MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay -- Juan D. Peron's nine-year personal rule of Argentina has ended.
His government announced today that he would resign. He took that action under the guns of a rebel fleet, which stood in battle array off Buenos Aires, threatening to bombard the city unless Peron resigned.
Army Minister Gen. Franklin Lucero said Peron's decision was made in the face of a threat against the welfare of the nation and of an innocent population. "His spirit of battle prompts him to fight, but his patriotism and love of the people induce him to renounce all personal ambition," Lucero said in a statement read over the State Radio.
This message was addressed to the army and to the people
(The Cordoba Radio said that Peron has taken refuse in the Paraguayan embassy in Buenos Aires.)
Actually, Peron and Lucero had no choice. Buenos Aires was in dire danger and the revolt had spread rapidly through the provinces.
Lucero played his last card at about the time rebel ultimatum was due to expire. The ultimatum stipulated that the fleet would shell Buenos Aires unless Peron quit. Lucero offered to negotiate a cease fire, and invited the rebel leaders to go into Buenos Aires and confer in his office.
The rebels announced they would not start any parley until Peron resigned unconditionally. But they did offer to send a ship into Buenos Aires, take Lucero aboard and talk with him aboard a warship in the estuary of the Plate River.
The offer to negotiate a cease fire was made in Lucero's name and was broadcast by the official radio in Buenos Aires.
The broadcast said:
"Gen. Frankin Licero, commander-in-chief of the forces of repression, in the name of the most excellent president of the republic and commander-in-chief of the armed forces (Peron) in view of the ultimatum to bomb the city of Buenos Aires and petroleum refineries at Eva Peron and to avoid further bloodshed, invites the commanders in action to appear at the office of the high command in the ministry of the army to begin immediate negotiations to settle the conflict. He also invites said commanders to cease hostilities immediately at their present positions."
Lucero's request to the rebels for a cease-fire was made almost at the moment that the insurgent ultimatum expired.
Presumably, Lucero's request to freeze the present battle positions was an attempt to prevent the threatened rebel bombardment of Buenos Aires and the oil refineries at Eva Peron.
The cease fire offer was broadcast by the official government radio station in Buenos Aires, It said the offer was made in an effort to avoid further bloodshed. But at least one rebel warship was reported to have already started a bombardment: of Mar Del Plata, a summer resort area 250 miles south east of Buenos. Aires.
Lucero 's invitation to the rebel leaders asked that negotiations start immediately, but the insurgents refused to talk unless Peron resigned.
A radio broadcast, believed to be from the rebel fleet, had announced that Buenos Aires would be brought under fire at 1 p.m. unless Peron resigned.
The broadcast said the cruiser 9 Dej Julio, formerly the USS Boise; already had begun shelling the naval artillery school at Mar Pel Plata.
The announcement repeated previous warnings to the civilian population to leave areas around military objectives.
It cited specifically the installation of the state oil monopoly at Eva Peron (La Plata) and the Rio Santiago Naval school, which it said would be shelled at 1 p.m.
Another radio broadcast from the rebel fleet warned civilians to evacuate a strip more than a half mile wide along the Buenos Aires waterfront, between the points known as Riachuelo and General Paz.
The rebel radio in Mendoza was heard in Santiago, Chile announcing that the cities of Rosario, Tucuman, Santa Fe, Catamarca and Nequen were in the hands of the revolutionary forces.
The Mendoza broadcast also asked the residents of western Areentina to remove all partisan political insignia from their houses, stores and automobiles.
"The revolution is not in favor of any political party," the Mendoza announcement said. "but rather for the good of the fatherland."
Earlier, the rebels claimed that Santa Fe Province, containing Rosario, the nation's second largest city, had joined the spreading revolt.