Argentine Revolt (1955)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Argentine military vs. the
government of Juan Perón
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Argentina
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Perón alienated much of
Argentine society, including the Catholic Church.
Following his excommunication, elements of the military
twice moved against Perón to force his resignation.
OUTCOME: The action of the Argentine military (primarily
the navy) overthrew Perón and installed a military
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
4,000 naval personnel successfully ousted Perón.
CASUALTIES: At least 400 deaths, mainly civilian
Juan Perón (1895–1974) became president of Argentina in
1946 in large part on the strength of his promise of economic
justice for the disaffected working class, a political
stance inspired to a great extent by his wife, Eva Perón
(1919–52), an enormously popular actress who was idolized
by the so-called descamisados, the “shirtless ones,” a
vast underclass who saw her as a kind of intercessor with
the powers that be. When “Evita” succumbed to cancer on
July 26, 1952, the social heart of the Perón administration
died as well. Not only did the people lose their faith in
Juan Perón’s concern for them, but Perón himself moved
toward the right and away from the concerns of the poor.
Beginning at the time of Evita’s death, Perón’s opponents,
who included prominent merchants, the landed
aristocracy, the military high command, and the Catholic
Church, began to exploit the growing weakness of the dictator’s
support. The anti-Perón momentum gathered, and
on June 16, 1955, after the Vatican excommunicated the
dictator (for his record of anticlerical reforms), units of
the Argentine navy and air force rose up against Perón. His
residence, the Casa Rosada, or Pink Palace, was attacked
from the air. The army, however, remained loyal to the dictator
and moved against the Naval Ministry. Once that was
captured, the revolt died down. Some 400 persons had
been killed, mostly civilian victims of gunfire and aerial
A new revolt broke out on September 16, 1955,
engulfing Buenos Aires and inciting some 4,000 members
of the navy, led by Admiral Isaac Rojas (1896–1956), to
threaten an assault on the capital. Under threat of naval
bombardment, Perón fled on September 20, making his
way to Paraguay aboard a gunboat of the Paraguayan navy.
He remained in exile for two decades, returning in 1973
(see ARGENTINE “DIRTY WAR”).
See also ARGENTINE REVOLT (1951); ARGENTINE REVOLTS
(1962–1963); PERONIST REVOLTS.
Further reading: Robert D. Crassweller, Perón and the
Enigmas of Argentina (New York: Norton, 1988); John
Dechancie, Juan Perón (New York: Chelsea House, 1988);
Frederick C. Turner, Juan Perón and the Reshaping of
Argentina (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1983).