Peron Becomes Dictator of Argentina - History

Peron Becomes Dictator of Argentina - History

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Colonel Juan Peron was elected President of Argentina. His supporters won absolute control of both houses of the legislature. In 1948, he was granted unlimited power, thereby transforming him into an absolute dictator.

Eva Perón

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Eva Perón, in full Eva Duarte de Perón, née María Eva Duarte, byname Evita, (born May 7, 1919, Los Toldos, Argentina—died July 26, 1952, Buenos Aires), second wife of Argentine Pres. Juan Perón, who, during her husband’s first term as president (1946–52), became a powerful though unofficial political leader, revered by the lower economic classes.

How old was Eva Perón when she died?

Eva Perón was 33 years old when she died of cancer.

Where was Eva Perón born and raised?

Eva Perón was born in the small town of Los Toldos, on the Argentine Pampas. She moved to Junín, Argentina, following her father’s death and traveled to Buenos Aires when she was 15 to pursue an acting career.

Why is Eva Perón famous?

As the second wife of Argentine Pres. Juan Perón, Eva became a powerful, though unofficial, political leader. She was revered by the lower economic classes and helped enact a number of reforms and policies to their benefit. She also helped bring about the passage of Argentina’s women’s suffrage law.

Duarte was born in the small town of Los Toldos on the Argentine Pampas. Her parents, Juan Duarte and Juana Ibarguren, were not married, and her father had a wife and another family. Eva’s family struggled financially, and the situation worsened when Juan died when she was six years old. A few years later they moved to Junín, Argentina. When Eva was 15, she traveled to Buenos Aires to pursue an acting career and eventually began performing steadily in radio parts.

Eva attracted the attention of a rising star of the new government, Col. Juan Perón, and the two married in 1945. Later that year he was ousted by a coup of rival army and navy officers and briefly taken into custody. After his release, Juan entered the presidential race. Eva was active in the campaign, and she won the adulation of the masses, whom she addressed as los descamisados (Spanish: “the shirtless ones”). He was elected and took office in June 1946.

Although she never held any government post, Eva acted as de facto minister of health and labour, awarding generous wage increases to the unions, who responded with political support for Perón. After cutting off government subsidies to the traditional Sociedad de Beneficencia (Spanish: “Aid Society”), thereby making more enemies among the traditional elite, she replaced it with her own Eva Perón Foundation, which was supported by “voluntary” union and business contributions plus a substantial cut of the national lottery and other funds. These resources were used to establish thousands of hospitals, schools, orphanages, homes for the aged, and other charitable institutions. Eva was largely responsible for the passage of the women’s suffrage law and formed the Peronista Feminist Party in 1949. She also introduced compulsory religious education into all Argentine schools. In 1951, although dying of cancer, she obtained the nomination for vice president, but the army forced her to withdraw her candidacy.

After her death in 1952, Eva remained a formidable influence in Argentine politics. Her working-class followers tried unsuccessfully to have her canonized, and her enemies, in an effort to exorcise her as a national symbol of Peronism, stole her embalmed body in 1955, after Juan Perón was overthrown, and secreted it in Italy for 16 years. In 1971 the military government, bowing to Peronist demands, turned over her remains to her exiled widower in Madrid. After Juan Perón died in office in 1974, his third wife, Isabel Perón, hoping to gain favour among the populace, repatriated the remains and installed them next to the deceased leader in a crypt in the presidential palace. Two years later a new military junta hostile to Peronism removed the bodies. Eva’s remains were finally interred in the Duarte family crypt in Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Eva inspired numerous books and other works, both in Argentina and abroad. Notably, her life was the basis for the musical Evita (1978), by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice it was later adapted into a film (1996) starring Madonna.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

Early Life

Although he was born near Buenos Aires, he spent much of his youth in the harsh region of Patagonia with his family as his father tried his hand at various occupations, including ranching. At 16, he entered the National Military College and joined the army afterward, deciding to be a career soldier.

He served in the infantry as opposed to the cavalry, which was for children of wealthy families. He married his first wife Aurelia Tizón in 1929, but she died in 1937 of uterine cancer.


When president Juan Perón died of natural causes on July 1, 1974, he was succeeded by his wife (then vice-president) María Estela Martínez de Perón, also known as "Isabelita." Despite her claim as the country's rightful ruler, she rapidly lost political gravitas and power. A group of military officials, tasked by Perón to aide the vice-president, [ citation needed ] took control in an effort to revitalize Argentina's deteriorating political and social climate. This shift in governance paved the way for the ensuing coup.

On February 5, 1975 Operativo Independencia was launched. This Vietnam-style intervention aimed to eliminate the guerrillas in the Tucumán jungle, who had maintained strongholds in the area as early as May 1974. In October the country was divided into five military zones, with each commander given full autonomy to unleash a carefully planned wave of repression.

On December 18, a number of warplanes took off from Morón Air Base and strafed the Casa Rosada in an attempt to overthrow Isabel Perón. The rebellion was brought to a halt four days later through arbitration by a chaplain.

However, the military did succeed in removing the only officer remaining loyal to the government, Air Force commander Héctor Fautario. Fautario drew harsh criticism from the Army and Navy owing to his vehement opposition to their repressive plans, and for his refusal to mobilize the Air Force against the guerrillas' strongholds in the north. Fautario was Videla's final obstacle in his pursuit of power.

By January 1976 the guerrilla presence in Tucumán had been reduced to a few platoons. Meanwhile, the military, fully backed by the local élite and the United States, bided its time before ultimately seizing power. [2] [12]

Shortly before 01:00 am, President Martínez de Perón was detained and taken by helicopter to the El Messidor residence. At 03:10 all television and radio stations were interrupted. Regular transmissions were cut and replaced by a military march, after which the first communiqué was broadcast:

[. ] People are advised that as of today, the country is under the operational control of the Joint Chiefs General of the Armed Forces. We recommend to all inhabitants strict compliance with the provisions and directives emanating from the military, security or police authorities, and to be extremely careful to avoid individual or group actions and attitudes that may require drastic intervention from the operating personnel. Signed: General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier Orlando Ramón Agosti.

A state of siege and martial law were implemented, as military patrolling spread to every major city. The morning was seemingly uneventful, but as the day progressed, the detentions multiplied. Hundreds of workers, unionists, students, and political activists were abducted from their homes, their workplaces, or in the streets.

The Junta assumed the executive power until March 29 when Videla was designated president. Congress was disbanded and an entity known as Legislative Advising Commission (in Spanish: Comision de Asesoramiento Legislativo - CAL) assumed a Legislative role. [13]

Human rights activists state that in the aftermath of the coup and ensuing Dirty War, some 30,000 people, primarily young opponents of the military regime, were "disappeared" or killed. [14] Military men responsible for the killings often spared pregnant women for a time, keeping them in custody until they gave birth, before killing them and giving their infants to childless military families. [14] Kissinger privately assured the military regime that they would have the full support of the United States government in their war and associated actions, a promise that was opposed by the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina at the time, Robert Hill. [2]

The criminal dictatorship counted on the complicity of civil and ecclesiastical sectors, therefore it is usually characterized as a civic-military-ecclesiastical-business dictatorship. [15] [16] [17] [18]

The Junta remained in power until the election of Raúl Alfonsín as the President of Argentina, in December 1983.

The 24th of March anniversary of the coup is now designated in Argentina as the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. [19]

Juan Perón and Evita

The famous rule of Juan Perón began in 1946, three years after the military had got rid of the constitutional government. For 11 years Perón worked to give rights to the working classes, whilst his wife, Eva Perón, worked alongside him as the first lady of Argentina until her death in 1952. Evita is famous for having given a voice to women, who were given the vote in 1947.

Perón was sent into exile in 1955 as a result of the military coup led by nationalist Eduardo Lonardi. Despite his loss of power, Perón had gained the respect and support of many Argentines and the years which followed were characterised by bloody and violent clashes between Peronist and Anti-Peronist forces.

In 1958 radical Arturo Frondizi was elected, however, after four years the military took control again and banned the election of Peronist or communist parties. Argentina remained like this for an entire decade when finally the public were given the chance to vote again in 1973. Their choice was Peronist Héctor Cámpora, although he resigned shortly afterwards when Perón returned from exile. Despite being voted back into power, Perón's return was by no means a calm one, but instead was blackened by the violent Ezeiza massacre in which over 300 people got hurt. Perón remained in power for one year until his death when his new wife, Isabel Perón, took over. She was ousted by a military coup only two years later.

Click here for information on the Argentina Military Dictatorship of the 1970's and 1980's.

The Untold Story Behind the Song "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"

For many people across the world, the only thing they know about Argentina is what they learned from the film Evita, starring Madonna. The film was released in 1996 and was a musical interpretation of the life of Eva Perón, from her humble beginnings to her position as Argentina’s First Lady. The film’s main song is “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”. We take a look inside the origins of this dramatic and catchy tune.

“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” became something of an anthem when it was performed by Madonna in the 1996 musical film Evita. Chronicling the life and times of Argentina’s favourite daughter, Eva Perón, Evita was a dramatisation of the real-life events that happened in Eva Perón’s short but impactful life. From her humble beginnings in rural Argentina to moving to the capital of Buenos Aires to a pursue a career in entertainment and the arts, Evita went on to marry Juan Perón, who would become the president of Argentina, making Eva the country’s First Lady. But she was much more than that. She was revered by the Argentine public because of how she championed workers’ rights and the rights of the poor, and also of women. She died tragically of cancer at the young age of 33, and her body went on a mysterious odyssey for a number of years until it was returned to Argentina, where it now rests in Buenos Aires’s famous Recoleta cemetery.

“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” is the film’s hit song. Sung by Madonna, who famously campaigned for the role by sending the director a four page letter about why she should have the role, the song was originally written for a 1976 concept album called Evita, and was later performed as part of a theatre piece of the same name in 1978. A singer called Julie Covington originally performed the song, which was written by the don of musical theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and his frequent collaborator, Tim Rice. The song book-ended the original theatre performance and was sung at both the beginning and the end to evoke the generosity of Evita’s spirit in death by asking the public not to mourn her. Upon its release in 1976, the song went to number one in the UK, and went on to win the songwriting duo an Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. The Evita soundtrack took four months to record, and all of the parties involved recalled it as a nerve-wracking experience. Director Alan Parker called the first day of recording “Black Monday” because of the nerves of all the cast members. He elaborated on the day, saying, “All of us came from very different worlds—from popular music, from movies, and from musical theater—and so we were all very apprehensive.” Antonio Banderas, who was cast as Che, said that the experience was “scary”, and Madonna was “petrified”. She said, “I had to sing ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber … I was a complete mess and was sobbing afterward. I thought I had done a terrible job.” However, it all seems to have been worth it, as the song is one of the most memorable parts of the film, if not one of the things that people from abroad associate most with Argentina.

Argentina Declassification Project: History

For over a year prior to the March 1976 coup, U.S. government officials and other observers consistently characterized the situation in Argentina as “deteriorating.” Both the press and U.S. intelligence agencies reported on political instability and uncertainty, especially in coverage of the inner circle of President Isabel Peron, the Argentine congress, and military leaders.

Crime and terrorism disrupted daily life in Argentina, and due to Cold War foreign policy priorities, U.S. government agencies generally paid more attention to the threat of terrorism committed by ideologically leftist than by rightist groups. Leftist guerrilla groups operating in both the cities and the countryside—the Montoneros and ERP—seemed to be gaining followers and control over certain geographic areas, successfully financed their operations through kidnapping and extortion, sometimes targeted U.S. citizens, and increasingly seemed able to repulse the efforts of the Argentine security forces to contain them.

At the same time, right-wing death squads with links to the Peron government and the security forces, notably the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (Triple A), increasingly targeted labor leaders and left-wing Peronist political leaders as well as leftist guerrillas.

Ford Administration Policy, Through the March 1976 Coup

Throughout 1975 and into early 1976, U.S. officials in Argentina repeatedly warned Washington that a coup was likely due to crime, violence, and instability under the government of Isabel Peron. The coup came on March 24, 1976 when an Argentine military junta removed Peron from power. The U.S. gave limited support to the new government, through the end of the Gerald Ford Administration in January 1977.

On March 26, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a staff meeting that he thought the new Argentine government “will need a little encouragement from us.” Kissinger met with Argentine Foreign Minister Cesar Guzzetti in June and October of 1976. At both meetings, Kissinger said that he wanted to see the Argentine government “succeed.”

U.S. officials in Buenos Aires and in Washington also reported on the ideology and actions of the junta, including about human rights violations, throughout 1976. Officials tried to glean the character of the new government, concluding that it would likely be “moderate” but that the U.S. government “should not become overly identified with the junta.” Officials also repeatedly wondered if junta president Jorge Videla, the commander of the army, had enough control over the security forces to end human rights abuses—or if an end to human rights abuses was even one of Videla’s goals.

In July, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires reported to Washington that estimates of the number of people who had been illegally detained “run into the thousands and many have been tortured and murdered.” In response to the dramatically increasing volume of such cases, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Robert C. Hill protested to the Argentine government concerning human rights abuses in May 1976. In July, Assistant Secretary of State Harry Shlaudeman told Kissinger that the Argentine “security forces are totally out of control” and that the U.S. would “have to wait until somebody surfaces to get a handle on this.”

In September, Hill protested again, directly to Videla, that “not one single person has been brought to justice or even disciplined” for violations of human rights. In response, Videla said that “Kissinger understood their problem and had said he hoped they could get terrorism under control as quickly as possible.”

Carter Administration policy

The Carter Administration’s emphasis on human rights in U.S. foreign policy heavily influenced its approach to Argentina. In addition, during 1977 and 1978 the Carter Administration’s policy toward Argentina was shaped by the Kennedy-Humphrey Amendment (P.L. 95-92, sec. 11), a Congressionally-mandated halt on all U.S. military aid, training, and arms sales to Argentina, which was enacted in August 1977 and went into effect on October 1, 1978.

The Carter Administration also had other goals for its policy toward Argentina. U.S. policymakers wanted to moderate and encourage an end to the military government and a return to elective democracy, prevent Argentine disputes with its neighbors from devolving into war, prevent Argentina from working towards becoming a nuclear power, and encourage the stabilization and growth of the Argentine economy, which suffered from high inflation rates.

Officials struggled to balance these competing interests, many of which required discussions with and persuasion of Argentine officials, with the new pressure from the White House, Congress, victims’ relatives, and NGOs to get the Argentine government to demonstrate real improvement on human rights issues. There were disagreements among U.S. officials about the rate at which the junta’s human rights record was improving, but no one at this stage tried to argue that the military government deserved the unwavering support of the United States.

By early 1977, most U.S. officials believed that the leftist guerrilla groups had been defeated, and that the vast majority of the continued detentions, torture, and disappearances were perpetrated by people or groups accountable to the Argentine government and unrelated to any real threat from the armed left. U.S. Ambassador Raul H. Castro continued to press the junta to improve its performance on human rights, to return to democracy, and, at times, to account for the missing and punish those responsible for abuses. The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires also continued to collect data on human rights abuses, documenting 9,000 kidnappings and disappearances and conducting interviews with those who had been detained or who were searching for missing relatives.

The disagreement inside the U.S. government was over exactly what tactics to use to change the regime’s behavior and how to identify the better actors within Argentina’s ruling circles. During 1977 and most of 1978, the impending new ban on arms sales, aid, and training provided the U.S. with some leverage, as did the U.S. vote on Argentine loans in International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. However, policymakers did not always agree on how to use those points of leverage, or about what exactly to tell their interlocutors in the Argentine government about how the U.S. interest in promoting human rights would affect other areas of relations.

As early as May 1976 and throughout 1977, some U.S. policymakers thought Videla would act as the necessary “moderate.” When he spoke with U.S. envoys, Videla promised he could compel the junta to publish lists of the state’s prisoners, release a few high-profile prisoners, and release others into voluntary exile. Ultimately, these U.S. officials wanted to support Videla to help him balance the U.S. demand for improvements in human rights with the demands of Argentine military hardliners who opposed “concessions” to the U.S. on human rights.

These U.S. officials wanted the U.S. to vote in Argentina’s favor in the IFIs and argued for the approval of arms transfers before the Kennedy-Humphrey embargo went into effect, believing that these moves would support Videla’s claim to the junta presidency. Other U.S. policymakers did not trust Videla. They believed that maintaining pressure on Videla and the junta as a whole for improvements in human rights should be prioritized over other U.S. interests in Argentina. They wanted the government of Argentina to face concrete sanctions if it did not halt its abuses—they opposed arms transfers and wanted the U.S. to vote against Argentine loans in the IFIs.

Disappearances in Argentina slowed to a trickle by the early 1980s, but it is unclear whether this improvement was primarily due to pressure from the U.S., to an internal decision made by the Argentine junta in its war against perceived leftists, or to other factors. Carter’s human rights pressure also pushed the junta to look for allies elsewhere who were less focused on human rights, including in the Eastern bloc and the Soviet Union.

Argentina’s staunchly anticommunist junta signed two trade agreements with the Soviet Union in 1980, agreeing to provide 5 million tons of grain in 1980 and 22 million tons of corn, sorghum, and soybeans over the next 5 years—in defiance of Carter’s grain embargo on the USSR.

Reagan Administration Policy

The Reagan administration sought to improve U.S.-Argentine relations and focused on private diplomacy regarding human rights in Argentina. They worked to restore military ties between the two anti-communist counties and to weaken or overturn the 1978 Kennedy-Humphrey Amendment’s restrictions on military aid to Argentina.

Reagan and his Secretary of State, Al Haig, viewed Carter’s public criticisms of Argentina as misguided and thought that any valid concerns about human rights abuses by the Argentine military should be raised privately. Thus, when the Argentine military junta replaced Videla with Roberto Viola as president in March 1981, Haig told Viola that there would be “no finger-pointing” regarding human rights, adding: “if there are problems, they will be discussed quietly and confidentially.” Reagan agreed, telling Viola that “there would be no public scoldings and lectures.”

With warmer bilateral relations secured and disappearances apparently on the wane, the Reagan administration felt that it could make progress on many of the central issues faced by Carter: stabilization of an economy that was in deep recession and carrying massive foreign debt, nuclear proliferation and the ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Argentina’s lack of participation in the grain embargo against the Soviets, and a return to electoral democracy. Reagan was also interested in securing Argentine assistance in securing his administration’s goals in Central America, particularly in El Salvador.

Optimism waned when Leopoldo Galtieri, installed as president by the junta in December 1981, decided that invading the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands would shore up his government, which faced dire economic problems, labor unrest, and growing public displeasure with military rule. When Argentina lost the war against the United Kingdom over the islands, the junta was widely discredited for its human rights abuses, economic mismanagement, and the loss of the war.

Isabel Perón

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Isabel Perón, in full Isabel Martínez de Perón, née María Estela Martínez Cartas, (born February 4, 1931, La Rioja, Argentina), Argentine politician who served as president of Argentina in 1974–76, the world’s first woman president. She was the third wife of President Juan Perón and served as vice president (1973–74) in his administration.

She was born to a lower-middle-class family, acquired the name Isabel (her saint’s name) on her Roman Catholic confirmation, and used that name when she became a dancer. She met Juan Perón in either 1955 or 1956 and, giving up her career in show business, became his personal secretary, accompanying him in exile to Madrid, where they were married in 1961. She visited Argentina several times in the 1960s and early ’70s, building support for her husband. When he finally returned to Argentina to run for president in 1973, Isabel was chosen as his vice presidential running mate on the suggestion of his close adviser José López Rega. The couple won the election, and they took office in October 1973. Juan’s illness several times elevated Isabel to the position of acting president, and she succeeded him in office when he died on July 1, 1974.

Her regime inherited problems of inflation, labour unrest, and political violence. She attempted to solve the problems by appointing new cabinet ministers, printing money to pay foreign debts, and imposing a state of siege in November 1974 as the country was on the brink of anarchy. The controversy surrounding her social welfare minister López Rega, who was forced into exile for graft and terrorist activities, did not help her situation. Moderate military officers urged her to resign, but she stubbornly refused. The economic and political situation continued to worsen, and on March 24, 1976, she was seized by air force officers and held under house arrest for five years. In 1981 she was convicted of corrupt practices, but she was paroled in the summer of that year and went into exile in Spain. Pardoned in late 1983, she submitted her resignation as head of the Partido Justicialista, the Peronist party, from her home in Madrid in 1985.

In 2007 an Argentine judge issued a warrant for her arrest on charges of allowing the armed forces to commit human rights abuses during her presidency. Perón, who by then had gained Spanish citizenship, was briefly arrested. In 2008, however, Spain’s National Court refused the extradition request, ruling that the charges did not constitute crimes against humanity and that the statute of limitations had been exceeded.

The T.S.S. EVITA and the T.S.S. EVA PERON….

Eva Peron (Evita) with the British Ambassador, Sir John Balfour at a reception aboard the steamship “Eva Peron”, to mark the arrival in Buenos Aires of the ship at the end of its maiden voyage from England. June 1950.

The T.S.S. Eva Peron and T.S.S. Evita…

The “Eva Peron” liner/cruise-ships…

T.S.S. Presidente Peron (T.S.S. Eva Peron was sister-ship)

  • They were similar in design to the T.S.S. JUAN PERON. (Our thanks to Timetable Images for these great photos:

The ships ran from Argentina (South America) to Europe and the USA.

Argentina was the only South American country to operate long distance intercontinental ocean liners, although always with ships of moderate size and speed. While ruling Argentina, Eva Peron had dictator Juan Peron, her doting husband, name two-passenger ships after her. The Argentine liners were called the EVITA and the EVA PERON. They were similar in design to the PRESIDENTE PERON. The ships ran from Argentina (South America) to Europe and the USA.

Last minute schedule showing the EVITA sailing from New York to Bunos Aires, poster for the Argentine State Line, matches given away aboard ship and playing cards. The schedule was inserted in the regular schedule because Peron’s government had given the ship a new name: EVITA.

The Juan Peron influenced Compañia Argentina de Navegación Dodero / Empresa Lineas Maritimas Argentinas commenced Buenos Aires to London passenger voyages in 1949 with the newly built PRESIDENTE PERON and followed this in 1950 with the EVA PERON and the 17 DE OCTUBRE. Compañia Argentina de Navegación Dodero / Empresa Lineas Maritimas Argentinas commenced Buenos Aires to London passenger voyages in 1949 with the newly built PRESIDENTE PERON and followed this in 1950 with the EVA PERON and the 17 DE OCTUBRE.

Aboard the steamers Eva Peron and Juan Peron…

  • The Flota Mercante del Estado’s motorship EVITA (name adopted in 1952) was launched in 1949.

Letter post marked from the S.S. Evita in 1954.

  • She was one of two ships named after dictator Juan Peron’s wife: Eva Peron.
  • The EVITA was 11,317 GRT, 550 feet in length and 65 feet in width.

Aboard the Eva Peron and the Juan Peron…

  • Carrying 116 passengers in first class, with a crew of 155, she operated on the line’s Buenos Aires-New York service.
  • In 1955 she was renamed the RIO TUNUYAN when Peron’s dictatorship was defeated.
  • She was refitted as a one-class vessel carring 372 tourist class passengers running from Buenos Aires to Hamburg. She was broken up in 1973.

The same year, passenger services between Buenos Aires, Vigo, Amsterdam and Hamburg commenced.

A service between B.A., Rio de Janeiro, Las Palmas, Lisbon, Barcelona, Marseilles, Naples and Genoa with southbound calls at Montevideo soon followed.

After the fall of the Peron Government, the Dodero Line ceased operations and management of the fleet passed to Flota Argentina de Navegaceon de Ultramar (FANU). In 1962 FANU and the Flota Mercante del Estado merged to form Empresa Lineas Maritimas Argentinas (ELMA) who took over the passenger services.

Interiors of the Argentine State Lines ships…

The Genoa route was discontinued in 1969 and passenger services to London in 1967 and the ships converted to cargo carriers.

Interiors of the Argentine State Line ships…

The Hamburg route was ended in 1972.

The Argentine State Line service from Argentina to New York operated between 1950 and 1962. Between 1952 and 1953 the EVITA operated to New York from Buenos Aires.

With the fall of the Peron government, any reference to Juan or Eva was removed.

The EVITA was changed to the RIO TUNUYAN.

With the RIO DE LA PLATA and RIO JACAL the former EVITA held down the 43-day round trip from New York to Buenos Aires via Rio de Janeiro, Santos and Montevideo, returning via the same ports plus Trinidad and La Guaira (Caracas).

The air-conditioned accommodations included large staterooms with private or semi-private bath, a main lounge, smoking room bar, library, dining room and a tiled swimming pool and lido.

Three views of the SS EVA PERON (later renamed the SS URUGUAY). Cia Argentian de Nav Dodero’s EVA PERON was launched in 1949. Named in honor of dictator Juan Peron’s wife, the ship was 12,627 GRT, 530 feet in length and 71 feet in width, carrying 96 first class passengers with a crew of 145. The ship was very deluxe and used by a lot of Peron’s cronies. Her maiden voyage was from London to Buenos Aires and later from Hamburg to Buenos Aires. After the fall of the Peron government in 1955 the ship was named the URUGUAY. She was broken up in 1973.

Cia Argentian de Nav Dodero’s PRESIDENTE PERON was launched in 1948. Named in honor of dictator Juan Peron, the PRESIDENTE PERON was 12,459 GRT, 530 feet in length and 71 feet in width, carrying 74 first class passengers with a crew of 145. This proved to be nearly two crewmembers to every passenger. Her maiden voyage was from London to Buenos Aires and later from Hamburg to Buenos Aires. After the fall of the Peron government in 1955 the ship was named the ARGENTINA. She was broken up in 1973.

Juan Perón and Social-Fascism in Argentina

The term “social-democracy” has been used by the left since the time of Marx and Engels. The term is a pejorative one today, since it has become almost synonymous with liberal reformism. About a century ago, “social-democrat” was a word to describe other appendages of the socialist movement. Everyone who was an adherent to either the First or Second Internationals before 1914-1919 would be called a “social-democrat,” regardless if they were supporters of the revolutionary Marxism of V.I. Lenin in Russia or the reformist Socialist Party of America.

The Second International under Karl Kautsky failed to rally the working class when it encouraged supporting “one’s own” governments during the inter-imperialist First World War. It encouraged this viewpoint among the international socialist movement, many of whom began supporting the war. This amounted to betrayal of the working class and conciliation towards the capitalist system. This caused a split in the social-democratic movement, eventually leading to the formation of the Third International, also called the Communist International or Comintern, in 1919. The Third International was primarily led by the revolutionary wing of Russian social-democracy, the Bolsheviks under V.I. Lenin, who had seized power and led the first successful socialist revolution in the world in October of 1917. They opposed the World War as an imperialist war between capitalist powers and called for “turning imperialist war into civil war,” meaning into revolution.

After the foundation of the Third International, revolutionary social-democrats the world over abandoned the term “social-democrat” and called themselves “communists.” The term “social-democracy” became the viewpoint of surviving adherents of the Second International, including many socialist parties who had adopted reformist lines. “Social-democracy,” then, changed from being a term meaning the ideology of the entire socialist movement to mean bourgeois reformism that was in opposition to the working class and the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism.

The term “social-fascism” came from a theory supported by the Comintern of the 1930’s that social-democracy was the “left-wing of fascism.” This perception became commonplace after the German Revolution of 1918–1919 and the crushing of the Spartacist Uprising, which resulted in the murder of the German socialists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht among many other revolutionaries by a social-democratic German government, assisted by right-wing paramilitaries called the Freikorps. While some historic applications of this theory were incorrect, there is a trend in modern social-democracy that gave support to fascism and tends toward fascism even while using left-wing or populist rhetoric.

While modern social-democrats have appealed to centrists and center-leftists, there are a few that make full-on attempts to sway the revolutionary left by appealing to social programs, economism and trade unionism as a way of disorganizing the left’s revolutionary determination. While raising wages and improving the populace’s immediate standing of living, the class nature of the state remains the same: in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Labor is still treated as a commodity and surplus value is still extracted from the workers for the sake of “incentive” and private profit. It’s common practice for bourgeois politicians to appeal to those who demand change and progress, only to surrender to the status quo and multinational corporations upon seizing power. Modern capitalist politicians are very skilled at making public appeals to the progressive sections of the populations, only to turn their backs on the same people who voted them into office.

Argentina’s government under Juan Perón is frequently portrayed by the bourgeois media by many misguided “leftists” as a socialist government where the working class had power. Others have described it as a social-democracy, as some alternative form of fascism less offensive than the Hitlerite variety, or even as some kind of “compromise between capitalism and communism.” Argentina’s Perónist period is perhaps the most fitting example of social-fascism in practice.

Juan Perón’s Early Life and Rise to Power

Born in Buenos Aires on October 8, 1895, Juan Domingo Perón had a staunch Catholic upbringing. In 1911, at the age of 16, he was sent to the Argentine National Military College. In 1938, he was sent overseas as a military advisor to the Axis powers and their allies, collaborators and colonies including Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Albania and Yugoslavia. It was there that he first came into contact with the fascist government of Benito Mussolini, whom Perón vigorously endorsed.

According to Robert J. Alexander in his book Juan Domingo Perón: A History, Perón’s advisory role to Italy “gave him a chance to study in some detail and at first hand the way in which the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini had reorganized, or tried to reorganize, Italian society” [1].

Even more damning are Perón’s own words:

“Italian Fascism led popular organizations to an effective participation in national life, which had always been denied to the people. Before Mussolini’s rise to power, the nation was on one hand and the worker on the other, and the latter had no involvement in the former. […] In Germany happened exactly the same phenomenon, meaning, an organized state for a perfectly ordered community, for a perfectly ordered population as well: a community where the state was the tool of the nation, whose representation was, under my view, effective. I thought that this should be the future political form, meaning, the true people’s democracy, the true social democracy.”[3]

Perón returned to Argentina in 1941 and became a colonel of Ramon Castillo’s Military. It was then that the “Group of United Officers” or “GUO” was formed in order to prevent the succession of Castillo’s rampantly corrupt regime. The GUO staged a coup prior to the year’s presidential election. This brought an end to Castillo’s conservative traditionalist regime and brought about the military government of Argentina.

Upon first coming to notoriety in 1943, Perón’s policies were embraced by a variety of tendencies all across the political spectrum, although the corporatist character of Perónism drew attacks from socialists who accused his administration of preserving capitalist exploitation and class division. This viewpoint shared by the leftists turned out to be prophetic, as capitalist production relations remained intact despite the raising of wages and the generally elevated status of the Department of Labor, including the department obtaining secretariat status under Perón’s leadership.

The main opposition to Perón came from the Socialist International-affiliated Radical Civic Union, the Socialist Party of Argentina and the Comintern-affiliated Communist Party of Argentina, although the conservative National Autonomist Party also showed opposition to Perón by relying on support of the financial sector of the economy, as well as the Argentine Chamber of Commerce.

Populist Tactics of Juan Perón: With the Workers and the Capitalists

The colonel served under three different military government administrations: those of Arturo Rawson, Pedro Pablo Ramirez, and Edelmiro Farrell. All throughout his political career, Perón maintained the reputation of a pro-labor military man, constantly bolstering up the labor unions, engaging in pushing through social programs such as greater unemployment and health care benefits, and urging the “leading role” that labor played in the economy of Argentina.

Upon ascending to the status of President of Argentina on June 4, 1946, his outspoken goals were comprised of very leftist and pro-labor sentiments, including the need for a five-year plan, increase in salaries, giving priority to pensions, economic independence and diversification and investment in public transportation.[2]

Perón even encouraged striking amongst laborers who employers did not grant labor benefits. With the abundant amount of vocal support from the General Conference of Labor, or “CGT,” they followed his word. Strike activity led to a loss of 500,000 work days in 1945, which leapt to 2 million days in 1946 following his election, and to over 3 million lost days in 1947. This stress put on the advancement of Labor’s status in the Argentine economy consequently led to a boom in the amount of members among the CGT. The ranks grew to 2 million active dues-paying members by 1950 [3]. It seemed at this point that Perón was truly a man of his word. However, we shall delve further into his career to show that he was not, by any means, a friend of international socialism or the working people.

Juan Perón as a Friend of Fascism

While urging “neutrality” in the face of the Second World War, Perón’s foreign and domestic policies were much closer to the fascist and military governments of Europe than anything resembling full-hearted socialism. Perón not only traveled to, but admired Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. He seems to have no objections to their invasion and colonization of countries such as Austria, Hungary, Ethiopia, Yugoslavia and Albania.

If this was not alarming enough, it was and still is common knowledge that escaped Nazi war criminals sought refuge and lived fairly comfortable lives in Argentina, turning the country into a sort of haven for Nazis perpetrators and collaborators. Among those whom Perón openly welcomed:

  • Emile Dewointine (who manufactured Luftwaffe aircraft, later seeking refuge under Franco before arriving in Argentina) [4]
  • Josef Mengele (the infamous Nazi doctor who performed notoriously sick-minded medical experiments on concentration camp inmates)
  • Adolph Eichmann (one of the chief bureaucrats of the Holocaust)
  • Franz Stangl (Austrian representative of Spitzy in Spain)
  • Charles Lescat (editor of Je Suis Partout in Vichy France)
  • SS functionary Ludwig Lienhart
  • German industrialist Ludwig Freude

Aside from Nazi war criminals, members of the genocidal Croatian Ustaša, a pro-Nazi puppet government responsible for the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Roma in Croatia and Bosnia, took refuge in Argentina, including their notorious leader, Ante Pavelić, and Milan Stojadinović. The latter was allowed to spend the rest of his life as presidential advisor on economic and and financial affairs to governments in Argentina, and was the founder of the financial newspaper, El Economista [5].

In “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Latin America,” authors Leandro Narloch and Duda Teixeira wrote:

“It is still suspected that among her [Eva Perón’s] possessions, there were pieces of Nazi treasure that came from rich Jewish families killed in concentration camps”.

“Perón himself even spoke of goods of ‘German and Japanese origin’ that the Argentine government had appropriated”.

In 1947, the first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón, traveled across Europe in an attempt to boost her husband’s regime abroad. It was here that she is believed to have opened a Swiss bank account to deposit funds and other valuables she received from Nazi war criminals in exchange for Argentine passports to the aforementioned [6].

Juan Peron Makes Overtures to the Left

On June 15, 1955, Pope Pius XII excommunicated Perón after the fifty-nine year old military President described himself as “not superstitious”. The following day, Perón 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. This effectively ended Juan Perón’s second term in office. First seeking refuge in Venezuela, and later Panama, he eventually settled in Francoist Spain. Desperate to reclaim his position in government, Perón began making appeals to the revolutionary left.

In his book, “La Hora de los Pueblos,” he made his appeal to internationalists:

“Mao is at the head of Asia, Nasser of Africa, De Gaulle of the old Europe and Castro of Latin America [7].”

Throughout the late 60s and early 70s, Perón started aligning himself with more militant unions and maintained close links with Montoneros, a “leftist” Perónist Catholic grouping who later kidnapped and assassinated anti-Perónist President Pedro Aramburu in retaliation for the June 1956 mass execution of a Perónist uprising against the ruling military junta.

However, while attempting to play both sides of the coin, Perón hailed the far-right as well. He supported the conservative leader of the UCR, as well as members of the Tacuara Nationalist Movement. Political tendencies did not play a role in the man’s mind when it came to power grabs and smooth talk.

Following Perón’s example, the Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara, or the Tacuara Nationalist Movement, was a right-wing extremist guerilla group in Argentina formed in the 1960s. Although initially opposed to Perónism, it later adopted Juan Perón’s idea of “Special Formations (gathering right-wing radicals in the TNM as well as the Argentine Iron Guard),” and the movement was directly inspired by the anti-Semitic Catholic Julio Meinvielle’s writings (Meinvielle not only blamed Martin Luther, but also both the French and October revolutions for the decline of Catholicism).

As such, the TNM defended nationalist, Catholic, anti-communist, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic ideologues, such as Primo de Rivera (the founder of the fascist Falange in Spain). The guerilla group’s routes can be traced back to the “Nationalist Students Union Side” (UNESCO) as well as the “Alliance of Nationalist Youth,” both centrally based in the capital of Buenos Aires [8].

The group opposed the secularization of schools that occurred under Perón and admired both Hitler and Mussolini [9]. Entrenched in anti-Semitic hatred, the group gained notoriety for kidnapping and injuring a number of Jewish students including 15 year old Edgardo Trilnik, and 19 year old Graciela Sirota, who was subject to torture and was eventually scarred with Swastika insignias [10].

In 1963, a TNM commando group robbed the Polyclinic Bank, killing two employees, wounding fourteen and taking for themselves fourteen million pesos, the equivalent of one-hundred thousand U.S. dollars. The TNM’s objectives were to afford a boat to travel to the Falkland Islands so that they may establish a guerrilla base in Formosa. All were arrested after seven months after one of the perpetrators spend a portion of the spoils at a brothel in France. While the group was formally outlawed in 1963, most of those imprisoned for the robbery were released in May 1973 when the Perónists returned to power and President Hector Campora decreed a broad amnesty for political prisoners [11]. Most of the former group’s leaders dead, imprisoned, disillusioned with the right-wing, or seeking other professions (one of the TNM’s strongest supporters of anti-Semitism, Alberto Ezcurra Uriburu, became a Catholic priest in 1964 and later joined the “Argentine Anticommunist Alliance” death squad).

The Class Nature of Perónism

Perónism is an opportunist and Third-Positionist ideology geared at dismembering and demobilizing the revolutionary workers through attempts of reformism, economism and pacifism. A military government, no matter how “worker friendly” it may initially appear to be, only opens the way for further exploitation of the working class, more coup attempts and power grabs. While championing himself to be an ally of the working masses of Argentina, Juan Perón simultaneously aided in the protection of some of the most notorious war criminals of World War II.

While Juan Perón’s government did not completely match up with those of Hitler, Mussolini, or Franco, what they all have in common is militarism, nationalism, appeals to emotionalism and class collaborationism. A state based on these principles simply cannot offer working people anything other than defeat. The experience in Argentina is a shining example “social-fascism,” of the fusion between social-democracy and fascism, of failed reformism and corporatism.

Though the Argentine President boasted about giving the leading role in government to the working class of Argentina, put a strong emphasis on “social justice” and even nationalized key industries, this does not earn Perón’s government the title of socialist. The protection of the far-right, along with the numerous left groups that exposed Perón’s fascist leanings (including both the Argentine Socialist and the Communist parties) offers material and historical evidence as to why social-democracy and/or Third-Positionism can and most likely will lead to a fascist state.

Perón’s coming to power did not consist of a revolution, let alone the organization of the proletariat as the leading class in society to whom the means of production are to belong. Rather, a military coup was what brought this fascist-sympathizing military colonel to political standing. The “peaceful path” of social-democracy was not only a political slogan, but also a method of demobilization that is directed at the workers movement. Its aim is to deny the inevitability of armed struggle when the class struggle reaches a higher stage and the question of power comes to the forefront. It has historically been used as an anesthetic a vice that claims to solve the contradictions of the rule of capital.

However, history is on the side of the revolutionary workers in this day and age. Millions of people all across the world have witnessed these instances of class collaboration over struggle, economism over theory, and idle reformism over revolutionary change. The next tide of revolution will not succumb to these illnesses.

[2] Rock, David. Argentina, 1516–1982. University of California Press, 1987

[3] Los mitos de la historia argentina 4. Buenos Aires: Editorial Planeta. Pg. 28

[4] American Jewish Yearbook, 2006. Pg. 266

[5] Mark Falcoff, Perón’s Nazi Ties, Time, November 9, 1998, vol 152

[9] Daniel Gutman, Tacuara. Historia de la primera guerrilla urbana argentina (Ediciones B Argentina, 2003, p.58)

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