Argentina History – Perón’s New Mandate and the Military Regime

The hopes of a national pacification, which would put an end, on the one hand, to the real state of war established between terrorist groups and law enforcement agencies, on the other, to the disorientation of the masses, increasingly tried by the worsening of the economic crisis, returned to focus on the former dictator, who, moreover, during his exile in Madrid had never stopped having relations with Argentine politicians. On July 13, 1973, Cámpora resigned, giving way to Perón who was confirmed as president by a triumphal popular consultation. The young wife, María Estela Martínez, known as ‘Isabelita’, was appointed to the vice-presidency, who, in the event of her husband’s impediment, would have guaranteed the permanence in power of Peronism. It was a matter of ‘ consensual coup d’état ‘, which in fact had the approval of the military and the political opposition. When after less than a year, on 1 July 1974, Perón died suddenly, Isabelita succeeded him. But the preference accorded by the new president to the conservative wing of the party led to a split within the party, which plunged the country into chaos. To the guerrilla actions of the Ejército revolucionario del pueblo were added those of the Montoneros, an organization of the Peronist left that had contributed to the return of Perón. On the other side, the far-right teams (Argentine anticommunist Alianza) operated violent reprisals. The widespread climate of terror made it necessary to proclaim a state of siege in November 1974. Meanwhile, the economic situation deteriorated further. In 1975 alone, four Economy Ministers took turns, adopting conflicting policies, but none of them managed to achieve the desired results. Inflation reached 300% and the paralysis of the economy, which also weighed on a very strong public deficit, became more and more evident. The pressing demands for new presidential elections and the resignation of Perón, also subject to accusations of corruption, and the strengthening of the position of the military led to the coup d’état of 1976, with which General G. Videla seized power. With the suspension of the Constitution, the supreme organ of the state, also with the functions of the Supreme Court and the General Prosecutor’s Office, it became a military junta, chaired by Videla himself. The Giunta proposed to give life to a process of national reorganization that would have had to radically transform the social and political morphology of the country. Among the first acts was the presentation of an economic plan characterized by a reversal of the positions of the Peronists, with measures such as lower tariffs, artificial revaluation of the currency, slowdown in the rate of depreciation of the exchange, liberalization of the capital market and investments from abroad, blocking of inflation in a general framework of recovery of the traditional economy based on large farms and large land ownership. This reshaping of economic policy was accompanied by an unprecedented attempt to stifle all forms of protest, which affected all components of the opposition, from the radicals to the Peronists, to the communists, to guerrilla groups, such as Ejército revolucionario del pueblo and Montoneros.

According to collegesanduniversitiesinusa, there were about 20,000 i disappeared, the ‘disappeared’ or arrested and executed without due process during the military regime. The brutal repression – the subject of repeated complaints by the Catholic Church, Amnesty International and other organizations for the protection of human rights, flanked within the country by movements such as the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and the Peace and Justice Service of the Nobel laureate Argentina Pérez Esquivel – caused a cooling in international relations. After the United States distanced itself from the military junta by drastically contracting American investments in Argentina, Videla, reconfirmed as president in 1978, was forced to seek new commercial outlets, even in socialist countries. The substantial failure of his economic policy led in 1981 to the replacement of Videla with General RE Viola, who was succeeded, after a few months, by General L. Galtieri. Faced with the worsening of the situation and the growing protest against the regime, Galtieri attempted the diversion of the nationalist mobilization and decided to invade the Falkland Islands, the subject of a long-standing dispute with Great Britain. The conflict that followed, between April and June 1982 saw the clear defeat of Argentina. The military regime had the coup de grace. Galtieri was forced to resign and was replaced by General R. Bignone who, pushed by growing popular pressure, announced that he wanted to hold democratic elections.

Argentina History - Perón's New Mandate and the Military Regime