Eva Duarte Peron
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

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Answer violence with violence. If one of us falls today, five of them must fall tomorrow.

I am my own woman.

I have one thing that counts, and that is my heart; it burns in my soul, it aches in my flesh, and it ignites my nerves: that is my love for the people and Peron.

I know that, like every woman of the people, I have more strength than I appear to have.

I will come again, and I will be millions.

If I have to apply five turns to the screw each day for the happiness of Argentina, I will do it

In government, one actress is enough.

Keeping books on social aid is capitalistic nonsense. I just use the money for the poor. I can't stop to count it.

My biggest fear in life is to be forgotten.

There are some oligarchs that make me want to bite them just as one crunches into a carrot or a radish.

Time is my greatest enemy.

When the rich think about the poor, they have poor ideas.

Time is my greatest enemy....

Charity separates the rich from the poor; aid raises the needy and sets him on the same level with the rich....

Answer violence with violence. If one of us falls today, five of them must fall tomorrow....


Eva Peron was born in 1922, in Los Toldos Province.
Eva Peron was one of five children.
After the death of her father in 1926, Eva Peron and the family moved to Junin.
As a child, Evita had dreams of being a movie star.
As a teenager, it is said, Evita, was sexually assaulted by two young aristocrats, and as such, became a sworn enemy of Argentinas wealthy.
At 15, Evita left Junin and went to Buenos Aires.
Over the next 10 years, Evita made a career as an actress.
It is said, evita, used the bedroom to get what she wanted.
Evita met Juan Peron in 1943, at age 24.
Peron was 48.
He was a career army officer that became Minister for Labor.
Evita at first became Perons mistress, then in 1945, they married.
Peron was a calculating man, but lacked personality.
Eva Peron was used to seduce the nation.
Eva Peron became his link to the masses.
The poor people of Argentina

fell in love with Eva Peron.

For Evita, charity became her middle name.
She set up the "Social Aid Foundation".
She even visited lepers.
Eva Peron gave away sewing machines, bridal gowns, or whatever was needed.
The poor were greeted with a kiss.
Under Evita, women got the vote for the first time in 1950.
Eva Peron redistributed the nation's wealth from the rich to the poor.

Evita underwent an emergency appendectomy in 1950.
Her surgeon later said that she refused to submit to a life-saving hysterectomy after tests revealed she had uterine cancer, claiming the surgery would have interrupted her work for the poor.
Eva Peron died at just 33.

Eva Peron became more powerfull in death.
When Peron was overthrown in 1955, the new government had her body removed from the Ministry of Labour.
It was then hidden in such places as a military base, truck parked on a street, an attic, and then shipped to Italy.
It was exhumed in 1971 and returned to Peron.

Who is the real Evita? History tells us she was born María Eva Ibarguren on November 21, 1919, in the tiny town of Los Toldos, huddled on the edge of the vast Argentina pampas. The daughter of a ranch manager and his mistress, Eva lived under a cloud of illegitimacy for most of her childhood, culminating in the traumatic events of her father's funeral, when she and her family were refused entry by his lawful wife. In her autobiography, La Razon de mi Vida, Eva writes, "From every period of my life, I retain the memory of some injustice tormenting me and tearing me apart."

A lively, intelligent girl in love with American films and yearning for a life beyond the endless expanse of grassland, seventeen-year-old Eva left her home for the bright lights of Buenos Aires.

Within three years of her arrival, Eva had carved out a career as a radio and film actress, and the press linked her to a number of powerful suitors.

In January 1944, Eva encountered a fast-rising and immensely popular politician named Juan Perón at a fund-raising concert organized to help earthquake victims. Within weeks, she was sharing his apartment. Perón went on to become Minister of War and Vice President of the Republic, but political unrest at the end of World War II eventually led to his arrest and imprisonment. Freed in a populist revolt, Perón subsequently married Eva and was elected President of Argentina with a huge popular mandate.

With a blend of democratic principle and despotism dubbed "Peronism," Juan Perón became one of the most admired and maligned leaders of the modern era. Yet even as she shared her husband's vision of Argentina's manifest destiny, Eva herself became the object of intense, almost mystical adoration by the country's common people. She gained international attention during her Rainbow Tour of Europe to promote Argentinean interests, and at home she was instrumental in the formation of the Perónist Women's Party, as well as The Eva Perón Foundation for charitable works among the nation's poor.

The poor, in turn, clamored for Eva to assume political office beside her husband, and despite growing dissent from military and political opponents, she was put forward as the vice-presidential candidate.

It was, however, a goal Eva would never realize; she was subsequently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Renouncing her political aspirations, Eva Perón fell into a steep and sudden decline, and on July 26, 1952, she died at the age of 33.

A measure of her enormous appeal among her fellow citizens could be seen in the outpouring of grief that followed her death. Close to a million Argentineans crowded the streets of Buenos Aires for her funeral procession, and an estimated three million filed past her casket to pay their last respects. The myth of "Saint Eva" was kept alive by frequent requests to the Vatican for her canonization. Forty thousand such appeals were received in the two years following her death.

Here the story of Eva Perón may well have come to an end for much of the world -- an intriguing, enigmatic figure tragically cut down in her prime. But 21 years after her death, her myth was revived when Tim Rice happened to hear a documentary about Perón on his car radio and, on the spot, spawned the notion of Evita , a musical treatment of her life.

Although Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, known throughout the world as Evita, lived very briefly, her impact on Argentine politics was enormous and continues today, more than four decades after her
Evita was venerated by the Argentine working class, mocked by the grandes dames of Buenos Aries society, and misunderstood by the military establishment. Through all of this she came to symbolize a wealthy Argentina, full of pride and great expectations immediately following the Second World War.
Her meteoric rise from her beginning as a poor villager in the backwaters of the interior to a status as one of the most intriguing, engaging, and powerful figures in a male dominated culture is a tale worth retelling because it is unique.
Evita was born in the squalid village of Los Toldos in 1919, one of five illegitimate children her mother bore to Juan Duarte. After her father's death, the family moved to the north western provincial town of Jun, under the patronage of another of her mother's benefactors.
It was in Junin, at the age of 14, that she became determined to be an actress, and when she was given the opportunity to flee the dusty town, she grabbed it. Evita ran off to Buenos Aries, the cultural mecca of Latin America, in company of a young tango singer (thought there is a lot of controversy over who she went with this theory is the most widely excepted version of her trip to Buenos Aries but not necessarily what i believe to be true).
As an aspiring 15 year old actress, Evita faced almost insurmountable odds in landing jobs in the theatre. She led a miserable existence, often falling ill and never having much to eat. Her opportunities took a dramatic leap forward when a rich manufacturer fell for her and provided her with her own radio show. Shortly thereafter, Evita's voice became a regular feature on the airwaves of Radio El Mundo.
Evita's energy was boundless: her work pace became frenetic and she made powerful friends. Her lack of acting talent and sophistication did not seem to hinder her ability to attract some very important people to her cause. Among her admirers were the president of Argentina and, more importantly, the Minister of Communications, Colonel Imbert, who controlled all radio stations in the country.
Evita met Colonel Juan Domingo Peron, the reputed power behind the new military government, at a fund raising event for victims of the devastating 1944 San Juan earthquake, in which thousands died. She wasted no time in catching the widowed colonel and later left the fundraiser on his arm.
Though exactly half Peron's 48 years, Evita, at numerous turns, assisted her husband's rise to power in ways that were beyond the imagination of even the most astute politicians. When Peron became Minister of Labour and Welfare, Evita convinced him that his real power base should be the previously ignored masses of labourers living in the horrible villas miseria (slums) that still ring the capital city.
A stream of pronouncements issued forth from the ministry instituting minimum wages, better living conditions, salary increases and protection from employers. The working class, for the first time in Argentina's history, began to see some of the profits of its labour.
Additionally, and most brilliantly, Peron empowered and shepherded the giant Confederation General del Trabajo (CGT or General Confederation of Labour), which embraced many of the trade unions. In the process, recalcitrant labour leaders were picked up by the police and sent to prisons in patagonia.
It was not long before Evita called Peron's constituency the descamisados, the shirtless ones to his aid. An army coup was on the point of success when Evita called all her chips in. Upwards of 200,000 descamisados entered the capital city and demanded that Peron be their president. The colonel accepted the mandate of the Argentine people.
Evita, now married to Peron, cemented her ties with the workers by establishing the Social Aid Foundation. Through this charity, scores of hospitals and hundreds of schools were built, nurses trained, and money dispensed to the poor. Evita also furthered the cause of the women's political party, the Peronista Feminist Party.
Although a cult was developing around her personality, she would always tell the people in her countless speeches that all the credit should go to her husband and that she would gladly sacrifice her life for him, as they should sacrifice theirs. Perhaps Evita's finest personal and political moment came with her long tour of Europe, during which she met with Franco, the dictator of Spain, Pope Pius XII, and the Italian and French foreign ministers.
She absolutely dazzled post war Europe with her jewels and elegant gowns. Her rags to riches story was told and retold in the press, and she was even on the cover of Time magazine.
The peoples heroine was dying by 1952, a victim of uterine cancer, but she kept up her intense work schedule. At her last speech, on May Day, her husband had to hold her up as she spoke to the descamisados. Evita's death on July 26, 1952 brought the whole of Argentina to a stand still. Her body was embalmed, and at her wake thousands paid their last respects.
In 1955, Evita's corpse disappeared, stolen by the military after they had deposed Juan Peron. It was carried to Germany and then Italy, where it was interred for 16 years under another name. After negotiations, it was finally returned to her husband in Spain.
Evita's long odyssey came to an end when Juan Peron died in Argentina in 1974. Her coffin was brought from spain and lay in state next to that of the one she had said she would die for.
Even though efforts to have her canonized in  Rome met with polite refusal, Evita still holds near saint status in Argentina. Graffiti proclaiming !Evita Vive! (Evita Lives!)  can be seen everywhere. At the Duarte family crypt in the Recoleta Cemetery, devotees still leave flowers and a continual guard is kept to prevent vandalism.
Her epitaph, made famous by the Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice musical Evita, reads: Don't cry for me Argentina, the truth is i never left you." It still rings true, decades after her early death.


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