“It has been the participation of the Argentine citizenry as a whole that has guaranteed that this process of democratization of Argentines culminated successfully,” said Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín, the newly elected president.
“It is necessary, absolutely necessary that we all understand that this day in which we inaugurate a new stage in Argentina, we inaugurate a long period of peace and prosperity and respect for the dignity of man and Argentines. This day we receive the joyful greeting of the democracies of the world and very particularly of the democracies of the countries of Latin America, such as Uruguay, such as Paraguay. This day should be recognized by Argentines, as everyone’s day. Here we have gone to an election, we have won, but we have not defeated anyone, because we have all recovered our rights,” said Alfonsín that historic October 30, 1983, the Day of the Restoration of Democracy.
In those 1983 elections, the formula of the Radical Civic Union (UCR), composed of Raúl Alfonsín and Víctor Martínez, triumphed over that of Peronism made up of Ítalo Luder and Deolindo Felipe Bittel. The UCR obtained almost 52% of the votes and won the presidency, to write a new chapter in national history, starting on December 10 of that same year.
October 30, 1983
Participation in that election was massive and no one wanted to stop voting and being a protagonist in that historic moment. The people took to the streets throughout the country to celebrate. One and a half million people gathered at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires alone.
Back then the tables were not mixed. In the very long lines, no one was bothered by the delay. It was worth the wait.
New protagonists were added to the crowd eager to leave behind the shadow of the civil-military dictatorship: amazed and amused boys and girls who accompanied their fathers and mothers to vote.
At 6 p.m. the television channels opened their broadcasts. At ATC Roberto Maidana and Mónica Gutiérrez, among other journalists, were preparing to lead a broadcast of almost 12 hours.
Afterwards we had to wait a long time to know the results of the first tables. The computing center was installed in the San Martín Cultural Center, a place that, shortly after, would once again host a vital instance for Argentine democracy and its consolidation: the National Commission on Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) operated there for 280 days. ).
Alfonsín, his family, part of his team and the candidate for vice president, Víctor Martínez, recently arrived from Córdoba where he had voted, settled in Boulogne, in the country house of businessman Alfredo Odorisio. There they received phone calls and watched television writing down each partial result.
Ítalo Lúder was in the Reconquista building at 1000 where he had set up his bunker. They would wait there. The initial enthusiasm and euphoria mutated into caution and ominous silence.
Once again the phone rang in the Boulogne country house and whoever answered assumed it was a joke. He was someone from the presidency who made himself available, who established official custody for the new president. “He said that: President”. At that moment, Alfonsín, his family and his men were convinced of the triumph. The new president decided to go to the Radical House, the headquarters of his party, where a crowd had gathered.
The next day, Lúder, the Justicialist candidate, visited Alfonsín and congratulated him on his victory. The radical immediately made him a generous offer: to be president of the Supreme Court. Lúder declined the proposal but suggested the name of Enrique Petracchi.
Just three days into his mandate, Alfonsín decreed what would be another of the most moving historical events in Argentina: the trial of the members of the three military junta that usurped power in 1976.
With the return of democracy, culture experienced a unique moment and many artists and intellectuals began to return from exile. Mercedes Sosafor example, who began recording collaborations with other musicians such as Leon Gieco, Victor Heredia y Fito Páez. The theater opened spaces in which different works and cultural activities were presented, including Open TheaterCafé Einstein and Parakultural. And the cinema released historically contextualized films such as The official storyby Luis Puenzo, winner of the Oscar Award for Best Foreign Film in 1985.
Samples can currently be visited “1983. Vote again”in the National Historical Museum (Defensa 1600, CABA); “Images of a democracy under construction”, in the National House of the Bicentennial (Riobamba 985, CABA); and “Return 1983”in the National Library (Agüero 2502, CABA).
Featured image: View of the crowd that gathered at the Buenos Aires Obelisk for the closing of Raúl Alfonsín’s electoral campaign. Photo: Telam.
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