Castillo, Ramón (1873–1944)
Castillo, Ramón (1873–1944)
Ramón Castillo (November 20, 1873–October 12, 1944), a conservative born in the northern province of Catamarca, became vice president of Argentina in the fraudulent presidential elections of 1937. As appointed governor of Tucumán during the Uriburu dictatorship and former minister of education under President José Agustín Pedro Justo, Castillo's candidacy won support from nationalist and religious sectors. His rise to power was facilitated by the illness of President Roberto Ortiz, who handed over his office in 1940.
The historical context in which Castillo governed was marked by three principal issues: the nature and form of state intervention in the economy; the problem of the legitimacy of political authority, given the contradiction between democratic principles and their enactment in practice; and the conflict during World War II between supporters of the Allies and those who promoted neutrality in international affairs. On the first issue, there was clearly a policy of state intervention closely linked to the promotion of industries with ties to the military. On the second issue, the institutional framework under Castillo showed a clear break with the more pro-democratic programs of his predecessor. In contrast with Ortiz, Castillo agreed to electoral fraud and legitimated it, first in the provinces of Mendoza and Santa Fe and then in the province of Buenos Aires itself. He governed under a state of siege and outlawed hundreds of public events.
At the Conference of Rio de Janeiro in January 1942, the Argentine government, in contrast to Mexico, refused to support a break in relations with Germany and Italy. Clearly illustrating the regime's sympathies with Germany was a ban on exhibiting the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator (1940) in Argentina. Although Castillo lacked his own base of support—a circumstance that explains a certain degree of ambivalence in his political discourse—his administration had the backing of nationalist segments of the army and the Catholic Church. He was overthrown in a military coup in June 1943 that opened the way for the political ascendance of Colonel Perón, and died on October 12 of that year.
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