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History of Argentina (19661973)

From '''1966 to 1973, Argentina's history'is marked by a military dictatorship, spawned by the June 1966 military coup, self-named by the juntaRevolucion Argentina ("Argentine Revolution").

The Revolucion Argentinaand the "authoritarian-bureaucratic state"

Along with worker unrest, this led to another coup in June 1966, misnamed as the Revolucion Argentina, which established General Juan Carlos Ongania as de facto'' president, supported by several leaders of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), among whom the general secretary Augusto Vandor. This led to a series of military-appointed presidents and the implementation of neoliberal policies, supported by multinationals, employers' federations, part of the more or less corrupt workers' movement, and the press.

While preceding military coups were aimed at establishing temporary, transitional juntas, the Revolucion Argentina headed by Ongania aimed at establishing a new political and social order, opposed both to liberal democracy and Communism, which gave to the Armed Forces of Argentina a leading, political role in the economic rationalization of the country. The political scientist Guillermo O'Donnell named this type of regime "authoritarian-bureaucratic state" Guillermo O'Donnell, El Estado Burocratico Autoritario, (1982), in reference both to the Revolucion Argentina, the Brazilian military regime (1964-1985), Augusto Pinochet's regime (starting in 1973) and Juan Maria Bordaberry's regime in Uruguay.

Ongania's rule (1966-1970)

Ongania implemented corporatism policies, experimenting in particular in Cordoba, underneath Carlos Caballero's governance. His Minister of Economy, Adalbert Krieger Vasena, decreed a freeze of wages' increase and a 40% devaluation, which strongly affected the state of the Argentinian economy, in particular of the agricultural sector, favorizing foreign capital. Vasena suspended collective labour conventions, reformed the hydrocarburs law which had established a partial monopoly of the Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF) state firm, as well as passing a law facilitating expulsions in case of fault of payment of rent. Finally, the right to strike was suspended and several other laws reversed progress made concerning labor laws through-out the preceding years.

The workers' movement divided itself between Vandoristas, who supported a "Peronism without Peron" line and advocated negotiation with the junta, alongside "Participationists" headed by Jose Alonso, and Peronists, who formed the CGT de los Argentinos in 1968, opposed to any kind of participation with the military junta. Peron himself, from his exile in Franquist Spain, maintained a cautious and ambiguous line of opposition to the regime, rejecting both full endorsement and open confrontation.

Cultural and education policies

Ongania's rule signified an end to university autonomy, which had been achieved by the University Reform of 1918 Carmen Bernand, Dune rive a lautre , Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos, Materiales de seminarios, 2008 (Latin-Americanist Review published by the EHESS), Put on line on 15 June 2008. URL : http://nuevomundo.revues.org//index35983.html Accessed on 28 July 2008. .

He was responsible for the July 1966 La Noche de los Bastones Largos ("The Night of the Long Police Sticks"), where university autonomy was violated, in which he ordered police to invade the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires; students and professors were beaten up and arrested. The university repression led to the exile of 301 university professors, among whom were Manuel Sadosky, Tulio Halperin Donghi, Sergio Bagu and Risieri Frondizi Marta Slemenson et al., Emigracion de cientificos argentinos. Organizacion de un exodo a America Latina .

Ongania also ordered repression on all forms of "immoralism", proscribing miniskirts, long hair for boys, and all avant-garde artistic movements . This moral campaign favorized the radicalization of middle classes, who were massively present in universities .

Change of direction of the Armed Forces

End of May 1968, General Julio Alsogaray dissented from Ongania, and rumors spread about a possible coup d'etat, Algosaray leading the conservative opposition to Ongania. Finally, at the end of the month, Ongania dismissed the leaders of the Armed Forces: Alejandro Lanusse replaced Julio Alsogaray, Pedro Gnavi replaced Benigno Varela, and Jorge Martinez Zuviria replaced Adolfo Alvarez.

Increasing protests

On 19 September 1968, two important events affected Revolutionary Peronism. On one hand, John William Cooke, former personal delegate of Peron and ideologist of the Peronist Left, as well as a friend of Fidel Castro, died from natural causes. On the other hand, a small group (13 men and one woman) who aimed at establishing a foco in Tucuman Province, in order to head the resistance against the junta, was captured Oscar R. Anzorena, Tiempo de violencia y utopia (1966-1976), Editorial Contrapunto, 1987, p.48 . Among them, Envar El Kadre, then a leader of the Peronist Youth .

In 1969, the CGT de los Argentinos headed social movements, in particular the Cordobazo, as well as other movements in Tucuman, Santa Fe and Rosario (Rosariazo). While Peron managed a reconciliation with Augusto Vandor, head of the CGT Azopardo, he followed, in particular through the voice of his delegate Jorge Paladino, a cautious line of opposition to the military junta, criticizing with moderation the neoliberal policies of the junta but waiting for discontent inside the government . Thus, Ongania had an interview with 46 CGT delegates, among whom Vandor, who agreed on "participationism" with the military junta, thus uniting themselves with the Nueva Corriente de Opinion headed by Jose Alonso and Rogelio Coria.

In December 1969, more than 20 priests, members of the Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer Mundo , marched on the Casa Rosada to present to Ongania a petition pleading him to abandon the eradication plan of villas miserias (shanty towns) .

The same year, the Movement of Priests for the Third World issued a declaration supporting Socialist revolutionary movements, which lead the Catholic hierarchy, by the voice of Juan Carlos Aramburu, coadjutor archbishop of Buenos Aires, to proscribe priests from making political or social declarations .

Various armed actions, headed by the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion (FAL), composed by former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, occurred in April 1969, leading to several arrests among FAL members. These were the first left-wing urban guerrilla actions in Argentina. Beside these isolated actions, the Cordobazo uprising of 1969, called forth by the CGT de los Argentinos, and its Cordobese leader, Agustin Tosco, prompted demonstrations in the entire country. The same year, the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP) was formed as the military branch of the Trotskyist Workers' Revolutionary Party, leading an armed struggle against the dictatorship.

Levingston's rule (1970-1971)

Faced with increasing opposition, in particular following the Cordobazo, General Ongania was forced to resign by the military junta, composed of the chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Forces. He was replaced by General Roberto Marcelo Levingston, who, far from calling to elections, decided to deepen the so-called Revolucion Argentina. Levingston expressed the nationalist-developmentist sector of the Armed Forces, and was supported by the most intransigent military elements. He named the radical economist Aldo Ferrer as Minister of Economy.

Pressed to call for free and democratic elections, which would include the Justicialist Party, by a coalition of political parties who issued the statement known as La Hora del Pueblo, Levingston was ousted by an internal coup headed by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and strongman of the Revolucion Argentina, General Alejandro Agustin Lanusse.

Lanusse's rule (1971-1973)

The last of the military presidents de facto, Alejandro Lanusse, was thus appointed in March 1971. As the preceding administrations, Lanusse was very unpopular among the population. His administration started building several national infrastructures necessary for the development of the country, without responding however to popular claims concerning social and economic policies.

General Lanusse tried to respond to the Hora del Pueblo declaration by calling forth elections, but excluding Peronism from them, in the so-called Gran Acuerdo Nacional (Great National Agreement). He nominated Arturo Mor Roig (Radical Civic Union) as Minister of Interior, who enjoyed the support of the Hora del pueblo coalition of parties, in order to supervise the coming elections.

However, by excluding the population from democratic means of expression, the dictatorship, in power since 1966, had favorized armed struggle groups, such as the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo , the Catholic nationalist Peronists Montoneros, or the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR).

In August 1972, an escape attempt of several revolutionary members from the regime's prison, headed by Mario Roberto Santucho (PRT), ended up in the Massacre of Trelew. Fernando Vaca Narvaja, Roberto Quieto, Enrique Gorriaran Merlo and Domingo Menna managed to escape, but 19 other were re-captured. 16 of them were illegally executed, and 3 managed to survive. On the same night of August 22, 1972, the junta approved law 19,797, which proscribed any information concerning guerrilla organizations. The massacre led to demonstrations in various cities.

Finally, Lanusse lifted the proscription of the Justicialist Party, although he maintained it concerning Juan Peron, by increasing the number of residency years necessary to present oneself to presidential elections, hence excluding de facto Peron from the elections, since the old leader was in exile since the 1955 Revolucion Libertadora.

Henceforth, Peron decided to appoint as his candidate his personal secretary Hector Jose Campora, a leftist Peronist, as representant of the FreJuLi , composed of the Justicialist Party and minor, allied parties. The FreJuLi's electoral slogan was "Campora in Government, Peron in power" .


Oscar R. Anzorena, Tiempo de violencia y utopia (1966-1976), Editorial Contrapunto, 1987

See also

History of Argentina

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