Worth a read. History keeps repeating itself over and over.
Perón and the Coup of 1943
In the thirties and into the forties, Argentina had an authoritarian government –– a government with a president and cabinet. Political power still rested largely with the landed aristocracy, which was allied with the Catholic Church against bourgeois society. Democracy was too modern for them and seen as involving demagogic, self-interested politicians. Authority was still seen as best for the masses. Communism was anathema, and, in the early forties, some still viewed the fascist powers as a bulwark against Communism, while the government remained neutral regarding World War II.
In June 1943, an almost bloodless military coup interrupted Argentine politics –– a coup against Ramón Castillo. General Arturo Rawson was named president, but, when it was discovered that he actually favored the Allies and wanted to include civilians in the government, he was replaced with General Pedro Ramirez. The coup leaders spoke of honor, loyalty and of that held dear by totalitarians: unity. The military regime began a war against what they called subversion. Organizations that favored the Allies were suspended on the charge that they were communistic. Communist-led labor unions were closed. Professors were fired and demonstrations suppressed. Textbooks were required to praise Argentina and the military. Movie houses were required to show a patriotic newsreel with their regular presentations. Newspapers were suppressed and editors jailed. All publishers and journalists had to be registered with the government. In the schools, religious education was compulsory. And, by the end of the year, all political parties were banned.
The coup leaders were nationalistic regarding the economy. They erected barriers against imports, ending the import-export strategy of the landowners and men of commerce, who had been making money selling beef and other agricultural products abroad. The new military leaders wanted Argentina to start building its own industries rather than buy from foreign manufacturers –– especially from the United States.
One of the men in the new military government was Colonel Juan Domingo Perón, an officer since 1913. Perón had always been affectionate toward the enlisted men under his command, and respected by his men –– different from the distant formality practiced by most officers. The army assigned him to a military academy, where he wrote on the military history of the Russo-Japanese war and World War I. He was sent to Italy for a year beginning in February 1939, and there he admired Mussolini's skill in appealing to the masses and Mussolini's social reforms.
As a colonel, Perón had been a member of the secret organization officers (the GOU) that had planned the coup of 1943. After the coup, Perón became secretary to the minister of war and vice president, General Edelmiro Farrell. And Perón took a position that no one else wanted: head of the Labor Department. Perón appealed to workers, a patriotic appeal as an alternative to the Marxist tradition and Communist infiltration in the labor movement - not unlike that tried by Europe's fascists.
Perón encouraged the creation of strong unions among meat packers and those who worked on sugar plantations. Under Perón's leadership a minimum wage was given to field hands, and wages rose for other workers. The eight-hour day was established. Rents were frozen. Workers received paid vacations. The workers received protection through restrictions on firings, and they were given an opportunity to voice complaints in labor courts. It was all done in the name of unity rather than the divisiveness of class struggle advocated by Marxists. And employers were given security from organized Communist subversion among their work force.
The military regime could afford being generous to laborers. This was a time of affluence for Argentina. The Argentineans had been doing well selling their beef abroad.
Eva Duarte, Perón and Power
Eva Duarte was the fifth child of a union between a landowner, Juan Duarte, and his cook, Juana Ibarguren. The mother was eventually driven from the Duarte household, and she supported herself by sewing, with Eva watching her mother's struggle and learning about humiliation. In the early thirties, when Eva was entering adolescence, she enjoyed going to the movies. She read about stars in movie magazines, and she decided she wanted to be an actress. At fourteen, she took a role in a school play. She was aggressive and occasionally, in front of a microphone, recited her poems. At sixteen, she moved to the capital, Buenos Aires, where she surrendered to the common corruption of getting parts by sleeping with those who had the power to find roles for actors. She worked her way through bit movie parts and by 1939 had a starring role in a radio soap-opera.
In Argentina in these times, actresses were regarded as little better than prostitutes, but they took part in the glitter and glamour of high society life in the capital. Between October 1943 and January 1944, while enjoying the status of celebrity and mixing with members of the new military regime, Eva met Juan Perón. She was twenty-four, he forty-eight. Perón was a widower, his first wife having died of cancer. Eva became Perón's mistress and began living with him.
She was now a blonde, and she benefited from paid advice on manners and how to dress. And soon she was a frequent voice on Argentina's three major radio stations, including the government supported program entitled Toward a Better Future, which glorified the new military regime.
Perón Takes Power
On February 24, 1944, a group within the military regime drove General Ramirez from office and elevated General Farrell from vice-president to the presidency. Perón was made minister of war and then vice-president. The new leadership of the military regime watched the decline of Germany, and on March 27, 1945, with the fall of Germany imminent, they declared war on the Axis powers –– a move to avoid isolation and recriminations following the Allied victory. Delegates to the United Nations in San Francisco had a heated debate on whether to admit Argentina to the United Nations, but did so in in early May over opposition from the Soviet Union.
The victory of the Allies gave democracy added prestige in various parts of the world. Popular demonstrations erupted against Argentina's regime, and the regime promised free elections. In August, President Farrell lifted restrictions on liberty that had been in effect since 1941. Pent-up expressions of discontent erupted. In September, a protest rally drew the biggest crowd in the history of Buenos Aires –– with blue collar workers not well represented. Students barricaded themselves in their universities and held off the police for ten days.
Perón attracted attention by appointing a friend of Eva's as head of the department of Posts and Telegraph. He refused to backdown on the appointment, and officers who disliked Perón's influence, –– and, even more, Eva's influence - moved against him. President Farrell failed to back Perón, and Perón resigned. The labor unions and workers, who looked upon Perón as a hero, took to the streets and occupied the capital city, where they earned the label the shirtless ones –– the descamisados.
The military regime backed down and brought Perón back into the government. Perón appeared stronger than ever. The regime announced elections for February 1946. Perón ran for president and won. His followers won two-thirds of the seats in Argentina's House of Representatives and all but two seats in the Senate. For the first time in Argentina's history, workers were now to occupy important government positions. And before taking office, Perón surrendered to respectability by marrying Eva.
Perón's regime is said to have had the support of a coalition of business and labor. Perón described his goal as a free, just and independent Argentina - independent economically from foreign influence. He embarked on a five-year plan to industrialize the country. His regime started building Argentina's steel and iron industries and subsidizing the manufacture of farm and industrial machinery. Argentina began making airplanes, and ships for its merchant marine.
The government began buying railways that had been British owned –– 70 percent of Argentina's rails, denounced as an embodiment of British imperialism. And the government bought the British owned trolley system. Perón nationalized the U.S. owned telephone company, IT&T, and he nationalized other key sectors of the economy. He put limits on the amount of profits that foreign-owned firms could take out of the country. And a dramatic drop followed in foreign investing in Argentina.
But the economy was booming. Vacation colonies for workers were built, and paid vacations became standard, as did free medical care. Medical clinics were built in working-class districts. Orphanages and housing for transients were built. Schools were built. So too were homes for the elderly, and homes for girls who left home –– as Eva had at sixteen.
Perón increased the size of the army, gave it modern equipment and increased its pay scale, and the army was happy with him. Radical students supported Perón because of his stand for social justice and against U.S. imperialism. Perón was popular enough to rule without oppression. But he held onto methods of the past and his fear of opposition. He continued government indoctrination and the crushing of selected opposition. He had the justices of the Supreme Court removed and replaced by people who were more docile –– one of whom was Eva's brother-in-law. Universities were put under the direction of rectors appointed by the government. Political activity on campus was forbidden. Around 70 percent of the professors were purged. But, in keeping with Perón's support of common folk, university fees were abolished. Money was no longer a barrier to higher education. The universities were opened to all who could qualify.
Eva Perón was by now in charge of the nation's welfare program. With a loan from the nationalized Central Bank and help from a wealthy friend, Eva bought a newspaper called Democracia, which became a mouthpiece for the Perón regime and featured flattery of the First Lady –– Evita (as she was now called). She and friends bought up more newspapers in Buenos Aires, along with a radio network and magazines.
In March 1949, Perón created a new constitution permitting the president to succeed himself, and Perón's political party re-nominated him as its presidential candidate for 1952. Opposition parties and the press became increasingly critical, and, in September, Perón's majority in Congress retaliated against this criticism by legislation that provided prison terms for persons who showed disrespect for government leaders. Many opponents of the Perón regime were jailed. Opposition newspapers were repressed, and restrictions were imposed on the anti-Peronista parties.
Evita was not generous toward the Peron regime's critics, and she had little recognition of shared power. In Congress an independent-minded representative, Ernesto Sammartino, said that it was not the place for him and his fellow congressmen "to bow reverently or to dance jigs to please Madame Pompadour." Sammartino found it prudent to flee to Uruguay.
The landed wealthy, industrialists and financiers were hostile to the Peróns, but Juan Perón let them be. He was not about to eliminate the landed wealthy by confiscating their property –– as had the Bolshevik Revolution. Nor was he about to open an assault against industrialists or to attack those few in the military who disliked him or his wife. Perón did not need to crush them. He enjoyed solid support of the common people, the middle classes and the Army. He and Evita declared their love for the masses. The two arms of Peronism, declared Juan Perón, were social justice and social aid. "With them," he said, "we give to the people an abrazo of justice and love."
Between the two Peróns, Juan was cooler in intellect. He was the designer while Evita was the passionate true-believer. She championed and succeeded in giving women the vote. She launched a woman's Peronist political party. She advocated glamour for the common woman –– a look of wealth and fine clothes that justified her own tastes –– which included a vast wardrobe of a hundred or so furs and a multitude of new Dior dresses. The poor, she claimed, deserved the best. Also she preached that women should follow their traditional roles of subservience to their husbands and devotion to their families.
Despite the economic boom and government generosity, some people still suffered. By radio, people were invited to write to Evita's welfare foundation, and about 12,000 wrote each day. Some of them were granted appointments with Evita. And after rising late, Eva spent many of her working days and into the evenings, listening to the woe's of at least a hundred women or old folks who had lined up and waited for hours for advice or help. She embraced them all, and gave them the money needed for their fare back home.
Perón's Decline and Fall
Beginning in 1950, the good times began to fade. A drought began that was to last into 1953, and Argentina's position in the world economy was declining. The Marshall Plan had made Western Europe more self-supporting and European purchases of Argentine beef and other foodstuffs were falling. Agriculture on the international market had been a major source of wealth for Argentina, while Argentina was still in need of oil and other imports - such as the coal and iron needed for industrialization. The reduced income from exports hampered investment in industry. And Perón was not willing to try a program of austerity.
The government had spent much of its financial reserves on buying up industries, including British-owned railways. British investors had been making less of a return on the railway than could be made with ordinary bank interest. Much of the railway track was in poor repair or obsolete.
The government was in need of cash and spending more money than it was taking in. Argentina's economy was suffering from a steep climb in prices. Political unrest was on the rise, and in September, 1951, a coup was attempted. It failed miserably, but Perón responded with increased repression. His regime restricted public meetings and forbade talk of politics on the radio - except for the regime's political messages, which were presented as "informational." And to protect the regime, Eva suggested the creation of an armed workers' militia.
The elections slated for 1952 were pushed forward to 1951, and, during the campaign, one of the candidates for the presidency was arrested and another was shot. Eva –– now in a hospital and being treated for cancer - proclaimed that anyone who did not vote for Perón was a traitor. Thirty-six percent of those voting in November met Eva's criterion for treason –– Perón receiving 64 percent of the votes cast, according to official accounts. All of those elected to Argentina's governorships and all elected to the Senate were Peronists. And 90 percent of those elected to the House of Representatives were Peronists.
By June 1952 Eva was out of the hospital but weighed only 80 pounds. Vast crowds surrounded the presidential home. Women were on their knees, weeping and praying for Eva's recovery. On July 26, 1952, Eva died. Two million attended her funeral, and it was marked by hysterical mourning.
Perón's labor unions asked Pope Pius XII to begin proceedings for Eva Perón's canonization, but the Pope had no such intentions.
Perón lost some of his appeal when Eva died. He labored on, labeling his rule with a philosophy called Justicia, with a stated balance between individualism and collectivism and between "idealism" and materialism. And Perón launched a mild austerity program, which was not well accepted among workers who during previous years had acquired rising expectations.
In January 1953, Perón launched his second five-year plan. The plan emphasized increased agricultural output instead of the all-out industrialization goal of his first five-year plan. Argentina's industrialists were not receiving the funds they wanted for expansion of their industries, and Perón was looking for more investment with which to expand the economy. In April, Milton Eisenhower, the brother of the new U.S. President, Dwight Eisenhower, visited Perón, and Perón started to encourage cooperation with the United States and to encourage foreign investment. During 1953, Argentina concluded important economic and trade agreements with several countries, including Great Britain, the Soviet Union and Chile. Foreign commercial transactions in 1953 produced the first favorable balance of trade since 1950.
Much was still being spent on the importation of goods needed for a modern industry and for affluent living. Inflation continued. Wages and prices remained frozen, and Perón continued to lose support. More damage to Perón's reputation came with his attempt to rally youth to his side by support of sports clubs. One club of girls met at his residence, where they learned fencing, swimming and riding motorbikes. With the girls, Perón behaved with utmost propriety, except toward a fourteen year-old, Nelly Rivas. She began helping around the house with chores, then staying overnight, and eventually moved in with him. It was a scandal, with rumors floating around about orgies. The sight of Perón riding down the avenue on a motor bike with a flock of teenage girls behind him on their motorbikes did not help. Perón's image never recovered.
In July 1954 a group of Catholics founded a rival political party. Then Catholics started organizing their own labor union. Perón felt threatened and began making verbal attacks against the priesthood. He accused priests of meddling in politics. He threw some priests in jail, closed Catholic papers and prohibited religious processions. His followers chanted "priests no, Perón yes." Hoping for support from liberals, he had Congress legalize divorce and remove religious instruction from the schools. He granted legitimacy to children born out of wedlock, and he had prostitution legalized. The Church incited mass demonstrations against Perón. The question was asked, "Is it Christ or Perón?" Congress expelled two Argentine priests to Italy, and on June 16, 1955, the Vatican excommunicated those responsible for the expulsion, without naming anyone specifically. On that same day, the Navy and Air Force launched a coup, and airplanes bombed Perón's primary residence. Perón survived, but 350 civilians died in the assault.
The Army was opposed to a takeover by the Navy and Airforce and suppressed the coup. Perón's supporters sacked the grand cathedral in Buenos Aires. They destroyed the headquarters of the archdiocese and burned several Catholic churches. Perón denounced these acts and reshuffled his cabinet. In September, a delegation from labor unions offered to provide Perón with the armed workers' militias –– as Evita had planned. The Army's leaders did not want another rival military force. They were fed up with Perón. And in September the armed forces fought each other again, for three days. Four thousand died. Perón took refuge in the Paraguayan embassy where he wrote a goodbye letter to Nelly Rivas, signed Daddy –– the letter never reached her. Then Perón went into exile, first to Paraguay and then to Venezuela. Anti-Perón mobs broke into Perón's several homes, where they found what they believed was too much luxury.
Perón and Argentina, 1955-74
Major General Eduardo Lonardi took office as provisional president and promised to restore democratic government. In less than two months, Lonardi was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by Major General Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, because, it was said, Lonardi had been unwilling to suppress Peronism in the army and among the workers. Aramburu's government was seen as a caretaker government until elections, slated for 1956, could be held. The new rulers hoped that widespread discontent could be contained. They auctioned Evita's jewelry collection –– greater, it has been said, than that of Cleopatra's. The government claimed that it represented corruption and embezzlement.
In 1956 inflation was rampant, with the cost of living index that year rising 34 per cent. In an effort to check inflation, Aramburu kept wages frozen, and occasionally he crushed revolts of outraged workers. Thousands were arrested. Thirty-eight alleged Peronists were executed, and scores imprisoned on charges of plotting to overthrow the new regime.
In January 1957, Perón moved to the Dominican Republic, ruled by the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. In July, 1957, Argentina held elections to a Constituent Assembly, and the assembly opened in September and unanimously readopted Argentina's constitution of 1853. General elections were held in February 1958. A left-of-center candidate, Arturo Frondizi, won the presidency, with Peronist and Communist support, and Frondizi's Intransigent Radical Party won a majority in the legislature.
Frondizi believed that no one should be persecuted for his political ideas, and his general amnesty bill was passed by the legislature. In this new atmosphere of liberalism, labor unrest continued, and impatient Peronist labor unions called a nationwide strike, which Frondizi broke with military force.
In early 1959, economic stability was advanced by foreign loans and credits, with the International Monetary Fund extending to Argentina the largest loan to that time to any single Latin American government. Argentina's participation in the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA), founded in 1960, helped foster a growing trade with other countries. But the government's austerity program remained unpopular. Frondizi's popularity declined through 1961, and he endured numerous threats to his life.
By 1960, the Trujillo regime was in trouble, and Perón moved to Spain. The dictator there, Francisco Franco, never met with him, Franco disliking Perón's attacks upon the Church back in 1954 and '55. In Spain, Perón lived in modest comfort, except that he was bothered by the loud parties of a neighbor, the Hollywood movie star Ava Gardner.
In elections held in Argentina in March 1962, Peronists polled 35 percent of the total vote. The military, still hostile to Peronism, saw danger and declared the elections invalid. The military deposed Frondizi and elevated the president of the Senate, Jose Maria Guido, to the presidency.
New elections were held in July 1963, with Peronists and Communists barred from running for office. A moderate, Arturo Illia, was elected president. He announced a program of national recovery and the regulation of foreign investment. He tried to stop inflation by more price fixing, and he appealed to labor by passing a minimum-wage law.
In elections in 1965, Peronist candidates were allowed to run again. Perón, almost 70, sent his third wife, Isabel –– 34-years old –– to Argentina to rally the Peronists. She had a grade school education and was a former dancer in what some described as a "girlie show." She had become Perón's secretary and then live-in companion. In Argentina, Isabel drew only small crowds.
In the elections of 1965, Illia's political party retained a plurality in the lower house of the legislature. Labor unrest continued into 1966, and the Peronists continued to win victories in bi-elections. In June 1966, the military moved against Peronism again, and for the rest of the decade the military remained the power behind whomever it chose as president. A new president in 1966 was General Juan Carlos Onganía –– a conservative who hated seeing mini-skirts on women and hated the Left. The country was in chaos, with armed revolutionist group such as the People's Revolutionary Army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and the Montoneros, who kidnapped and executed the former president, Aramburu.
The military overthrew Onganía in 1970. In 1972, at the age of seventy-eight. Perón returned to Argentina, the military hoping that he could restore a unity of sorts. The army restored his rank of general, and he won election as president once again. He made Isabel vice president. And when he died in 1974, Isabel became president, until 1976, when the Army overthrew her.
Too many words and such... is there a Cliff's notes?
Maybe present as an outline... Bullet points?
Originally Posted By AFSOC:
Too many words and such... is there a Cliff's notes?
Maybe present as an outline... Bullet points?
You kids and your short attention span.
I think the take away is the cliche "history repeats itself." Its almost as if there is a toltalitarian checklist and time line that every dictatoral goverment goes through. Its repleated time and again. Going on currently in more than a few countries in the southern hemisphere. And it was an interesting article to compare to some campaign bullet points from Obama.
National Civilian Police Force
Nationalized media or heavily influenced
Creating criminals out of those that oppose
Massive redistribuition of wealth
Christ like hope in the new leader from the poorest in the country
Purging or demonizing free thinkers from universities and political positions
Taxing or confiscating the possesions of the rich
Military used to quell oposition
Labor Unions swing a huge stick
Printing money to keep the economy going
Price fixes on many products
Interpreting a consitution or re-writing it for your benefit
Youth are taught propoganda by the goverment institutions
Using double speak to get around unpopular subjects
Fanatical paranoia and being very thinned skin against criticism
Using the term social justice to rationalize anything.
That would be the cliff notes version. I am sure there is more I can add but that about covers it and makes the point.
This has happened before and it will happen again - Battlestar Galactica....
Colonial US (remember this one)
Many South American and African countries...
etc etc etc ad nauseum...
American Civil War
This nation is destined to do this again.
It is just a matter of time and a catalyst to make it happen.
Originally Posted By AFSOC:
This nation is destined to do this again.
It is just a matter of time and a catalyst to make it happen.
Like the coming collapse of the stock market?