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THE ROAD TO PRESIDENCY: OCTOBER 1945 – FEBRUARY 1946 - - - Peron became president in 1946, elected by universal male suffrage, this victory had its roots in the conditions of Argentina, the methods used by him to address these conditions and his gathering support. In March 1945, President Farrell declared war on Germany and Japan, this increased the unpopularity of the 1943 government, which took so long to break relations and declare war. Neutrality was always seen as implicit support for Germany. Elections could not be postponed much longer and the rising status of Colonel Peron and his accumulation of power worried several sectors. WHO OPPOSED PERON AND WHY? - Industrialists and businessmen who claimed the labor legislation had raised the costs of production, and also feared more government intrusion. - Landowners affected by the Peasant Statute (see page 15). - Socialists or Communists trade unions were losing influence as Peron established parallel unions loyal to him.
- Traditional political parties which had been suspended in 1943, demanded free elections but they worried Peron would become the official candidate and use the state apparatus, media and labor organizations. - Intellectuals, university teachers and newspapers that had suffered censorship accused President Farrell and Peron of wanting to establish a fascist dictatorship in Argentina. - Traditional Catholic members of the Armed Forces were unhappy with Peron’s lack of moral, and many complained he was concentrating too much power. - As an answer to the pressure from within and outside the armed forces, on October 8 th 1945, the government announced Peron had resigned from all his positions. Farrell agreed to Peron’s dismissal but allowed him to give a farewell speech. (see page 23 source l)
- - - THE EVENTS OF OCTOBER 17 TH The opposition saw in his speech a strategy to get his followers to oppose the measure. On October 12 th, a civilian demonstration against the military regime demanded the power be passed to the Supreme Court of Justice and elections held. At the same time, members of the armed forces demanded Peron’s imprisonment. The CGT announced a strike for October 18 th to defend the labor legislation. The day before the strike thousands of workers marched toward the center of Buenos Aires to demand the release of the “colonel of the people”. They were Peron’s followers, his descamisados (shirtless) as they were called later, they shouted “We want Peron” and refused to disperse until they saw him. (see page 25 source m) - - The government ordered Peron’s release and he addressed 150, 000 people who had gathered in Plaza de Mayo. He was acclaimed for 15 minutes after he spoke everybody went home. Peron emerged as the potential future president of Argentina. (see page 27 source o)
- THE ELECTIONS OF FEBRUARY 1946 Peron began to campaign for the presidency even though he did not have a party, he obtained the support of the Labor Party, the Peronist trade unions, and the Unión Cívica Radical Junta Renovadora. (UCRJR) - The opposition (Unión Democrática, UD)lacked cohesion and included conservatives, communists, socialists, and a faction of the UCR. It had the support of the landowners, industrialists, businessmen and members of the middle class but they did not agree on specific proposals that would please everybody as well as the UD candidate Jose Tamborini, lacked popular appeal. - The US ambassador Spruille Braden (who supported the opposition) published the Blue Book where Peron was described as a Nazi agent. - His support played against the UD interests, because Peron published the Blue and White Book which he accused the USA of interfering in the domestic policies. He criticized the opposition of being oligarchic, being associated with foreign imperialists, therefore “anti-fatherland”.
- Two months before the elections, the government granted a X-mas bonus to all workers with other social benefits. - The employers complained for this extra pay and the UD supported them; this helped Peron because it appeared if he lost the elections, these and other benefits would be lost. - It weakened the appeal of socialist and communist parties, which as part of the UD became associated with the denial of rights to workers. - Peron won the elections in February 1946 by 55% of the votes.
THE RULE OF PERON (1946 – 1952; 1952 – 1955) PERON’S CONSOLIDATION - Peron also obtained a majority in the Argentinian Parliament. (see page 28 source - His victory was legitimate; he was the constitutional president elected in one of the cleanest elections in the history. Peron knew he owed his success to the CGT and to the Labor Party. The first measure Peron took was to dissolve all the forces that had supported him, including the Labor Party. He replaced them with a single party, the Partido Unico de la Revolución (PUR), later Partido Justicialista (PJ) or Peronista. This dissolution was met with resistance but the leaders could do little to prevent it. The president of the Labor Party who was also the secretary of the CGT (Peron’s supporter) was removed. Cipriano Reyes (see pic page 29), a Labor Party leader formed an independent bloc in the Chamber of Deputies, from his post he accused Peron of wanting to become a dictator. In 1948, he was arrested and tortured. He remained in prison until Peron’s fall in 1955. - - - a)
- - - The Peronist Party (PJ) had to respect Peron’s leadership. Governors, Deputies and Senators were appointed by Peron without elections. He ordered the trade unions to become members of the official CGT. Those who opposed were persecuted and arrested. By 1948, the trade unions were under the CGT. Political parties found it difficult to work in the congress, each party took different strategies, abstention, obstruction and open confrontation, none of which advanced their cause. Radical leaders who voiced their anti-Peronism were expelled from the legislative body or even jailed. Three members of the Supreme Court were accused of malfeasance, impeached and convicted. New judges were appointed and the court was “Peronized”. The Secretariat of Information was established with the purpose of controlling the press. Censorship against some publications was implemented (see page 31 source c). The government bought newspapers, magazines and radio statios to use them for propaganda. Civil servants had to be part of the PJ in order to keep their jobs, Educations was subjected to state control, criminal laws were approved to discourage expressions of dissent, and strikes declared illegal by the government.
- The Peronists won the Parliamentary elections in 1948 with 62% of the votes. Peron obtained approval to call for a Constituent Assembly to reform the Constitution. THE CONSTITUTION OF 1949 http: //www. argentina. ar/temas/historia-y-efemerides/17597 -reforma-constitucional-argentina-de 1949 - The other parties did not obtain sufficient votes to appoint representatives, so the convention was conformed mostly by Peronists and a minority of radicals. - The new constitution did not have an entire new order, it introduced changes to the original of 1853. One of the most important changes was the Article 77 which allowed the president to stand for immediate re-election, although Peron had claimed he had no intention of running for re-election. - The radicals withdrew from the debates to express their disagreement. The convention populated by the Peronists passed the constitution.
- - The nature of this constitution was nationalist and emphasized the strong role of the state, the state had the right to intervene and also monopolize certain economic areas. It also included: - Special place to the family (this was seen positively by the Catholics), the state had to protect the marriage, and to assist mothers and children. - All public services were now nationalized and put under the control of the state, which would either buy or expropriate. - Sources or energy (oil, coal, and gas) were national property and could not be sold. - Property and capital had to fulfill a social role and belong to those who would work them (it opened the possibility of implementing policies to the redistribution of land. )
- SOCIAL POLICIES The social policies aimed at redressing the existing gaps between rich and poor. When Peron came to power, the social aid offered was inefficient. The government acted with the idea of centralizing social policies to make them more efficient. - Until then, charities which received economic support from the government as well as from private donations, and trade unions channeled social work to reach the areas where the state did not offer solutions. - The trade unions opposed the idea of centralizing the social aid, as they were reluctant to lose control of the money they had for social policies directed at their members. - Peron was esentially pragmatist and he was not ready to lose support of the unions, so he created (1948) a new and parallel organization, the FEP (Fundación Eva Perón). The FEP was organized and led by Peron’s wife.
- - The FEP focused on areas such as welfare of children and elderly, healthcare, housing, recreation, the provision of working tools, educational facilities, hospitals equipped with modern technology, houses were built in working-class suburbs, orphanages, elderly homes, workers resorts were inaugurated. Sanitation campaigns were organized, a hospital train traveled across Argentina detecting malnutrition cases, carrying out vaccination campaigns, performing surgeries.
- (see page 34 sources e and f) - Eva worked very long hours and was personally involved in the logistical aspects, she read the letters asking for assistance and received hundreds of people in her office. The FEP played a significant role in shaping the cult to Eva, who became known as “the lady of hope”, “the mother of the innocent”, “the spiritual leader of the nation”. -
- - Eva publicly subordinated herself to Peron, saying she liked to think herself as the bridge between Peron and the masses. For Eva was not charity, it was social justice. «El trabajo que yo hago no es filantropía ni es caridad, ni es limosna ni es solidaridad social, ni es beneficencia. Ni siquiera es ayuda social, aunque por darle un nombre aproximado yo le he puesto ése. . . Para mí es estrictamente justicia» From Eva Perón, La Razón de mi vida, 1951 (see page 37 i. f) - STATUS OF WOMEN Women did not have any political participation, they were exploited at work and received lower salaries than men for similar jobs, by 1947 more than 60% of women did not work outside their homes. - In 1947, a law that enabled women to vote was passed and they voted for the first time in 1951, in which Peron was re-elected obtaining 64% of the female votes; but the reason to incorporate women in political life was, as mothers, they were essential for taking Peronism at home. (see pages 36 -37 sources h and i)
- The PPF (Partido Peronista Femenino) was formed under Eva’s command. Eva appointed delegates who traveled across the country affiliating other women to the party. - Even though the political status for women improved, they did not experience a significant change in society. There was no massive campaign for women to join the workforce due to Peronist principles shared with Catholicism the value given to the role of the family and, within it, to women as mothers and wives.