Does Argentina still need a person

Juan Domingo Perón

Through clever tactical and strategic maneuvers, Perón determined the political fortunes of the state in the following decades, sometimes as president and sometimes from exile. To this day he and especially his second wife Evita are revered in Argentina.

Army career

Perón owes his career to the army. The young Juan Domingo entered the military school at the age of 15. In the following decades he made a steep career as an officer. After a coup against the democratic government in 1930, he got a post in the Ministry of Defense.

From 1939 to 1941 Perón served as a military attaché in Italy. Here his admiration for the European dictators crystallized for the first time. He was particularly taken with General Franco in Spain and Benito Mussolini in Italy.

After his return to Argentina, Perón took part again in a military coup in 1943. In the same year he took over the posts of Minister of Labor, Minister of War and Vice-President in the new government. During this time he shows an excellent feeling for tricky situations and an extraordinary tactical skill.

Hero of the Workers

In the 1940s, the labor movement in Argentina grew enormously. Many of the workers are organized in a communist way.

However, Perón is an outspoken opponent of communism and therefore tries to get the workers on his side. He convinced both his military comrades and conservative landowners and employers to organize the workers with the state.

He strengthens the unions, introduces regular working hours, holidays, pensions and Christmas bonuses. Perón is now a hero for the previously underprivileged working class.

Perón can also count on the support of the workers when his fellow officers want to get rid of the powerful minister. In 1945 they force him to resign and ban him. But the military did the math without the self-confident workers. Hundreds of thousands of them marched on October 17, 1945 to the presidential palace and demanded the return of Perón.

In order to avert an uprising, the military rulers give in. That same evening, Perón gave an inspiring speech in front of the crowd and announced free elections. In February 1946, thanks to the support of the workers, the Catholic Church and the army, he wins the election for president by an overwhelming majority. The political movement of Peronism, which still influences Argentina today, was born.

Perón's main support: Evita

Perón is undoubtedly a charismatic leader and a great speaker who can mobilize the masses. But one person has played a key role in his success: Eva Duarte Perón, known as Evita. She is the star by his side, the unreserved darling of the poor and servile.

Eva Duarte was born out of wedlock in the Argentine province in 1919. When she was 15, she ran away to Buenos Aires from home. She has an irrepressible will to get to the top. Eva Duarte started out as a presenter on the radio and quickly became a popular and sought-after star. She always chooses her men based on power and status.

In 1943 she met the mighty Perón at a charity event. He quickly succumbed to the young lady's charm and began a liaison with her. Both of them benefit greatly from this connection. Evita takes the first step to become the country's first lady and Perón uses the radio star's popularity for propaganda broadcasts in his favor.

Even when his fellow officers want to get rid of the increasingly powerful Perón, Evita jumps to his side. She is one of the organizers of the workers' protests that are bringing Perón back into office. In 1946 the widower Perón made Evita his second wife.

From then on Evita stylized herself as an "angel of the poor". Lots of money flows into her charity organizations, she fights for better working and living conditions and the rights of women. The people are therefore at her feet, she electrifies the masses and her popularity knows no bounds.

Economic success and refuge for war criminals

Perón's first term (1946-1951) was a golden time for Argentina. The president raises workers' wages and nationalizes the railroad and telephone company. Food exports to the economically drained Europe bring high profits.

But Perón has even more ambitious plans: He wants to make Argentina a leading industrial nation. In doing so, however, he uses unclean means.

Argentina lacks the technical know-how to build its own industry. This know-how can in turn be found in Germany. Many German war criminals flee from the victorious allied powers after the Second World War.

Perón, who is an admirer of Prussian virtues, seized the opportunity and smuggled several thousand Nazi war criminals into Argentina on the so-called rat route, including Nazi greats such as concentration camp doctor Josef Mengele or the head of the deportation of Jews, Adolf Eichmann.

Many of them can henceforth live undisturbed in South America. But they do not ensure the hoped-for establishment of the industry.

Exile in Europe

After Perón's re-election in 1951, his luck seems to have run out of luck. On July 26, 1952, Evita died of cancer at the age of just 33. The Argentine writer Eduardo Galeano comments: "When Evita is dead, President Perón is a knife without a blade."

From then on he made tactical mistakes and alienated important allies. In addition, the social programs and attempts at industrialization have almost ruined the state. When he also messed with the Church through several liberal laws, Perón gambled away his credit. In 1955 the military put him out of office. Perón flees into exile in Madrid via Paraguay, Venezuela and Panama.

During his exile in Europe, his now banned party disintegrated into more or less radical groups. However, Perón never loses contact with his home country. In the background he always pulls the strings, sometimes making deals with this group, sometimes with that group. The goal is always to return to Argentina.

In 1973 the military dictatorship was so weakened by ongoing crises that it called for free elections again. The Peronist Héctor Cámpora wins the election and just a few weeks later a million people give Juan Perón an overwhelming welcome at the airport in Buenos Aires.

The way to doom

The returnees put Cámpora under so much pressure from the start that he soon vacated his post. In the same year, Perón was elected president for the third time. But his last term of office is under an unfavorable star.

The poor health president appoints his third wife María Estela Martínez de Perón, known as Isabel, as vice-president. In the meantime, his aversion to left-wing trends in the country has grown so great that he is taking a tough course against them.

On July 1, 1974, the former hero of the workers dies. His wife takes over the official business from now on. Within a short time it leads the country into total chaos. With it the Argentine state terror sets in, which is to rule the country for many years.

The new president is systematically building up the paramilitary unit "Alianza Anticomunista Argentina (AAA)", which was set up under Perón. The AAA, notorious as a death squad, persecutes and murders many leftists and those who think differently. Then there is the extremely unstable economic situation: inflation is rising immeasurably, workers' wages and savings are melting away.

In March 1976, the military regained control of the country. The people initially perceived this coup as a great relief until the dictatorship shows its true colors a little later.