Hi all. For this week’s reflections, I will be commenting on a video, entitled ’’Power to the People: Peronism’’, as well as on the broader Peronist movement.
Firstly, the first part of the video outlines Peron as an opportunist who only saw this rise of the labour movement as an opportunity for him to gain political power. This is not only inaccurate but also based on speculation. This is also reinforced by the fact that he was a civil servant for a long time, being a Lt. General for over 30 years in the Argentine military, as well as serving in different high-ranking senior government positions, including that of Secretary of Labour and Social Security, and Minister of War. Although I do not fully agree with the Peronist philosophy, painting this picture without stating facts to back it up can appear dishonest.
Additionally, as the video rightly points out, the Peronist movement was originating from a need of representation from the labour and working class, which had just seen a tremendous influx of people from Europe, mostly in relation to the Great War. In a way, Peron was seen as the cure to the ill that had plagued Argentine politics for long, with a long line of political and military insiders and leaders with fascist or corporatist ideological leanings preceding him. This was, however, not entirely accurate, as he was himself a military general and a member of the political class. Despite this, his charisma, political stances and discourse made him appealing to the Argentine people, and made him one of the first popular populists in history.
This is a theme that is still very much true in modern politics, whether in Latin American politics or otherwise. Indeed, in the United States, people like Ross Perot, famous multi billionaire oil tycoon who ran for President twice as an independent, Tea Party politicians, Donald Trump, and others, although being part of the political and financial elite, adopt populist rhetoric and are portrayed as ’’men of the people’’, even though their policies often times do not reflect this portrayal. Similarly, in Latin America, self-described ’’populists’’, including the Perons, as well as others, including Vargas in Brazil, Ibarra in Ecuador, and Chavez in Venezuela, are characterized as leaders of the people and populists although they had militaristic, authoritarian or even dictatorial and fascistic tendencies as rulers. We in Canada, for now, have been spared of this dichotomy, and have not had our share of authoritarian populist rulers. Some exception may be made with Quebec, which was ruled by Maurice Duplessis, whose time in office was accurately characterized as La grande noirceur (The Great Darkness) due to his crackdown on left-leaning ideology, trade unions, civil liberties and his promotion of a heavily Catholic State.