Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012
The Third Peronist Government’s Economic Plan.
Gelbard’s Term (1973-1974)
Cecilia Vitto

In this framework, the main weaknesses of the economic policy implemented during Gelbard’s terms were fundamentally linked to the structural place of social fractions and capital in this plan. A number of questions arise related to this topic.

In the first place, the absorption of the salary increase that came along with implementing the Social Pact weighed much more heavily on non-labor intensive industries, which, as Di Tella proposed (1983: 197), made up the policy base of the cge, which was also one of the “founding” parties of this policy. In this sense, it can be concluded that one of the main limitations of the short term economic policy was that it was more hurtful to “allied” sectors — the “national bourgeoisie” — and moreover, these sectors were weaker and less able to face a reduction in profits. Despite its ideological “adherence” to the implemented policy, this scenario would explain the “participation” of some of these sectors in supply shortages and in the black market.

In the second place, this situation was closely linked to an aspect mentioned by various authors who have studied this time period (Di Tella, 1983: 203, Canitrot, 1975: 335): the policy to freeze prices was only effective at a determined moment to counteract expectations, applied in a temporary fashion. For the case in question, the prolonged freezing of prices in the context of an international scenario that resulted in a strong increase in imported inputs generated significant losses in profitability, which played a major role in explaining the situation described in the paragraph above. In a context in which the international scenario was changing, the program ended up mainly affecting the principal sectors that were meant to sustain it.

In this sense, it is relevant that violating the maximum price policy was something done not only by sectors that opposed the government, but also by businessmen that ideologically adhered to the main guidelines of the implemented policy. Because the cge stood by the entire term of Gelbard, it was unable to articulate that its members were unhappy. This was significant because, as Torre indicated (2004: 77), medium and large enterprises, which were less subject to official control (and at the same time, the group most damaged by the salary increase policy), would have most flagrantly violated the price policy.

All of this was in combination with a subordinated role of the cgt in the Social Pact, as the union leaders were compelled to accept its participation, relegating away one of the most substantial questions of their platform: the fight for income levels. By contrast, businessmen maintained the choice to invest as one of their powers, which meant they had some level of control over crucial economic variables. To this “involuntary” participation, it can be added that the worker central was questioned and limited by the worker bases, who saw the Social Pact as a betrayal, and were extremely mobilized during this entire time period. Although salaries were frozen, labor conflicts proliferated during this time period, fighting for improved labor conditions as well as salary increases, and these ended up affecting the businessmen in fights within the factories, beyond the official freezes. This context of mobilization provided pressure “from below” and impacted (from the bases) how cgt acted.

From the previous, it becomes clear that the Social Pact was put into question, to a certain extent, by two central elements of the governing alliance. It should be added here that practically since the beginning of the government (but more so since the “fall” of Cámpora), the “leftist” sectors (which had a major role in returning Peronism to government), were not only relegated to a lower position in the governmental project (more and more as time went on), but were also progressively opposed to the economic policy implemented. Organizations associated with “youth” felt that the Social Pact was a “bourgeoisie project” of owners and businessmen, which exploited the people (Baschetti, 1996).

If these elements had an impact on the effective capacity of the proposed economic project, it can also be said that a series of limits arose from the fractions that this project intended to restructure. In this sense, there are two key examples: the policy to foster industry for sectors considered “strategic,” and the encouragement of industrial exports.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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