The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism

By Paul H. Lewis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
The End Is the Beginning

On Tuesday afternoon, 13 September 1955, Eduardo Lonardi, a retired army general living in Buenos Aires, inconspicuously boarded an omnibus for the city of Córdoba. It was an overnight journey, and as the bus rumbled across the darkening pampa he had plenty of time to think about the plot he was involved in. Lonardi had been conspiring against Perón ever since the latter had the constitution changed in 1949 to permit his reelection. In part, Lonardi shared the alarm felt by other officers at the prospect of one-man rule; but in part he also felt a personal resentment against Perón, blaming him for a scandal that nearly ruined Lonardi's career as a young military attaché in Chile. Moreover, as a devout Catholic, Lonardi was deeply troubled by the recent attacks Perón had made against the church. Though never caught red-handed in his plotting, Lonardi's associations with known enemies of the regime resulted in his forced retirement in 1952. Now he was heading for a rendezvous with a group that, because of the tight security in Buenos Aires, had decided to raise a revolt in Córdoba in the next few days. Lonardi had been picked as their leader.

For months officers involved in the plot had been visiting various provincial garrisons. Their movements were approved by Gen. Eduardo Señorans, the army's chief of operations, who supported them. The navy had been contacted too and had pledged to send both the river fleet and the Atlantic fleet to blockade the capital. Lonardi's raising of the Córdoba garrison would be a signal for the others to go into action.

The choice of Lonardi as leader of the rebel forces had been a lastminute decision. Originally the plot had centered around Gen. Pedro Aramburu, the popular chief of the general staff; but just two weeks previously, Perón's secret police had uncovered a part of the conspiracy which involved the Rio Cuarto air base in Córdoba Province. The key man at Rio Cuarto, Gen. Videla Balaguer, had escaped and now was in hiding, but Aramburu had decided that the moment was no longer propitious and backed out. The other conspirators

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