Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Juan Domingo Perón (1895-1974) died 40 years ago

Today, July 1, is the 40th anniversary of the death of Juan Domingo Perón (1895-1974), legendary and controversial leader of Argentina, founder of a Peronist movement so diverse as to include over the decades unions, rightwing death squads, esoteric secret societies, neoliberals, social democrats (if not by that name), leftwing guerrillas, and fighting reformers of a New Deal tone like former President Néstor Kirchner and current President Cristina Fernández.

It was under Juan Perón's first Presidency that women's right to vote in Argentina was first recognized. And his second wife María Eva Duarte ("Evita") became a greater legend than her husband, a political leader in her own right and a lasting symbol of women's and labor rights.

Juan Domingo Perón and Evita

If his second wife Evita was an exceptional fortunate choice, his third wife Isabel (María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón) was an exceptionally unfortunate one. She achieved an important milestone as the first female President in South America, having been elected as Perón's Vice President in 1973 and taking his place after his death at 78 in 1974. (Cristina in 2007 became the first directly elected.)

Isabel was not only unprepared to step into the Presidency, especially not in 1974 when the country was experiencing exceptionally challenging political strains. But her worst characteristic was her friend, confidant and political-religious guru, José López Rega, one of the most sinister figures in Argentine history. His nickname "El Brujo" (the warlock) was very appropriate, both because he actually was a devotee of esoteric lore but also because he was a genuinely manipulative, murderous man obsessed with power. López Rega basically acted as the functional President for the year after Perón died until he was forced out of the government by military and political pressure. He died in prison in 1989 after several years on the lam with one of his esoteric female fans.

José López Rega, "El Brujo" (the Warlock) (1916-1989)

Cristina commemorated the anniversary of Perón's death with a tribute to both him and Hipólito Yrigoyen (1852–1933), who served as President 1916-1922 and 1928-1930: "La historia sepulta a los traidores y a los mediocres" Pagina/12 01.07.2014. Yrigoyen died on July 3, which Cristina used as her reason for acknowledging them both.

Yrigoyen was the leader of the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) party, which still today is the main opposition party to Cristina's Peronist Partido Justicialista (PJ). The Peronists consider the UCR the main party of the "oligarchy," the large landowners and their business allies that are the traditional opponents of Peronism. Political theorist José Pablo Feinmann suggests that opposition to la oligarquía is the most defining factor in the historical continuity of the Peronist movement.

This is a surprising pairing. Yrigoyen was a liberal, meaning he was against the conservatives but also hostile to labor. His first Presidency, his government happily suppressed the massive labor protests that have gone down in Argentine history as the Semana Trágica (Tragic Week) of 1919. But Yrigoyen was also identified with efforts to democratize the political system. Pagina/12 reports of her speech:

La Presidenta definió al yrigoyenismo y al peronismo como una "continuidad histórica" en la que el "yrigoyenismo representa la defensa irrestricta de los intereses del pueblo de la Nación" y el peronismo el que, "con mayor profundidad y densidad, siguió ese ligado histórico".

Cristina recordó cómo ambos dirigentes fueron "hostigados por grandes medios de comunicación y por los intereses dominantes" y, a modo de ejemplo, apuntó que Perón, incluso, fue acusado "hasta de estupro". Sin embargo, advirtió que nadie recuerda a los detractores de Perón e Yrigoyen porque "la historia sepulta a los mediocres y a los traidores a la Patria"[.]

[The President defined yrigoyenismo and Peronism as an "historical continuity in which "yrigoyenismo represents the unrestricted defense of the interests of the people of the nation," and Peronism "with greater depth and density, continued this historical trend."

Cristina recalled how both leaders were "plagued by large communication media and by the dominant interests," and, by way of example, indicated that Perón was accused "even of child sex abuse." Nevertheless, she observed that no one remembers the detractors of Perón e Yrigoyen because "history buries the mediocre and traitors to the fatherland."]
This was obviously a political speech, not the reading of an historian's monograph: Visión 7 - Cristina: "El Judicial es el único poder que no sufrió derrocamientos" Visión 7 - Cristina: "El Judicial es el único poder que no sufrió derrocamientos" TV Pública argentina 01.07.2014:

Here are four additional videos from TV Pública argentina on Perón and his legacy. Visión 7 - Los cambios que promovió el Peronismo 01.07.2014:

Visión 7 - A 40 años de la muerte de Perón (1) 01.07.2014:

Visión 7 - A 40 años de la muerte de Perón (2)

Visión 7 - A 40 años de la muerte de Perón (3)

Additional articles on Perón:

Thomas F. McGann, Juan Perón Encyclopedia Britannica Online, accessed 07/01/2014

Martín Granovsky, La tristeza popular y el desastre nacion Pagina/12 01.07.2014: "La muerte de Juan Domingo Perón marcó una cuenta regresiva que terminaría el 24 de marzo de 1976, con el golpe militar más cruento de la historia argentina." ("The death of Juan Doming Perón started a countdown that ended the 24th of March, 1976, with the bloodiest military coup in the history of Argentina.")

Eduardo Anguita, Los ojos sobre Yrigoyen y Perón Infonews 01.07.2014

CFK heads Perón's 40th death anniversary ceremony Buenos Aires Herald 01.07.2014

Pablo Andisco, A 40 años de la muerte del hombre que cambió la historia Infonews 01.07.2014

Estela de Carlotto et al, Análisis y recuerdos Pagina/12 01.07.2014

Peron statue in Argentina's Buenos Aires still in limbo BBC News 06/30/2014

Carlos Romero, Perón, el líder que cambió la historia El Tiempo 01.07.2014

Sergio Wischñevsky, Llevó en sus oídos Pagina/12 01.07.2014

Recuerdos del día que murió Perón Infonews 01.07.2014

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