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Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli

In November 1981 president Viola was taken ill. That same month a mass demonstration for "peace, bread, and work" was held in Buenos Aires with the participation of church, political, labor, and human rights organizations. On December 11 the military forced Viola to resign from office and appointed the army commander, General Leopoldo Galtieri, to the presidency.

Soon after Galtieri's inauguration, the Multipartidaria issued a statement that repudiated the military's doctrine of national security and called for national reconciliation, liberalization of the political process, and free elections for 1984.

Galtieri's rise to power took place outside the legal procedure of the National Reorganization Process and undermined the legality the military had been so careful to create in 1976. His seizure of power brought a sense of malaise to the Argentine populace, but hard-liner Galtieri was determined to overcome the odds, become a popular president, and ensure his election to the office in three years. He moved to place civilians at the head of provincial governments, thus trying to move away from military domination of public offices at a time when he also imposed strong economic controls. Meanwhile, triple-digit inflation, numerous currency devaluations, and rising foreign indebtedness and unemployment marked a deepening economic crisis that brought on political crises.

On March 31, 1982, a series of antigovernment demonstrations took place throughout the country that were met with force, particularly in the cities of Mendoza and Buenos Aires. The alternatives facing the military ranged from relinquishing power in favor of civilian leaders to the hardening of military rule. In April 1982 the military carried out what proved to be a suicidal move to rally popular support around the government war with the UK over the Falklands.

For more than two months the propaganda machine in Argentina worked feverishly. On June 15, however, Galtieri acknowledged the military defeat. It was not only the war that had been lost, but the military's professional competence was also brought into question, as well as its capacity to provide political leadership for Argentina. The war dealt a fatal blow to Galtieri's political aspirations and prompted the president's resignation on June 17.

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Page last modified: 07-01-2015 18:41:04 ZULU