Perón, Juan Domingo

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Perón, Juan Domingo

(hwän dōmēng`gō pĕrōn`), 1895–1974, president of Argentina (1946–55; 1973–74).

Early Career and First Presidency

An army officer, Perón was the leader of a group of colonels that rose to prominence after the overthrow of the government of Ramón Castillo in 1943, a group which supported the fascist and Nazi movements in Italy and Germany. As secretary of labor and social welfare, and later as minister of war and vice president, Perón was the real power behind the administration of Edelmiro Farrell. By backing the labor unions and decreeing extensive welfare legislation, he won the allegiance of Argentine workers, who became the backbone of his support. Imprisoned in 1945 after a coup, he was released following mass demonstrations of workers, and was elected president by a huge majority in 1946.

His political program, which he called a third position between capitalism and communism, was strongly nationalistic, anti-imperialist and anti-United States. It was based on rapid industrialization and economic self-sufficiency. In power, Perón became increasingly authoritarian: opponents were jailed, the press was muzzled or shut down, and education was strictly controlled. With the aid of his popular second wife, Eva Duarte de PerónPerón, Eva Duarte de
, 1919–52, Argentine political leader. The second wife of Juan Perón, whom she married in 1945, she virtually co-governed the country during his first six years as president.
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, he converted trade unions into a militant organization, known as the descamisados [shirtless ones], along fascist lines.

Peronist support weakened by the early 1950s as the price of wheat and beef fell and the economy deteriorated. The death (1952) of Eva Perón, who had commanded an enormous political following, also contributed to his decline. An anticlerical campaign launched by Perón led to his excommunication in June, 1955. The unusual coalition of labor, reactionaries, nationalists, churchmen, and military leaders that had supported Perón came apart. The military seized power the following September, forcing him to flee, first to Paraguay and ultimately (1960) to Spain. Peronismo nevertheless remained the most powerful political force in Argentina.

Second Presidency

In 1971, President Lanusse, convinced that political order could not be achieved without the former leader, cleared the way for Perón's return. Perón was forbidden to run in the Mar., 1973, presidential election, but his designated candidate, Hector Cámpora, won. Cámpora resigned in July, and the following September Perón was elected president by 62% of the vote; his third wife, Isabel María Martínez de Perón, 1931–, whom he had married in 1961, was elected vice president though she was widely resented by those devoted to the late Eva Perón. Restored to power, Perón moved sharply to the right. He died of a heart attack in 1974, and his wife assumed the presidency.

Isabel Perón, also known as Isabelita, was unable to command the support of any powerful group, not even organized labor. Following a sharp rise in political terrorism and guerrilla activity, the armed forces intervened on Mar. 24, 1976, deposing her and instituting one of the bloodiest regimes in South American history. Perón was placed under house arrest, then exiled to Spain in 1981; the military ruled until 1982. Perón resigned as head of the Peronist party in 1985. In 2007 the Argentinian courts issued warrants for her arrest, in connection with investigations into disappearances and death squads while she was president, but a Spanish court refused to extradite her, on grounds of inadequate evidence and the expiration of the statute of limitations. In 1990, the Peronist candidate Carlos Saúl MenemMenem, Carlos Saúl
, 1930–, president of Argentina (1989–99). A Peronist (see Juan Domingo Perón), he served as governor of La Rioja (1973–76, 1983–89). Imprisoned during the 1976 coup, he was released in 1981.
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 won the presidential elections, demonstrating the continued appeal of Peronism in Argentina.

Bibliography

See D. Rock, ed., Argentina in the 20th Century (1975); studies by D. Hodges (1976) and D. James (1988).

Perón, Juan Domingo

 

Born Oct. 8, 1895, in Lobos; died July 1, 1974, in Buenos Aires. Argentine political leader and head of state.

A professional military man, Perón served as military attaché in Chile in 1936 and 1937. He spent the years 1937–40 in Europe, observing military training methods. From 1941 to 1943 he was a leader of the Grupo de Oficiales Unidos, an organization of army officers, which carried out a coup d’etat in Argentina in June 1943. Between 1943 and 1945, Perón was head secretary of the ministry of war, secretary of labor, and vice-president. From 1946 to 1955 he was president. In 1947 he founded the Peronist Party, which in 1955 was renamed the Justicialist Party. Taking advantage of the favorable economic situation that developed during and after World War II, Perón was able to satisfy some of the demands of the national bourgeoisie, especially in regard to foreign trade. He also made a number of concessions to the masses, the most important being the granting of wage increases to certain categories of workers.

Although he made use of anti-imperialist and nationalist slogans, Perón gradually gave in to pressure by imperialist US monopolies. The most reactionary circles in the country, taking advantage of the increasing dissatisfaction of the workers and middle strata, overthrew Perón in September 1955. Perón was an émigré in Spain from 1955 until June 1973. In September 1973 he once again became president of Argentina.

REFERENCES

Codovilla, V. Izbr. stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1970.
Ghioldi, R. “Peronizm i problemy bor’by progressivnykh sil za sozdanie edinogo fronta.” Latinskaia Amerika, 1972, no. 6; 1973, no. 1.