|Birth Day:||October 8, 1895|
|Death Date:||Jul 1, 1974 (age 78)|
|Birth Place:||Lobos, Argentina|
As per our current Database, Juan Peron died on Jul 1, 1974 (age 78).
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His grandmother forged his birth certificate in order to make him eligible for the military.
Juan Domingo Perón was born in Lobos, Buenos Aires Province, on 8 October 1895. He was the son of Juana Sosa Toledo and Mario Tomás Perón. The Perón branch of his family was originally Spanish, but settled in Spanish Sardinia, from which his great-grandfather emigrated in the 1830s; in later life Perón would publicly express his pride in his Sardinian roots. He also had Spanish, British and French Basque ancestry.
His father moved to the Patagonia region that year, where he later purchased a sheep ranch. Juan himself was sent away in 1904 to a boarding school in Buenos Aires directed by his paternal grandmother, where he received a strict Catholic upbringing. His father's undertaking ultimately failed, and he died in Buenos Aires in 1928. The youth entered the National Military College in 1911 at age 16 and graduated in 1913. He excelled less in his studies than in athletics, particularly boxing and fencing.
Perón began his military career in an Infantry post in Paraná, Entre Ríos. He went on to command the post, and in this capacity mediated a prolonged labor conflict in 1920 at La Forestal, then a leading firm in forestry in Argentina. He earned instructor's credentials at the Superior War School, and in 1929 was appointed to the Army General Staff Headquarters. Perón married his first wife, Aurelia Tizón (Potota, as Perón fondly called her), on 5 January 1929.
Drawn to an economy with the highest standard of living in Latin America and a new steel mill in San Nicolás de los Arroyos, automakers FIAT and Kaiser Motors responded to the initiave by breaking ground on new facilities in the city of Córdoba, as did the freight truck division of Daimler-Benz, the first such investments since General Motors' Argentine assembly line opened in 1926. Perón also signed an important exploration contract with Standard Oil of California, in May 1955, consolidating his new policy of substituting the two largest sources of that era's chronic trade deficits (imported petroleum and motor vehicles) with local production brought in through foreign investment. Arturo Frondizi, who had been the centrist Radical Civic Union's 1951 vice-presidential nominee, publicly condemned what he considered to be an anti-patriotic decision; as president three years later, however, he himself signed exploration contracts with foreign oil companies.
Perón was recruited by supporters of the director of the War Academy, General José Félix Uriburu, to collaborate in the latter's plans for a military coup against President Hipólito Yrigoyen. Perón, who instead supported General Agustín Justo, was banished to a remote post in northwestern Argentina after Uriburu's successful coup in September 1930. He was promoted to the rank of Major the following year and named to the faculty at the Superior War School, however, where he taught military history and published a number of treatises on the subject. He served as military attaché in the Argentine Embassy in Chile from 1936 to 1938, and returned to his teaching post. His wife was diagnosed with uterine cancer that year, and died on 10 September at age 30; the couple had no children.
In 1938, Perón was sent on a diplomatic mission to Europe. During this time he became enamoured of the Italian fascist model. Perón's admiration for Benito Mussolini is well documented. Likewise he took as model of inspiration the government of Ioannis Metaxas in Greece and Adolf Hitler in Germany, and his exact words in that respect were as follows:
Perón was assigned by the War Ministry to study mountain warfare in the Italian Alps in 1939. He also attended the University of Turin for a semester and served as a military observer in countries across Europe. He studied Benito Mussolini's Italian Fascism, Nazi Germany, and other European governments of the time, concluding in his summary, Apuntes de historia militar (Notes about military history), that social democracy could be a viable alternative to liberal democracy (which he viewed as a veiled plutocracy) or totalitarian regimes (which he viewed as oppressive). He returned to Argentina in 1941, and served as an Army skiing instructor in Mendoza Province.
In 1943 a coup d'état was led by General Arturo Rawson against democratically elected President Ramón Castillo. The military was opposed to Governor Robustiano Patrón Costas, Castillo's hand-picked successor, who was the principal landowner in Salta Province, as well as a main stockholder in its sugar industry.
After the coup, socialists from the CGT-Nº1 labour union, through mercantile labour leader Ángel Borlenghi and railway union lawyer Juan Atilio Bramuglia, made contact with Perón and fellow GOU Colonel Domingo Mercante. They established an alliance to promote labour laws that had long been demanded by the workers' movement, to strengthen the unions, and to transform the Department of Labour into a more significant government office. Perón had the Department of Labour elevated to a cabinet-level secretariat in November 1943.
Employers were forced to improve working conditions and to provide severance pay and accident compensation, the conditions under which workers could be dismissed were restricted, a system of labour courts to handle the grievances of workers was established, the working day was reduced in various industries, and paid holidays/vacations were generalised to the entire workforce. Perón also passed a law providing minimum wages, maximum hours and vacations for rural workers, froze rural rents, presided over a large increase in rural wages, and helped lumber, wine, sugar and migrant workers organize themselves. From 1943 to 1946, real wages grew by only 4%, but in 1945 Perón established two new institutions that would later increase wages: the “aguinaldo” (a bonus that provided each worker with a lump sum at the end of the year amounting to one-twelfth of the annual wage) and the National Institute of Compensation, which implemented a minimum wage and collected data on living standards, prices, and wages. Leveraging his authority on behalf of striking abattoir workers and the right to unionise, Perón became increasingly thought of as presidential timber.
On 18 September 1945, he delivered an address billed as "from work to home and from home to work". The speech, prefaced by an excoriation of the conservative opposition, provoked an ovation by declaring that "we've passed social reforms to make the Argentine people proud to live where they live, once again." This move fed growing rivalries against Perón and on 9 October 1945, he was forced to resign by opponents within the armed forces. Arrested four days later, he was released due to mass demonstrations organised by the CGT and other supporters; 17 October was later commemorated as Loyalty Day. His paramour, Eva Duarte, became hugely popular after helping organize the demonstration; known as "Evita", she helped Perón gain support with labour and women's groups. She and Perón were married on 22 October.
When Perón became president on 4 June 1946, his two stated goals were social justice and economic independence. These two goals avoided Cold War entanglements from choosing between capitalism and socialism, but he had no concrete means to achieve those goals. Perón instructed his economic advisers to develop a five-year plan with the goals of increasing workers' pay, achieving full employment, stimulating industrial growth of over 40% while diversifying the sector (then dominated by food processing), and greatly improving transportation, communication, energy and social infrastructure (in the private, as well as public, sectors).
Perón's planning prominently included political considerations. Numerous military allies were fielded as candidates, notably Colonel Domingo Mercante who, when elected Governor of the paramount Province of Buenos Aires, became renowned for his housing program. Having brought him to power, the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) was given overwhelming support by the new administration, which introduced labour courts and filled its cabinet with labor union appointees, such as Juan Atilio Bramuglia (Foreign Ministry) and Ángel Borlenghi (Interior Ministry, which, in Argentina, oversees law enforcement). It also made room for amenable wealthy industrialists (Central Bank President Miguel Miranda) and socialists such as José Figuerola, a Spanish economist who had years earlier advised that nation's ill-fated regime of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Intervention of their behalf by Perón's appointees encouraged the CGT to call strikes in the face of employers reluctant to grant benefits or honor new labor legislation. Strike activity (with 500,000 working days lost in 1945) leapt to 2 million in 1946 and to over 3 million in 1947, helping wrest needed labor reforms, though permanently aligning large employers against the Peronists. Labor unions grew in ranks from around 500,000 to over 2 million by 1950, primarily in the CGT, which has since been Argentina's paramount labor union. As the country's labor force numbered around 5 million people at the time, Argentina's labor force was the most unionized in South America.
During the first half of the 20th century, a widening gap had existed between the classes; Perón hoped to close it through the increase of wages and employment, making the nation more pluralistic and less reliant on foreign trade. Before taking office in 1946, President Perón took dramatic steps which he believed would result in a more economically independent Argentina, better insulated from events such as World War II. He thought there would be another international war. The reduced availability of imports and the war's beneficial effects on both the quantity and price of Argentine exports had combined to create a US$1.7 billion cumulative surplus during those years.
From 1946 to 1951, the number of Argentinians covered by social security more than tripled, so that in 1951 more than 5 million people (70% of the economically active population) were covered by social security. Health insurance also spread to new industries, including banking and metalworking. Between 1945 and 1949, real wages went up by 22%, fell between 1949 and 1952, and then increased again from 1953 to 1955, ending up at least 30% higher than in 1946. In proportional terms, wages rose from 41% of national income in 1946–48 to 49% in 1952–55. The boost in the real incomes of workers was encouraged by government policies such as the enforcement of minimum wage laws, controls on the prices of food and other basic consumption items, and extending housing credits to workers.
The labor movement that had brought Perón to power was not exempt from the iron fist. In the 1946 elections for the post of Secretary General of the CGT resulted in telephone workers' union leader Luis Gay's victory over Perón's nominee, former retail workers' leader Ángel Borlenghi—both central figures in Perón's famed 17 October comeback. The president had Luis Gay expelled from the CGT three months later, and replaced him with José Espejo, a little-known rank-and-filer who was close to the first lady.
After the war, Ludwig Freude was investigated over his connection to possible looted Nazi art, cash and precious metals on deposit at two Argentine banks, Banco Germanico and Banco Tornquist. But on 6 September 1946, the Freude investigation was terminated by presidential decree.
Examples of Nazis and collaborators who relocated to Argentina include Emile Dewoitine, who arrived in May 1946 and worked on the Pulqui jet; Erich Priebke, who arrived in 1947; Josef Mengele in 1949; Adolf Eichmann in 1950; Austrian representative of the Škoda arms manufacturer in Spain Reinhard Spitzy; Charles Lescat, editor of Je Suis Partout in Vichy France; SS functionary Ludwig Lienhardt; and SS-Hauptsturmführer Klaus Barbie.
Many members of the notorious Croatian Ustaše (including their leader, Ante Pavelić) took refuge in Argentina, as did Milan Stojadinović, the former Serbian Prime Minister of monarchist Yugoslavia. In 1946 Stojadinović went to Rio de Janeiro, and then to Buenos Aires, where he was reunited with his family. Stojadinović spent the rest of his life as presidential advisor on economic and financial affairs to governments in Argentina and founded the financial newspaper El Economista in 1951, which still carries his name on its masthead.
In his first two years in office, Perón nationalized the Central Bank and paid off its billion-dollar debt to the Bank of England; nationalized the railways (mostly owned by British and French companies), merchant marine, universities, public utilities, public transport (then, mostly tramways); and, probably most significantly, created a single purchaser for the nation's mostly export-oriented grains and oilseeds, the Institute for the Promotion of Trade (IAPI). The IAPI wrested control of Argentina's famed grain export sector from entrenched conglomerates such as Bunge y Born; but when commodity prices fell after 1948, it began shortchanging growers. IAPI profits were used to fund welfare projects, while internal demand was encouraged by large wage increases given to workers; average real wages rose by about 35% from 1945 to 1949, while during that same period, labor's share of national income rose from 40% to 49%. Access to health care was also made a universal right by the Workers' Bill of Rights enacted on 24 February 1947 (subsequently incorporated into the 1949 Constitution as Article 14-b), while social security was extended to virtually all members of the Argentine working class.
The meat-packers' union leader, Cipriano Reyes, turned against Perón when he replaced the Labor Party with the Peronist Party in 1947. Organizing a strike in protest, Reyes was arrested on the charge of plotting against the lives of the president and first lady, though the allegations were never substantiated. Tortured in prison, Reyes was denied parole five years later, and freed only after the regime's 1955 downfall. Cipriano Reyes was one of hundreds of Perón's opponents held at Buenos Aires' Ramos Mejía General Hospital, one of whose basements was converted into a police detention center where torture became routine.
Fraser and Navarro write that Juan Perón was a complicated man who over the years stood for many different, often contradictory, things. In the book Inside Argentina from Perón to Menem author Laurence Levine, former president of the US-Argentine Chamber of Commerce, writes, "although anti-Semitism existed in Argentina, Perón's own views and his political associations were not anti-Semitic...." Laurence also writes that one of Perón's advisors was a Jewish man from Poland named José Ber Gelbard. U.S. Ambassador George S. Messersmith visited Argentina in 1947 during the first term of Juan Perón. Messersmith noted, "There is not as much social discrimination against Jews here as there is right in New York or in most places at home..."
The rising influence of American diplomat George F. Kennan, a staunch anti-communist and champion of containment, fed U.S. suspicions that Argentine goals for economic sovereignty and neutrality were Perón's disguise for a resurgence of communism in the Americas. The U.S. Congress took a dislike to Perón and his government. In 1948 they excluded Argentine exports from the Marshall Plan, the landmark Truman administration effort to combat communism and help rebuild war-torn European nations by offering U.S. aid. This contributed to Argentine financial crises after 1948 and, according to Perón biographer Joseph Page, "the Marshall Plan drove a final nail into the coffin that bore Perón's ambitions to transform Argentina into an industrial power". The policy deprived Argentina of potential agricultural markets in Western Europe to the benefit of Canadian exporters, for instance.
The nation's need for U.S. made capital goods increased, though ongoing limits on the Central Bank's availability of hard currency hampered access to them. Argentina's pound Sterling surpluses earned after 1946 (worth over US$200 million) were made convertible to dollars by a treaty negotiated by Central Bank President Miguel Miranda; but after a year, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee suspended the provision. Perón accepted the transfer of over 24,000 km (15,000 mi) of British-owned railways (over half the total in Argentina) in exchange for the debt in March 1948. Due to political disputes between Perón and the U.S. government (as well as to pressure by the U.S. agricultural lobby through the Agricultural Act of 1949), Argentine foreign exchange earnings via its exports to the United States fell, turning a US$100 million surplus with the United States into a US$300 million deficit. The combined pressure practically devoured Argentina's liquid reserves and Miranda issued a temporary restriction on the outflow of dollars to U.S. banks. The nationalization of the Port of Buenos Aires and domestic and foreign-owned private cargo ships, as well as the purchase of others, nearly tripled the national merchant marine to 1.2 million tons' displacement, reducing the need for over US$100 million in shipping fees (then the largest source of Argentina's invisible balance deficit) and leading to the inauguration of the Río Santiago Shipyards at Ensenada (on line to the present day).
In 1948 she established the Eva Perón Foundation, which was perhaps the greatest contribution to her husband's social policy. Enjoying an annual budget of around US$50 million (nearly 1% of GDP at the time), the Foundation had 14,000 employees and founded hundreds of new schools, clinics, old-age homes and holiday facilities; it also distributed hundreds of thousands of household necessities, physicians' visits and scholarships, among other benefits. Among the best-known of the Foundation's many large construction projects are the Evita City development south of Buenos Aires (25,000 homes) and the "Republic of the Children", a theme park based on tales from the Brothers Grimm. Following Perón's 1955 ousting, twenty such construction projects were abandoned incomplete and the foundation's US$290 million endowment was liquidated.
Perón first articulated his foreign policy, the "Third Way", in 1949. This policy was developed to avoid the binary Cold War divisions and keep other world powers, such as the United States and the Soviet Union, as allies rather than enemies. He restored diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, severed since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and opened grain sales to the shortage-stricken Soviets.
While Juan Perón's Argentina allowed many Nazi criminals to take refuge in the country following World War II, the society also accepted more Jewish immigrants than any other country in Latin America. Today Argentina has a population of more than 200,000 Jewish citizens, the largest in Latin America, the third-largest in the Americas, and the sixth-largest in the world. The Jewish Virtual Library writes that while Juan Perón had sympathized with the Axis powers, "Perón also expressed sympathy for Jewish rights and established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949. Since then, more than 45,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel from Argentina."
As relations with the U.S. deteriorated, Perón made efforts to mitigate the misunderstandings, which were made easier after President Harry Truman replaced the hostile Braden with Ambassador George Messersmith. Perón negotiated the release of Argentine assets in the U.S. in exchange for preferential treatment for U.S. goods, followed by Argentine ratification of the Act of Chapultepec, a centerpiece of Truman's Latin America policy. He even proposed the enlistment of Argentine troops into the Korean War in 1950 under UN auspices (a move retracted in the face of public opposition). Perón was opposed to borrowing from foreign credit markets, preferring to float bonds domestically. He refused to enter the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (precursor to the World Trade Organization) or the International Monetary Fund.
Exports fell sharply, to around US$1.1 billion during the 1949–54 era (a severe 1952 drought trimmed this to US$700 million), due in part to a deterioration in terms of trade of about a third. The Central Bank was forced to devalue the peso at an unprecedented rate: the peso lost about 70% of its value from early 1948 to early 1950, leading to a decline in the imports fueling industrial growth and to recession. Short of central bank reserves, Perón was forced to borrow US$125 million from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to cover a number of private banks' debts to U.S. institutions, without which their insolvency would have become a central bank liability. Austerity and better harvests in 1950 helped finance a recovery in 1951; but inflation, having risen from 13% in 1948 to 31% in 1949, reached 50% in late 1951 before stabilizing, and a second, sharper recession soon followed. Workers' purchasing power, by 1952, had declined 20% from its 1948 high and GDP, having leapt by a fourth during Perón's first two years, saw zero growth from 1948 to 1952. (The U.S. economy, by contrast, grew by about a fourth in the same interim). After 1952, however, wages began rising in real terms once more.
Emphasizing an economic policy centerpiece dating from the 1920s, Perón made record investments in Argentina's infrastructure. Investing over US$100 million to modernize the railways (originally built on myriad incompatible gauges), he also nationalized a number of small, regional air carriers, forging them into Aerolíneas Argentinas in 1950. The airline, equipped with 36 new DC-3 and DC-4 aircraft, was supplemented with a new international airport and a 22 km (14 mi) freeway into Buenos Aires. This freeway was followed by one between Rosario and Santa Fe.
Perón announced in 1951 that the Huemul Project would produce nuclear fusion before any other country. The project was led by an Austrian, Ronald Richter, who had been recommended by Kurt Tank. Tank expected to power his aircraft with Richter's invention. Perón announced that energy produced by the fusion process would be delivered in milk-bottle sized containers. Richter announced success in 1951, but no proof was given. The next year, Perón appointed a scientific team to investigate Richter's activities. Reports by José Antonio Balseiro and Mario Báncora revealed that the project was a fraud. After that, the Huemul Project was transferred to the Centro Atómico Bariloche (CAB) of the new National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) and to the physics institute of the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, later named Instituto Balseiro (IB). According to a recently aired History Channel documentary, the secrecy, Nazi connections, declassified US intelligence documents, and military infrastructure located around the remote facility all argue for the more likely objective of atomic bomb development. The Argentine navy actually bombed multiple buildings in 1955 - an unusual method of decommissioning a legitimate research facility.
Argentina signed a generous commercial agreement with Israel that granted favourable terms for Israeli acquisitions of Argentine commodities, and the Eva Perón Foundation sent significant humanitarian aid. In 1951 during their visit to Buenos Aires, Chaim Weizmann and Golda Meir expressed their gratitude for this aid.
Facing only token UCR and Socialist Party opposition and despite being unable to field his popular wife, Eva, as a running mate, Perón was re-elected in 1951 by a margin of over 30%. This election was the first to have extended suffrage to Argentine women and the first in Argentina to be televised: Perón was inaugurated on Channel 7 public television that October. He began his second term in June 1952 with serious economic problems, however, compounded by a severe drought that helped lead to a US$500 million trade deficit (depleting reserves).
Eva Perón was instrumental as a symbol of hope to the common laborer during the first five-year plan. When she died in 1952, the year of the presidential elections, the people felt they had lost an ally. Coming from humble origins, she was loathed by the elite but adored by the poor for her work with the sick, elderly, and orphans. It was due to her behind-the-scenes work that women's suffrage was granted in 1947 and a feminist wing of the 3rd party in Argentina was formed. Simultaneous to Perón's five-year plans, Eva supported a women's movement that concentrated on the rights of women, the poor and the disabled.
Opposition to Perón grew bolder following the first lady's passing on 26 July 1952. On 15 April 1953, a terrorist group (never identified) detonated two bombs in a public rally at Plaza de Mayo, killing 7 and injuring 95. Amid the chaos, Perón exhorted the crowd to take reprisals; they made their way to their adversaries' gathering places, the Socialist Party headquarters and the aristocratic Jockey Club (both housed in magnificent turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts buildings), and burned them to the ground.
A stalemate of sorts ensued between Perón and his opposition and, despite austerity measures taken late in 1952 to remedy the country's unsustainable trade deficit, the president remained generally popular. In March 1954, Perón called a vice-presidential election to replace the late Hortensio Quijano, which his candidate won by a nearly two-to-one margin. Given what he felt was as solid a mandate as ever and with inflation in single digits and the economy on a more secure footing, Perón ventured into a new policy: the creation of incentives designed to attract foreign investment.
The incident, part of a coup attempt against Perón, killed 364 people and was, from a historical perspective, the only air assault ever on Argentine soil, as well as a portent of the mayhem that Argentine society would suffer in the 1970s. It moreover touched off a wave of reprisals on the part of Peronists. Reminiscent of the incidents in 1953, Peronist crowds ransacked eleven Buenos Aires churches, including the Metropolitan Cathedral. On 16 September 1955, a nationalist Catholic group from both the Army and Navy, led by General Eduardo Lonardi, General Pedro E. Aramburu, and Admiral Isaac Rojas, led a revolt from Córdoba. They took power in a coup three days later, which they named Revolución Libertadora (the "Liberating Revolution"). Perón barely escaped with his life, leaving Nelly Rivas behind, and fleeing on the gunboat ARP Paraguay provided by Paraguayan leader Alfredo Stroessner, up the Paraná River.
The increasing frequency of strikes, increasingly directed against Perón as the economy slid into stagflation in late 1954, was dealt with through the expulsion of organizers from the CGT ranks. To consolidate his political grasp on the eve of colder economic winds, Perón called for a broad constitutional reform in September. The elected convention (whose opposition members soon resigned) approved the wholesale replacement of the 1853 Constitution of Argentina with a new magna carta in March, explicitly guaranteeing social reforms; but also allowing the mass nationalization of natural resources and public services, as well as the re-election of the president.
As 1954 drew to a close, Perón unveiled reforms far more controversial to the normally conservative Argentine public, the legalization of divorce and of prostitution. The Roman Catholic Church's Argentine leaders, whose support of Perón's government had been steadily waning since the advent of the Eva Perón Foundation, were now open antagonists of the man they called "the tyrant." Though much of Argentina's media had, since 1950, been either controlled or monitored by the administration, lurid pieces on his ongoing relationship with an underage girl named Nélida Rivas (known as Nelly), something Perón never denied, filled the gossip pages. Pressed by reporters on whether his supposed new paramour was, as the magazines claimed, thirteen years of age, the fifty-nine-year-old Perón responded that he was "not superstitious."
Lonardi's replacement, Lieutenant-General Pedro Aramburu, outlawed the mere mention of Juan or Eva Perón's names under Decree Law 4161/56. Throughout Argentina, Peronism and the very display of Peronist mementos was banned. Partly in response to these and other excesses, Peronists and moderates in the army organized a counter-coup against Aramburu, in June 1956. Possessing an efficient intelligence network, however, Aramburu foiled the plan, having the plot's leader, General Juan José Valle, and 26 others executed. Aramburu turned to similarly drastic means in trying to rid the country of the spectre of the Peróns, themselves. Eva Perón's cadaver was removed from its display at CGT headquarters and ordered hidden under another name in a modest grave in Milan, Italy. Perón himself, for the time residing in Caracas, Venezuela at the kindness of ill-fated President Marcos Pérez Jiménez, suffered a number of attempted kidnappings and assassinations ordered by Aramburu.
A Croatian priest, Krunoslav Draganović, organizer of the San Girolamo ratline, was authorized by Perón to assist Nazi operatives to come to Argentina and evade prosecution in Europe after World War II, in particular the Ustaše. Ante Pavelić became a security advisor of Perón, before leaving for Francoist Spain in 1957.
Perón's stay in Venezuela had been cut short by the 1958 ousting of General Pérez Jiménez. In Panama, he met the nightclub singer María Estela Martínez (known as "Isabel"). Eventually settling in Madrid, Spain under the protection of Francisco Franco, he married Isabel in 1961 and was admitted back into the Catholic Church in 1963. Following a failed December 1964 attempt to return to Buenos Aires, he sent his wife to Argentina in 1965, to meet political dissidents and advance Perón's policy of confrontation and electoral boycotts. She organized a meeting in the house of Bernardo Alberte, Perón's delegate and sponsor of various left-wing Peronist movements such as the CGT de los Argentinos (CGTA), an offshoot of the umbrella CGT union. During Isabel's visit, adviser Raúl Lastiri introduced her to his father-in-law, José López Rega. A policeman with an interest in the occult, he won Isabel's trust through their common dislike of Jorge Antonio, a prominent Argentine industrialist and the Peronist movement's main financial backer during their perilous 1960s. Accompanying her to Spain, López Rega worked for Perón's security before becoming the couple's personal secretary. A return of the Popular Union (UP) in 1965 and their victories in congressional elections that year helped lead to the overthrow of the moderate President Arturo Illia, and to the return of dictatorship.
He also cultivated ties with conservatives and the far right. He supported the leader of the conservative wing of the UCR, his erstwhile prisoner Ricardo Balbín, against competition from within the UCR itself. Members of the right-wing Tacuara Nationalist Movement, considered the first Argentine guerrilla group, also turned towards him. Founded in the early 1960s, the Tacuaras were a fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-conformist group founded on the model of Primo de Rivera's Falange, and at first strongly opposed Peronism. However, they split after the 1959 Cuban Revolution into three groups: the one most opposed to the Peronist alliance, led by Catholic priest Julio Meinvielle, retained the original hard-line stance; the New Argentina Movement (MNA), headed by Dardo Cabo, was founded on 9 June 1961, to commemorate General Valle's Peronist uprising on the same date in 1956, and became the precursor to all modern Catholic nationalist groups in Argentina; and the Revolutionary Nationalist Tacuara Movement (MNRT), formed by Joe Baxter and José Luis Nell, who joined Peronism believing in its capacity for revolution, and without forsaking nationalism, broke from the Church and abandoned anti-Semitism. Baxter's MNRT became progressively Marxist, and many of the Montoneros and of the ERP's leaders came from this group.
Continuing to exert considerable direct influence over Argentine politics despite the ongoing ban of Peronism or the Justicialist Party as Argentina geared for the 1958 elections, Perón instructed his supporters to cast their ballots for the moderate Arturo Frondizi, a splinter candidate within the Peronists' largest opposition party, the Radical Civic Union (UCR). Frondizi went on to defeat the better-known (but, more anti-Peronist) UCR leader, Ricardo Balbín. Perón backed a "Popular Union" (UP) in 1962, and when its candidate for governor of Buenos Aires Province (Andrés Framini) was elected, Frondizi was forced to resign by the military. Unable to secure a new alliance, Perón advised his followers to cast blank ballots in the 1963 elections, demonstrating direct control over one fifth of the electorate.
Perón became increasingly unable to control the CGT, itself. Though he had the support of its Secretary General, José Alonso, others in the union favored distancing the CGT from the exiled leader. Chief among them was Steel and Metalworkers Union head Augusto Vandor. Vandor challenged Perón from 1965 to 1968 by defying Perón's call for an electoral boycott (leading the UP to victories in the 1965 elections), and with mottos such as "Peronism without Perón" and "to save Perón, one has to be against Perón." Dictator Juan Carlos Onganía's continued repression of labor demands, however, helped lead to Vandor's rapproachment with Perón—a development cut short by Vandor's as-yet unsolved 1969 murder. Labor agitation increased; the CGTA, in particular, organized opposition to the dictatorship between 1968 and 1972, and it would have an important role in the May–June 1969 Cordobazo insurrection.
He supported the more militant unions and maintained close links with the Montoneros, a far-left Catholic Peronist group. On 1 June 1970, the Montoneros kidnapped and assassinated former anti-Peronist President Pedro Aramburu in retaliation for the June 1956 mass execution of a Peronist uprising against the junta. In 1971, he sent two letters to the film director Octavio Getino, one congratulating him for his work with Fernando Solanas and Gerardo Vallejo, in the Grupo Cine Liberación, and another concerning two film documentaries, La Revolución Justicialista and Actualización política y doctrinaria.
Following Onganía's replacement in June 1970, General Roberto M. Levingston proposed the replacement of Argentina's myriad political parties with "four or five" (vetted by the Revolución Argentina regime). This attempt to govern indefinitely against the will of the different political parties united Peronists and their opposition in a joint declaration of 11 November 1970, billed as la Hora del Pueblo (The Hour of the People), which called for free and immediate democratic elections to put an end to the political crisis. The declaration was signed by the Radical Civic Union (UCRP), the Justicialist Party (Peronist Party), the Argentine Socialist Party (PSA), the Democratic Progressive Party (PCP) and the Partido Bloquista (PB).
The opposition's call for elections led to Levingston's replacement by General Alejandro Lanusse, in March 1971. Faced with strong opposition and social conflicts, General Lanusse declared his intention to restore constitutional democracy by 1973, though without Peronist participation. Lanusse proposed the Gran Acuerdo Nacional (Great National Agreement) in July 1971, which was to find an honorable exit for the military junta without allowing Peronism to participate in the election. The proposal was rejected by Perón, who formed the FRECILINA alliance (Frente Cívico de Liberación Nacional, Civic Front of National Liberation), headed by his new delegate Héctor José Cámpora (a member of the Peronist Left). The alliance gathered his Justicialist Party and the Integration and Development Movement (MID), headed by Arturo Frondizi. FRECILINA pressed for free and unrestricted elections, which ultimately took place in March 1973.
Upon Cámpora's inaugural, Perón had him appoint a trusted policy adviser to the critical Economy Ministry, José Ber Gelbard. Inheriting an economy that had doubled in output since 1955 with little indebtedness and only modest new foreign investment, inflation had become a fixture in daily life and was worsening: consumer prices rose by 80% in the year to May 1973 (triple the long-term average, up to then). Making this a policy priority, Ber Gelbard crafted a "social pact" in hopes of finding a happy median between the needs of management and labor. Providing a framework for negotiating price controls, guidelines for collective bargaining and a package of subsidies and credits, the pact was promptly signed by the CGT (then the largest labor union in South America) and management (represented by Julio Broner and the CGE). The measure was largely successful, initially: inflation slowed to 12% and real wages rose by over 20% during the first year. GDP growth accelerated from 3% in 1972 to over 6% in 1974. The plan also envisaged the paydown of Argentina's growing public external debt, then around US$8 billion, within four years.
General elections were held on 11 March 1973. Perón was banned from running, but a stand-in, Dr. Héctor Cámpora, a left-wing Peronist and his personal representative, won the election and took office on 25 May. On 20 June 1973, Perón returned from Spain to end his 18-year exile. According to Página 12 newspaper, Licio Gelli, headmaster of Propaganda Due, had provided an Alitalia plane to return Perón to his native country. Gelli was part of a committee supporting Perón, along with Carlos Saúl Menem (future President of Argentina, 1989–1999). The former Italian Premier Giulio Andreotti recalled an encounter between Perón, his wife Isabel Martínez and Gelli, saying that Perón knelt before Licio Gelli to salute him.
Cámpora and Vice President Vicente Solano Lima resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections, this time with Perón's participation as the Justicialist Party nominee. Argentina faced mounting political instability, and Perón was viewed by many as the country's only hope for prosperity and safety. UCR leader Ricardo Balbín and Perón contemplated a Peronist-Radical joint government, but opposition in both parties made this impossible. Besides opposition among Peronists, Ricardo Balbín had to consider opposition within the UCR itself, led by Raúl Alfonsín, a leader among the UCR's center-left. Perón received 62% of the vote, returning him to the presidency. He began his third term on 12 October 1973, with Isabel, his wife, as Vice President.
The 1973 oil shock, however, forced Ber Gelbard to rethink the Central Bank's projected reserves and, accordingly, undid planned reductions in stubborn budget deficits, then around US$2 billion a year (4% of GDP). Increasingly frequent collective bargaining agreements in excess of Social Pact wage guidelines and a resurgence in inflation led to growing strain on the viability of the plan by mid-1974, however.
Perón's third term was also marked by an escalating conflict between the Peronist left- and right-wing factions. This turmoil was fueled primarily by calls for repression against the left on the part of leading CGT figures, a growing segment of the armed forces (particularly the navy) and right-wing radicals within his own party, notably Perón's most fascist adviser, José López Rega. López Rega, appointed Minister of Social Welfare, was in practice given power far beyond his purview, soon controlling up to 30 percent of the federal budget. Diverting increasing funds, he formed the Triple A, a death squad that soon began targeting not only the violent left; but moderate opposition, as well. The Montoneros became marginalized in the Peronist movement and were mocked by Perón himself after the Ezeiza massacre. In his speech to the governors on 2 August 1973, Perón openly criticized radical Argentine youth for a lack of political maturity.
Another guerrilla group, the Guevarist ERP, also opposed the Peronist right-wing. They started engaging in armed struggle, assaulting an important Army barracks in Azul, Buenos Aires Province on 19 January, and creating a foco (insurrection) in Tucumán, a historically underdeveloped province in Argentina's largely rural northwest. In May 1973 the ERP claimed to have extorted $1 million in goods from the Ford Motor Company, after murdering one executive and wounding another. Five months after the payment, the guerrillas killed another Ford executive and his three bodyguards. Only after Ford threatened to close down their operation in Argentina altogether, did Perón agree to have his army protect the plant.
On 14 May 1974 Perón received Augusto Pinochet at the Morón Airbase. Pinochet was heading to meet Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay so the encounter at Argentina was technically a stop over. Pinochet and Perón are both reported to have felt uncomfortable during the meeting. Perón expressed his wishes to settle the Beagle conflict and Pinochet his concerns about Chilean exiles in Argentina near the frontier with Chile. Perón would have conceded on moving these exiles from the frontiers to eastern Argentina, but he warned "Perón takes his time, but accomplishes" (Perón tarda, pero cumple). Perón justified his meeting with Pinochet stating that it was important to keep good relations with Chile under all circumstances and with whoever might be in government.
Isabel Perón's term ended abruptly on 24 March 1976, during a military coup d'état. A military junta, headed by General Jorge Videla, took control of the country, establishing the self-styled National Reorganization Process. The junta ramped up the "dirty war", combining widespread persecution of political dissidents with state terrorism. The death toll rose to thousands (at least 9,000, with human rights organizations claiming it was closer to 30,000). Many of these were "the disappeared" (desaparecidos), people kidnapped and executed without trial or record.
Perón was buried in La Chacarita Cemetery in Buenos Aires. On 10 June 1987, his tomb was desecrated, and his hands and some personal effects, including his sword, were stolen. Perón's hands were cut off with a chainsaw. A ransom letter asking for US$8 million was sent to some Peronist members of Congress. This profanation was a ritualistic act to condemn Perón's spirit to eternal unrest, according to journalists David Cox and Damian Nabot in their book Second Death, who connected it to Licio Gelli and military officers involved during Argentina's Dirty War. The bizarre incident remains unresolved.
An investigation of 22,000 documents by the DAIA in 1997 discovered that the network was managed by Rodolfo Freude who had an office in the Casa Rosada and was close to Eva Perón's brother, Juan Duarte. According to Ronald Newton, Ludwig Freude, Rodolfo's father, was probably the local representative of the Office Three secret service headed by Joachim von Ribbentrop, with probably more influence than the German ambassador Edmund von Thermann. He had met Perón in the 1930s, and had contacts with Generals Juan Pistarini, Domingo Martínez, and José Molina. Ludwig Freude's house became the meeting place for Nazis and Argentine military officers supporting the Axis. In 1943, he traveled with Perón to Europe to attempt an arms deal with Germany.
On 17 October 2006, his body was moved to a mausoleum at his former summer residence, rebuilt as a museum, in the Buenos Aires suburb of San Vicente. A few people were injured in incidents as Peronist trade unions fought over access to the ceremony, although police were able to contain the violence enough for the procession to complete its route to the mausoleum. The relocation of Perón's body offered his self-proclaimed illegitimate daughter, Martha Holgado, the opportunity to obtain a DNA sample from his corpse. She had attempted to have this DNA analysis performed for 15 years, and the test in November 2006 ultimately proved she was not his daughter. Holgado died of liver cancer on 7 June 2007. Before her death, she vowed to continue the legal battle to prove she was Peron's biological child.
Currently, Juan Peron is 125 years, 11 months and 12 days old. Juan Peron will celebrate 126th birthday on a Friday 8th of October 2021.
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