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Argentine and Egyptian History Entangled: From Perón to Nasser

  • LILY PEARL BALLOFFET
Abstract

This article presents an entangled history of Argentina and Egypt in the years surrounding the 1952 Egyptian Revolution. It combines diplomatic, migration and anti-imperial activism histories to delineate the intellectual and institutional links between these nations from the late 1940s to the 1950s – from the rise of Peronism through to Nasser's management of the Suez Canal crisis of 1956. Diverse Argentine social and political sectors saw parallels between the anti-imperial struggles in the Arab world and in Latin America. Though with differing and sometimes competing agendas, these groups learned and deployed the language of non-alignment and South–South solidarity in the escalating Cold War.

Este artículo presenta una historia de interrelaciones entre Argentina y Egipto en los años alrededor de la Revolución Egipcia de 1952. El artículo combina historias diplomáticas, migratorias y de activismo anti-imperial para delinear los vínculos intelectuales e institucionales entre estas naciones desde fines de los años 40 a los 50 – desde el ascenso del peronismo hasta el manejo de Nasser de la crisis del Canal de Suez en 1956. Diversos sectores sociales y políticos argentinos vieron paralelos entre las luchas anti-imperiales del mundo árabe y las de Latinoamérica. Aunque con agendas diferentes y alguna vez enfrentadas, estos grupos aprendieron y utilizaron los lenguajes del no alineamiento y de la solidaridad Sur–Sur dentro de la creciente Guerra Fría.

Este artigo apresenta uma história entrelaçada da Argentina e do Egito nos anos acerca da revolução Egípcia de 1952. Combina histórias diplomáticas, da migração e do ativismo anti-imperialista para delinear as conexões intelectuais e institucionais entre as duas nações desde o final dos anos quarenta até os anos cinquenta – da ascensão do Peronismo até a gestão de Nasser sobre a crise do canal de Suez de 1956. Diversos setores políticos e sociais da Argentina enxergaram paralelos na luta anti-imperialista do mundo Árabe e da América Latina. Apesar de objetivos diferentes e muitas vezes concorrentes, esses grupos aprenderam e acionaram a linguagem de não-alinhamento e de solidariedade sul–sul na guerra fria que se escalava.

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Special thanks to Christine Mathias for her input on an early draft of this article.

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1 At that 1966 meeting, OSPAA became ‘OSPAAL’ (to incorporate ‘Latin America’).

2 Delegates included Peronist radical John William Cooke, representatives of the Argentine Communist Party and Marxist-Leninist vanguards. Hodges, Donald C., Argentina's ‘Dirty War’: An Intellectual Biography (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1991), p. 95.

3 Immigrants hailed from present-day Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

4 Arab Diaspora scholarship attests to robust migratory links between Latin America and the Arabic-speaking Eastern Mediterranean starting in the late nineteenth century. For example: Hyland, Steven, ‘“Arisen from Deep Slumber”: Transnational Politics and Competing Nationalisms among Syrian Immigrants in Argentina, 1900–1922’, Journal of Latin American Studies, 43: 1 (2011), pp. 547–74; Arsan, Andrew, Karam, John and Khater, Akram, ‘On Forgotten Shores: Migration in Middle East Studies and the Middle East in Migration Studies’, Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies, 1: 1 (2013), pp. 17. In the broader field of global migration studies, frameworks such as Nina Glick Schiller and Georges Fouron's ‘long-distance nationalisms’ have theorised diaspora communities’ modes of relating to homelands and patterns of diasporic individuals acting as mediators or interlocutors between the nations of their residence vs. those of birth/heritage. Schiller, Nina Glick and Fouron, Georges, Georges Woke Up Laughing: Long-Distance Nationalism and the Search for Home (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).

5 See: Mor, Jessica Stites, ‘The Question of Palestine in the Argentine Political Imaginary: Anti-Imperialist Thought from Cold War to Neoliberal Order’, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research, 20: 2 (2014), pp. 183–97; Klich, Ignacio, ‘Toward an Arab–Latin American Bloc? The Genesis of Argentine–Middle East Relations: Jordan, 1945–54’, Middle Eastern Studies, 31: 3 (1995), pp. 550–72. For scholarship with a transnational political focus on Middle East–Latin American relations, see: Aidi, Hishaam, Redeploying the State: Corporatism, Neoliberalism, and Coalition Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Vélez, Federico, Latin American Revolutionaries and the Arab World: From the Suez Canal to the Arab Spring (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2016); Delmonte, Luis Mesa (ed.), Las relaciones exteriores de Siria (Mexico City: El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios de Asia y África, 2013).

6 In ‘Toward an Arab–Latin American Bloc?’ Klich utilised diplomatic cables to demonstrate the mutual desire of Argentina and Jordan to gain international respect after World War II. Correspondence from the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Relations (AMREC) from 1939 to 1950 also documents a steady increase in secret cables, official reports, press clippings and petitions between Argentina and Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The archived documentation on Egypt far exceeds that on any other nation. AMREC, Buenos Aires, División Política (DP), Arab States, Syria/Lebanon/Egypt, 1939–50.

7 Najib Baaclini, ‘Naguib, visto por un viejo amigo: “Egipto tiene ya su Perón”’, El Eco de Oriente (Tucumán), 24 Feb. 1953, p. 2. Translations from original sources are by the author, unless otherwise noted.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid. (ellipsis original).

11 Aidi, Redeploying the State, p. 1.

12 Enio Atilio Mastrogiovanni, ‘La gran obra argentina de afirmación de los derechos de los trabajadores del campo’, Mundo Árabe (Córdoba), 19 Dec. 1953, p. 9. Gamal Abdel Nasser, ‘La reforma agraria del general Naguib favorece la reivindicación del fellah’, ibid., p. 10.

13 ‘Sobre solidaridad sindical habló el General Perón a obreros papeleros’, El Eco de Oriente (Tucumán), 24 Aug. 1953, p. 1; ‘Instalarán una fábrica de papel en Egipto’, ibid., p. 4.

14 Noyjovich, Ariel and Rein, Raanan, ‘Para un árabe de bien no puede haber nada mejor que otro árabe: Nación, etnicidad y ciudadanía en la Argentina peronista’, Contra Relatos desde el Sur, 14 (2016), p. 58.

15 ‘Difúndese el derecho árabe a Palestina’, Los Andes (Mendoza), 21 Nov. 1947, p. 7.

16 Records of these missions appear in the Arab-Argentine press and heritage association institutional records. However, the most detailed consolidated list appears in the records of the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas (DAIA) – the Jewish community's umbrella organisation (established 1933). After 1947, the DAIA published sporadic reports on the activities of the Arab-Argentine community, cataloguing any suspicion or instance of anti-Jewish or anti-Israel activities unfolding in the Arab Diaspora. DAIA, Anti-Jewish Activities of the Arabs in Argentina (Buenos Aires: DAIA, 1958), p. 10. DAIA source materials can be consulted in the Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires.

17 Kaufman, Edy, Shapira, Yoram and Barromi, Joel, Israel–Latin American Relations (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1979), p. 17.

18 ‘La iniciación de relaciones diplomáticas con Arabia Saudita’, La Nación (Buenos Aires), 18 Feb. 1946; AMREC, Buenos Aires, DP, Países Árabes 22/1946, ‘Establecimiento de relaciones con Irak, Saudi Arabia, y Egipto’.

19 AMREC, Buenos Aires, PD, Syria/Lebanon 19/1945 and 1946, ‘Establecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas con la República Argentina’, ‘Congreso panarábigo de América Latina’.

20 Klich, Ignacio, ‘Arab-Jewish Coexistence in the First Half of 1900s Argentina: Overcoming Self-Imposed Amnesia’, in Klich, Ignacio and Lesser, Jeffrey (eds.), Arab and Jewish Immigrants in Latin America: Images and Realities (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 22.

21 Rein, Raanan, ‘Political Considerations and Personal Rivalries: Peronist Argentina and the Partition of Palestine’, Diplomacy & Statecraft, 8: 2 (1997), p. 128. The other Latin American abstainers were Colombia, El Salvador and Honduras.

22 Nakba refers to the mass expulsion/exodus of Palestinian Arabs from their homes after partition in 1947. This culminated in the establishment of Israel in May 1948, and the displacement of approximately 80 per cent of the Arab population of that territory.

23 For additional historical context on the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and its geopolitical implications, see: Gelvin, James, The Israel Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 165–96.

24 ‘El Profesor Guraieb traducirá al idioma árabe “La Doctrina del Justicialismo”’, Assalam (Buenos Aires), 4 April 1952, p. 1.

25 ‘Traduce Doctrina Justicialista en lengua Árabe’, Mundo Árabe (Córdoba), 27 Feb. 1954, p. 5.

26 ‘Primeros ejemplares en Árabe de “La Razón de mi Vida”’, Assalam (Buenos Aires), 23 May 1952, p. 1; ‘Tendrá enorme repercusión en el mundo árabe esta gran obra’, El Diario Sirio Libanés (Buenos Aires), 13 May 1952, p. 1; ‘La Confederación de Instituciones Libanesas, entidad que representa a la colectividad de ese país, hizo entrega ayer al Excmo Presidente de la Nación Juan D. Perón dos ejemplares del libro “La Razón de mi Vida” de la Sra Eva Perón, traducido al árabe’, ibid., 21 May 1952, p. 1.

27 AMREC, Buenos Aires, DP, Egypt 1949, Francisco Bengolea to Hipólito Jesús Paz, 25 Nov. 1949.

28 Rapoport, Mario, Historia oral de la política exterior argentina (Buenos Aires: Editorial Octubre, 2015), pp. 287–90.

29 ‘Declaraciones del General Perón a un periodista Egipcio: Los casos de Suez y de las Malvinas’, América y Oriente (Buenos Aires), 30 Aug. 1953, p. 10.

30 ‘Amistad y solidaridad argentino-egipcia’, ibid., 10 Aug. 1953, p. 36.

31 ‘Actividades de la colectividad árabe: Santiago del Estero’, Mundo Árabe (Córdoba), 19 Dec. 1953, p. 2.

32 ‘La América Latina y el mundo árabe-asiático’, El Eco de Oriente (Tucumán), 11 July 1952, p. 1.

33 ‘Declaraciones del General Naguib para América y Oriente’, América y Oriente (Buenos Aires), 10 May 1953, p. 15.

34 ‘El Cairo, 15’, Mundo Árabe (Córdoba), 19 Dec. 1953, p. 2.

35 ‘El General Naguib contestó un mensaje’, El Eco de Oriente (Tucumán), 10 Aug. 1953, p. 2.

36 ‘Rindióse homenaje a Egipto en el primer aniversario de su liberación’, ibid.

37 ‘Regresó el ministro egipcio’, ibid., 9 June 1953, p. 1.

38 Olstein, Diego, Thinking History Globally (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), p. 9.

39 Bianchi, Robert, Unruly Corporatism: Associational Life in Twentieth-Century Egypt (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 28.

40 Beattie, Kirk J., Egypt during the Nasser Years: Ideology, Politics, and Civil Society (Oxford: Westview Press, 1994), p. 122.

41 Olstein, Thinking History Globally, p. 13; Aidi, Redeploying the State, p. 61.

42 Podeh, Elie and Winckler, Onn, ‘Introduction: Nasserism as a Form of Populism’, in Podeh, and Winckler, (eds.), Rethinking Nasserism: Revolution and Historical Memory in Modern Egypt (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2004), pp. 142, here p. 28.

43 Juan Domingo Perón, letter to Gamal Abdel Nasser, 28 Jan. 1959. Juan Domingo Perón Papers, 1931–2002, Hoover Institute Archive, Stanford University, Stanford, CA (hereafter JDPHI).

44 Akmir, Abdeluahid, Los árabes en Argentina (Rosario: Editorial de la Universidad Nacional de Rosario, 2011), p. 256.

45 Juan Domingo Perón, letter to Dr Zeki Djebi, Jan. 1959, JDPHI; Juan Domingo Perón, letter to Hassan Ismail Fahmi, Jan. 1959, ibid.

46 ‘Se aleja de nuestro país el ministro de Siria’, El Eco de Oriente (Tucumán), 12 Jan. 1953, p. 1.

47 ‘Siria condecoró a la Señora Eva Perón’, Assalam (Buenos Aires), 18 April 1952, p. 1.

48 Perón, letter to Zeki Djebi.

49 Perón, letter to Hassan Ismail Fahmi.

50 Juan Domingo Perón, letter to Avelino Fernández, 18 June 1960, JDPHI. The ‘Peronist Resistance’ was a grassroots movement of Peronist sympathisers which carried out clandestine acts of sabotage against the military government during the years immediately following the 1955 coup.

51 Pettinà, Vanni, ‘Global Horizons: Mexico, the Third World, and the Non-Aligned Movement at the Time of the 1961 Belgrade Conference’, The International History Review, 38: 4 (2016), pp. 741–64.

52 Karam, John Tofik, ‘Beside Bandung: Brazil's Relations toward the Arab World’, LASA Forum, 47: 1 (2016), p. 26.

53 Ibid., p. 30.

54 Kaufman, Shapira and Barromi, Israel–Latin American Relations, p. 49.

55 Jankowski, James, Nasser's Egypt, Arab Nationalism, and the United Arab Republic (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002), p. 83.

56 Vélez, Latin American Revolutionaries, p. 16.

57 Akmir, Los árabes en Argentina, p. 235. Nadra was a long-serving leader of the Argentine Communist Party.

58 ‘Petición a Nasser’, Mundo Árabe (Santiago de Chile), 17 Aug. 1956, p. 11.

59 Noufouri, Hamurabi, Sirios, Libaneses, y Argentinos: Fragmentos para una historia de la diversidad cultural argentina (Buenos Aires: Fundación Los Cedros, 2005), p. 287.

60 DAIA, Anti-Jewish Activities, pp. 17–21.

61 For discussion of sovereignty in Argentine political discourse: Goebel, Michael, Argentina's Partisan Past: Nationalism and the Politics of History (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011), pp. 193–7.

62 ‘Declaraciones del General Perón’.

63 Hallar, Ibrahim, Los sueños del Coronel Nasser son celestes y blancos como el emblema de la nación argentina (Buenos Aires: Ibrahim Hallar, 1956), p. 9, in Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires.

64 Saborido, Mercedes, ‘De “defensores de una causa santa” a “lacayos del imperialismo”. El Partido Comunista de la Argentina y el conflicto de Suez (1956)’, Cuadernos de Historia Contemporánea, 35 (2013), pp. 193218.

65 Nadra, Fernando, Egipto, Suez, y el mundo árabe (Buenos Aires: Editorial Fundamentos, 1957), p. 1.

66 Potash, Robert A., ‘Argentine Political Parties: 1957–1958’, Journal of Inter-American Studies, 1: 4 (1959), p. 521.

67 Cuadernos de Movimiento Universitario Reformista, La nacionalización del canal de Suez: Introducción al estudio del proceso económico-social del Medio Oriente (Buenos Aires: Prensas Universitarias Argentinas, 1956), p. 7.

68 Ibid., p. 10.

69 Lupo, Rogelio García, La revolución Nasserista (Buenos Aires: Proceso, 1962), p. 11.

70 Olstein, Thinking History Globally, p. 15.

71 Karam, ‘Beside Bandung’, p. 26.

72 Cited in Douki, Caroline and Minard, Philippe, ‘Histoire globale, histoires connectées: Un changement d’échelle historiographique?’, Revue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, 5: 54 (2007), pp. 721. Quotations are from the English version, ‘Global History, Connected Histories: A Shift of Historiographical Scale?’, available at https://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_RHMC_545_0007--global-history-connected-histories.htm (last access 21 Oct. 2017).

73 Ibid.

* Special thanks to Christine Mathias for her input on an early draft of this article.

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