Argentina and Peronism

May 15, 1963

Report Outline
Continuing Political Appeal of Peronism
The Rise and the Fall of Juan Peron
Unsettling Forces in Argentine Society

Continuing Political Appeal of Peronism

Juan domingo peron—onetime general, President, and “first worker” of the Republic of Argentina—remains, after nearly eight years in exile, the dominant political figure of his native land. Fears raised by his continued hold on the political loyalties of one-third of the Argentine electorate have kept the second largest, and for a century the most prosperous and advanced, nation of Latin America in an almost uninterrupted state of crisis since 1955, when Peron was overthrown.

At that time, Peron lost the support of one pillar of his regime—the armed forces—but the other pillar, the descamisados or “shirtless ones” to whom he gave higher wages and a feeling of status and power, remained with him. Their 2.5 million votes and their potential ability to challenge the political influence of the armed forces pose the most difficult of problems for Argentine politicians and military men. Even the country's lagging economy and shaky fiscal position—the legacy of more than a decade of unsound developmental and budgetary policies—take a back seat to the question of preventing the relatively unified Peronista movement from attaining control of an increasingly divided nation.

Role of Peronism in Recent Argentine Events

The formidable voting strength of the Peronistas supplies the key to events of the past year in Argentina—overthrow of the elected government headed by President Arturo Frondizi, return to domination of the government by the military, and major clashes last September and again last month between various elements of the armed forces. Peronista gains in the March 1962 elections promised to give them 10 of 22 provincial governorships, including that of Buenos Aires, and 44 seats in Congress. But the armed forces, rather than accept the results of the balloting, removed President Frondizi from office and he is still held under detention.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sep. 27, 1972  Argentina's Political Instability
May 15, 1963  Argentina and Peronism
Jan. 07, 1944  Argentina and the United States
Jan. 08, 1929  Trade Relations of the United States with Argentina
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean