3 minute read

Juan Perón: 1895-1974: Former Argentine President

Began Military Training

Though he had toyed with the idea of pursuing medicine, he decided at fifteen to join the military and enrolled in the Argentine Military College in 1911. Academically he was average, but Perón soon proved himself in sports, particularly fencing and for a while was the army's fencing champion. Upon graduation from the Academy in 1913 Perón was appointed second lieutenant in the army's infantry division. According to Robert J. Alexander in his book Juan Domingo Perón: A History, "it was in this early part of his military career that [Perón] first took an interest in social problems. He claimed that he had been impressed frequently by the poor state of many of the conscripts who came into the army each year. He said that he talked with many of them to find out about the conditions under which they had been brought up."

At a Glance . . .

Born on October 8, 1895, in Lobos, Buenos Aires, Argentina; son of Mario Tomás Perón and Juana Sosa Toledo; died on July 1, 1974, in Buenos Aires; married Aurelia Tizon, 1928, (died 1938); married Eva María Ibarguren Duarte, 1944, (died 1951); married Isabel. Education: Argentine Military College, 1911-13; Superior College of War, 1926-29. Politics: Perónist.

Career: Ascended military ranks from second lieutenant to colonel, 1913-43; Vice-President of Argentina, Labor Secretary, and Minister of War, 1943-45; President of Argentina, 1945-54, 1973-74.

Memberships: Founded Perónist political party, 1945.

From 1926 until 1929 he continued his military training at the Superior College of War and by 1928 had become a Captain. During this time he met a young schoolteacher named Aurelia Tizon. They were married in 1928 and, though he rarely spoke of their liaison in his later years, by all accounts the marriage was a happy union until her death in 1938 of cancer. In 1930 Perón had his first taste of political machinations when the military rose in revolt against then-president Hipolito Irigoyen. Perón is said to have been one of the captains involved in seizing the presidential palace, Casa Rosada. In later years he downplayed his role as Irigoyen was revered by the labor groups that would eventually form the bulk of Perón's constituency.

In 1931 Perón was promoted to Major and in subsequent years held a teaching position at the College of War, published several books on military history, and spent a year in Chile as a military attaché. Though he was respected as a soldier, dutifully ascending the ranks, his career was not outstanding and there was nothing about him that foreshadowed the leader he was to become. In 1936 he made lieutenant colonel and soon after the death of Tizon was sent to Italy to observe alpine military method. At this time Adolf Hitler's Nazi party was rapidly ascending to power and Perón became convinced that the Nazis would win the ensuing World War. Perón was also impressed by fascism as practiced by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. According to Alexander, Perón's Italian foray "gave him a chance to study in some detail and at first hand the way in which the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini had reorganized, or tried to reorganize, Italian society." Perón's later fascist leanings were attributed to this experience.

When Perón returned to Argentina in 1941 he was assigned to a mountaineering outfit. The following year he became a full colonel. At this time the military regime was beginning to schism. Political corruption was rampant, the then-president Ramon Castillo was considered to have achieved his post fraudulently, and World War II had caused a rift among those who felt Argentina should support the German powers and those who wished to remain neutral. In this atmosphere Perón formed the Group of United Officers or GOU, a secret organization whose main goal was to prevent the upcoming presidential election of Castillo's handpicked successor. On June 4, 1943, GOU executed a military coup that ousted Castillo and his cronies and installed General Pedro Pablo Ramirez as president.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - PersonalJuan Perón: 1895-1974: Former Argentine President Biography - Began Military Training, Courted Argentine Workers, Ascension Of Saint Evita