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ARGENTINA: Coming-Out Party

2 minute read

The Argentine government let 104 university students out of jail last week, completing the release of some 250 students locked up last year for taking part in political demonstrations. Before leaving, the 74 students freed in Buenos Aires had to listen to a finger-wagging lecture by the federal police chief, who assured them that they would not have criminal records. That was understandable: they had never been tried, or even formally charged, but merely held at the disposal of President Juan Perón.

Like many another Latin American strongman, Perón has foundhis university students distressingly prejudiced in favor of liberty. Despite the thoroughgoing Peronization of university faculties, most of the students remain notably unenthusiastic about Perón, which makes his watchful cops highly suspicious of them. Last October the police banned a routine social gathering of University of Buenos Aires engineering students, thereby touching off a student strike that spread to Argentina’s other universities. Upshot: 250-odd student leaders landed in jail. Perón & Co. let 150 of them out during February and March, hinted that the rest would be released before the beginning of the new academic year in April (TIME, Feb. 21). Allowing the universities to open with 104 students still in jail would have been asking for a new series of campus eruptions, and Perón knew it.

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