Return of Peronism
Since former army officer Juan Perón was ousted from the presidency by a coup in 1955 (Revolución Libertadora), military hostility to Peronism and populist politics dominated Argentine politics. The 1963 Aramburu decree prohibited the use of Perón's name, and when General Lanusse, who was part of the Revolución Argentina, called for elections in 1973 and authorized the return of political parties, Perón – who had been invited back from exile – was barred from seeking office.
In May 1973 Peronist Héctor José Cámpora was elected as president, but everyone understood that Peron was the real power behind him. Peronism has been difficult to define according to traditional political classifications, and different periods must be distinguished. A populist and nationalist movement, it has sometimes been accused of Fascist tendencies; Perón's admiration for Benito Mussolini is often cited in support of that assertion. After World War II, Argentina became a popular country of exile for escaped Nazi war criminals who entered clandestinely via various ratlines.
The absence of Perón, who spent 20 years in exile in Franquist Spain, is central to understanding Peronism, as his name was often invoked nostalgically by Argentines in all walks of life in protest of societal ills. Eva Perón, First Lady of Argentina from 1946 to her death in 1952, was warmly remembered by the working class, although she was despised by the national bourgeoisie. Thus, the left-wing and Montoneros supported Perón, as did the Fascist-leaning and strongly anti-Semitic Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara, one of Argentina's first guerrilla movements.
Following nearly two decades of weak civilian governments, economic decline, and military interventionism, Perón returned from exile on 20 June 1973 as the country was becoming engulfed in immense financial, social and political disorder. The months preceding his return were marked by important social movements, as in the rest of South America, and in particular of the Southern Cone before the military intervention of the 1970s. Thus, during Héctor Cámpora's first months of government (May–July 1973), approximately 600 social conflicts, strikes and factory occupations had taken place.
Immediately after the swearing in of President Cámpora on 25 May 1973, the Peronist Youth converged on the main prison, forcing the release and pardoning of 400 captured guerrilla fighters. The next day congress approved an amnesty for the revolutionary groups, repealed anti-terrorist legislation, and abolished the Federal Criminal Court of the Nation.
From the perspective of the military, Campora's decree had demonstrated the police actions to be insufficient in combating terrorist or guerrilla actions. Paul H. Lewis, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University opined: "Now it became clear to many officers that, if the anti-guerrilla war were ever resumed in the future, it would be better to kill captured terrorists outright than to see them released by sympathetic civilians to fight again."
On the economic side of his politics, Time Magazine (14 January 1974) estimated that 60% of foreign businessmen fled Argentina in 1973, prompted by the kidnapping of 170 businessmen that year. On several occasions, business executives involved in industrial disputes with militant workers, learned their homes had been burned down by the Montoneros. On 6 September 1973 the ERP "Compañía Ramón Rosa Jiménez" attacked the Army Medical Command in Buenos Aires, killing Lieutenant-Colonel Jorge Duarte Hardoy but lost several fighters killed or captured in that operation.
Upon Perón's arrival at Buenos Aires Airport, snipers opened fire on the crowds of left-wing Peronist sympathizers. Known as the Ezeiza massacre, this event marked the split between left-wing and right-wing factions of Peronism. Perón was re-elected in 1973, backed by a broad coalition that ranged from trade unionists in the center to fascists on the right (including members of the neofascist Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara) and socialists like the Montoneros led by Mario Firmenich on the left.
Following the Ezeiza massacre, and Perón's denouncing of "bearded immature idealists", Perón sided with the Peronist right-wing, the trade-unionist bureaucracy and Radical Civic Union of Ricardo Balbín, Cámpora's unsuccessful rival at the May 1973 elections. Some leftist Peronist governors were deposed, among them Ricardo Obregón Cano, governor of Córdoba, who was ousted by a police coup in February 1974. According to historian Servetto, "the Peronist right... thus stimulated the intervention of security forces to resolve internal conflicts of Peronism."
The Montoneros were finally expelled from the Justicialist Party by Perón in May 1974. However, the Montoneros waited until after the death of Perón in July 1974 to react, with the exception of the assassination of José Ignacio Rucci, the right-wing Peronist Secretary General of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) on 25 September 1973, and some other military actions. They would then claim the "social revolutionary vision of authentic Peronism" and start guerrilla operations against Isabel Perón's government, who represented the Peronist right wing. A main aim of the Montoneros was to push authorities into repression, even severe repression, in the belief that in the end it would prove self-defeating.
Read more about this topic: Maria Eugenia Sampallo
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