9/25/2023 - Politics and Society

The construction of an announced coup: Argentina 1975

By Lucia Pereyra

The construction of an announced coup: Argentina 1975

In one of the most difficult periods of rebuilding in Argentine history, the emptiness of power and guerrilla violence paved the way around the military as warrants of order. The military coup in March 1976 was planned and diagrammed for several months while the departure of Maria Estela Martínez de Perón, suddenly weakened, from the presidency.

“Isabelita” took over on July 1, 1974, after the death of the president, his husband Juan Domingo Perón. Little empowered for the position, at a short time of his take, he would be immersed in an internal struggle within the peronist sectors and an increase in the protagonism of the Armed Forces.

The break between Peronism and the Montoneros organization took place on Labor Day 1974. After Perón's death, Montoneros resumed his guerrilla struggle and intensified violence. This is how Triple A (and often the Federal Police) played a crucial role: controlling the subversives through the murder and disappearance of people. However, guerrillas were not the only whites of the parastate organization, but also some trade unionists and intellectual personalities. The second stage of Peronism was with the unions, hanged between economic adjustment and uncontrolled inflation.

1975 was the bloodiest year in this third Peronist government, year in which the coup of the following year was also planned. It was a period in which the Armed Forces were once again part of an important institutional hierarchy, since it was one of the only instruments capable of controlling the Montoneros in the “common good”. And in fact, Montoneros occupied himself with leading attacks, being the best known in Formosa and Tucumán. It could even be catalogued as a civil war: a fight between the guerrillas and the state, with an increasingly weakened government and a latent emptiness of power and a society that called for order. Two of the major milestones for the growing FFAA drive were the National Security Act and the state's declaration of site, both in 1975.

The political and economic groups took refuge more in their desire that Maria Martínez de Perón left power in one way or another, no matter how. The large economic groups, in the context of a disastrous macroeconomic situation, hoped to end with peronism definitively. Neither did the guils convince Perón to continue with his government, they could not follow the pressure of the workers whose purchasing power deteriorated and prices rose.

After all, the only exit option was the military, no one expected a democratic exit, because it would not end violence and economic crisis: for the red circle much of society, order was needed. The Montoneros, indirectly or directly, were the germ of destruction of the last summit of democracy at that time.

It was from October 1975 until March 1976 that still within the FFAA was debating whether to take power to move the President or continue the struggle. However, neither the press nor public opinion saw an institutional outlet. In fact, the newspapers spoke of a “subversive delinquency” that had to fight, and had installed a generalized climate of anguish in which it was imminent to restore social order.

One of the biggest debates in Argentine history was the participation, or not, of the Executive Branch in the 1976 coup d'état. The story shows that the Martínez de Perón government played a crucial role in the participation of the Army in the repression of all those cataloged as subversives, but it is true that one could not continue to dilate the violence exerted by the guerrillas. It is diffuse if it was the “Isabelita” itself that ordered such a drive, but it was part of the appointments and the Federal Police procedure against the subversives. A series of decrees was approved in which the country's departure was prohibited during the state of the site, the Homeland Security Council was created and was assigned to the FFAA the faculty to annihilate all the subversive within the country. Also, it was the same Perón who in July appointed Jorge Rafael Videla to command the Army, who in October 1975 stated:

“If the dilemmas remain in relation to the state’s respondents as a “legitimate monopoly of force”, if the leaders hesitate in their allegiances and if the left or right-wing violence persists, the state crisis will step into the dominance of force, and in that case to the military presence at the head of the regime. Then it will be late because the prevailing public ideology will be national security”.

In addition, the House of Representatives supported the FFAA for the violence they received by the Montoneros. So it was already a legalized repression and endorsed by at least the presidency and the rest of the Executive Branch. It is true that historians never agree whether the coup was conceived by the military or the government (or both in complicity). However, the government dragged itself to a dark time, characterized by violence.

It is difficult to understand what would have happened if the military had never intervened. Probably the Montoneros would have continued with guerrilla violence as in many Latin American countries. It was believed that the dictatorship of 76 would be like the others, a mere goal of placing the order for a few years later to call the elections, on several occasions with proscript peronism; two of the coups of state (1955 and 1976) were to depose peronism, and from 1955 until 1973 and from 1976 until 1983, the political force was proscripta of politics (and society). It is just as for several decades of the twentieth century, the military forces became guardians of the order sometimes of emptiness of civil power.

Follow this reflection with extract of the book The Politics in Suspension (2000) by Liliana de Riz: “The coup did not surprise anyone, most Argentines imagined it as a solution. The military had hoped to deepen the crisis to legitimize its intervention, considering itself as the most empowered to assume a sick society and to impose discipline through terror. ”

The history and continuity of the debate in the 21st century show a clear wound in Argentina from the last military dictatorship, and continues to seek some clarification of some facts that still remain suspended.

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lucia pereyra

Lucia Pereyra

Hi! I am Lucia, I am a Bachelor of International Relations, Master of Journalism and I am currently studying a specialization in Korean Studies. I dedicate myself to the analysis of the media of the internal policies of the political parties of the City of Buenos Aires, where I specialize in monitoring news and analysis of public and journalistic perception. Previously, I was an intern as a journalist in the political section of La Nación and a researcher at CESIUB on Asia and Oceania

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