Leopoldo Galtieri

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Leopoldo Galtieri
44th President of Argentina
De facto
In office
22 December 1981 – 18 June 1982
Preceded byRoberto Viola
Succeeded byAlfredo Oscar Saint Jean
Personal details
Born(1926-07-15)15 July 1926
Caseros, Buenos Aires Province[1] Argentina
Died12 January 2003(2003-01-12) (aged 76)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Spouse(s)Lucia Noei Gentile
Military service
Branch/serviceArgentine Army
Years of service1943–1982
RankLieutenant General

Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri Castelli (15 July 1926 – 12 January 2003) was an Argentine general and politician. He served as President of Argentina from 22 December 1981 to 18 June 1982. This was during the last military dictatorship[2] (known officially as the National Reorganization Process).[3] He was removed from power soon after the British retook the Falkland Islands, whose invasion he had ordered.

Early life[change | change source]

Galtieri was born in the Buenos Aires area. He entered the Argentine Army, and studied engineering. He was a skilled engineer, and he rose quickly through the ranks of the Argentine military. In 1975, he became the head of the Engineering Corps of the army.

When Jorge Rafael Videla took power a year later, Galtieri supported him. Videla was a brutal dictator, and thousands of people were murdered under his rule.

Presidency[change | change source]

In 1981, Videla stepped down. Galtieri took power late that year after removing Roberto Viola in a coup d'état. Although not as brutal as Videla, he continued the "Dirty War."

The United States supported Galtieri. He was a strong anti-communist. Because of this, the United States saw Argentina as an ally against the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

Soon after Galtieri took power, the Argentine economy was about to fall apart. Inflation, the rate at which new money is put into the economy, was as high as 130%. Unemployment was very high, and the state oil company lost six billion dollars in a matter of months. This is the worst loss of money any corporation has had in all of history.

Galtieri allowed people to disagree with him more than the leaders who came before him. Protests against his dictatorship became common.

Invasion of the Falkland Islands[change | change source]

By 1982, Galtieri's popularity was low. He wanted more people to support him. He also wanted to increase Argentine patriotism. For many years, Argentina had said the Falkland Islands (a British territory) was actually theirs. The British did not see Argentina as a war threat, and didn't heavily defend the islands.

With Jorge Anaya, one of the other members of the junta, Galtieri thought of a plan to take over the islands. Galtieri ordered the Argentine military to invade the islands. After bombarding the capital city, Port Stanley, Argentina forced the British Governor of the islands, Rex Hunt, to surrender.

Galtieri became very popular after the invasion, and huge celebrations were held in Buenos Aires. His regime seemed to be very strong. But Galtieri had badly misread what British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would do. He also believed he would have the support of the United States. However, the United States (and most of the world) supported Britain.

The British sent their armed forces to the islands. After heavy fighting, the British defeated Argentina in June. Within days, the Argentine army turned on Galtieri, and he was removed from power.

After the Presidency[change | change source]

Afterwards, Galtieri was put on trial for crimes against humanity. Although one report wanted him to be executed, he was sentenced to twelve years in prison. In 1989, he was pardoned.

After leaving prison, Galtieri lived in a suburb of Buenos Aires. Never a rich man, he lived modestly for the rest of his life. Galtieri died from a heart attack caused by surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. He was 76 years old.

Today, Galtieri is commonly viewed as a very incompetent dictator. He is often blamed for Argentina losing the Falklands War.

References[change | change source]