Obituary: Admiral Isaac Rojas

Isaac Francisco Rojas, naval officer and politician: born Buenos Aires 3 December 1906; Vice-President, Argentina 1955-58; married Lia Edith Sanchez (one son, three daughters); died Buenos Aires 12 April 1993.

THE DYING wish of the Argentine admiral Isaac Rojas was to have his ashes scattered in the south Atlantic, at the place where the battle-cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by the British in May 1982, during the Falklands war. Even after life, Rojas was determined to remain controversial.

Although largely forgotten in his last years, as Argentina put the decades of coups and counter-coups behind it, Rojas was a dominant figure in local politics after the overthrow of General Juan Domingo Peron in September 1955.

Rojas was a hard-line anti-Peronist, a position he moved to after achieving high rank under the regime he helped to end. He had been Evita Peron's naval aide-de-camp until her death in July 1952, and later became commander of naval operations in the remaining three years of the Peronist government. It was in this post that he saw a section of the Argentine navy rise against Peron in June 1955, when wave upon wave of naval aircraft bombed Government House and Plaza de Mayo, only to be defeated by the end of the day.

Rojas stood aside from that abortive coup, and managed to resist the purges ordered by Peron to clean out the navy of rebel officers. Rojas waited for the level of disenchantment with Peron to grow in the army, whose support was vital if a rebellion was to succeed, and then struck again at the by-then discredited president. The admiral's best remembered action during the week of battles, when Peron appeared to find the military support to hold government, was to threaten to shell the La Plata oil refinery, on the river's edge. Peron resigned 'to avoid bloodshed' and fled to Paraguay. Rojas, victorious, sailed into the port of Buenos Aires on the bridge of his flagship, the ARA General Belgrano.

The defeat of Peronism brought Rojas into the political centre-stage, and he became vice-president to General Eduardo Lonardi, first, and then to General Pedro Aramburu, with whom he imposed a virulently anti-Peronist, and anti-Communist regime. Peronism was banned, and remained so until 1972, and Peron was returned to office for the third time in the 1973 elections.

During all those years, Rojas remained the best-known figure among hard-line anti-Peronists. He was always highly respected in the Argentine navy, and was seen as a leader all his life.

He was a right-wing nationalist, and became one of Argentina's most knowledgeable and determined campaigners for the conservation of the country's river frontiers and coastal waters, actively opposing treaties for hydroelectric projects planned jointly with Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. His argument was that Argentina lost some of its sovereignty with every international treaty it entered into.

He was opposed to President Arturo Frondizi, who was elected to succeed the post-Peronist military government in May 1958, arguing that he was soft on the Peronists. And Rojas campaigned for the successful overthrow of Frondizi on 29 March 1962. In April 1963 Rojas led an attempt to overthrow the puppet government of Dr Jose Maria Guido. Rojas was defeated in 1963 by General Juan Carlos Ongania, who seized power in a coup in June 1966.

In recent years, Rojas had campaigned for Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands, and for a piece of Antarctica. He was a frequent contributor to the newspapers La Nacion and La Prensa, in Buenos Aires, and La Nueva Provincia, in Bahia Blanca, always on subjects close to his geopolitical concerns. His anti-Peronism had mellowed, and he had even accepted an invitation from President Carlos Menem, who won the 1989 elections on the Peronist ticket, to visit Government House for a chat.

Although he is best known for his anti-Peronism, Isaac Rojas was a man of principle and strong character, and for that too he will be remembered.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor