Maria Eugenia Sampallo - Return of Peronism - Isabel Perón's Government

Isabel Perón's Government

Perón died on 1 July 1974, and was replaced by his vice-president and third wife, Isabel Perón, who ruled Argentina until overthrown in March 1976 by the military. The 1985 CONADEP human rights commission counted 458 assassinations from 1973 to 1975 in its report Nunca Más (Never Again): 19 in 1973, 50 in 1974 and 359 in 1975, carried out by paramilitary groups, who acted mostly under the José López Rega's Triple A death squad (according to Argenpress, at least 25 trade-unionists were assassinated in 1974).

The Triple A had been created by José López Rega and Rodolfo Almirón (arrested in Spain in 2006; extradited to Argentina in 2008). López Rega was successively Minister of Social Welfare under Héctor José Cámpora, Raúl Alberto Lastiri, Perón and Isabel Perón and private secretary of the last two. Furthermore, after the 1980 police arrest of Licio Gelli, head of Propaganda Due (aka P2), which was involved in Italy's strategy of tension, in a villa in the French Côte d'Azur. It was discovered that Isabel Perón's Minister for Social Affairs, López Rega, had also been a member of this lodge.

One of the first terrorist attacks of the Triple A targeted Hipólito Solari Yrigoyen with a car bomb on 21 November 1973, which seriously injured him. A few days earlier, Solari Yrigoyen had criticized in the Senate the reform of laws concerning workers' trade-unions, which aimed at tightening the control of the trade-union bureaucracy on the workers' movement. A few days before the bombing, a leading representative of the trade-unionist bureaucracy, Lorenzo Miguel, had qualified Solari Yrigoyen as "public enemy number one". The Triple A assassinated Silvio Frondizi, brother of former president Arturo Frondizi, in September 1974.

However, the repression of the social movements had already started before the attempt on Yrigoyen's life: on 17 July 1973, the CGT section in Salta was closed, while the CGT, SMATA and Luz y Fuerza in Córdoba were victims of armed attacks. Agustín Tosco, Secretary General of Luz y Fuerza, successfully avoided arrest, and went into hiding until his death on 5 November 1975.

Trade-unionists were also targeted by the repression in 1973: Carlos Bache was assassinated on 21 August 1973; Enrique Damiano, of the Taxis Trade-Union of Córdoba, on 3 October; Juan Avila, also of Córdoba, the following day; Pablo Fredes, on 30 October in Buenos Aires; Adrián Sánchez, on 8 November 1973 in the Province of Jujuy. Assassinations of trade-unionists, lawyers, etc. continued and increased in 1974 and 1975, while the most combative trade-unions were closed and their leaders arrested. In August 1974, Isabel Perón's government took away the rights of trade-unionist representation of the Federación Gráfica Bonaerense, whose Secretary General Raimundo Ongaro was arrested in October 1974.

During the same month of August 1974, the SMATA Córdoba trade-union, in conflict with the company Ika Renault, was closed by the national direction of trade-unions, and the majority of its leaders and activists arrested. Most of them, including its Secretary General René Salamanca, were assassinated during the 1976–83 dictatorship. Atilio López, General Secretary of the CGT of Córdoba and former Vice-Governor of the Province, was assassinated in Buenos Aires on 16 September 1974.

The left-wing guerrillas were also responsible for a number of atrocities committed in this period. On 1 February 1973, First Lieutenant José Maria Naccarato was killed while driving in the city of Resistencia in Chaco Province when a bomb planted in his car detonated. On 4 February 1972, police corporal Conrado Likay Faldi was shot dead in the Bernal suburb of Buenos Aires. Between 16 and 17 September 1974, about 100 Montoneros bombs exploded throughout Argentina, against ceremonies commemorating the military revolt which ended Juan Perón's first term as president, and foreign companies.

Targets in the bombings included three Ford showrooms; Peugeot and IKA-Renault showrooms; Goodyear and Firestone tire distributors, Riker and Eli pharmaceutical laboratories, Union carbide Battery Company, Bank of Boston and Chase Manhattan Bank branches, Xerox Corporation; and Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola bottling companies. In all, 83 servicemen and policemen were killed in left-wing terrorist incidents, between 1973 and 1974.

The ERP publicly remained in the forefront. ERP guerrilla activity took the form of attacks on military outposts, police stations and convoys. Between March and July 1971 the Argentine newspapers reported 316 terrorist acts by the ERP. In 1971, the left-wing guerrillas killed 57 policemen, and in 1972 the ERP and Montoneros killed another 38 policemen. On 19 January 1974 60–70 ERP guerrillas travelling aboard captured army trucks attacked the 2,000-strong barracks at Azul, killing the Commanding Officer of the 10th 'Húsares de Pueyrredon' Armoured Cavalry Regiment, Colonel Camilo Arturo Gay and his wife, as well as capturing the Commanding Officer of the 1st Artillery Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Jorge Roberto Ibarzabal. The guerrillas, dressed as soldiers, held the barracks for seven hours.

In another case, the famous ERP "Compañía Ramón Rosa Jiménez" (with about 300 serving members between 1974–76 and a first class unit) struck the 17th Airborne Infantry Regiment in Catamarca and the Argentine Army's Villa Maria explosives factory in Córdoba. The attacks involved some 90 guerrillas of the "Compañía Ramón Rosa Jiménez" and supporting militants who on 10 August, with the ERP guerrillas again dressed in army fatigues attempted to raid simultaneously the factory and parachute unit. In the aftermath, 8 police and army paratroopers were killed or wounded and several ERP guerrillas were executed after having been captured wearing army uniforms.

On 1 November 1974 the Montoneros successfully blew up General Commissioner Alberto Villar, the chief of the Argentine federal police, in his yacht along with his wife. In 10 years of guerrilla operations (1969–79) there were 1,501 killings, 1,748 kidnappings, 5,215 bombings and 45 major attacks on military units blamed on leftist guerrillas.

Read more about this topic:  Maria Eugenia Sampallo, Return of Peronism

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