Peron – hobotorium – Jan 12

The legacy left by Peron still reverberates through Argentina today. Although it was inspired by facism under Mussolini and Hitler, Peronism has latched onto Argentina and not let go, with multiple groups having Peronist somewhere in their description. He is considered a national hero, both due to great achievements and clever politics. For example, when he left office due to a coup his mismanagement of the country’s economy was blamed on the later elected officials replacing him and most Argentineans would look back to the golden days of Peron. He truly is a cultural icon much in the same way as Americans view the founding fathers of America, just that some people are actually still alive to remember what he did.
His upbringing played a significant role in his political style. He was raised modestly, he was a bastard child, and wasn’t able to afford to go to med school to be a doctor like he really wanted to. This made him pursue the military, and from there made connections and laid the groundwork for his ideology. Visiting Italy and Nazi Germany cemented his beliefs that a state can be run like an efficient military organization with total mobilization of the society.
Evita was Perons attack dog, as well as a symbol of the people. Due to her self named foundation dedicated to helping the poor as well as her ability to rally the people behind her and Peron she was invaluable. She also was able to not only win the right of female suffrage, but also was able to form a party dedicated to female Peronists. She was able to pull off a lot of things like that, which earned her the hatred of not only the church, but also the wealthy and the military. The church felt that she was moving in on their turf through her aid foundation. The wealthy despised her rhetoric and her lowly upbringing. The military was just plain sexist. Because of this, she was not able to be Peron’s Vice President. Her pull with the people was recognized and exploited however, and it can be said with some certainty that although Peron may have been successful without her, it is unlikely he could have pulled off many of the more labor oriented reforms that the people desired without having a firebrand like Evita to focus the rage of the people while still marinating his own credibility.
The way that Peron and Evita were able to help the descamisados was through a combination of labor reform and vast public aid. To do this they utilized the mass populace to organize and rally for them so that against any opposition they could say they were carrying out the will of the people. Thanks to Peron strengthening labor prior to his ascendance to the office of president, he was able to use them as a tool to pry the changes they both wanted from those who opposed him. Whether or not they truly cared about the poor (I feel they did) they definitely were able to use them for their own benefit while tossing them a much better lifestyle in return. Peron pushed for higher wages, an eight hour day, safe working conditions, health insurance, paid vacations, and pensions. All of these, combined with aid for the poor through the foundation and earning the right of women to vote constituted social justice.
Peron and Evita’s chief opponents were the wealthy capitalists, the church, the military, and marginalized leftist groups pushed out of politics such as communists. They all saw a cult of personality developing around Peron, his brutal control of the media, indoctrination of the youth, and Peron’s primary goal of ensuring his continued rule and this scared even his two of his original supporters, the military and the church.
The wealthy obviously did not like being demonized by the administration and due to strong government backed unions were eventually forced to pay wages far outpacing productivity. The church did not like what they viewed as his corruption of the youth, or Evita and Peron’s undermining of the churches aid and outreach through their foundation. The military was just a conservative organization that feared Peron would ruin the country. All these groups felt that for progress to be made, Peron had to go.
I feel that although Peron definitely had fascist inspiration for his ideology and arguably caused the splintering and radicalization of political groups that lead up to the military dictatorship of the 70’s and 80’s, Peron was a man of the people. His policies laid the foundation that turned Argentina into a modern industrialized country. Most of his policies could be considered social justice and although he had to resort to authoritarian means to accomplish them he did not go totally overboard in a self interested orgy of violence that I feel defined the military dictatorship that followed his third and final term.