OUR ARGENTINEAN WEEK COMES TO AN END, BUT HOW COULD WE FINISH WITHOUT AT LEAST AN ARTICLE ON ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS ‘PRODUCTS’ ARGENTINA EVER RELEASED ON ITSELF AND THE REST OF THE WORLD: THE FAMOUS AND NOTORIOUS EVA DUARTE PERON, BETTER KNOWN TO THE WORLD AS EVITA.
María Eva Ibarguren was born on November 21, 1919, in the little town Los Todlos, being the illegitimate daughter of a range manager and his mistress. She grew up enchanted by the magic of American films, and dreaming of a live better than she knew. And finally, at the early age of 17, she changed her countryside life for the bright lights of the big city. Eva made her entrance in Buenos Aires.
In 1944, Eva met the popular politician Juan Perón at a fund raising concert organized to help earthquake victims. Perón made fast career, moving from Minister of War to Vice President until his arrest and imprisonment during the political unrest at the end of World War II. He was freed during a populist revolt lead by Eva, and brought back on the political stage, this time as President of Argentina with Evan now his wife, as First Lady. Together they created the political movement known as Perónism, a difficult to define movement characterized by populism and nationalism but sometimes close to fascism. Over the years to come Eva established the Perónist Women’s Party, the Eva Perón Foundation for charitable works and was the main player in a huge PR international campaign to promote Argentina to the rest of the (western) world: the Rainbow Tour. She almost made it to becoming Vice-President but fell into a steep and sudden decline, and on July 26, 1952, she died at the age of 33.
During her short but intense life, Eva became a subject of admiration and almost mystical adoration by the people of Argentina. Her funeral was one astronomic proportions. One million people crowded the streets of Buenos Aires for her procession and about 3 million filed past her coffin to pay their last respects. 55 years after her death she is still considered to be the Spiritual Leader of the Nation, and in the two years following her premature passing the Vatican received no less than 40 thousand appeals to declare her officially holy. Although that never happened, she is still referred to as Santa Evita, a legend that was fed even more by the disappearance and return of her body.
After Eva’s death plans were made to erect a monument that would hold her body, and that in size would rise above the Statue of Liberty. But Perón lost his presidency before the monument could be finished and fled the country. The new dictatorial government removed Eva’s body and hid it for more than 16 years. The body was found back in a grave in Italy under the name Maria Maggi, and eventually returned to Argentina by Perón’s new wife Isabel, who had become the first female President after Perón died in 1974 during his third regime. Eva now rests in the Duarte family tomb in La Recoleta Cemetery, a grave that has been so secured that it could withstand a nuclear attack, out of fear that the body would once again disappear and feed the myths that still surround the woman who now, 55 year later still holds such strong power. –B-
EVA PERON | BEAUTIFUL