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Posts Tagged ‘Eva Peron’

On this day in 1952, Maria Eva Duarte de Perón succembed to cancer.  She was 33 years old, the most powerful woman in Argentina,  and among the most well-known women on earth at the time.

Known affectionately to her people as Evita, she was a champion for workers, women, and children.  Her working class supporters, the descamisados (shirtless ones) fiercely defended her work and her policies.

She ran for Vice President beside her husband, the incumbent President Juan Domingo Perón but had to withdraw due to her ill health (and military opposition).  Still today she is a revered figure in Argentina.
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On 9 April 1951, Golda Meir, then Labor Minister of Israel, met with Eva Perón to thank her for the aid the Eva Perón Foundation had given to Israel.

Perón was ousted in 1954.  He remarried and returned to Argentina in 1973.  He ran once again for president that year with his wife Isabel Martinez de Perón as his running mate and was victorious.  When he passed away on July 1, 1974, Isabel Perón became the first woman president. Yes, the first – anywhere! 

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Isabel (who preferred to be called Isabelita) admired Evita, had accompanied Evita’s body, long hidden in an Italian cemetery, back to Argentina, and returned her body to the Duarte family.

Her presidency was troubled.  Isabel lacked Evita’s vision and resources.  She was overthrown on March 24, 1976 in a military coup that heralded the long, terrible “dirty war” in Argentina.  Tens of thousands were disappeared  – the desaparecidos – and, yes, to disappear became a transitive verb even in English.

Isabel now resides in Spain.

Evita’s body rests in Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.  People still visit her tomb, pray, and leave flowers.

Today we remember Evita and wonder what might have been

You can read about Evita and learn about her work here at the  Eva Perón Historical Research Foundation founded by Evita’s great-niece María Cristina Alvarez Rodriguez.

 

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Had she lived, Eva Peron would have turned 91 today. While she lived, she received a good deal of bad press here in the U.S. as well as in the U.K., but to many, many Argentines, she was not the monster she was made out to be. She accomplished many wonderful works, especially for the poor and disenfranchised. She had a special love of children, and established homes, schools, and clinics for their care. Considered ambitious (not a good connotation in Spanish) by some, she probably would have been better described as driven to improve the lives of the working poor.

All of this may ring somewhat familiar to readers here, and if it does, that explains why I have always felt that calling Hillary Rodham Clinton our American Evita was never an insult or a bad thing. We waited a long time to have one. Evita blessed Argentina during the generation of Hillary’s mother.

I would like to introduce readers to The Official Eva Peron Website, run by her grandniece, Cristina Alvarez Rodriguez.  Here you can read the true story of Evita Peron, not a movie or musical version, her real story.

Happy Birthday, Evita!

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