Lorenzo Miguel - Life and Times - Persecution, Return and Twilight

Persecution, Return and Twilight

Miguel counted on his former alliance with Acindar CEO José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz (appointed Minister of the Economy by the new regime) and on his friendship with Admiral Massera who, as Head of the Navy became the second-highest ranking public official in Argentina. These connections protected him from torture; but Miguel's accounts were frozen and he remained in prison for three years and spent another year in house arrest, leading him to sever his ties to the disloyal Massera. Emerging from his reclusion in 1980, and participated in the reconstitution of 25 of the more active unions into the CGT-Brasil (named after their Brasil Street address), supporting the replacement of Raúl Baldassini with the more confrontational Saúl Ubaldini. Miguel also retook the reins of an UOM hobbled by the massive industrial layoffs brought about by Martínez de Hoz's policies.

These developments turned him into a vocal opponent of the dictatorship. Following the worst economic crisis since the great depression and the tragic invasion of the Falklands, the dictatorship called for elections in 1983. Facing a divided Justicialist Party (Peronists), Miguel's support of former Senate leader Ítalo Lúder (an ally during his mid 1970s attacks on the left) was instrumental to the party's securing a nominee, albeit two months late. The rival centrist UCR pointed to this move as evidence that Lúder was supported by the violent right and was, by extension, likely to grant the anxious outgoing military leadership blanket pardons for their "Dirty War." The argument resonated among voters, giving UCR nominee Raúl Alfonsín an ample victory (the UCR's first against a Peronist candidate).

Following promises to the contrary, Alfonsín turned to increasingly conservative policies in the face of an inherited financial crisis and massive inflation (the world's highest, at the time). Miguel, who led a decimated UOM with a membership (150,000) less than half of its 1970s level, became increasingly marginal to the national discourse; by 1990, he was relegated to helping mediate conflicts between Ubaldini and Alfonsín's successor, President Carlos Menem. Menem, a lifelong Peronist who had been nominated partly with Miguel's last-minute support, quickly took to privatizing Argentina's array of State enterprises, a surprise move opposed by the CGT for the many layoffs it caused. The now compliant Miguel was compelled to call off a strike even after Menem's 1991 sell-off of SOMISA, then Argentina's largest steelmaker, and to support Menem's 1995 reelection bid. Following a decade of Argentina's first (and only) anti-labor Peronist administration, an ally of Miguel's, Buenos Aires Province Governor Eduardo Duhalde was soundly defeated in the 1999 presidential election.

Suffering from a worsening kidney ailment, Miguel considered giving his support to San Luis Governor Adolfo Rodríguez Saá's (unsuccessful) candidacy for President; but died in a Buenos Aires clinic at the end of 2002. He was 75.

Read more about this topic:  Lorenzo Miguel, Life and Times

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