Roberto Eduardo Viola

Roberto Eduardo Viola
Roberto Eduardo Viola in 1981
President of Argentina
Appointed by the military junta
In office
29 March 1981 – 11 December 1981
Preceded by Jorge Rafael Videla
Succeeded by Carlos Alberto Lacoste (interim)
Personal details
Born (1924-10-13)13 October 1924
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died 30 September 1994(1994-09-30) (aged 69)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Argentine
Political party None
Spouse(s) Nélida Giorgio Valente[1]
Children 2[1]
Profession Military
Military service
Allegiance Argentina Argentina
Branch/service Coat of arms of Argentina.svg Argentine Army
Rank GD-EA.png (Pre-1991 epaulette) Lieutenant General

Roberto Eduardo Viola (13 October 1924 – 30 September 1994) was an Argentine military officer who briefly served as president of Argentina from 29 March to 11 December 1981 as a military dictatorship.[1]

Early life

He was born as Roberto Eduardo Viola Prevedini on 13 October 1924. His parents were Italian immigrants Angelo Viola and Rosa Maria Prevedini, both from Casatisma, a town in the Province of Pavia.[2]

President of Argentina

After Videla's departure, Viola formally assumed the post of President of Argentina.

Economic policy

Viola appointed Lorenzo Sigaut as finance minister, and it became clear that Sigaut were looking for ways to reverse some of the economic policies of Videla's minister José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz. Notably, Sigaut abandoned the sliding exchange rate mechanism and devalued the peso, after boasting that "they who gamble on the dollar, will lose". Argentines braced for a recession after the excesses of the sweet money years, which destabilized Viola's position.[3]

Viola was also the victim of infighting within the armed forces. After being replaced as Navy chief, Eduardo Massera started looking for a political space to call his own, even enlisting the enforced and unpaid services of political prisoners held in concentration camps by the regime. The mainstream of the Junta's support was strongly opposed to Massera's designs and to any attempt to bring about more "populist" economic policies.

Foreign policy

Viola met with Ronald Reagan and Argentine Ambassador Jorge A. Aja Espil at the White House on March 17, 1981.

U.S Argentina relations improved dramatically with Ronald Reagan, which asserted that the previous Carter Administration had weakened US diplomatic relationships with Cold War allies in Argentina, and reversed the previous administration's official condemnation of the junta's human rights practices.[4]

The re-establishment of diplomatic ties allowed for CIA collaboration with the Argentine intelligence service in arming and training the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista government. The 601 Intelligence Battalion, for example, trained Contras at Lepaterique base, in Honduras. Argentina also provided security advisors, intelligence training and some material support to forces in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to suppress local rebel groups as part of a U.S.-sponsored program called Operation Charly.[5]

Ousted in a coup

Viola found his maneuvering space greatly reduced, and was ousted by a military coup in December 1981, led by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Leopoldo Galtieri, who soon became President. The official explanation given for the ousting was Viola's alleged health problems. Galtieri swiftly appointed Roberto Alemann as finance minister and presided over the build-up and pursuit of the Falklands War.

Later years

After the collapse of the military regime and the election of Raúl Alfonsín in 1983, Viola was arrested, judged for human rights violations committed by the military junta during the Dirty War, and sentenced to 17 years in prison. His health deteriorated in prison; Viola was pardoned by Carlos Menem in 1990 together with all junta members. He died on 30 September 1994, two weeks before his 70th birthday.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Roberto Viola, 69, Who Headed Argentine Military Dictatorship". The New York Times. 2 October 1994.
  2. ^ "Viola".
  3. ^ La nueva política económica argentina se basa en la modificación del esquema de cambios de la moneda. Según Lorenzo Sigaut, el nuevo ministro de Economía , El País, reproducción del artículo publicado el 8 de abril de 1981. (in Spanish)
  4. ^ Rossinow, pp. 73, 77–79
  5. ^ "Los secretos de la guerra sucia continental de la dictadura", Clarín, March 24, 2006 (in Spanish)
Military offices
Preceded by
Jorge Videla
As General Commander of the Army
Commander-in-Chief of the Army
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
President of Argentina
Succeeded by