Peronism

Peronism

[puh-roh-niz-uhm]

Peronism (Peronismo), or Justicialism (Spanish: Justicialismo), is an Argentine political movement based on the ideas and programs associated with former President Juan Perón and his second wife, Spiritual Leader of the Nation of Argentina Eva Perón. Perón's party, the Partido Justicialista (which lives on to this day), derived its name from the Spanish words for "justice" (justicia) and "socialist" (socialista).

Peronism has been difficult to define according to traditional political classifications, and different periods as well as factions must be distinguished. Perón's admiration for Mussolini is well documented. Many scholars categorize Peronism as a fascist ideology. Carlos Fayt believes that Peronism was just "an Argentine implementation of Italian fascism". Hayes reaches conclusion that "the Peronist movement produced a form of fascism that was distinctively Latin American". However, some dispute this, inside and outside the Peronist movement, and compare it with Gaullism in France. Furthermore, the absence of Perón himself, who lived for 20 years in exile in Franquist Spain, is also an important key to understanding Peronism, as he could be invoked by all kinds of Argentine sectors opposed to the current state of affairs. The personality cult of Eva Perón, in particular, was fondly conserved, while at the contrary strongly despised by the "national bourgeoisie". Thus, by 1970, many groups from opposite sides of the political spectrum supported Perón, from the left-wing and Catholic Montoneros to the Fascist-leaning and strongly anti-Semitic Movimiento Nacionalista Tacuara, one of Argentina's first guerrilla movements. All in all, Perón was a pragmatic figure, and through the course of his long career his views would frequently change.

His ideology was marked by some constants, including:

Peronist policies

Perón's ideas were widely embraced by a variety of different groups in Argentina across the political spectrum. Perón's personal views would eventually become a burden on the ideology, his anti-clericalism did not strike a sympathetic chord amongst upper class Argentinians. Perón's public speeches were consistently nationalist and populist. It would also be difficult to separate Peronism from corporate nationalism, for Perón nationalized Argentina's large corporations, blurring distinctions between corporations and government. At the same time, the labor unions became corporate themselves, relinquishing the right to strike in agreements with Perón as Secretary of Welfare in the military government from 1943-45. In exchange, the state was to assume the role of negotiator between conflicting interests.

Detractors have sometimes considered it to be a fascist ideology. After Perón was overthrown in a coup that started a dictatorship in 1955 (the Revolución Libertadora), led by General Aramburu, he spent 18 years in exile, mostly in Francisco Franco's Spain. Though his feelings for Franco were mixed, Perón never disguised his admiration for Benito Mussolini's domestic policies.

However, despite these comparisons, Perón and his administration never resorted to systematically organized violence or dictatorial rule. Peronism also lacked a strong interest in matters of foreign policy other than the belief that the political and economic influences of other nations should be kept out of Argentina and could thus be said to be somewhat isolationist.

Peron, despite his admiration for Mussolini, never showed parallels to Hitler's Nazi regime, and never exhibited racist ideas or views like that of the Third Reich or several other fascist regimes. However, under his regime many Nazi war criminals were granted asylum after the Second World War. In 2005, as a result of revelations in Uki Goñi's book The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón's Argentina, Argentine President Néstor Kirchner ordered the repeal of a secret directive issued in 1938, under the presidency of Roberto María Ortiz, prohibiting Argentine diplomats from granting visas to Jews fleeing Germany's Nazi regime.

Before Perón came to power in Argentina, Argentina had the largest Jewish population in Latin America. After becoming president of Argentina, he sought out the Jewish community for participation in his government, and one of his advisors was a Jewish man from Poland named José Ber Gelbard. Because Peronism has no anti-Semitic or other racial bias, there were no concentration camps in Juan Perón's Argentina. The Jewish Virtual Library writes that while Juan Perón had sympathized with the Axis powers, "Perón also expressed sympathy for Jewish rights and established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949. Since then, more than 45,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel from Argentina." In the book Inside Argentina from Peron to Menem author Laurence Levine, former president of the US-Argentine Chamber of Commerce, writes: "although anti-Semitism existed in Argentina, Perón's own views and his political associations were not anti-Semitic.... And while Juan Perón's Argentina allowed many Nazi criminals to take refuge in Argentina, Juan Perón's Argentina also accepted more Jewish immigrants than any other country in Latin America, which in part accounts for the fact that Argentina to this day has a population of over 200,000 Jewish citizens, still the largest in Latin America and one of the largest in the world.

Legacy

Today, there are several Argentine political parties identifying themselves as Peronist.

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Tomas Eloy Martinez, El Sueño Argentino' (The Argentine Dream, 1999) and Memorias del General'' (Memoirs of the General, 1996).
  • Daniel James (historian), Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class, 1946-1979. NY: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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