THE MONTONEROS: Argentina’s National Revolutionaries

By 1970, left-wing followers of General Juan Peron had coalesced around an urban guerrilla group called the Movimiento Peronista Montonero. The Montoneros-about 25,000 strong- hoped that Peron’s return from exile in Spain would transform Argentina into a true “Socialist Fatherland”. As most people will know, Peron and his legendary wife Evita led Argentina during the 1940s and 1950s. Their populist form of Argentinean-based Third Position- known as Justicialismo or Peronism- was acknowledged by even their critics as being very socially progressive. Unfortunately, after his wife’s untimely death, Peron was overthrown by reactionaries in the Army and Roman Catholic Church.

With Peron’s blessings, the Montoneros initiated an intense campaign to destabilize the pro-American (and anti-Peronist) regime then in power. They kidnapped and executed former Argentinean president Pedro Aramburu, foreshadowing the Italian Red Brigades’ assassination of Aldo Moro in 1978. They also seized and held for ransom executives from multinational corporations. Emulating Evita’s passion for charitable work, the Montoneros used ransom money to feed and clothe the poor. Soon the Movement caught the attention of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The fact that the apparently ‘communist’ Castro supported the ‘fascist’ Montoneros shouldn’t come as a big suprise: in his student days, Fidel was often seen reading Hitler’s Mein Kampf and was probably more influenced by that work than by anything Marx himself scribbled. The MPM also maintained close relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization, Columbia’s M-19, and the Spanish Socialist Party.

Ultimately, the Montoneros created a climate that allowed the Peronist party to take power via an election. Peron loyalist Hector Campora became president in 1973, paving the way for the General’s triumphant return. During the Campora interlude, the brave Montoneros emerged from the underground struggle and briefly enjoyed semi-official status. Soon a feud developed between right-wing Peronistas and the leftist Montoneros. The right-wingers feared the prospect of national revolution as envisioned by the Montoneros, favoring instead a compromise with capitalist and conservative institutions like the Church and Army. Right-wingers and Montoneros clashed at Peron’s homecoming ceremony of June 1973, leaving 13 dead and 100 wounded. The rift was made worse when a handful of Montoneros were later charged with plotting to assassinate General Peron and his second wife Isabel. While the majority of Montoneros obviously didn’t want their mentor dead, they also felt clear disappointment over Peron’s drift to the conservative side of the party.

In May 1974, the Montoneros’ suspicions were confirmed: under pressure from the right, General Peron threw the MPM out of the Justicialist movement, calling them “treacherous and mercenary”. Still displaying intense loyalty towards their former leader, however, the Montonaros ‘held their fire’ until after his death on July Ist,1974.

The Montoneros- true to the social revolutionary vision of “authentic Peronism”- had no choice but to commence military operations against the government. Isabel Peron- the new Argentinean president- was essentially a captive in her own palace. Army officers held the real power. Later, even the illusion of a “Peronist” government was discarded: in 1976, Isabel was ousted and the hated military Junta installed.

In the middle of July 1974, Peronist guerrillas struck their first blow by executing a former foreign minister. In September, they abducted two filthy rich brothers, ransoming them off for a whopping $60 million! The Montoneros certainly gave a whole new meaning to the slogan, ‘taxing the rich’. Using their newfound wealth, the Montoneros went on to bomb US installations throughout Argentina. Executives from all the ‘Big Three’ automakers- G.M., Ford, and Chrysler- were murdered, and bomb-laden bouquets delivered to others. The group also sank an Argentine naval ship in 1975, costing the Oligarchy $70 million.

The Junta responded with a “Dirty War” of indiscriminate terror. Up to 30,000 people died or “disappeared” at the hands of the security forces. The Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance (AAA), an officially sanctioned right-wing death squad, was one of the worst offenders. After being tortured in installations like the Navy Mechanics School, victims were then tossed from helicopters into the Atlantic Ocean. The Montoneros suffered heavy losses: 1600 killed in action in 1976 alone.

Despite their heroic resistance, the Montoneros were a spent force by 1977 (although, some did fight on until 1981). The high rate of attrition amongst guerrillas- and their families- simply couldn’t be maintained over a long period of time. Lack of support from the larger Peronist community didn’t help Montonero cause much either!

Like the Strasserists of Nazi Germany and the Mazzini-inspired Corporatists of Fascist Italy, the Montoneros upheld the highest ideals of Peronist Argentina. They fought hard to establish General Peron’s noble vision of a “Socialist Fatherland”, refusing to settle for some tawdry death squad republic.

“Peron, Evita, ni yankis ni marxistas, la patria Peronista”

Long Live Death!

(Originally published in slightly modified form by Dan Canuckistan / Spartacus Press)

 

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2 Responses to THE MONTONEROS: Argentina’s National Revolutionaries

  1. AnonAF says:

    They Died So That the Fatherland Could Live

    (Source: Undated Juventud Perónista leaflet)

    ——————————————————–

    They were a pair of kids just like any of us.

    They were always political; they loved politics with all their souls. They knew that you have to fight to conquer something; that nothing is given to you. And they did it together, from the time they were boys. First in Tacuara, when they were 14, when the desire to enter into action overwhelmed political speculation. They had be active, and they were. From Catholic activism they began to be influenced by the process the renewed church was living through on a worldwide level, a Christianity where the poor would be the privileged. And the poor are Peronist.

    The fight had to advance, but now for something greater, for the whole people. Accompanying this immense unorganized army that was suffering from poverty, repression, the sadness of having its leader disinterred, the wrenching experience of not being able to visit Evita, of knowing they had touched her. The accumulated rage had reached its limits. They could take no more. Everything had been taken from us. We had to prepare ourselves in a different way, be better organized: the hour of the irons had arrived.

    Fernando traveled to receive instruction. Carlos remained in the country to continue the gathering of supplies, to prepare the launching of the group. It was 1967; Ongania had been in power for a year, was secure, spoke of ten years. Fernando and Carlos, together with their compañeros, thought differently. The people’s rage continued to mount.

    Two years of daily labor, without rest, discussing, planning, culminating in a decision: publicly launching the organization. A name for it had to be found. And they did as they always did, discussing it among themselves, by trying to do simple, direct, Peronist things. There were a few criteria, which were that it not be an acronym, but rather a name, which had to be related to Argentine history, not only politically, but also folklorically, but of a folklore that is listened to seriously, in silence and while drinking maté, recuperating acts and struggles; a folklore that was clearly Peronist. They came up with 15 names. Fernando said the word and liked it: Montoneros.

    There was an internal slogan: all or nothing. But aside from rejecting empty verbiage, “Perón or Death” was the all or nothing of Peronism. For Perón everything; without Perón nothing until death. The Long Live the Fatherland, for it was Valle’s final cry before being executed.

    And Aramburu.

    They were two ordinary kids. They weren’t resentful or drug addicts, or among the frustrated who turn to the guerrilla for personal reasons. They were two sons of the exploited who had the same rage as the worker or woman who can’t give their children enough to eat. They were two Perónists. They were two Montoneros.

    If there was something that clearly distinguished them it was toughness, one could almost say asceticism. An absolute discipline, a total subordination of personal life to the political project.

    Fernando was a chief, but if it hadn’t been Fernando, Carlos would have been just as tough as him. In that phase where we had to guarantee the functioning of the group it was essential that there be chiefs. Today perhaps things would be different.

    Carlos was a little more prosaic.

    He always thought about Perón. His fundamental preoccupation was keeping him informed about everything. To give him all the documentation offered by Aramburu. Evita’s corpse had to be recovered; this too was an obsession. All or nothing.

    Nevertheless, reality differed from prior speculation. Living through persecution was different from thinking about it. Fatty Mazza was killed, the first death, the compañero from the first days. Their hearts were touched but they weren’t afflicted. The political betrayal of some Peronist leaders, like Paladino, the personal defamation, the wrenching experience of not being able to return to see parents, family; living encircled, unprotected. But on the other hand a process was growing that filled them with happiness. The people began to talk about them, to recognize them as compañeros. The people’s warmth gave them faith in the certainty of the definitive triumph, in the conviction of dying for the triumph of Perónism.

    One day they died together, as they lived. Like two ordinary kids, Perónists who biting back their rage and from the breasts that were burst open were able to cry out, in the midst of weeping, the “Perón or Death,” the “All or Nothing” for which banners are today being raised, for which multitudes of young people are in movement.

    Fernando and Carlos were two Peronist kids. Two Montoneros. For this they lived. For this they died.

  2. AnonAF says:

    Montoneros 1970

    The Montoneros: Armed Wing of Peronism

    ——————————————————————————–

    Source: Monotoneros, Documentos internos, resoluciones, comunicados y actas de guerra.

    ——————————————————————————–

    September 1970

    Compañeros; The men and women who make up the Montoneros, armed wing of the Peronist movement, have delivered a blow to the gorilla oligarchy, militarily occupying the La Calera and recuperating arms and money which will be used for the struggle to construct a Free, Just, and Sovereign Nation.

    We did this to demonstrate our fighting solidarity with the Peronist people, which has captured the streets, which fights even in the factories in defense of legitimate aspirations and rights, and as a repudiation of the governing farce of the day. The Montoneros warned the People of Cordoba against the maneuvers of the gorillas who inside and out the government want to embark us on a new electoral fraud; one in which we can’t vote for Perón, joined by a few of the usual defectors who call themselves Peronist leaders and who repudiate the people’s armed resistance and who want elections because they know the fraud will be even greater.

    The people must unite, without partisan sectarianism, behind the intransigent banners of the resistance, seeking to prepare, organize and arm themselves. And let the traitors, sellouts, torturers, and the enemies of the working class know that the people will no longer only receive blows, because today it is ready to return them and strike where it hurts.

    Only by fighting will we succeed in recovering what is ours. The Montoneros call for armed resistance for a Free, Just and Sovereign Fatherland.

    With Perón in the Fatherland

    PERÓN OR DEATH
    MONTONEROS

    ——————————————————————————–

    Montoneros Archive

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