Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
Juan Perón was born on October 8, 1895. When Juan was 6, his father moved to a harsher region of Argentina, Patagonia. Juan was sent to a boarding school at age 9, and moved to the military college at 16. He was assigned to a post in the infantry, and ended up commanding it. He kept moving up in the system, and eventually became a military observer in Europe in 1938. While there, he started admiring Benito Mussolini’s way of governing. He returned to Argentina just before World War II started.
After Perón returned, he supported a coup against then-president Ramón Castillo, and was given the post of Secretary of War, then was moved to Secretary of Labor. He made many reforms in this second role, most of which helped the laborers. He he had been promoted to Vice President by 1944, and, in 1945, conservative politicians attempted to remove him from office. However, protests erupted as news of this attempt was revealed.
Perón was elected president in 1946. While in office, he increased employment and economic growth, nationalized banks and railways, raised wages, and built more schools and hospitals, plus other various worker-minded changes. He also managed to have good relations with both the United States and the USSR.
His second term, however, didn’t go as well. The economy stalled, and people started losing faith in him. He was excommunicated from the Catholic Church after attempting to legalize prostitution and divorce. Perón attempted to hold a rally to protest this move, but, during the rally, his conservative opponents in the military dropped bombs on the protesters. On September 16, 1955, Juan Perón was forcefully removed from office and exiled from Argentina.
Perón spent the next 18 years between Spain and Venezuela. During this time, the new government made any support of him illegal, including even the mention of his name. While exiled, Perón supported many Argentinean politicians, and these politicians quite often won. One of these, Héctor Cámpora, was elected to president in 1973. He allowed Perón to return to Argentina, and more than three million people showed up at the airport. Sadly, right-wing Perónists had set up snipers, and the snipers killed at least 13 left-wing Perónists.
When Cámpora stepped down, Perón won the election by a landslide. During his third and final term, left wingers and right wingers fought for power. Somehow, Perón kept this violence to a minium during his year in office.
Jose Perón died on July 1, 1974, from a heart attack. His political mindset is still lives in Argentinian politics in the Peronists and the Justicialists.