José Alonso (trade unionist)

José Alonso (trade unionist)

José Alonso (Montserrat, Buenos Aires, 6 February 1917 - 1970) was an Argentine politician and trade-unionist.

Early life

José Alonso was the son of a Spanish tailor, and dedicated himself to the same profession. He was first elected syndicalist representant of the tailors in 1938. Alonso supported at first socialism and Alfredo L. Palacios, but was nevertheless one of the first to support the ascending colonel Juan Domingo Perón, Secretary of Labor of the military government in power since June 4, 1943.

On 23 March, 1943, Alonso created the SOIVA ("Sindicato de la Industria del Vestido de la Capital Federal", Trade-Union of Garnment Industry of Capital Federal) textile trade-union to counter the influence of the communist "Federación Obrera del Vestido" (FOV, Workers' Federation of Garnment). Supported by Perón, the SOIVA soon became one of the strongest trade-unions of Argentina. Again, in 1945 and also with support of the military "junta", Alonso founded the FONIVA ("Federación Obrera Nacional de la Industria del Vestido") national federation, and became its vice-secretary.

During the Peronist government

José Alonso, elected secretary of the SOIVA in 1946, became part of the Confederal Central Comitee of the CGT trade-union. He travelled abroad, being delegate of Argentine workers' in serveral conferences of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and took part in the formation of the "ATLAS" ("Agrupación de Trabajadores Latinoamericanos Sindicalistas", a Latin American trade-union confederation) in 1952.

He married at that time María Luisa Pinella, another trade-unionist who had earnt Eva Perón's trust.

José Alonso then participated, along with other unionist leaders, as representant of the CGT, to the First National Congress of Philosophy, in Mendoza (March-April 1949), which contributed to set the bases of the Peronist movement.

He also collaborated to the creation of the FATRE ("Federación Argentina de Trabajadores Rurales y Estibadores") and was a member of the directorship of the "Fundación Eva Perón" from 1952 to 1955, as well as secretary of the directorship of the EPASA, which published "La Prensa" and other newspapers.

Alonso was elected deputy of the Capital Federal from 1952 to 1955. He participated to the elaboration of the law on collective bargaining and the law on the pay of free day for workers working at home.

"Revolución Libertadora"

Following the 1955 "Revolución Libertadora", a military putsch which ousted Perón, Alonso was detained, before being unexpectedly released on 25 June, 1956. Apparently that was an error, and the "junta" tried to capture him again, but Alonso managed to join Perón in his Venezuelian exile. He then participated to the negotiations between Perón and Rogelio Frigerio, representant of the presidential candidate Arturo Frondizi (Intransigent Radical Civic Union, UCRI, president from 1958 to 1962).

Alonso returned to Argentina in 1957, and was again detained, for several months, following the strike in the "Frigorífico Nacional Lisandro de la Torre". He then tried to re-organize his former group of textile workers, as the trade-union's direction had been named by the dictatorship.

In March 1960, he was again elected as secretary general, and participated in the "CGT de la Resistencia o Auténtica", headed by the steelworker Armando Cabo (the father of Dardo Cabo who would join the Monteneros). He authorized his union's adhesion to the "62 Organizaciones", a Peronist trade-union association created following the 1957 CGT Congress.

General Secretary of the CGT

Alonso became a member of the "Commission of the 20", an unionist organization which gathered Peronists and independants, and headed the CGT following its legalization by Frondizi's government on 28 February, 1961. Until 1963, the CGT was not completely institutionnaly normalized. In 1963, José María Guido's government (1962-1963) authorized the CGT Normalization Congress, in which 100 trade-unions were present, the 62 Organizations presented José Alonso as candidate to the direction of the CGT. He was thus elected on 1st February, 1963.

Alonso supported at first political reforms issued by Arturo Illia's new president (1963-1966), such as the cancelling of oil contracts subscribed by Frondizi. But on December 4, 1963, he presented a 15 points petition list, which requested increased wages, rupture with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), active participation of workers' in the state firms and the elimination of unemployment.

A few days later, he started his speech in La Boca by declaring: "Viva 1964 because it is the year in which Perón will return to the country." He then headed the CGT's struggle against Illia's policies ("Plan de Acción"), between March 1964 and July 1965. On 21 May, 1964, around 80 factories of the Greater Buenos Aires were occupied, and 6 other strikes were organized under the CGT's leadership, followed by 3,900,000 workers and 11,000 working sites.

The plan, initially supported by independants among the CGT, then lead to the resignation of the graphist and vice-secretary general of the CGT, Héctor Riego Ribas, who opposed himself to the mobilization in favor of Perón's return.

"Operativo Retorno" and the break with Vandor

In December 1964, Alonso participated to the organization of "Operativo Retorno" (Operation Return), aimed at bringing back Perón from exile. The Operation was defeated however by the government.

In 1965, he was reelected as representant of the CGT, and began to break with the steelworker Augusto Vandor, who headed the 62 Organizations and wanted more independance from Perón's directives, launching the famous the "mot d'ordre" "A Peronism without Perón". Along with Lorenzo Pepe, Andrés Framini and Amado Olmos, he founded against the Vandoristas the "62 Organizaciones "De pie junto a Perón"".

When María Estela Martínez, Perón's third wife, travelled to Argentina to head the opposition to Vandor, Alonso became her main counsellor. Meanwhile, the government and the military supported internal struggles among the CGT, following the "divide to reign" policy.

Despite open support from Perón and his wife, José Alonso lost his functions at the CGT on 2 February, 1966, under pressures from the Vandoristas, and was replaced by Fernando Donaires.

The CGT General Congress then named as general secretary Francisco Padro, a man from the Vandorista trade-union "Luz y Fuerza".

Alonso then decided a new turn. Using his good relationship with the diplomacy, the Church and the Armed Forces, he supported a coup d'Etat against Arturo Illia's elected government, and managed to reach an agreement with Vandor, both unified in a common criticisms of liberal democracy [ He declared, in 1965: "El país comienza a salir de la crisis para entrar al caos. Este corsette de la constitución ahoga al país y lo desgarra"] .

Onganía's dictatorship

Following Juan Carlos Onganía's military coup of 28 June, 1966, Alonso declared: "We congratulate ourselves in having witnessed the fall of the last bourgeois liberal government, because it will never be able to establish itself here again." [ Spanish: "nos congratulamos de haber asistido a la caída del último gobierno liberal burgués, porque jamás podrá volver implantarse nada así" ] .

The main trade unionist leaders, Vandor, Prado, Juan José Taccone ("Luz y Fuerza") and Alonso participated to the intronisation of the new "de facto" president Onganía. Along with Rogelio Coria, José Alonso participated to the "Nueva Corriente de Opinión", which, headed by Juan José Taccone, from "Luz y Fuerza", supported a "partipationist" or "collaborationist" attitude with the military regime. A new tendency, opposed to the latter, formed in the workers' movement, headed by Amado Olmos, Raimundo Ongaro, Julio Guillán, Jorge Di Pasquale, Ricardo De Luca, Atilio Santillán and Agustín Tosco.

However, trade unionists, and in particular José Alonso, began to oppose themselves to Onganía's dictatorship following Perón 's public condemnation of the military regime in September 1966. On 21 November, 1966, Alonso stated that the military's policies were handing out the country to foreign hands.

The break with the military "junta" became definitive with the nomination of the orthodox liberal Adalbert Krieger Vasena to the Economic and Labor Ministry, in December 1966. The government began to detain trade unionists. In May 1967, Francisco Prado resigned from his functions as CGT general secretary, and called forth a Normalization Congress, end of March 1968. The radical tendency, opposed to collaboration with the military, won the elections, the graphist Ongaro being elected general secretary. Since the "participationists" (Vander, Alonso, etc.) retained control of the CGT's headquarters, Ongaro headed a split, leading to the creation of the "CGT de los Argentinos".

In this context, the Cordobazo riots of 1969 erupted, followed by the assassination of Vandor on 30 June, 1969. Ongaro's CGT de los Argentinos was outlawed, while the CGT itself was temporarily suspended. On 4 July, 1970, the right-wing unionist and steelworker José Ignacio Rucci was elected general secretary of the CGT.

Assassination

Alonso was assassinated on August 27, 1970, allegedly by Peronist left-wing militants, although the crime has never been solved. He was burried in La Chacarita Cemetery.

References


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