Argentina History - Perón's Justicialism

Argentina History – Perón’s Justicialism

Perón officially assumed power on June 4, 1946, supported by the trade union forces and the proletarian and petty-bourgeois masses who hoped for the advent of a democratic, national-popular regime, capable of definitively overthrowing the dominance of the landed oligarchy in the power since 1930. The popularity of the new president greatly contributed to that of his wife Eva Duarte, ‘Evita’, who, thanks to intense propaganda and social activity, became the object of admiration bordering on fanaticism.

As the first measures adopted, Perón had all bank deposits, guaranteed by the government, placed under the control of the nationalized Banco Central de la República Argentina, placed stock exchanges, insurance companies and export trade under state management, imposed the merger in a single party of the groups favorable to him. He then proceeded to set up an ambitious program of social and economic development, which was expressed in the ‘Perón plan’, presented to Congress in 1946. The plan consisted of a law for the granting of extraordinary powers to the government and special laws for the launch of a plan of total reorganization: political-administrative, with the extension of the vote to women and the lower ranks of the armed forces; judicial, with the strengthening of labor courts; military, with interventions for preliminary education and permanence in the reserve; social, with welfare and insurance measures in favor of workers and the less well-off; industrial, with the construction of large public works and the adoption of a protectionist policy.

Regarding national defense, the project aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in the production of armaments and airplanes. According to Perón’s conception, it was a question of delineating not a programmatic economy in the strict sense, but an ‘ordered’ economy on the part of a state that did not tolerate the dominance of large capitalist firms and made itself a ‘competitor’, not a ‘manager. ‘.

The new Peronist course was expressed above all in the strong impulse given to industrialization and protectionism towards national companies and trade against the large foreign companies operating on Argentine territory, in order to expand the country’s production capacities. The program was able to be launched under the best financial conditions because the state had greatly enriched itself during the war with agricultural supplies to the belligerents. After having largely redeemed European investments, Argentina began to invest capital in turn in other American states and to grant loans to promote their development (Chile, Bolivia), contrasting its prestige with that of the United States, with which the relationships were always marked by mutual distrust.

However, the inflationary tendency inherent in the expansion of credit, the increase in the total circulation of means of payment, the repercussion in the budget of the huge and ever increasing military expenses led to an increase in the cost of living of 40% already from July 1946 to same month of 1947. Inflationary pressures did not abate in 1948, when the shortage of currency led to the devaluation of the peso in the free market.

According to Best-medical-schools, the partial elections of 1948, despite some initial symptoms of discontent, confirmed the popularity of Peronism and allowed the approval of the new Constitution (1949) which replaced that of 1853. The new rules, inspired by nationalistic ideals, strengthened the authority even more. presidential (claim of the Malvinas or Falkland Islands, guarantee of the reforms undertaken in the field of economic autarchy, especially as regards the nationalization of foreign companies, recognition of fundamental rights to workers with the exclusion of the right to strike, possibility of re-election of the President of the Republic), while intolerance towards the opposition increased and forms of press censorship were being adopted (expropriation of the daily La Prensa). In November 1951 Perón obtained the second presidential term.

In 1953 the economic situation began to plummet, despite attempts made through a new five-year plan and important agreements entered into with Chile, Brazil, the Soviet Union and Ecuador. The currency suffered a further devaluation and the cost of living increased by 200%, while the scarcity of agricultural crops added new causes of precariousness. The following year a campaign began against the Catholic Church, suspected of wanting to set up a real political movement in alliance with landowners and industrialists considered enemies of the government. The adoption of a series of anti-ecclesiastical measures (approval of the divorce law, abolition of the department for religious education, suspension of subsidies to some churches, elimination of religious holidays) led to growing opposition between both Catholic and conservative classes, traditionally present in the navy. A first attempt at revolt by naval aviation (June 1955) failed due to a reaction of the Peronists, but shortly after a new uprising of the navy, supported by units of the army and aviation, and the establishment in militia of the most extreme defenders of Perón, i descamisados (the “shirtless”, the poorest sections of the population) precipitated events and Perón had to leave power for good (September 19).

In a little less than ten years, the inability to match the means with the possibilities and the non-gradual nature of the interventions had led a country previously considered one of the most prosperous to economic chaos and the drying up of the treasury coffers. The Peronist doctrine of justicialism while having certainly improved the conditions of the working class, it had favored an unsustainable welfare system and clientelism. The process of intense industrialization had occurred to the detriment of agriculture, the traditional basis of Argentine wealth, the nationalizations had resulted in a weakening of the country’s economy, due to internal disorganization and improper business management. From the point of view of foreign policy, the open contrast with the liberal economy of the Western world and the attempt to eradicate foreign capital had increasingly distanced the country from European and American democracies, while the policy of the ‘third position’, aimed at creating in the world a third force interposed between capitalism and communism,

Argentina History - Perón's Justicialism