Argentina Dictionary of History Part 2

The coup of Videla, the dictatorship, the tragedy of the disappeared. Meanwhile, the economic situation recorded a surge in inflation and the worsening of the conflict between the CGT and the government. Faced with the worsening of social instability, a new government was formed and the Ministry of the Interior entrusted to the military, while General JR Videla took advantage of the total crisis of the institutions to carry out a coup d’état in 1976. Significant was the presentation of an economic plan characterized by the reversal of the positions of the Peronists, that is, favorable to the investments of foreign capital and the blocking of inflation, in a general framework of return to an economy based on large farms and large land ownership. The military also launched a harsh repressive regime against all political opposition, desaparecidos) illegally taken, tortured and eliminated. The growing isolation of the regime ensued, with negative consequences also on US investments. The failure of Videla’s economic policy led to his replacement with General RE Viola (1981), who was soon succeeded by General L. Galtieri. Meanwhile, part of the opposition gave life to a front comprising 5 parties (radicals, Peronists, desarrollistas, intransigent radicals and Christian Democrats), united in the name of national reconciliation and the restoration of democracy. Faced with the worsening of the economic situation and the growing protest against the regime, in the spring of 1982 Galtieri attempted the diversion of the nationalist mobilization and decided to invade the Falkland Islands..

The defeat of the Falklands and the difficult transition to democracy. The invasion of the Falkland Islands resulted in a military conflict with Great Britain, which easily prevailed. The defeat of the Argentine troops accelerated the decomposition of the regime; Galtieri was forced to resign and his replacement, R. Bignone, was pushed by popular pressure to announce the return to democracy. The elections of 1983 saw the victory of the radical candidate R. Alfonsín, who had led a campaign centered on the need to prosecute the military responsible for the various dictatorships. Thus, in 1985 trials were opened against eight members of the juntas in power from 1976 to 1983, but the uprisings of the Armed Forces (1987) imposed a more conciliatory address on the government which, in May 1987, with the ley de obediencia debida, effectively exonerated the middle cadres of the army. The austerity policy (“Plan Austral” of 1985), decided by the government to cope with economic difficulties and severely opposed by the CGT, sparked a new wave of protests, causing a collapse in support for the radicals and the victory of Peronist candidate C Menem, leader del Partido justicialista (PJ), in the presidential elections of 1989. Menem continued the policy of austerity, launched a privatization plan, imposed further conciliatory measures against the armed forces, allowing the release of numerous senior officers, including Videla and Viola. The economic policy, of a liberal imprint, allowed the renewed granting of international loans (blocked in 1989 by the International Monetary Fund) and favored the massive inflow of foreign capital in a country now completely open to the market economy. Thanks to the support of the USA, the Argentina it also gained its own role in the “new world order” that emerged with the end of bipolarism and in March 1991 signed the Asunción treaty with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay for the creation of Mercosur. Menem’s successes in the financial field pushed him towards a constitutional reform to remove provisions that prohibited the re-election of the president. Elected a Constituent Assembly and approved the new fundamental text (1994), Menem was confirmed with 49.9% of the votes (1995).

Argentina at the dawn of the 21st century. The turning point occurred with the presidential elections of 24 October 1999, won by the leader moderate of the radical party F. de la Rúa who came up with a program focused on the fight against corruption and unemployment, on limiting the profits of large private monopolies, on reviving the economy. New measures, launched in 2001 to avoid insolvency in the payment of foreign debt, which included, among other things, the cutting of pensions and salaries of the public service and the blocking of bank deposits, provoked a real social revolt, the resignation de la Rúa and a very serious political crisis. After a period of uncertainty, in January 2002 the presidency of the Republic was assumed by the Peronist E. Duhalde. Among the first measures of the new president were the end of the peso-dollar equivalence established by the 1991 convertibility law, the devaluation of 30% of the currency in the controlled exchange rate set by the State for imports of essential goods and the increase in the maximum ceiling for withdrawals from bank accounts. In July 2002 Duhalde announced new presidential elections for the spring of 2003, in an attempt to soften the dramatic climate of social protest. Vast sectors of the middle class were in absolute poverty. In November 2002, the country’s economic credentials took a further hit following a non-payment of the debt to the World Bank, which consequently announced the suspension of any further loans. After heated controversy and the retirement of former President Menem, in May 2003 N. Kirchner, a Peronist on the left wing of the movement, became president. The newly elected immediately engaged in new negotiations with the IMF, which in September of the same year led to an important agreement for the delay in the repayment of loans at subsidized rates. A phase of economic recovery began, which would characterize the following years, with a GDP growth between 2003 and 2005 of 8.8, 9 and 9.1% respectively. On the strength of the results obtained, at the beginning of 2006 Kirchner could announce that he had paid off the debt with the IMF (9.5 billion dollars), which however represented only a small part of the country’s total external debt (about 150 billion dollars). On the domestic front, Kirchner supported the classes most affected by the crisis and a policy of transparency with respect to the period of the military dictatorship (in June 2005 the Supreme Court canceled the amnesty for officers accused of crimes and killings).

Argentina Dictionary of History 2