Juan Domingo Perón (October 8, 1895July 1, 1974) was an Argentine military officer and the President of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and from 1973 to 1974.

Juan Perón was elected three times as President of Argentina.
Juan Perón was elected three times as President of Argentina.

Born in a town near Lobos, Province of Buenos Aires, he was the son of Mario Tomás Perón, a farmer, and Juana Sosa. He entered the Military School at age 16 and following graduation he made good progress through the ranks. He served in Italy during the late 1930s as a military observer.

In May 1943, as a colonel, he was a significant figure in the military coup by the GOU (United Officers' Group) against the civilian government of Ramón Castillo. Initially Under-Secretary for War under General Pedro Ramírez, he became Secretary of Labour and Welfare (November 1943) and then Vice President and Secretary for War under General Edelmiro Farrell (February 1944).

Forced into resignation by opponents within the armed forces on October 9, 1945, Perón was arrested shortly afterward, but mass demonstrations organized by the CGT trade union federation forced his release (October 17), and popular support gained him the presidency with 56 percent of the vote in the February 24, 1946 elections.

Perón pursued social policies aimed at empowering the working class. He greatly expanded the number of unionized workers, and helped establish the powerful General Confederation of Labour (CGT). He called this the "third position", between capitalism and communism, although he was strongly anti-American and anti-British. He confiscated much of the British and American-owed assets in Argentinia. Perón also pushed hard to industrialize the country; in 1947 he announced the first five-year plan to boost newly nationalized industries. His ideology would be dubbed peronism and became a central influence in Argentine political parties. In the late 1940s, Argentinia became a leading haven for Nazi war criminals.

Also despite his right wing tendencies, he resisted the entreaties of the military in 1943 to crack down on homosexuality. Instead he ordered the police and judiciary to let up on their gay-baiting.

Perón married Aurelia Tizón on January 5, 1929, but she died of uterine cancer thirteen years later. Perón married Eva Duarte (19191952) on October 21, 1945 and was hugely popular. Known as Evita, she helped her husband develop support with labour and women's groups. She died of cancer in 1952 at the age of thirty-three. Perón won re-election in 1951, but economic problems, high levels of corruption and conflict with the Roman Catholic Church contributed to his overthrow in an army-navy coup in September 1955. He went into exile in Paraguay, eventually settling in Madrid. He married nightclub singer Isabel Martínez de Perón in 1961.

In Argentina, the 1950s and 1960s were marked by frequent changes of government and low economic growth and continued social and labour demands. When the governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism from groups like the pro-Perón Montoneros in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Perón's return. General Alejandro Lanusse had taken power in March 1971 and had declared his intention to restore constitutional democracy by 1973. From exile Perón supported left-wing Peronists and the more active unions.

On March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections. Although Perón was prevented from running, voters elected his stand-in, Héctor Cámpora, as president. Cámpora resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections. By now Argentina was in such shambles political leaders were literally begging Perón to return. Perón traveled back to his homeland, and won a decisive electoral victory. He became President for a third time in October 1973 with his wife Isabel as Vice President.

The new Perón regime was disrupted by conflict between his leftist and rightist supporters; as Perón became more right-wing, there was a high level of terrorist acts. In an attempt to restore public order, the government resorted to a number of emergency decrees. Perón died on July 1, 1974 with the problems unresolved and was succeeded by Isabel. She was overthrown on March 24, 1976 by a military junta, headed by General Jorge Videla.

Perón is buried in Cementerio de la Chacarita in Buenos Aires. Curiously, his tomb was profaned in 1987 and the hands of his corpse were stolen. To this date, who did it and why still remains a mystery.

Preceded by:
Edelmiro Julián Farrell
President of Argentina
First and Second Mandates

Succeeded by:
Eduardo Lonardi

Template:End box

Preceded by:
Raúl Alberto Lastiri
President of Argentina
Third Mandate

Succeeded by:
Isabel Martínez de Perón

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