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Montoneros, the best-known guerrilla arm of Argentine Peronism. The Montoneros emerged in 1964 in the clandestine Movimiento Revolucionario Peronista (Peronist Revolutionary Movement, MRP), dedicated to struggle against the current regime and to making a revolution following the seizure of power. MRP members styled themselves Montoneros after the gaucho bands of the Wars of Independence. The MRP's initial struggle was against the reformist followers of Juan Perón headed by Augusto Vandor of the Confederación General del Trabajo (General Confederation of Labor, CGT). When the military overthrew President Arturo Illía in June 1966, the CGT supported the coup and sought an immediate understanding with the military. In 1968 the CGT split in two, and in May 1969 the conflict deepened with the outbreak of the Córdoba insurrection (the Cordobazo). Vandor, who failed to support the insurrection, was murdered by revolutionaries. Armed bands emerged in the aftermath: The Fuerzas Armadas Peronistas (Peronist Armed Forces) and the Juventud Peronista (Peronist Youth) Montoneros. The latter, deeply influenced by Juan García Elorrio and soon under the leadership of Mario Firmenich, fused the views of Che Guevara and the revolutionary Catholicism of the Colombian priest Camilo Torres. On the anniversary of the Cordobazo the Montoneros announced they had executed former President Pedro Aramburu for alleged crimes against the Argentine people. The Communist Fuerzas Armadas de la Liberación (Liberation Armed Forces), the Trotskyite Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (People's Revolutionary Army), and the Peronist Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (Revolutionary Armed Forces) also took the field; the latter merged with the Montoneros in 1973, creating the largest of the armed groups. Robberies, kidnappings, municipal insurrections, and other actions against the military government increased in 1971 and 1972.

General Alejandro Lanusse entered into negotiations with Juan Perón—still in exile in Madrid—with a view to restoring him to power in return for a commitment to control revolutionary Peronism. Perón's return from Spain was marked by a pitched battle among Peronist factions at Ezeiza Airport. Denying his sympathies to youthful radicals and to a "Socialist fatherland," Perón during his brief incumbency (July 1973 to his death one year later) failed to resolve the struggle between revolutionaries and reformists, much less the nation's socioeconomic crisis. The Montoneros went underground in September 1974; in November the government of Isabel Perón declared a state of siege. Peronist violence and the government's counteroffensive of terror, the dirty war, escalated during 1975. Restored to rule by a coup in March 1976, the armed forces took direct charge of antiguerrilla operations. These were so successful that by 1978 the Left organizations had been dispersed or destroyed; thousands of militants (and thousands of passive leftists or innocent citizens) had been kidnapped, imprisoned without charge, tortured, raped, exiled, or murdered. One who escaped was Mario Firmenich; in 1984, following Argentina's return to parliamentary democracy, he was extradited from Brazil and jailed. He was amnestied (with a group of military criminals) by President Carlos Saúl Menem in 1990.

See alsoGuevara, Ernesto "Che"; Lanusse, Alejandro Augusto; Perón, Juan Domingo; Vandor, Augusto.


Donald C. Hodges, Argentina, 1943–1987: The National Revolution and Resistance (rev. ed. 1988).

Additional Bibliography

Amorín, José. Montoneros: La buena historia. Buenos Aires: Catálogos, 2005.

Calveiro, Pilar. Política y/o violencia: Una aproximación a la guerrilla de los años 70. Buenos Aires: Norma, 2005.

Chaves, Gonzalo Leonidas, and Jorge Omar Lewinger. Los del 73: Memoria montonera. La Plata: Editorial de la Campana, 1998.

Flaskamp, Carlos. Organizaciones político-militares: Testimonio de la lucha armada en la Argentina, 1968–1976. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Nuevos Tiempos, 2002.

Lewis, Paul H. Guerrillas and Generals: The "Dirty War" in Argentina. Westport: Praeger, 2002.

Moyano. María José. Argentina's Lost Patrol: Armed Struggle, 1969–1979. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

Zamorano, Eduardo. Peronistas revolucionarios: Un análisis político del apogeo y crisis de la organización Montoneros. Buenos Aires: Distal, 2005.

                                     Ronald C. Newton

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