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After a decade of rule, Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón is deposed in a military coup. Perón, a demagogue who came to power in 1946 with the backing of the working classes, became increasingly authoritarian as Argentina’s economy declined in the early 1950s. His greatest political resource was his charismatic wife, Eva “Evita” Perón, but she died in 1952, signaling the collapse of the national coalition that had backed him. Having antagonized the church, students, and others, he was forced into exile by the military in September 1955. He settled in Spain, where he served as leader-in-exile to the “Peronists”—a powerful faction of Argentines who remained loyal to him and his system.
Born into a lower middle class family in 1895, Juan Domingo Perón built a career in the army, eventually rising to the rank of colonel. In 1943, he was a leader of a group of military conspirators that overthrew Argentina’s ineffectual civilian government. Requesting for himself the seemingly minor cabinet post of secretary of labor and social welfare, he began building a political empire based in the labor unions. By 1945, he was also vice president and minister of war in the military regime.
In 1945, Perón oversaw the return of political freedoms in the country, but this led to unrest and mass demonstrations by opposition groups. Perón's enemies in the navy seized the opportunity and had him arrested on October 9. Labor unions organized strikes and rallies in protest of his imprisonment, and Perón's beautiful paramour, the radio actress Eva Duarte, was highly effective in enlisting the public to the cause. On October 17, Perón was released, and that night he addressed a crowd of some 300,000 people from the balcony of the presidential palace. He vowed to lead the people to victory in the coming presidential election. Four days later, Perón, a widower, married Eva Duarte, or Evita, as she became affectionately known.
In the subsequent presidential campaign, Perón suppressed the liberal opposition, and his Labor Party won a narrow, but complete, election victory. President Perón removed political opponents from their positions in the government, courts, and schools, nationalized public services, and improved wages and working conditions. Although he restricted constitutional liberties, he won overwhelming support from the masses of poor workers, whom Evita Perón called los descamisados, or the “shirtless ones.” Evita served an important role in the government, unofficially leading the Department of Social Welfare and taking over her husband’s role as caretaker of the working classes. She was called the “First Worker of Argentina” and “Lady of Hope,” and was instrumental in securing passage of a woman suffrage law.
In 1950, Argentina’s postwar export boom tapered off, and inflation and corruption grew. After being reelected in 1951, Perón became more conservative and repressive and seized control of the press to control criticism of his regime. In July 1952, Evita died of cancer, and support for President Perón among the working classes became decidedly less pronounced. His attempt to force the separation of church and state was met with considerable controversy. In June 1955, church leaders excommunicated him, encouraging a clique of military officers to plot his overthrow. On September 19, 1955, the army and navy revolted, and Perón was forced to flee to Paraguay. In 1960, he settled in Spain.
Meanwhile, a string of civilian and military governments failed to resolve Argentina’s economic troubles. The memory of Perón's regime improved with time, and Peronismo became the most powerful political force in the country. In 1971, the military regime of General Alejandro Lanusse announced his intention to restore constitutional democracy in 1973, and Perón was allowed to visit Argentina in 1972. In March 1973, Peronists won control of the government in national elections, and Perón returned in June amid great public excitement and fighting among Peronist factions.
In October 1973, Perón was elected president in a special election. His wife, Isabel Perón, an Argentine dancer he married in 1961, was elected vice president. She was much resented by millions still devoted to the memory of Evita Perón.
Economic troubles continued in Perón's second presidency and were made worse by the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that devastated Argentina’s beef industry. When Perón died on July 1, 1974, his wife became president of a nation suffering from inflation, political violence, and labor unrest. In March 1976, she was deposed in an air-force-led coup, and a right-wing military junta took power that brutally ruled Argentina until 1982.
1832-09-22 During his HMS Beagle voyage Charles Darwin discovers a large number of fossils at Punta Alta in Argentina
- HMS Beagle reaches Bahia Blanca, Argentina Charles Darwin arrives in Buenos Aires after travelling through the Argentine interior with guachos Camila O'Gorman and Ladislao Gutierrez are executed on the orders of Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas
Battle of Cerro Corá
1870-03-01 War of the Triple Alliance finally ends with the Battle of Cerro Corá and the death of Paraguayan Dictator Francisco Solano López after over 5 years of bloodshed between Paraguay and Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay
- First telegraphic connection in Argentina. Toba indians kill 20 members of French expedition in Argentina Death of the Argentine politician Domingo Sarmiento, after whom the Latin American Teacher's Day is chosen.
Event of Interest
1893-03-11 Carlos Gardel and his mother, Berthe Gardès, arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- 6,960 m (22,834 ft) Cerro Aconcagua (Argentina) 1st climbed by European expedition led by British mountaineer Edward FitzGerald Racing Club de Avellaneda, one of the big five of Argentina, is founded. The United Kingdom sells a meteorological station on the South Orkney Islands to Argentina the islands are subsequently claimed by the United Kingdom in 1908. Bronze statue of Christ on Argentine-Chilean border dedicated 120°F (49°C), Rivadavia, Argentina (South American record) -27°F (-33°C), Sarmiento, Argentina (South American record) Argentina beats the MCC in their inaugural 1st-class cricket fixture at the Buenos Aires Cricket Club lose the second and third games of the series
Event of Interest
1914-04-25 US President Woodrow Wilson is persuaded by Argentina, Brazil, and Chile to accept mediation in the conflict with Mexico
1930-09-06 Democratically elected Argentine president Hipólito Yrigoyen is deposed in a military coup.
- British Open Men's Golf, Carnoustie: American based Scotsman Tommy Armour outlasts José Jurado of Argentina by 1 stroke to win his only Open title and his 3rd and final major championship Argentina wins the polo gold medal beating Great Britain 11-0 in the final at the Berlin Olympics final time the sport is contested at the Olympics Rie Mastenbroek of the Netherlands swims an Olympic record 1:05.9 to win the women’s 100m freestyle at the Berlin Olympics, beating Jeannette Campbell of Argentina by 0:05
Event of Interest
1943-06-04 Argentina taken over by General Rawson & Colonel Juan Perón
- Minister of War Juan Perón leads a coup in Argentina Loyalty Day in Argentina, mass demonstrations held to release Juan Perón General Juan Perón first elected President of Argentina Delfo Cabrera of Argentina wins dramatic marathon in 2:34:51.6 at the London Olympics British Open Men's Golf, Royal Troon: Bobby Locke of South Africa retains title by 2 strokes from Roberto De Vicenzo of Argentina 1st Pan American Games opens (Buenos Aires Argentina)
Event of Interest
1951-04-04 Dutch Prince Bernhard visits Argentine President Juan & Eva Perón in Buenos Aires
- British Open Men's Golf, Royal Portrush GC: Englishman Max Faulkner wins by 2 strokes from Antonio Cerdá of Argentina Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina wins Formula 1 World Drivers Championship by taking out the Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes in an Alpha Romeo wins by 6 points from Alberto Ascari of Italy Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina clinches his second Formula 1 World Drivers Championship by winning Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten in a Maserati Britain's Mike Hawthorne wins season ending Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes Argentine Maserati driver Juan Manuel Fangio takes second Formula 1 World Drivers Championship by 17 points from countryman José Froilán González Minas Gerais Argentina tunnel caves in 30 die Argentine parliament accepts separation of church and state
'The Banality of Evil'
1960-05-23 Israel announces capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina
Event of Interest
1960-06-08 Argentine government demands release of Adolf Eichmann
- Argentina complains to UN about Israeli illicit transfer of Eichmann Antonio Albertondo (Argentina) completes 1st "double" crossing swim of English Channel in 43 hrs 10 min at 42. Ballon d'Or: Juventus' Argentine forward Omar Sívori wins award for best football player in Europe ahead of Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez and English forward Johnny Haynes
British Golf Open
1967-07-15 British Open Men's Golf, Royal Liverpool GC: 44 year old Argentine Robert De Vicenzo wins his only major championship, 2 strokes clear of defending champion Jack Nicklaus
- Dutch aircraft carrier Karel Doorman (formerly British HMS Venerable) sold to Argentina Civil unrest in Rosario, Argentina, aka Rosariazo, following the death of a 15-year-old student. General strike in Cordoba, Argentina, leading to the Cordobazo civil unrest Stalled commuter train rammed by express in Argentina, 139 die Argentine military junta under Juan Carlos Lanusse ousts President Juan Carlos Onganía Argentine boxer Carlos Monzon upsets defending champion Nino Benvenuti of Italy in 12th round KO in Rome to win WBC, WBA middleweight titles Britain and Argentina sign accord about Falkland Islands Peronist Hector Campora installed as President of Argentina Juan Perón returns from exile to Argentina after 18 years Ezeiza massacre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Snipers fire upon left-wing Peronists. At least 13 are killed and more than 300 are injured Hector de Campora resigns as President of Argentina Argentine General Elections - former Argentine President Juan Perón returns to power Héctor José Cámpora is elected President of Argentina Worst fire in Argentine history destroys 1.2 million acres Isabel Peron succeeds husband Juan as President of Argentina
Event of Interest
1974-12-15 Guillermo Vilas of Argentina beats defending champion lie Năstase 7–6, 6–2, 3–6, 3–6, 6–4 to win his first and only season-ending ATP Masters Grand Prix tennis final in Melbourne, Australia
French Open Men's Tennis
1975-06-15 French Open Men's Tennis: Sweden's Björn Borg retains title beats Guillermo Vilas of Argentina 6-2, 6-3, 6-4
The Infamous Decade
The 1930s in Argentina is referred to as the Infamous Decade due to rampant electoral fraud, persecution of political opposition parties, and generalized government corruption.
Explain why the 1930s were referred to as the Infamous Decade
- Argentina’s Infamous Decade refers to the period of time that began in 1930 with Jose Felix Uriburu’s coup d’etat against standing President Hipolito Yrigoyen and ended with Juan Peron’s rise to power after the military coup of 1943.
- Lieutenant General Uriburu’s regime was strongly supported by rightist intellectuals and his government adopted severe measures to prevent reprisals and counter-revolutionary tactics by friends of the ousted regime.
- Agustin Pedro Justo Rolon’s administration was tarnished by constant rumors of corruption and is best remembered for the outstanding diplomatic work of his Foreign Minister.
- One of the most controversial successes of Justo’s presidency is the signing of the Roca-Runciman Treaty in 1933.
- Justo’s first minister of the Treasury, Alberto Hueyo, took very restrictive measures against the economy. Hueyo was eventually replaced by Frederico Pinedo, whose plan for government intervention into the economy was even more significant.
- Pinedo began Argentinian industrial development via a policy of import substitution and created Argentina’s Central Bank.
- Roberto Marcelino Ortiz was fraudulently elected president and assumed his office in February 1938. He attempted to clean up the country’s corruption problem and cancelled fraudulent elections won by conservative Alberto Barcelo.
- In June 1942, Ortiz resigned the presidency due to sickness and died a month later. He was replaced by Vice President Ramon S. Castillo.
- On June 4, 1943, a nationalist secret society within the army called the Grupo de Oficiales Unidos (GOU) overthrew Castillo in a coup.
- Infamous Decade: The period of time in Argentina beginning in 1930 characterized by electoral fraud, the persecution of political opposition, and generalized government corruption.
- import substitution: A trade and economic policy that advocates replacing foreign imports with domestic production.
Argentina’s Infamous Decade refers to the period of time that began in 1930 with Jose Felix Uriburu’s coup d’etat against standing President Hipolito Yrigoyen and ended with Juan Peron’s rise to power after the military coup of 1943. The decade is marked by a significant rural exodus as many small rural landowners were ruined by the global depression, which ultimately pushed Argentina towards a policy of import substitution industrialization. The poor economic results of this policy and the popular discontent it engendered led directly to the coup in 1943. The period was characterized by electoral fraud, the persecution of political opposition, and generalized government corruption.
Uriburu’s Presidency (1930-1932)
Lieutenant General Jose Felix Benito Uriburu y Uriburu achieved the position of President of Argentina via military coup, and his tenure lasted from September 6, 1930 until February 20, 1932. Known as the “father of the poor”, standing president Hipolito Yrigoyen was overwhelmingly elected to his second non-consecutive term in office in 1928, but found himself increasingly surrounded by aides who hid the true effects of the Great Depression on the country from him. As a result, fascist and conservative sectors of the army plotted openly for regime change, as did Standard Oil of New Jersey, an American company that opposed both the president’s efforts to curb oil smuggling from Salta Province to Bolivia and the dominance YPF held over the Argentinian oil market. These factors made the timing perfect for Uriburu to stage Argentina’s first military coup since the adoption of the Argentine constitution against Yrigoyen’s democratically-elected administration with the help of the far-right Argentine Patriotic League.
Jose Felix Uriburu: Jose Felix Uriburu was the 22nd president of Argentina.
Uriburu’s own regime was strongly supported by rightist intellectuals such as Rodolofo and Julio Irazusta and Juan Carulla, and the new government adopted severe measures to prevent reprisals and counter-revolutionary tactics by friends of the ousted regime. Anarchists in particular were considered public enemies by Uriburu’s dictatorship. During Uriburu’s regime, three anarchists were given life sentences for allegedly assassinating family members of conservative politician Jose M. Blanch during a show trial in which the anarchists were openly tortured. The show trial came on the heels of the Sacco and Vanzetti case in the United States, in which two Italian-born American anarchists were given the death penalty after being found guilty of murder in what was widely regarded as a politically motivated sentencing. The Argentinian case drew many parallels to Sacco and Vanzetti and raised international public indignation.
President Uriburu was diagnosed with stomach cancer in early 1932 and died in Paris following surgery on April 29, 1932.
Justo’s Presidency (1932-1938)
Agustin Pedro Justo Rolon was president of Argentina from February 20, 1932, until February 20, 1938. He was a military officer, diplomat, and politician. Justo earned the Concordance’s nomination for the 1931 presidential campaign and won with the support of an alliance created between the National Democratic Party, the Radical Civic Union, and the Socialist Independent Party. Nonetheless, accusations of electoral fraud abounded and Justo’s administration was tarnished by constant rumors of corruption. His administration is best remembered for the outstanding diplomatic work of his Foreign Minister, Carlos Saavedra Lamas.
Agustin P. Justo: Agustin P. Justo was the 23rd president of Argentina.
The Roca-Runciman Treaty
One of the most controversial successes of Justo’s presidency is the signing of the Roca-Runciman Treaty in 1933. Due to the UK’s adoption of measures favoring imports from its own colonies and dominions, Justo sent his vice president, Julio A. Roca Jr, as head of a technology delegation to negotiate a commercial agreement that might benefit Argentina. The British were previously the main buyers of Argentinian grain and meat, making their production protectionism measures threatening to Argentinian landowners who traded in these agricultural products. The Roca-Runciman Treaty assured the UK a provision of fresh meat in exchange for important investment in Argentina’s transportation, requiring certain concessions such as handing over Buenos Aires’ public transport to a British company. The treaty created a scandal because although the UK agreed to continue importing Argentinian meat, they allotted Argentina an import quota less than any of its dominions: 390,000 tons of meat per year, with 85% of Argentine exports arranged via British refrigerated shippers. There were other far-reaching concessions as well for instance, railways operated by the UK did not have regulated tariffs in place, customs fees over coal remained unestablished, and British companies with investments in Argentina were given a number of special dispensations, such as reduced export pricing. Although the Roca-Runciman Treaty salvaged the Argentinian-British trade in agricultural products, it exasperated those already critical of British involvement in their country.
Hueyo and Pinedo’s Economic Policies
Justo’s first minister of the Treasury, Alberto Hueyo, took very restrictive measures against the economy. Hueyo reduced public expenses and restricted the circulation of currency in addition to applying other harsh fiscal measures. An emprestito patriotico, or patriotic loan, was made in an attempt to strengthen the country’s budget. Eventually, however, Justo sought to replace Hueyo with the socialist Frederico Pinedo, whose plan for government intervention into the economy was even more significant.
Pinedo began Argentinian industrial development via a policy of import substitution. The Juntas Reguladores Nacionales was created under Pinedo’s guidance to help develop private and state industrial activity. The Juntas also oversaw quality and price control for domestic consumption and export. For example, to avoid overproduction, the Juntas destroyed entire loads of corn and millions of pesos per year in wine products.
Pinedo also created the Central Bank (BCRA), which was advised by Sir Otto Niemeyer, the director of the Bank of England. Niemeyer’s involvement drew heavy criticism from those who disavowed British involvement in Argentina. A national project of road construction was launched that competed with the railway system, which remained in the hands of mostly British companies. With national roadways reaching 30,000 kilometers in 1938, U.S. automotive firms were able to penetrate the Argentinian market and increase sales. U.S. foreign direct investment grew under Pinedo’s policies with textile firms like Sudamtex, Ducilo, and Anderson Clayton establishing themselves in Argentina. Tire companies, electronics firms, and chemistry firms also began to migrate to Argentina during this time.
The Ortiz and Castillo Administrations (1938-1943)
Roberto Marcelino Ortiz and Ramon S. Castillo’s candidacies for the 1938 elections, for president and vice president respectively, were launched at the British Chamber of Commerce and supported by its president, William McCallum. Ortiz was fraudulently elected president and assumed his new office in February 1938. He attempted to clean up the country’s corruption problem, ordering federal intervention in the Province of Buenos Aires, which was governed by Manuel Fresco. He also cancelled fraudulent elections won by conservative Alberto Barcelo.
Pinedo remained as the Minister of the Economy during Ortiz’s administration. On November 18, 1940, he presented an Economic Reactivation Plan, which would have implemented heavily protectionist measures and advocated for the building of public housing to deal with the influx of people into urban centers. Pinedo also proposed nationalization of the British-operated railways and even agreed upon advantageous terms with the railway owners before presenting his policy publicly. Nevertheless, conservative factions voted against these measures, and Pinedo resigned his office shortly thereafter.
During World War II, Argentina maintained the same neutrality it adopted during the first World War, which was advantageous for Great Britain. Although the USA attempted to push Argentina into the war, the country was able to resist with support from the British. In June 1942, Ortiz resigned the presidency due to sickness and died a month later. He was replaced by Vice President Castillo. The same year, the Democratic Union political coalition, which included the Radical Civic Union, the Democratic Progressive Party, and the Socialist and Communist parties, was formed. Their electoral platform aimed to tackle endemic corruption, guarantee freedom of thought and assembly, and secure labor union rights. The coalition also claimed active solidarity with people struggling against Nazi-Fascist aggression.
On June 4, 1943, the nationalist secret society within the army called the Grupo de Oficiales Unidos (GOU) overthrew Castillo in a coup. The GOU was organized under Colonel Miguel A. Montes and Urbano de la Vega and included members such as Colonel Juan Domingo Peron and Enrique P. Gonzalez. Their coup d’etat ended the Infamous Decade and established a military junta that lasted until 1945. The group was sympathetic to the causes of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. General Arturo Rawson was made president, but only held office for a few days before the GOU replaced him with General Pedro Ramirez.
Peron as President
Portrait of Juan Domingo and Eva Perón in 1947. Photo credit: Wikipedia
By the time Peron was elected President of Argentina in 1946 he was ready to make some serious changes to his country’s administration. He introduced radical social reforms, nationalised railways and banks, raised wages and limited working hours, introducing obligatory Sundays off for most jobs. He took on a colossal amount of public building, constructing schools and hospitals, and consolidating his (and his wife’s) continued adoration by the working class.
The death of Evita signalled, in hindsight, a dramatic change in Peron’s leadership and popularity. Coinciding with the stagnation of the country’s economy, and increasing distrust of Peron by conservatives, his support began to wane. Rumours of improper behaviour with young Peronist female followers marred his reputation and turned once-adoring women against him. He fell foul with the Catholic Church in Argentina, then (and still now) a formidable force in the country. He was excommunicated after trying to legalize prostitution and divorce, and his military opposers took advantage of the situation to launch a violent coup, which included bombing of Plaza De Mayo by the Air Force, resulting in the death of over 400 people. In September 1955, Peron was narrowly evacuated from his office as the military took hold in Cordoba. Peron would spend the next 18 years in exile, first in Venezuela and Panama before eventually settling in Spain.
La Casa Rosada is located in front of the Plaza de Mayo. Photo credit: shutterstock
Perón deposed in Argentina - HISTORY
Peronism in Argentina is a phenomenon like no other. There is no other country that subscribes to this undefinable political ideology, and also it is the most important idea in Argentine politics. Without Peronism, there is no modern day Argentina politics. Three out of the seven candidates for the previous presidential election called themselves Peronists, but with distinct political opinions. So to understand this, it is necessary to look at the historical roots of the most important political movement of 20th century in Argentina whose influence can not be understated. So how did it start? Where did this idea come from? And as most people are familiar with, it all started with one man, Juan Domingo Perón.
The man the movement is named after, Juan Domingo Perón (1895-1974) was a general and diplomat who was elected to the presidency three times, 1946, 1951 and 1973. He was an incredibly skilled politician who garnered millions of supporters, from differing political views and had the ability to bring in large sectors of the Argentine population.
His policies were generally about greater inclusiveness between all the classes and the modes of production. It was a social bargain struck between labor unions, corporations, workers and the state to develop industries with inputs from all sides.
Argentina Before Perón
Before the rise of Perón, Argentina was allied internationally with the west, most strongly Great Britain. It was a country of immigrants whose economy was based in agricultural exports, especially after the boom in meat and wool during and after World War One. The country was dominated by a small, very wealthy landowning oligarchy who was essentially in control of the government who ruled in favor of their interests, excluding large swathes of the population.
After the first World War, the “Infamous Decade”, actually 13 years between 1930 and 1943 Argentina was under the rule of a conservative and pro-aristocratic coalition known as the Concordancia. Technically, democratic institutions were in place, but in practice, the lower classes were excluded from politics and the labor movement which had been traditionally strong, was weakened.
A military junta took over in 1943, and a young general Juan Perón was put in charge of the National Labor Department. Perón noted the plight of the working class Argentines, and although most other political leaders were uninterested in the lower classes, Perón recognized and capitalized upon this. In his role he introduced a series of reforms, including national insurance, paid holidays and a pension scheme.
Meanwhile, the main trade union federation, the CGT had split in 1942 between one faction, lead by the Communists and some Socialists, and another lead by Anarcho-sindicalists, the latter including the railway workers. Both sections were frustrated and disillusioned with the previous conservative government, which had ignored them completely, and they were flattered by the attention paid them by Perón. By playing one off against the other, he succeeded in marginalizing the Communists and subordinating their opponents while simultaneously appealing to the mass of the workers over the heads of the trade union bureaucracy. At the same time he argued within the military for a strong state to resist social disorder and addressed big business with the need to incorporate the working class.
In March 1945, the leaders of the nation joined the United Nations and declared war on Germany, going back on why they made the coup in the first place. In September there was a massive, overwhelmingly middle class "March for Freedom and the Constitution". The Army tried to accommodate this opposition and sacked, then arrested, Perón on October the 8th.
The working class and the major unions saw this as attack on their political influence and their living standards, and a wave of strikes swept the country and an enormous, largely working class demonstration in the Plaza de Mayo in central Buenos Aires gave sufficient strength and confidence to Perón's supporters in the Army to force his release. This was the real emergence of the working class onto the Argentine political scene rather than an independent force under the control of Perón.
Supported by the Army, the Church and the CGT, Perón became the official candidate in the presidential election. He was duly elected president, with a 10 percent majority, and 56 percent of the vote on February 24th 1946.
Perón's First Presidency
The period 1946-1955 marked a turning point in the economic development of the country. Before this, the country was dominated by large landowners and agricultural exports, strongly influenced by foreign capital. But this model had started to weaken during the 1930’s, but it was not until the mid-1940s that it was replaced by what became known as “import substitution industrialization” (ISI).
Peron's new economic paradigm was based around the development of labor-intensive, light industry to create jobs and produce domestic goods for the internal market. The State played an important role in channeling income from agricultural exports to industry, raising import tariffs, and nationalizing foreign-owned companies such as the railways, gas, phone and electricity.
This model would be based around class alliances and also alliances between the Armed Forces and the Catholic Church under Peron's own form of “third way”, neither left or right. However, this alliance excluded the old landowners -“the oligarchy”- who would become the number one enemy of the new government.
The new role of the State and the rights acquired during this period were articulated in a new Constitution, adopted in 1949, which put social justice and the “general interest” at the center of all political and economic activities. The new constitutional text included a range of “social rights” (the so-called second generation rights), related to workers, families, the elderly, education and culture.
During his first presidency, Perón’s charismatic wife, Eva Perón (or “Evita” as her followers called her) played a prominent role, and it is widely acknowledged that she was the main link between the president and the workers’ movement. Evita also had an active role in the development of women's rights, such as the right to vote (1947) and the equality of men and women in marriage and in the care of children -even fighting internal opposition to achieve these goals.
Second Government (1951-1955)
Perón was re-elected in 1951, obtaining a massive 62% of the vote (which, for the first time, included the female voters). But this term was much more problematic for the president. His wife, Evita, died of cancer a month after his reelection, and the economic situation worsened after a drop in the international price of agricultural products and severe droughts.
Perón was forced to introduce some austerity measures and improve poor relations with foreign companies. All these measures contradicted the model that Perón himself had implemented, and divided opinion among his followers.
This was in addition to Perón beginning to lose support with some unions, and his relationship with the Church was essentially an open conflict in 1954.
On June 16th, 1955, the political opposition (conservative, radicals and socialists) together with the Navy and with the support of the Church, carried out a botched coup d’etat against Perón. Navy planes bombed the Plaza de Mayo, where a rally was taking place, killing more than 300 people. Perón's attempt to appease the crowd failed and that very night groups of Peronist activists took to the streets of Buenos Aires and burnt several churches.
After the failed coup, Perón tried to keep the situation under control and called for a truce with the opposition. However on 31st August, after talks with the opposition failed, the president hardened his position when, during a public speech, he pronounced the now famous phrase: “for each one of us who fall, five of them will follow”. Seventeen days later, on the 16th September, a new military uprising -led again by the Navy- succeeded in deposing Perón, who asked for political refuge in Paraguay and left the country on the 20th of September. It would be 17 years until he stepped on Argentine soil again.
While Perón was in exile, the disparate groups that made up the Peronist movement fractured without his leadership. The new government also dissolved the Peronist party, and banned all of its members from running for office. Even mentioning the names of Perón or Evita was prohibited. The subsequent weakening of the Peronist unions left many workers once again unprotected and exposed to the abuses of some employers.
Perón's Brief Return
In 1972 Perón was finally able to return to Argentina, where he chose Héctor Cámpora to be the presidential candidate. The plan was for Campora to win the election, and lift the ban on Perón running so he could run the following year, the plan worked.
On June 20, 1973 Perón made his final return to Argentina, where a huge welcome was planned at the airport. But as he was due to land, the contradictions within his movement were exposed.
At the airport, the right wing groups, including the CGT union and the left including the militant Montoneros groups showed up, but a battle soon developed and the unionist right opened fire on the leftist tendencies killing at least 13 and wounding hundreds.
The next month, in July Cámpora resigned from the presidency and Perón, who was now 78 years old won the election with 62 percent of the vote. He called for both the right and left wing factions to unite in his speech, but after the killing of the CGT leader Jose Igancio Rucci, Perón gave more support to the right wing factions.
Perón died on the 1st of July 1974, and his second wife and vice-president Isabel Martínez de Perón (photo below) took office. In March 1976, she was deposed in an air-force-led coup, and a right-wing military junta took power and brutally ruled Argentina until 1982.
Peron's legacy is the most important in ArgentinaPeronism is still Argentina's most potent political force, and survives as a legitimate political philosophy which among others incorporates nationalism, political independence and a strong government supporting the working classes. The current president of Argentina Cristina Fernandez is a member of the Justicialist Party, a Peronist party and considers herself following in the footsteps of Peron and Evita.
The Peronist movement has managed to survive the twists and turns of Argentine history, much of it owed to the fact that from its very origin under Peron it had broad support, not just from the social sectors that benefited from Peron's pro-working class policies. This support continued to expand as the benefited sectors lost much of their original political and social clout.
Peron had established a brand of labor orientated populism that became a model for many politicians and followers of him. He was the first to attack the once powerful agricultural sector, and prioritize the industrial sector in Argentina. Although his personal brand of politics eventually broke down, the policies and institutions he created have paved the way for the economic boom Argentina has experienced since the early years of the 21st century.
Meeting Juan Perón
On January 15, 1944, a massive earthquake struck western Argentina, killing 6,000 people. Argentines across the country wanted to help their fellow countrymen. In Buenos Aires, the effort was led by 48-year-old Army Colonel Juan Domingo Perón, the head of the nation's labor department.
Perón asked Argentina's performers to use their fame to promote his cause. Actors, singers, and others (including Eva Duarte) walked the streets of Buenos Aires to collect money for earthquake victims. The fundraising effort culminated in a benefit held at a local stadium. There, on January 22, 1944, Eva met Colonel Juan Perón.
Perón, a widower whose wife had died of cancer in 1938, was immediately drawn to her. The two became inseparable and very soon Eva proved herself Perón's most ardent supporter. She used her position at the radio station to feature broadcasts that praised Perón as a benevolent government figure.
Little is known of the earliest inhabitants of the region. Only in NW Argentina was there a native population with a material culture. They were an agricultural people (recalled today by ruins N of Jujuy), but their importance was eclipsed later by the Araucanians from Chile. Europeans probably first arrived in the region in 1502 in the voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. The southern inhabitants at that time primarily hunted and fished, while the northwestern Incas were agricultural and quite advanced, having built a highway before the arrival of the Spanish. The search for a Southwest Passage to Asia and the East Indies brought Juan Díaz de Solís to the Río de la Plata in 1516. Ferdinand Magellan entered (1520) the estuary, and Sebastian Cabot ascended (1536) the Paraná and Paraguay rivers. His delight in native ornaments may be responsible for the names Río de la Plata [silver river] and Argentina [of silver].
Pedro de Mendoza in 1536 founded the first settlement of the present Buenos Aires, but native attacks forced abandonment of the settlement, and Asunción became the unquestioned leading city of the Río de la Plata region. Buenos Aires was refounded in 1580 by Juan de Garay. His son-in-law, Hernando Arias de Saavedra (Hernandarias), secured the division of the Río de la Plata territories, and Buenos Aires achieved (1617) a sort of semi-independence under the viceroyalty of Peru.
The mercantilist system, however, severely hampered the commerce of Buenos Aires, and smuggling, especially with Portuguese traders in Brazil, became an accepted profession. While the cities of present W and NW Argentina grew by supplying the mining towns of the Andes, Buenos Aires was threatened by Portuguese competition. By the 18th cent., cattle (which were introduced to the Pampas in the 1550s) roamed wild throughout the Pampas in large herds and were hunted by gauchos for their skins and fat.
In 1776 the Spanish government made Buenos Aires a free port and the capital of a viceroyalty that included present Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and (briefly) Bolivia. From this combination grew the idea of a Greater Argentina to include all the Río de la Plata countries, a dream that was to haunt many Argentine politicians after independence was won.
A prelude to independence was the British attack on Buenos Aires. Admiral Sir Home Popham and Gen. William Carr Beresford took the city in 1806 after the Spanish viceroy fled. An Argentine militia force under Jacques de Liniers ended the British occupation and beat off a renewed attack under Gen. John Whitelocke in 1807.
On May 25, 1810 (May 25 is the Argentine national holiday), revolutionists, acting nominally in favor of the Bourbons dethroned by Napoleon (see Spain), deposed the viceroy, and the government was controlled by a junta. The result was war against the royalists. The patriots under Manuel Belgrano won (1812) a victory at Tucumán. On July 9, 1816, a congress in Tucumán proclaimed the independence of the United Provinces of the Río de La Plata. Other patriot generals were Mariano Moreno, Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, and José de San Martín.
Uruguay and Paraguay went their own ways despite hopes of reunion. In Argentina, a struggle ensued between those who wanted to unify the country and those who did not want to be dominated by Buenos Aires. Independence was followed by virtually permanent civil war, with many coups by regional, social, or political factions. Rule by the strong man, the caudillo, alternated with periods of democratic rule, too often beset by disorder.
Anarchy was not ended by the election of Bernardino Rivadavia in 1826. The unitarians, who favored a centralized government dominated by Buenos Aires, were opposed to the federalists, who resented the oligarchy of Buenos Aires and were backed by autocratic caudillos with gaucho troops. The unitarians triumphed temporarily when Argentines combined to help the Uruguayans repel Brazilian conquerors in the battle of Ituzaingó (1827), which led to the independence of Uruguay. The internal conflict was, however, soon resumed and was not even quelled when Gen. Juan Manuel de Rosas, the most notorious caudillo, established a dictatorship that lasted from 1835 to 1852. Ironically, this federalist leader, who was nominally only the governor of Buenos Aires, did more than the unitarians to unify the country. Ironically, too, this enemy of intellectuals stimulated his political opponents to write in exile some of the finest works of the Spanish-American romantic period among the writers were Domingo F. Sarmiento, Bartolomé Mitre, José Mármol, and Esteban Echeverría.
Rosas was overthrown (1852) by Gen. Justo José de Urquiza, who called a constituent assembly at Santa Fe. A constitution was adopted (1853) based on the principles enunciated by Juan Bautista Alberdi. Mitre, denouncing Urquiza as a caudillo, brought about the temporary secession of Buenos Aires prov. (1861) and the downfall of the Urquiza plans. Under the administrations of Mitre (1862–68), Sarmiento (1868–74), and Nicolás Avellaneda (1874–80), schools were built, public works started, and liberal reforms instituted. The War of the Triple Alliance (see Triple Alliance, War of the), 1865–70, brought little advantage to Argentina.
In 1880 federalism triumphed, and Gen. Julio A. Roca became president (1880–1886) Buenos Aires remained the capital, but the federal district was set up, and Buenos Aires prov. was given La Plata as its capital. Argentina flourished during Roca's administration. The conquest of the indigenous peoples by General Roca (1878–79) had made colonization of the region in the south and the southwest possible. Already the Pampa had begun to undergo its agricultural transformation. The immigration of Europeans helped to fill the land and to make Argentina one of the world's granaries.
Establishment of refrigerating plants for meat made expansion of commerce possible. The British not only became the prime consumers of Argentine products but also invested substantially in the construction of factories, public utilities, and railroads (which were nationalized in 1948). Efforts to end the power of the great landowners, however, were not genuinely successful, and the military tradition continued to play a part in politics, the army frequently combining with the conservatives and later with the growing ranks of labor to alter the government by coup.
The second administration of Roca (1898–1904) was marked by recovery from the crises of the intervening years a serious boundary dispute with Chile was settled (1902), and perpetual peace between the two nations was symbolized in the Christ of the Andes. Even before World War I, in which Argentina maintained neutrality, the wealthy nation had begun to act as an advocate for the rights and interests of Latin America as a whole, notably through Carlos Calvo, Luis M. Drago, and later Carlos Saavedra Lamas.
Internal problems, however, remained vexing. Electoral reforms introduced by Roque Sáenz Peña (1910–14) led to the victory of the Radical party under Hipólito Irigoyen (1916–22). He introduced social legislation, but when, after the presidency of Marcelo T. de Alvear, Irigoyen returned to power in 1928, his policies aroused much dissatisfaction even in his own party. In 1930 he was ousted by Gen. José F. Uriburu, and the conservative oligarchy—now with Fascist leanings—was again in power.
The administration (1932–38) of Agustín P. Justo was opposed by revolutionary movements, and a coalition of liberals and conservatives won an election victory. Radical leader Roberto M. Ortiz became president (1938), but serious illness caused him to resign (1942), and the conservative Ramón S. Castillo succeeded him. In 1943, Castillo was overthrown by a military coup. After two provisional presidents a palace revolt in 1944 brought to power a group of army colonels, chief among them Juan Perón. After four years of pro-Axis neutrality, Argentina belatedly (Mar., 1945) entered World War II on the side of the Allies and became a member of the United Nations. A return to liberal government momentarily seemed probable, but Perón was overwhelmingly victorious in the election of Feb., 1946.
Perón, an admirer of Mussolini, established a type of popular dictatorship new to Latin America, based initially on support from the army, reactionaries, nationalists, and some clerical groups. His regime was marked by curtailment of freedom of speech, confiscation of liberal newspapers such as La Prensa, imprisonment of political opponents, and transition to a one-party state. His second wife, the popular Eva Duarte de Perón, helped him gain the support of the trade unions, thereafter the main foundation of Perón's political power. In 1949 the constitution of 1853 was replaced by one that permitted Perón to succeed himself as president the Peronista political party was established the same year.
To cure Argentina's serious economic ills, Perón inaugurated a program of industrial development—which advanced rapidly in the 1940s and early 50s, although hampered by the lack of power resources and machine tools—supplemented by social welfare programs. Perón also placed the sale and export of wheat and beef under government control, thus undermining the political and economic power of the rural oligarchs. In the early 1950s, with recurring economic problems and with the death (1952) of his wife, Perón's popular support began to diminish. Agricultural production, long the chief source of revenue, dropped sharply and the economy faltered. The Roman Catholic church, alienated by the reversal of close church-state relations, excommunicated Perón and, finally, the armed forces became disillusioned with him. In 1955, Perón was ousted by a military coup, and the interim military government of Gen. Pedro Aramburu attempted to rid the country of Justicialismo (Peronism). Perón fled to Paraguay and in 1960 went into exile in Spain.
In 1957, Argentina reverted to the constitution of 1853 as modified up to 1898. In 1958, Dr. Arturo Frondizi was elected president. Faced with the economic and fiscal crisis inherited from Perón, Frondizi, with U.S. advice and the promise of financial aid, initiated a program of austerity to stabilize the economy and check inflation. Leftists, as well as Peronistas, who still commanded strong popular support, criticized the plan because the burden lay most heavily on the working and lower middle classes.
Frondizi later fell into disfavor with the military because of his leniency toward the regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba and toward Peronistas at home, who, in the congressional elections of 1962, scored a resounding victory. Frondizi was arrested and José María Guido assumed the presidency, but the military was in control. The Peronista and Communist parties were banned before presidential elections were held in 1963. Following the election of the moderate liberal Dr. Arturo Illia, many political prisoners were released and relative political stability returned. The new president was faced, however, with serious economic depression and with the difficult problem of reintegrating the Peronist forces into Argentine political life.
In 1964 an attempt by Perón to return from Spain and lead his followers was thwarted when he was turned back at Rio de Janeiro by Brazilian authorities. The Peronists, however, remained the strongest political force in the country unwilling to tolerate another resurgence of Peronism, a junta of military leaders, supported by business interests, seized power (1966) and placed Gen. Juan Carlos Onganía, a long-time right-wing opponent of Illía, in the presidency. Under Onganía, the new government dissolved the legislature, banned all political parties, and exercised unofficial press censorship Onganía also placed the national universities under government control.
Widespread opposition to the rigid rule of the Onganía regime grew, and the military deposed him (1970), naming Gen. Roberto M. Levingston president. Economic problems and increased terrorist activities caused Gen. Alejandro Lanusse, the leader of the coup against Onganía, to dismiss (1971) Levingston and initiate an active program for economic growth, distribution of wealth, and political stability. His direct negotiations with Juan Perón and his call for national elections and a civilian government led to the return of Perón to Argentina in 1972.
After failing to achieve unity among the various Peronist groups, Perón declined the nomination from his supporters to run for president in the Mar., 1973, elections, which were won by Dr. Hector Cámpora, the Peronist candidate, who subsequently resigned from office to make way for Perón's return. When new elections were held in Sept., 1973, Perón was elected president and his third wife, Isabel Martínez Perón, vice president. Perón died in July, 1974, and was succeeded by his widow. Her government faced economic troubles, labor unrest, political violence, and deep divisions within the Peronista party.
In 1976, Isabel Perón was deposed by a military junta under the leadership of Jorge Rafael Videla, who served as president until 1981. The government suspended political and trade union activity, dissolved the congress, made alterations to the constitution, and removed most government officals. During the military rule thousands of citizens suspected of undermining the government disappeared in what became known as the dirty war. In 1981 Argentina petitioned the United Nations for possession of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), which had been occupied and claimed by the British since 1832. Tensions escalated until, on Apr. 2, 1982, Argentina, now under the rule of Lt.-Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, invaded and occupied the islands. British forces responded quickly, forcing a surrender by Argentine forces within 6 weeks. The Argentine defeat led to Galtieri's resignation and subsequently to the end of military rule. Retired Gen. Reynaldo Bignone succeeded Galtieri as president and oversaw the return to democracy.
In 1983, Raúl Alfonsín won the presidency, but persistent economic problems plagued his tenure in office. Carlos Saúl Menem was elected president in 1988, bringing the Peronist Justicialist party back into power. A reform-minded leader, he stimulated economic growth and subdued hyperinflation in the early 1990s by instituting a major program of privatization, encouraging foreign investment, and tying the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar. Constitutional amendments approved in 1994 placed curbs on presidential power and increased opposition power in the senate, while clearing the way for Menem to seek a second successive term as president. He was reelected in 1995. The Justicialists lost legislative elections to the opposition Alianza coalition in 1997, as the country struggled with recession and continuing high unemployment. Argentina's relations with Paraguay soured in 1999 when Menem's government sheltered Paraguayan Gen. Lino Oviedo for eight months Oviedo was wanted for the murder of Paraguay's vice president.
In Oct., 1999, Fernando de la Rúa of Alianza was elected president, soundly defeating the Peronist candidate. De la Rúa's victory was in part a rejection of Menem's perceived flamboyance and tolerance of corruption during his last term. The new president moved quickly to institute austerity measures and reforms to improve the economy taxes were increased to reduce the deficit, the government bureaucracy was trimmed, and legal restrictions on union negotiations were eased. De la Rúa also purged (2000) the army and state intelligence agency of the last suspected participants in the dirty war of the 1970s and 80s.
By late 2000, however, de la Rúa's presidency was under siege on two fronts. Several senators, mainly from the Justicialist party, were accused of taking bribes to vote for the government's labor-code revisions, and two cabinet members were also implicated. When the cabinet members were retained after a reorganization, Vice President Carlos Álvarez resigned in protest. The Argentine economy had slipped into recession in late 1999, and Argentina was forced in to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private banks to reduce its debt. In Dec., 2000, an aid package of nearly $40 billion was arranged, and the government announced a $20 billion public works program that was designed to help revive the economy.
Further economic measures designed to revived the ailing economy were adopted in 2001, including the pegging of the peso for imports and exports to the average value of the dollar and the euro combined, additional government austerity measures, and additional billions in IMF aid. The economy remained in recession, however, aggravating the problems posed by the debt and by the restrictions that the IMF imposed in return for aid, and unemployment rose to around 20% at the end of 2001. In legislative elections in Oct., 2001, the opposition Justicialist party became the largest party in both houses of the national congress. In November the government began restructuring the debt, putting it essentially in default. Ongoing economic problems led to a crisis of confidence as depositors began a run on the banks, resulting in limits on withdrawals (largely lifted a year later), and the IMF took a hard line, insisting on a 10% cut in the budget before making further payments.
Nationwide food riots and demonstrations erupted in late December, leading the president to resign. A series of interim presidents and renewed demonstrations ended with the appointment of Justicialist senator Eduardo Alberto Duhalde as president in Jan., 2002. Duhalde, who had been a free-spending provincial governor and the Peronists' 1999 presidential candidate, devalued the peso, which lost more than two thirds of its value. The depressed economy, meanwhile, remained in disarray until early 2003, when it showed some signs of slow improvement.
Néstor Carlos Kirchner, the governor of Santa Cruz prov. in Patagonia, won the spring 2003 presidential race when former president Menem withdrew from the runoff election polls indicated that Kirchner would win by a landslide. Congress subsequently repealed two amnesty laws, passed in the 1980s, that had protected military officers accused of human rights offenses, and in 2005 the supreme court upheld the move, overturning the amnesty laws as unconstitutional. Pardons given to several military government leaders were subsequently also overturned by the court, and arrest warrants were issued for Isabel Perón, who was in exile in Spain, and others. A number of former military officers and others were later convicted of human-rights crimes, including former Presidents Bignone and Videla.
Kirchner won favorable terms from from the IMF in Sept., 2003, refusing to make concessions in exchange for refinancing Argentina's debt. Kirchner's government continued into 2004 its policy of aggressively seeking more favorable terms, but was not successful in negotiating new terms for repaying private creditors until 2005, when some three quarters of its bondholders agreed to accept partial repayment. The economy grew strongly in 2003–5, reducing the unemployment rate, but the effects of the 2001–2 economic collapse continued to hurt many Argentines.
In Oct., 2005, the popular Kirchner benefited from the improved economy when his Peronists won control of the senate and a plurality in the lower house. With a strengthened political hand, Kirchner replaced his respected but more conservative economy minister with an ally. Argentina paid off its IMF debt in Jan., 2006, in an effort to regain greater flexibility in its economic policy. Kirchner also used the influence of his office to fight inflation by pressuring Argentinian companies into holding down price increases. His presidency also saw a trend toward renationalization of certain Argentinian businesses, including railroads and telecommunications companies.
In 2006 there were tensions with Uruguay over plans there to build pulp mills along the Argentina border on the Uruguay River. Argentinians fearing possible pollution from the mills blockaded several bridges into Uruguay, and Argentina accused Uruguay of contravening the treaty on joint use of the river. Argentina took the issue to the International Court of Justice, which accepted it but allowed construction of the one mill that Uruguay ended up building to proceed while the court decided the case. The court also refused to order Argentina to halt the protests, which continued until June, 2010. In 2010 the court largely ruled in favor of Uruguay, determining that it had met its environmental obligations under the treat, and it refused to order the mill to close.
Kirchner chose not to run in 2007 for a second term, but his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who had served as a provincial and national deputy and national senator, mounted her own candidacy. Running strongly and promising to continue her husband's policies, she was elected in Oct., 2007, becoming the first woman to be elected president. In a court case in Florida, U.S. prosecutors later (Dec., 2007) alleged that $800,000 found (Aug., 2007) by Argentinian customs officers on a private flight from Venezuela was intended to be a secret Venezuelan government contribution to Fernández de Kirchner's campaign. The Argentinian government denounced the allegation, but two Venezuelans and a Uruguayan arrested in the United States in connection with the money pleaded guilty to acting as unregistered foreign government agents and revealed details of the payment and its coverup and a third Venezuelan was convicted on similar charges in Nov., 2008.
Beginning in Mar., 2008, farmers protested increased export taxes on farm products by striking and blockading roads, leading to some food shortages in major cities at times. The government abandoned the tax increases in July after the Senate narrowly failed to approve them. Tensions between the government and farmers continued, however, into 2009, aggravated by drought and falling demand. In Mar., 2009, both sides reached accords on compensation for several clases of farm products.
In Oct, 2008, the government moved to nationalize 10 private pension plans. The government asserted it was acting to protect them from the global financial crisis, but many viewed it as a repudiation of the privatizations of the 1990s and also possibly as an attempt to secure funds in the face of a looming budget shortfall. The move caused stocks and the Argentinian peso to fall sharply the national airline was also nationalized. The government subsequently used some of the pension assets as part of an economic stimulus package. Congressional elections in June, 2009, resulted in losses for the governing party, which failed to secure majorities in both houses.
In Jan., 2010, a move by the government to use foreign currency reserves to repay some of Argentina's international debt sparked a conflict between the president and the head of the central bank, Martín Redrado, who refused to transfer the reserves. The president sought to remove Redrado by emergency decree, but a court ruled that she could neither remove him nor use the reserves. Redrado, however, subsequently resigned. In Mar., 2010, the president issued new decrees transferring $6.6. billion of the reserves, and an appeals court upheld the decrees when the opposition challenged them. Debt swaps agreed to by June by most of the holders of the remaining bonds that Argentina had defaulted on in 2001 left about 8% of the original bonds outstanding.
The start of oil exploration in the waters surrounding the Falkland Islands in Feb., 2010, led the Argentinian government to impose restrictions on vessels traveling through its waters to the islands. The islands' status became an increasingly contentious issue in Argentina's international relations in subsequent months, leading to strained relations with Great Britain by the time of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War in Apr., 2012. In Oct., 2011, President Fernández de Kirchner, bouyed by significant economic growth, easily won reelection and her Front for Victory won control of Congress, but high inflation associated with the growth was an increasing concern and led to government regulations designed to control capital flight. Discontent over the economy and other issues led to demonstrations and strikes beginning in 2012. In May, 2012, the Congress approved the nationalization of the former national oil company, which had been privatized in 1999. The Front for Victory retained control of Congress after the Oct., 2013, elections. In December, police strikes over pay in many of the country's provinces led to outbreaks of looting across Argentina.
In Jan., 2014, after the government's long-standing efforts to support the peso had depleted its currency reserves, it abandoned those efforts, which led to a drop in the peso's value, and then relaxed foreign exchange controls. In June, 2014, Argentina lost its appeal against a U.S. court decision that required it to pay the owners of the outstanding bonds that it defaulted on in 2001 if the country paid bond owners who had exchanged their defaulted bonds in the debt swaps of 2005 and 2010. Argentina subsequently refused, and in September the country was declared in contempt of court the case restricted Argentina's access to international credit markets. Also that month, Vice President Amado Boudou was charged with corruption in connection with government aid received by a printing company he was accused of secretly owning he was convicted in 2018.
In early 2015 the president was accused by a prosecutor of shielding Iranians involved in a 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in order to secure a trade deal. The prosecutor's death by a gunshot wound sparked a public crisis. A second prosecutor sought to pursue the charges, but they were dismissed. The president denounced the affair as a plot by Intelligence Secretariat agents to undermine her government, and had the congress vote to reorganize the agency.
Fernández de Kirchner was barred from running in the 2015 presidential election. Although the first round in October was won by the Front for Victory candidate, Daniel Scioli, he did not win by a large enough margin to avoid a runoff. In the November runoff, the candidate of the Let's Change coalition, Mauricio Macri, the center-right mayor of Buenos Aires, won 51% of the vote. In office Macri ended most currency controls and devalued the peso, resolved (2016) the outstanding bond claims that remained from the 2001 default, and moved to reduce government spending that subsidized the price of utilities and other items. In the Oct., 2017, legislative elections Macri's coalition won a plurality of the seats.
The withdrawal of international investments in the first half of 2018, due to changing international conditions and concerns about the Argentinian economy, created a liquidity crisis and led Macri to seek IMF aid, and the IMF approved a $50 billion credit line (later increased to more than $57 billion). Argentina's economy, however continued to be plagued by inflation (which approached 50% in 2018), devaluation, and a contracting economy. Late in 2018 the government adopted an austerity budget.
In Aug., 2019, President Macri placed a distant second in the country's open presidential primary to Alberto Fernández, the candidate of the main opposition coalition, the Peronist Frente do Todos Fernández's running mate was former president Fernández de Kirchner. Macri subsequently announced a number of economic relief measures. In October, Fernández won the presidential election in the first round. In December, the new government's economic emergency package, including tax and spending increases and emergency government powers, was enacted. The subsequent COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 worsened the economic crisis, and the government sought to restructure its foreign debt.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: South American Political Geography
Buenos Aires History Facts and Timeline
Around a third of Argentina's population lives in the 'greater' area of this South American nation's capital and most populated city, Buenos Aires. In fact, only Sao Paulo in Brazil boasts a bigger metropolitan population among Latin American cities than Buenos Aires.
The city from where the Tango dance originated has overcome a tumultuous past history filled with wars, coups d'état and dramatically fluctuating economies, to become one of Latin America's most peaceful, prosperous and exciting cities.
Prior to European arrival, the Guarani and the Diaguita were the area's most prominent inhabitants. Both tribes helped develop maize cultivation, while the Diaguita stopped the Inca from conquering Argentina long before Europeans first set foot on its soil in the early 16th century.
History of European Settlement
In 1516, indigenous tribes killed Spanish explorer Juan Diaz de Solis, the first European to sail into present-day Argentina. The same tribes forced the Europeans to flee their first attempt at a permanent colony and head for Asunción, Paraguay in 1539. The Europeans did not succeed in establishing a permanent settlement in Buenos Aires until 1580, after many indigenous tribes perished from European diseases.
By the early 17th century, pirates replaced indigenous tribes as the biggest threats to Buenos Aires. However, smuggling and illicit trade also formed a large part of the overall economy, as the city was prohibited from foreign trade. At this time, Spain paid far more attention to Peru than Argentina, since it was rich in gold and silver.
Buenos Aires finally found a prosperous and legal industry in its surrounding grasslands, where cattle provided beef and treated leather hides, which Europeans used to make clothes, shoes and accessories. Of note, in 1776, Buenos Aires became the base of the new Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata.
When Spain came under Napoleonic French control, the British staged two Buenos Aires invasions, in 1806 and again in the following year. After the city successfully fended off the British without Spanish assistance, it gained in confidence and pride. Shortly after Napoleon Bonaparte's French troops invaded Spain, Argentina declared its independence in 1816.
Bloody conflicts between Unitarians wanting a strong national government, and Federalists who desired more provincial power, broke out in Buenos Aires. The much-hated Mazorca secret police persecuted the Unitarians, who formed the majority of the city's population, during the rule of Federalist Juan Manuel de Rosas. The year of 1852 saw Rosas ousted, while Argentina ratified its first constitution just a year later.
Immigration and Prosperity
Following two failed mid-1800s British and French invasions, Buenos Aires entered the most prosperous period in its history, especially after the railroad connected its port with its surrounding cattle ranches.
European immigrants flocked to Buenos Aires during the early 20th century. Although most of these immigrants came from Italy and Spain, Buenos Aires also welcomed many Germans, British, and in more recent years, Asians. Infamy was heaped on the country, however, during and after WWII, when many high-ranking Nazi officers escaped Europe and managed to set up new lives in Argentina.
Perón and Plaza de Mayo Bombing
Argentina's most famous leader, Juan Domingo Perón, first came to power as the Argentinian president in 1946. He was especially popular among the working class, due to his education reforms and pro-union stance.
In June of 1955, Argentina's navy bombed the Plaza de Mayo in a failed coup d'état, but Peron was eventually deposed during another military revolt just three months later. Perón died a year after his 1973 re-election and his wife, Maria Eva Duarte de Perón (often known as simply 'Evita'), succeeded him until another military coup overthrew her in 1976.
The Dirty War
When the military governed Argentina between 1976 and 1983, they cracked down hard on suspected dissidents, many of whom mysteriously disappeared altogether and remain missing to this day. About 30,000 people were believed to have been executed during this 'Dirty War,' which served as part of a larger alliance between South American right wing governments. After the 1983 end of the military dictatorship, many of its leaders received lifetime prison sentences. This was a dark period in Buenos Aires history, as was the bombing of the Israeli Embassy the following decade.
Recession and Recovery
Argentina's economy completely collapsed in 2001, after two years of recession, preceded by many more years of inflation. Numerous businesses went bankrupt and up-to a quarter of Argentina's total population became unemployed before the economy finally stabilised. Buenos Aires, and the rest of Argentina, has once again become a calm and prosperous city.
Peron coming into power in Argentina
It seems to me that Peron came to power as a result of the mixture of the Latin American political/economic culture in existence in Argentina with the European immigrants (particularly Italian) coming to the country and the Great Depression with all its effects. In other words, when the Italian (and other) immigrants came to Argentina, they tended to be anarchist or syndicalist or what have you, and wanted to integrate themselves there and get full rights, etc. They were put down for a long time by the old conservative elites (representative of at least part of Latin American political culture) that engineered the coup of 1930 in the midst of the Depression, and that paved the way for Peron's popularity among the descendants of European immigrants. Is that a fair way of portraying the lead-on to Peronism, and why Argentina's political development was different than with many other Latin American countries (given that not nearly as many immigrants - particularly Italian - proportionally came to those other countries)?
If that's so, then even a scenario where Yrigoyen is dead sooner or where Ortiz is president for longer may merely buy some time in terms of avoiding a coup or what not - by a few to several years. Then, Argentina would have perhaps developed much like in real life anyway - who knows?
History of Argentina - Revolution of '43 (1943-1946)
The civilian government appeared to be close to joining the allies, but many officers of the Argentine armed forces (and ordinary Argentine citizens) objected due to fear of the spread of communism. There was a wide support to stay neutral in the conflict, as during WWI. The government was also questioned by domestic policy reasons, namely, the electoral fraud, the poor labour rights and the selection of Patrón Costas to run for the presidency.
On June 4, 1943, the G.O.U. (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos), which was a secret alliance between military leaders led by Pedro Pablo Ramírez, Arturo Rawson, Edelmiro Farrell and Farrell's protégé Juan Domingo Perón marched to the Casa Rosada and demanded the resignation of president Castillo. After hours of threats their goal was achieved and the president resigned. This event is considered by historians as the official end of the Infamous Decade.
After the coup, Ramírez took power. Although he did not declare war, he broke relations with the Axis powers. Argentina's largest neighbor, Brazil, had already entered the war on the allied side in 1942.
In 1944 Ramirez was replaced by Farrell, an army officer of Irish-Argentine origin who had spent two years attached to Mussolini's army in the twenties. Initially his government continued to maintain a neutral policy. Towards the end of the war, Farrell decided it was in the interests of Argentina to be attached to the winning side. Like several Latin American states, Argentina made a late declaration of war against Germany with no intention of providing any military forces.
Juan Domingo Perón managed the relations with labourers and unions, and become highly popular. He was deposed and detained at the Martín García island, but a massive demonstration on October 17, 1945, forced the government to free Perón and restore him to office. Perón would win the elections shortly afterwards by a landslide. The US ambassador, Spruille Braden, took direct action in Argentine politics supporting the antiperonist parties.