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Unidos o Dominados: A South American Geopolitical Code

December 12, 2022

This article aims to frame the historical and present implications of the speech delivered by Juan Domingo Perón on the 11th November, 1953, “Unidos o Dominados” (United or Dominated), both for the doctrine of his political force (Justicialism) and for the Ibero-American geopolitical ideas. This work argues that Juan D. Perón was a precursor in South America of what would be known as Critical Geopolitics (Dodds 2000) later on, at the end of the 20th century.


Source: primereando.com.ar

Perón at a crossroads

The speech by Juan Domingo Perón on November 11, 1953, at the Argentine Escuela Nacional de la Guerra [1] is a fundamental piece for understanding the motivations and implications of his geopolitical practice, that echo the present-day, in the context of the systemic transformations of global reality.

In his presidential role, Perón used to manifest his notions on international relations widely, and it is within this context that lies the proposition to approach the conceptual and practical implications of his discourse at the National War School (1953), where Perón gave details about his strategic plans at a regional level. In such a geopolitical project, a South American Economic Union, is envisioned, of which the ABC (Argentina, Brazil, Chile) regarded as its backbone. In this historical and geopolitical context of which Perón’s Argentina was a part and in which he sought to provide a direction, a rapprochement with its “ABC core” neighbors.

The Peronist geopolitical code

In his speech “Unidos o Dominados” Perón expressed his long-term vision:

· South America was a wealthy region (in natural resources), and such wealth will be coveted by extra-regional powers, and the nation-states that constitute such a region, separated one from the other, lack the sufficient force to avoid the economic domination to which they seem to be condemned. Therefore, the optimal strategy to face this destiny would be to form an Economic Union, which would be the formula used to define a custom union. Also, it’s mentioned the coordination of foreign—and military—policies by partner countries.

To achieve these objectives, according to Perón, it was first necessary to modify “Isolationism”, a historical stance in the region that he attributes, in the case of Argentine, to a foreign policy of “insular vision”. It’s worth mentioning that, with the adoption of a regionalist geopolitical code, the issue of Argentinian isolationism is redefined. Perón asserted that the tendency to isolationism impedes the prevents the realization of Argentina’s national interests.

The problem would therefore be the lack of a “regional organicity” to address the global issues (the post-war order). The “Threshold of Power” of the two great powers (USSR–US) had reached too high levels.

The clear position in favor of regional integration is based on the recognition of Argentina’s “semi-peripheral” character (at best), and therefore of its limitations to confront the strategies of the dominant world powers.

In short, Argentina’s geopolitical code that was proposed by Perón was one of South American integration and solidarity. The different policies that were tried (the ABC platform, bilateral treaties, presidential affinity between “National-Popular” governments) were the alliances and strategies on which it was to be based. Its persistence over time demonstrates the transcendental character of such a code [2].

National or Regional geopolitical code?

To continue with the previous elements and arguments: How to frame Peronist geopolitics epistemologically? This work argues that Juan D. Perón was a precursor in South America of what would be known as Critical Geopolitics (Dodds 2000) later on, at the end of the 20th century. In line with this argument, this work argues that Perón represented a point of rupture with classical geopolitical thinking, which had already been expressed in Argentina since early 20th century, with authors such as admiral Alfredo Storni, and that would later return with the post-Peronist dictatorships of the 1960s and 1970s. The latter would carry out an unfortunate re-reading of the foundational authors of European geopolitics, in the context of the Cold War, with strong internal political instability, such geographic-political notions would be used to justify state terrorism and intraregional warmongering.

Klaus Dodds argues that Perón and his government’s period of pacifist Tercerism and regionalism are a sort of parenthesis between those two militaristic geopolitics.

In summary, therefore in Perón’s speech on November 11, 1953, there are two geopolitical elements to highlight in the discourse pronounced by the Justicialist leader:

1) His criticisms of the Cold War world order.

2) his mention of the limits of the foreign policy of nation-states, and its consequent effect on the conception of a geopolitics of the peoples.

This last conception (a geopolitics of the peoples) will be detailed in the following section.

Conclusion: the shift toward alternative geopolitics

Contemporary critical geopolitics emerges, to a large extent, due to the role played by social movements in the geographic and political transformation of Europe at the end of the 20th century (Miller, 2000).

The changes in the map of Central and Eastern Europe after the symbolic beginning of “the Fall of the Berlin Wall” were characterized, at least initially, by the actions of movements identified with a new civil society. This produced an awareness of the (geo)political weight of non-state social actors. But this observation is already mentioned by Perón in his speech at the National War School in 1943:

In his speech United or Dominated, his frustration is observable, due to the limitation to his most important geopolitical initiative (the ABC project), which according to him, came from the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Neves de Fontoura, and more specifically, from Itamaraty (the Brazilian diplomatic service), which Perón mentions as an independent power from the Vargas government, and which he points out as the main problem for regional integration (Perón, 2020, p.180).

In such Perón's argument, he made a shift towards an alternative geopolitical framework, by displacing “Statehood” as the main source of geopolitical praxis, appealing to popular geopolitics of (and from) the peoples of the region. Perón, therefore, concludes that the most effective way to achieve national and regional strategic objectives is to influence the people because:

“…because men pass away and governments succeed one another, but the peoples remain..."(ibid., p.177).

According to the Argentinian leader’s argument, the ABC project failed because the population of the three countries did not have the same level of international-political awareness at that time. Therefore, Perón insisted that the struggle for regional integration is not lost, since only one battle has been lost. Consequently, a national-popular (geo)strategy for the consolidation of a regional consciousness would therefore be a long-term play, and it would depend on the support of large majorities.

Such statements have proven to be valid over time:

In fact, regional peace and regionalism, despite their disparate/unequal performances, have been undisputed values in South America in the last decades [3], both by the leaders of the region [4], and also ideas with broad popular acceptance, as has been demonstrated in multiple public opinion polls [5].

It’s an observable and verifiable reality that millions of South Americans and Ibero-Americans continue to be persuaded by the call for the consolidation of the “Patria Grande”. Those are important assets for the consolidation of the region´s autonomy, at a time such as this moment of hegemonic transition and dispute over multipolarity.


[1] Perón J. D. (2020). “United or Dominated” (Speech on November 11, 1953 at the National War College). Geopolítica(s). Revista de estudios sobre espacio y poder, 11(1), 173-183. https://doi.org/10.5209/geop.70009

[2] At the Summit of the Americas in June 2022, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez (also in his role as pro tempore president of CELAC) mentioned in his speech the phrase "United or Dominated", following the same line of the geopolitical code expressed by Perón in his 1953 speech at the National War School of Argentina. Full speech by Alberto Fernandez at the Summit of the Americas. 09/06/2022


[3] Since the "Democratizing Wave" of the 1980s and 1990s.

[4] Fernández calls on AMLO to form an axis with Lula. La Jornada. (2022, March 13).


[5] INTAL (Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean). (2022). La voz latinoamericana: percepciones sobre integración regional y comercio. IDB (Inter-American Development Bank).


Consulted literature

Agnew, J. (2005). Geopolítica: una re-visión de la política mundial. Madrid: Trama.

Barrios, M. (2008). Perón y el peronismo en el sistema-mundo del siglo XXI. Buenos Aires: Biblos.

Cafiero, A. (1996). La política exterior peronista 1946-1955. El mito aislacionista. Buenos Aires: Corregidor.

Cairo, H. (2011). La Geopolítica como “ciencia del Estado”: el mundo del general Haushofer. Geopolítica(s). Revista de estudios sobre espacio y poder, 3(2), 337-345.

Dijkink, G. (1996). National Identity and Geopolitical Visions: Maps of Pride and Pain. London: Routledge.

Dijkink, G. (2004). Geopolitics as a Social Movement? Geopolitics, 9(2), 460- 475.

Dodds, K. (2000). Geopolitics and the geographical imagination of Argentina. In K. Dodds & D. Atkinson (Eds.), Geopolitical Traditions: A century of geopolitical thought (pp.150-184). London: Routledge.

Lanús, J. A. (1984). De Chapultepec al Beagle. Política exterior argentina 1945-1980. Buenos Aires: EMECÉ.

Miller, B. (2000). Geography and Social Movements: Comparing Antinuclear Activism in the Boston Area. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Ó Tuathail, G. (1996). Critical geopolitics: the politics of writing global space. London: Routledge.

Perón, J. D. (2016). La comunidad organizada. Buenos Aires: Congreso de la Nación (Argentine Congress).

Perón, J. D. (2017). La hora de los pueblos. Latinoamérica: ahora o nunca. Buenos Aires: Congreso de la Nación (Argentine Congress).

Perón, J. D. (2020). Unidos o Dominados (Speech given on 11 November 1953 at the National War College 1953 at the National War College). Geopolítica(s). Revista de estudios sobre espacio y poder, 11(1), 173-183.

Perrotta, D., & Martínez Larrechea, E. (2019). El Estado Continental y la geopolítica de la integración: de Juan Domingo Perón a Alberto Methol Ferré. Iberoamericana – Nordic Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 48(1), 132-145.

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