43. ^ Fraser, Nicholas. Navarro, Marysa. Evita: The Real Life of Eva Perón. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London. 1980, 1996.
  44. ^ a b Inside Argentina from Perón to Menem: 1950–2000 From an American Point of View by Laurence Levine, page 23 ISBN 0964924773
  45. ^ "Continuing Efforts to Conceal Anti-Semitic Past." Valente, Marcela. Valente, Marcela. IPS-Inter Press Service. April 27, 2005.
  46. ^ The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute; Annual Assessment, 2007
  47. ^ United Jewish Communities; Global Jewish Populations
  48. ^ http://www.jdc.org/p_amer_arg_pop.html
  49. ^ Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/Argentina.html#WW2
  50. ^ THE WOMAN BEHIND THE FANTASY: PROSTITUTE, FASCIST, PROFLIGATE - EVA PERÓN WAS MUCH MALIGNED, MOSTLY UNFAIRLY Tomás Eloy Martínez, Director of the Latin American program at Rutgers University
  51. ^ Emporis
  52. ^ Statistical Abstract of Latin America. UCLA Press.
  53. ^ http://www.lanacion.com.ar/nota.asp?nota_id=419522 La Nación
  54. ^ a b Lewis, Paul. Guerrillas and Generals. Greenwood Publishing, 2002.
  55. ^ Silvia Sigal, Le rôle politique des intellectuels en Amérique latine, Paris, L’Harmattan, 1996, p.268, quoted by Carmen Bernand, « D’une rive à l’autre », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos, Materiales de seminarios, 2008 (Latin-Americanist Review published by the EHESS), Put online on 15 June 2008. URL : http://nuevomundo.revues.org//index35983.html Accessed on 28 July 2008. (French)
  56. ^ Oscar Ranzani, La revolución es un sueño eterno Pagina 12, 20 October 2004 (Spanish)
  57. ^ a b c Susana Viau and Eduardo Tagliaferro, Carlos Bartffeld, Mason y Amigo de Massera, Fue Embajador en Yugoslavia Cuando Se Vendieron Armas a Croacia - En el mismo barco, Pagina 12, December 14, 1998 (Spanish)
  58. ^ (Spanish) Horacio Verbitsky, Ezeiza, Contrapunto, Buenos Aires, 1985. Available at El Ortiba.
  59. ^ Clarín
  60. ^ International Herald Tribune, www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/14/america/LA_GEN_Argentina_Perons_Bones.php "Argentine Strongman's corpse disturbed again"
  61. ^ in wonderland: Pulqui and the workshop of underdevelopment, CineAction, Summer 2009
  62. ^ CNN. 17 October 2006. Body of Argentina's Perón to move to $1.1 million crypt
  63. ^ BBC News. 17 October 2006. Violence mars reburial of Perón

Further reading

See also

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Edelmiro Farrell
Vice President of Argentina
1944 – 1945
Succeeded by
Juan Pistarini
President of Argentina
First and Second Terms

1946 – 1955
Succeeded by
Eduardo Lonardi
Preceded by
Raúl Lastiri
President of Argentina
Third Term

1973 – 1974
Succeeded by
Isabel Perón

Simple English

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