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1973 Ezeiza massacre

The Ezeiza massacre took place on June 20, 1973 near the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Peronist masses, including many young people, had gathered there to acclaim Juan Peron's definitive return from an 18-year exile in Spain. The police counted three and a half million people. In his plane, Peron was accompanied by El Tio ("Uncle") president Hector Campora, representantive of the Peronists' left wing, who had come to power on May 25, 1973, amid popular euphoria and a period of political turmoil. Hector Campora was opposed to the Peronist right wing, declaring during his first speech that "the spilled blood will not be negotiated" La sangre derramada no sera negociada, quoted by Hugo Moreno, in Le desastre argentin. Peronisme, politique et violence sociale (1930-2001), Ed. Syllepses, Paris, 2005, p.107. However, from Juan Peron's tribune, camouflaged snipers, members of Argentine Anticommunist Alliance terrorist group, opened fire on the crowd. The left-wing Peronist Youth and the Montoneros were targetted and trapped. At least 13 bodies were subsequently identified, and 365 were injured during the massacre Horacio Verbitsky, Ezeiza, Contrapunto, Buenos Aires, 1985. Available here. According to Clarin newspaper, the real number must have been much higher . However, no official investigation has been performed to confirm these higher estimations.

People involved

The Ezeiza massacre marked the end of the alliance of left and right-wing Peronists which Peron had managed to form. Hector Campora represented the main figure of the left-wing and Jose Lopez Rega, Peron's personal secretary who had accompanied Peron during his exile in Francoist Spain, was the right-wing's representative. Lopez Rega was also the founder of the infamous "Triple A" right-wing terrorist group (aka the Alianza Anticomunista Argentina), to which the snipers belonged. A populist and a nationalist, Peron was popular from the left to the far-right, but this conjunction of forces ended that day. During his exile, Peron himself had supported both left-wing Peronists, "young idealists" whose icons included Che Guevara and right-wing Peronists composing "Special Formations", gathering radicals such as the Guardia de Hierro (Iron Guard) or the Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara.

The tribune had been set up by lieutenant-colonel Jorge Manuel Osinde and far-right figures of Peronism, such as Alberto Brito Lima and Norma Kennedy. Lorenzo Miguel, Juan Manuel Abal Medina and Jose Ignacio Rucci, general secretary of the CGT (Confederacion General del Trabajo) — controlled by the Peronist right-wing —, had the responsibility of organizing the Peronists' mobilization to Ezeiza. Members of the Union Obrera Metalurgica trade union, the Juventud sindical peronista and other right-wing sectors were also on Peron's tribune, facing the left-wing groups in the crowds .

Italian terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie, who worked in Operation Gladio but also maintained links with the Chilean DINA and Turkish Grey Wolves member Abdullah Catli, was also present at Ezeiza, according to investigations by Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon.

Carlos "El Indio" Castillo, member of the Concentracion Nacionalista Universitaria (CNU), also took part in the massacre. The following night, Buenos Aires' walls were covered by graffiti "Osinde assassin of the Peronist people".

Political context

The massacre had been premeditated to remove president Hector Campora, a moderate of the left-wing, from power. During Campora's first month of governing, approximately 600 social conflicts, strikes and factory occupations had taken place. Hugo Moreno, op.cit., p.109 Workers managed to obtain wage increases and better working conditions, and social tensions were increasing because of this. The workers' movement had gathered the sympathy of large sectors, sometimes anti-Peronist, of the middle classes. On June 2, 1973, Jose Ignacio Rucci, general secretary of the CGT, had responded to a Cuban delegate to the CGT congress asking for a toast in honour of Che Guevara, that they were against left-wing imperialism. The Peronist right-wing gradually took control of the whole of the trade union organization, placing people close to the leader Jose Ignacio Rucci.


Perons definitive return to Argentina, after 18 years of exile, put an end to the contradictions of Peronism, which gathered political opponents in the same party. The battle near the Ezeiza airport marked the end of the transition period of Campora, who had succeeded the authoritarian regime of general Alejandro Lanusse and preceded the old Perons return. According to Hugo Moreno, "if October 17, 1945 may be considered as the founding act of Peronism, by the general strike and the presence of the masses imposing their will of support to Peron, the June 20, 1973 massacre marks the entrance on the scene of the late right-wing Peronism." Hugo Moreno, op.cit., p.110

The return and incident is described by Tomas Eloy Martinez in his novel "La Novela de Peron" (The Peron Novel).

See also

1976 Montejurra massacre, in Spain (similar mode of operation)

1977 Taksim square massacre, in Turkey (similar mode of operation)

Propaganda Due (P2), the outlawed masonic lodge of which Jose Lopez Rega, the founder of the "Triple A", was a member

Stefano Delle Chiaie, Italian terrorist present at Ezeiza

External links

Ezeiza, Contrapunto, Buenos Aires, 1985 by Horacio Verbitsky

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