40 years ago, the CGT mobilized to Plaza de Mayo and challenged the dictatorship

40 years ago, the CGT mobilized to Plaza de Mayo and challenged the dictatorship

The CGT “Brazil”led by the leader of the brewery workers’ union, Saúl Edolver Ubaldinichallenged 40 years ago with a massive mobilization to the civic-military dictatorship, three days before – on March 30, 1982 – that members of the Armed Forces landed in Malvinas with the dual purpose of recovering Argentine sovereignty over the islands and maintaining the social consensus lost after the application of policies that had generated an economic collapse.

As in other moments of Argentine history, the CGT was divided into two centrals four decades ago: one was called “Azopardo“, which had its headquarters in the historic building of the workers’ union, located on that street, and which represented the “more dialogue-oriented” sector, headed by Jorge Triaca.

The other faction, called “Brazil“, was the more combative and was led by Ubaldiniwhich had the support of the historical and influential metallurgical leader, Lawrence Michaelarranged for the organization of that workers’ protest, convened under the slogan of por “Peace, Bread and Work”in the midst of a general decline in the purchasing power of workers.

In March 1981, General Robert Viola assumed the presidency in replacement of Jorge Rafael Videlawhich was withdrawn after five years in which it materialized the greatest genocide in history Argentina.

The new dictator came to power just as the policies of cheap dollar, high indebtedness, tax adjustment and abrupt economic opening designed by José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz -Minister of Economy of Videla- were exhausted. The days of “give me two” and sweet silver were over.

The economic crisis caused the Military Junta to remove Viola in December “for health reasons” and appoint Viola as president. Leopoldo Fortunato Galtierihead of the Army, who had the explicit backing of then US President Ronald reagan.

The CGT Brasil led by Sal Ubaldini called on March 30, 1982 for a massive mobilization against the dictatorship under the slogan Peace, bread and work Photo Archive
The CGT “Brazil”, led by Saúl Ubaldini, called on March 30, 1982 for a massive mobilization against the dictatorship under the slogan “Peace, bread and work”. (File Photo)

Washington looked favorably on the former commander of the second corps, mainly because of the active role who had played in sending Argentine advisers to Honduras and El Salvador.

Lorenzo Sigaut assumed the portfolio of tax authorities and pronounced a paradigmatic phrase at the beginning of his administration: “He who bets on the dollar loses”.

But three months after being sworn in as minister, he led a devaluation of the peso of 30% and another in June for the same percentage.

A was created official exchange market and another parallelthe US currency, which in April was trading at 3 thousand pesosclimbed up to the 10 thousand pesos in October.

Then began to produce some demonstrations of discontent: in June, a strike by the mechanics guild of the SMATA left a balance of more than a thousand detaineeswhile the main automakers announced layoffs and suspensions.

In February 1982, the CGT launched a plan to fight the government presided over by General Galtieri, who under the economic leadership of Robert German there was frozen wages and applied a sharp increase in rates of public services.

The prevailing unease determined the call for a mobilization for March 24, the anniversary of the coup that had overthrown Isabel Perón, but to prevent the call from being seen as a provocationthe union leadership decided march on the 30th.

Telam SE

Under the slogan “Peace, Bread and Work”nail 15 thousand people gathered in the Plaza de Mayo that Tuesday in early autumn, in open defiance of the Military Junta, which prohibited the concentration and unfolded a repressive device with 4,000 police officers in the center of Buenos Aires, and which left a balance of 2,000 detainees.

Similar and massive mobilizations also took place in rosary beads, Mar del Plata, Neuquen, Tucuman and mendozawhere a retiree died as a result of a bullet shot by the repressive forces.

On Cordovaheadquarters of the Third Army Corps, a deployment of troops took place in the center of the city on such a scale that it dissuaded any hint of protest.

“It’s going to end/ It’s going to end/ the military dictatorship”… It was the slogan that resounded that day through the downtown streets, while the Federal infantry attacked the columns of workers and office workers who spontaneously joined the crowd.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and cars circulating without identification through the streets of downtown Buenos Aires were part of a scenario of open confrontation between the protesters and the forces of repressive order.

Telam SE

Political leaders such as Luis León (UCR), Deolindo Bittel (PJ) and Oscar Alende (Intransigent), gathered in the call MultipartyThey described the situation as “a real social explosion“, in a statement released after the mobilization.

The Military Junta needed to produce a fact that would grant legitimacyand although the recovery of the Falklands It was something planned months in advance, the unease that March 30th convinced the members of the regime that the deployment in the islands -which was already underway- was the only way they had to stay in government.

June 15, one day after surrender of the Argentine troops in Malvinas before the troops of the British armed forces, hundreds of citizens attended Plaza de Mayo with different motivations.

In the middle of unrestthe repression and the gases, that song was heard once again, emblem of resistance and popular struggle against authoritarianism: “it is going to end / it is going to end / the military dictatorship”.

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