José Ignacio Rucci - General Secretary of The CGT

General Secretary of The CGT

The CGT split into the conservative Azopardo branch (named after the headquarters' address in Buenos Aires), and the CGT de los Argentinos (CGTA) following the annulment of left-wing graphist workers' leader Raimundo Ongaro as secretary general. The eventual Cordobazo of May 1969 led to the CGT-Azopardo's placement in receivership (the CGTA had been banned from the start), though in December, the order was lifted.

Displacing José Alonso in July 1970, Rucci was elected general secretary of the CGT, by 544 delegates on 618 present, during the Normalization Congress, which led to deepened differences between the CGT-Azopardo and the CGTA, which claimed a more radical leftist stance opposed to the military junta. Among those 618 delegates present at the Congress, 544 voted for him; those who voted against were the Vandoristas, on the right-wing (Vandor had spoken in favour of a "Peronism without Perón", supporting the "participationist" tendency among the workers' movement), and the Cordobeses, who were in favour of armed struggle against the junta

As the new general secretary of the CGT (hereafter CGT-Azopardo), Rucci launched the slogan "Nothing Without Perón" (Nada sin Perón) and, after initial optimism, opposed President Alejandro Lanusse's National Accords (Gran Acuerdo Nacional) of July 1971, which outlined a road map to the return to democratic rule, but which preserved the military's vetting power ovr policy. This helped unite Peronist forces towards the goal of Perón's return from exile.

Privately, however, Rucci maintained contacts in the Lanusse regime, and lobbied against repeated wage freeze proposals. Hosting Lanusse in an April 1971 summit with the CGT, Rucci persuaded the president to begin negotiations with Perón and other political leaders, and to return the late Eva Perón's remains to Argentina. At least as powerful a symbol among Peronists as the leader himself, Evita had been ordered hidden in Milan by the regime that overthrew Perón in 1955, and their repatriation would buy all concerned in the negotiations time.

Ongoing delays and the failure of the National Accords led Rucci to public threats of a general strike, while maintaining his contacts with Lanusse, and giving Perón the opportunity appear magnanimous by urging against them. Privately, however, he came to doubt that the aging Perón would return in time to run again for office, and began exploring a "syndicalist-military option," by which Lanusse would call elections, and the CGT would back an amenable candidate from within the armed forces – most likely Lanusse's labor liaison, General Tomás Sánchez de Bustamante.

Ultimately, Lanusse agreed to elections, and allow Perón to visit Argentina in preparations. He arrived on November 17, 1972, and secured a number of alliances for the upcoming March 1973 elections. Rucci provided a lasting anecdote on the occasion when, during a strong rain, he greeted Perón as the latter deplaned, and spontaneously opened his umbrella to shield the aging leader. Elected by a landslide, Perón's stand-in, Dr. Héctor Cámpora's, took office with a left-wing agenda opposed by Rucci, much of the syndical apparatus, and Perón's influential chief of staff, José López Rega. Cámpora allowed Peronism's "Revolutionary Tendency" faction the pick of several cabinet positions and other significant government posts. Perón, in tuth, insisted on the right-wing López Rega's appointment as the Minister of Social Welfare (controlling 30% of the national budget).

Making inflation reduaction a top policy priority, Economy Minister José Ber Gelbard implemented the Social Pact, which Rucci signed with the Confederación General Económica (CGE) represiting management. The agreement, which proposed a price freeze and an increase of wages, was opposed both by the Peronist Left and by the employers' organizations, who claimed it went against free market precepts. Although Rucci was depicted by the Peronist Left as part of the Syndical Bureaucracy, according to the author Berzaba, he received no support, from either López Rega, UOM leader Lorenzo Miguel (a top Syndical Bureaucracy figure), or even Gelbard, once the latter had obtained his signature on the Social Pact.

Perón himself returned to Argentina on June 20, three weeks after Cámpora's inaugural. Rucci, Miguel and other syndicalist figures organized the tribune from which Perón was to address the hundreds of thousands of supporters gathered near Ezeiza Airport. Hours before the scheduled landing, snipers following orders from López Rega shot at leftists in the crowd from the tribune. The ensuing Ezeiza Massacre irreparably split Peronists between the revolutionary left wing and the right wing. The latter's benefactor, López Rega, would increasingly wield influence through Perón's neophyte wife, Isabel.

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