Lorenzo Miguel - Life and Times - Early Life and His Rise in The UOM

Early Life and His Rise in The UOM

Lorenzo Marcelo Miguel was born and raised in the working-class borough of Villa Lugano in Buenos Aires. Entering the labor force in 1945 as a peon in his neighborhood's CAMEA steel mill, Miguel took up amateur boxing as a pastime, winning 13 of the 19 matches he fought in; a knockout defeat at Buenos Aires' famed Luna Park led him to abandon the pursuit, however. His election as shop steward by his coworkers at CAMEA in 1952 first brought him to the attention of the leadership at the Union of Metallurgy Workers (UOM), a growing body within the CGT and its 62 unions. Miguel married a CAMEA coworker, Elena Ramos, with whom he ha two children, in 1958, though the violent 1955 overthrow of the populist President Juan Perón led to official harassment of many in the labor movement, including Miguel (who spent much of the 1959-62 period in jail). Following President Arturo Frondizi's restoration of the CGT's right to political activity, the UOM elected the conciliatory Augusto Vandor as their leader in early 1962 and with him, the frugal Lorenzo Miguel as treasurer.

President Frondizi was forced to resign following his overtures to the CGT and Peronists, leading the exiled Perón to oppose further dialogue with the Argentine government. This was opposed by Vandor, however, who began calling for a "Peronism without Perón" until a 1966 coup d'état that installed the anti-labor President Juan Carlos Onganía forced organized labor to rally around their exiled benefactor. Reconciled with Perón and the leader of a UOM with over 400,000 members (a fifth of the CGT), Vandor was Argentina's most powerful labor leader when he was assassinated in a brutal June 1969 assault on his bureau at the UOM, who, following an acrimonious power struggle, elected Miguel as Secretary General in March 1970. He leveraged this victory to advance a rival within the UOM, José Ignacio Rucci, as the new Secretary General of the CGT, then the largest labor union in South America. The pragmatic Miguel thus turned a rival into an ally, while impeding the more combative Light and Power workers' leader, Agustín Tosco, from rising to the powerful post.

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