The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism

By Paul H. Lewis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
The End of an Illusion

The elections of March 1973 brought Peronism back to power. Although Perón was barred from running for president, his stand-in, Héctor Cámpora, got 49 percent of the vote to only 21 percent for the runner-up, Ricardo Balbin of the Radical party. In April, Peronists also won large majorities in both houses of Congress and all but two provincial governorships. It was a resounding repudiation of all the attempts since 1955 to win the masses away from Perón.

For Argentine capitalism it was a fateful hour. Would the Peronists demand revenge? The RRP was pessimistic on the day of Cámpora's inauguration:

Let there be no doubt that a return to the recent past, to established order, to the rules of a clean game, and to bourgeois well-being, no longer appear likely. We are moving into a future that oscillates between anarchy and oppression. Historically speaking, again, it may be remarked that most of the lifespan of humanity has been spent in such circumstances, so that the prospect should not be too upsetting. The human race--since the problem is by no means exclusively Argentine--will carry on. We may consider ourselves lucky to have lived in an era when human beings demonstrated that it is possible to coexist in a climate of tolerance and mutual respect. This is over. This style of life is finished. Future generations will envy us for having known it.1

If conservatives were cast into gloom, the Peronist Youth, drawn from several underground groups and their sympathizers, were jubilant. For them, Cámpora's election was their own special victory. The military's retreat from power had been brought about through guerrilla violence--not by Peronist labor leaders or party politicians, who were compromised by shady deals with the other side. Perón's choice of Cámpora as his presidential candidate was viewed by Peronist Youth as a tribute to them, for with two of his sons active

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