This Day in the Law
October 12

Juan Perón Elected President of Argentina After 18 Years of Exile (1974)

On October 12, 1974, Juan Domingo Perón was elected to his third term as President of Argentina after 18 years of exile from the country.

Perón was born near Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1895. He entered the military at the age of 16 and steadily rose in the ranks. In the late 1930's, Perón became a Lieutenant Colonel and leading officer in the Argentine Army. He patterned his philosophy after communist leaders like Italy’s Benito Mussolini and won the positions of Secretary of War and then Secretary of Labor.

During World War II, Perón successfully plotted with others to overtake President Ramón Castillo. Perón was then awarded the position of Vice President by the new President Edelmiro Farrell. In late 1945, certain factions tried to oust Perón from office. However, Perón had recently married his second wife, Evita Duarte, and she gracefully and tactfully restored his power in the military and among the people. In 1946, Juan was elected to his first term as president of Argentina.

Evita was a signer, actress, and debutante. The media and working class adored her. Evita, along with Juan, became Latin American celebrities and were cherished by millions. The Peróns worked to eliminate poverty, promote labor, and expand other social programs. In 1951, Juan was elected to his second term as president. However, his popularity began to diminish in his second term.

The working class of Argentina began to lose faith in Juan Perón because the economy began to falter and many of his programs and plans were failing. To make matters worse, Evita passed away a year into his second term. Perón then tried to legalize prostitution and divorce and that was his last chance – he was excommunicated from Argentina by the people and military.

Perón spent the next 18 years in exile, mainly in Spain and Venezuela. Remarkably, Perón still managed to stay involved in Argentina’s politics and many politicians met Perón in exile for advice and support. By the early 1970s, many people in Argentina wanted Perón back.

Perón came back to Argentina and millions came to support him. However, bloodshed also erupted, and the current president stepped down for Perón to take over. On this day, October 11, 1973, Juan Perón was elected to his third term as Argentina’s President after 18 years in exile. He died one year later of a heart attack.

Today, Perón and his second wife Eva Duarte are regarded as icons by many in Agentina, while others viewed the Peróns as merely dictators. Still, the Peróns made a mark on Latin America in the 20th century unlike nearly any other stately couple.