Eva Peron,her compassion and dedication to helping the poor and needy in Argentina allowed Perón to develop a reputation as a spiritual and down-to-earth symbol of the country. She also made great strides for feminism, as she refused to take the back seat during her husband’s presidency. Fittingly, she earned the official title of “Spiritual Leader of the Nation.”

Eva Perón was born on May 7, 1919, in Los Toldos, Argentina.María Eva Duarte de Perón—though she was born Eva María Ibarguren was Argentina’s First Lady. Nicknamed Evita, she became a massively popular celebrity and icon to Argentinians, as well as a source of great controversy. Eva Maria Duarte was the illegitimate daughter of a small-town seamstress who had a very expedient attitude toward men. Eva's grandmother also supported her family by selling her favors, which leads Ms. Ortiz to speculate whether Eva's bed hopping in Buenos Aires -- where she went at the tender age of 15 to seek her fortune as an actress  was ''an ancestral defect, an aptitude to survive by 'satisfying passions' '' that she carried in her blood. Please. The only thing Evita carried was a very large chip on her shoulder against the Argentine oligarchy for ostracizing her as an out-of-wedlock child. This resentment shaped her life and lent true feeling to the 10 famous, hankie ''litany'' speeches she later made as the wife of President Juan Peron. ''There are some oligarchs who make me want to bite them just as one crunches into a carrot or a radish,'' Evita is purported to have said. One knows what she means.Juan Domingo Peron was also illegitimate, or, in Ms. Ortiz's vernacular, ''intimate with humiliation.'' An army colonel with a deep admiration for Hitler and Mussolini, Peron was elected president on a populist platform two years after he and Eva teamed up. When they met, she was 24, he a widower of 48.  Rather, they took mutual and inordinate delight in sticking it to the above-mentioned oligarchs. Eva’s father, Juan Duarte, was a wealthy farmer who raised livestock and grew crops. The only problem was that he already had a wife and kids, so she, her mother, and her four older siblings were Duarte’s second family. Because they were born out of wedlock, Perón and her siblings were legally illegitimate; when Duarte abandoned them to return to his first wife, he left them impoverished in rural Argentina. Eva was 6 years old when her father died in 1926, and though her family was allowed to quickly pay their respects, they were not allowed to attend his funeral.In her early teens (most sources say she was 15), Perón left home to be an actress in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. Although some of her early biographical information is sketchy, most historians agree that the story (which appears in the musical Evita) that she ran off to Buenos Aires with Augustín Magaldi, a tango singer, is apocryphal. In Buenos Aires, Perón got work as a radio actress and acted in plays and films. By the early 1940s, she had achieved major financial success with her radio show on Radio Belgrano.In January 1944, an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina killed an estimated 10,000 people. The military colonel Juan Perón, who headed Argentina’s Ministry of Labor, organized a fundraiser to help the victims of the earthquake. As an actress and radio show host, Perón was invited to attend, and she met her future husband at the fundraiser’s gala at Luna Park Stadium. Despite their age difference she was in her mid-twenties, and he was in his late forties they got married in 1945.Perón broke gender barriers in Argentina by campaigning with her husband, who won Argentina’s 1946 presidential election. As First Lady, she was no less involved. Perón unofficially took over the Ministries of Health and Labor, devoted a huge amount of time to meeting with poor Argentinians, visited hospitals and orphanages, and founded the Female Perónist Party, a political party comprised of female voters.In July 1948, Perón established the María Eva Duarte Social Help Foundation to fight poverty in Argentina. She worked long hours giving money and medicine to the poor, touching and kissing the sick, and empathizing with the plight of the descamisados. Funding for her foundation came from unions, taxes and levies, and businesses that were pressured or forced to contribute money. Perón’s foundation gave items such as shoes, cookware, and clothing to needy Argentinians, and it funded the building of hospitals, schools, and housing for homeless women and children.She used her position as first lady to fight for women’s suffrage and improving the lives of the poor.Eva Perón  was very care with the life for the women in Argentina. She established the first large scale of female political party in Argentina.Perón believed that all women should have the right to vote, so she gave radio addresses, wrote articles, and made speeches at rallies supporting women’s suffrage. Although some scholars argue that her real political power in gaining women’s suffrage may have been exaggerated, she nevertheless succeeded in her goal. Argentina’s senate sanctioned the women’s suffrage bill in 1946, and it became law in 1947, making it legal for women to vote and run for office.

Juan Perón Wins Presidential Election,Perón is a member of the Labor Party, and his opponent in the elec- tion was Jose Tamborini of the Democratic Union. Though some are concerned about the power and fascist ties Perón gained while ob- serving European politics, most of the general public is infatuated with him. Perhaps the only person the public loves more than Perón is his wife, Evita. She is well-known to be “for the people,” and just as politically skilled as her husband. A former actress and radio host, Evita is ex- pected to be an excellent addition to Argentina’s political atmosphere.

Juan Domingo Peron (1895-1974) was an Argentine General and diplomat who was elected to serve as President of Argentina on three occasions (1946, 1951, and 1973). An extraordinarily skilled politician, he had millions of supporters even during his years of exile (1955-1973).His policies were mostly populist and tended to favor the working classes, who embraced him and made him without question the most influential Argentine politician of the 20th Century. Eva "Evita" Duarte de Peron, his second wife, was an important factor in his success and influence.Although he was born near Buenos Aires, Juan spent much of his youth in the harsh region of Patagonia with his family as his father tried his hand at various activities including ranching. At the age of 16, he entered the military academy and joined the army afterward, deciding on the path of a career soldier. He served in the infantry branch of the services, as opposed to the cavalry, which was for children of wealthy families. He married his first wife, Aurelia Tizón, in 1929, but she died in 1937 of uterine cancer.By the late 1930s, Lieutenant Colonel Perón was an influential officer in the Argentine Army. Argentina did not go to war during Perón's lifetime. All of his promotions were during times of peace, and he owed his rise to his political skills as much as his military abilities.In 1938 he went to Europe as a military observer and visited Italy, Spain, France, and Germany in addition to a few other nations. During his time in Italy, he became a fan of the style and rhetoric of Benito Mussolini, whom he greatly admired. He got out of Europe just ahead of World War II and returned to a nation in chaos.Political chaos in the 1940s afforded the ambitious, charismatic Peron the opportunity to advance. As a Colonel in 1943, he was among the plotters who supported General Edelmiro Farrell’s coup against President Ramón Castillo and was rewarded with the posts of Secretary of War and then Secretary of Labor.As Secretary of Labor, he made liberal reforms that endeared him to the Argentine working class. By 1944-1945 he was Vice President of Argentina under Farrell. In October 1945, conservative foes tried to muscle him out, but mass protests, led by his new wife Evita, forced the military to restore him to his office.Juan had met Eva Duarte, a singer and actress, while both were doing relief for a 1944 earthquake. They married in October 1945, after Evita led protests among Argentina’s working classes to free Perón from prison. During his time in office, Evita became an invaluable asset. Her empathy for and connection with Argentina’s poor and downtrodden was unprecedented. She started important social programs for the poorest Argentines, promoted women's suffrage, and personally handed out cash in the streets to the needy. On her death in 1952, the Pope received thousands of letters demanding her elevation to sainthood.Perón proved to be an able administrator during his first term. His goals were increased employment and economic growth, international sovereignty and social justice. He nationalized banks and railways, centralized the grain industry and raised worker wages. He put a time limit on daily hours worked and instituted a mandatory Sundays-off policy for most jobs. He paid off foreign debts and built many public works such as schools and hospitals. Internationally, he declared a “third way” between the Cold War powers and managed to have good diplomatic relations with both the United States and the Soviet Union.Peron’s problems began in his second term. Evita passed away in 1952. The economy stagnated, and the working class began to lose faith in Peron. His opposition, mostly conservatives who disapproved of his economic and social policies, began to get bolder. After attempting to legalize prostitution and divorce, he was excommunicated. When he held a rally in protest, opponents in the military launched a coup which included the Argentine Air Force and Navy bombing the Plaza de Mayo during the protest, killing almost 400. On September 16, 1955, military leaders seized power in Cordoba and were able to drive Peron out on the 19th.Peron spent the next 18 years in exile, mainly in Venezuela and Spain. Despite the fact that the new government made any support of Perón illegal (including even saying his name in public) Perón maintained great influence over Argentine politics from exile, and candidates he supported frequently won elections. Many politicians came to see him, and he welcomed them all. A skillful politician, he managed to convince both liberals and conservatives that he was their best choice and by 1973, millions were clamoring for him to return.In 1973, Héctor Cámpora, a stand-in for Perón, was elected President. When Perón flew in from Spain on June 20, more than three million people turned up at Ezeiza airport to welcome him back. It turned to tragedy, however, when right-wing Peronists opened fire on left-wing Peronists known as Montoneros, killing at least 13. Perón was easily elected when Cámpora stepped down. Right- and left-wing Peronist organizations fought openly for power. Ever the slick politician, he managed to keep a lid on the violence for a time, but he died of a heart attack on July 1, 1974, after only about a year back in power.It's impossible to overstate Perón's legacy in Argentina. In terms of impact, he's right up there with names like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. His brand of politics even has its own name: Peronism. Peronism survives today in Argentina as a legitimate political philosophy which incorporates nationalism, international political independence, and a strong government. Cristina Kirchner, current President of Argentina, is a member of the Justicialist party, which is an offshoot of Peronism.Like every political leader, Perón had his ups and downs and left a mixed legacy. On the plus side, some of his accomplishments were impressive: he increased basic rights for workers, vastly improved the infrastructure (particularly in terms of electrical power) and modernized the economy. He was a skillful politician who was on good terms with both the east and the west during the Cold War.
One good example of Peron's political skills can be seen in his relations with the Jews in Argentina. Peron closed the doors to Jewish immigration during and after World War II. Every now and then, however, he would make a public, magnanimous gesture, such as when he allowed a boatload of Holocaust survivors to enter Argentina. He got good press for these gestures, but never changed the policies themselves. He also allowed hundreds of Nazi war criminals to find safe haven in Argentina after World War II, making him surely one of the only people in the world who managed to stay on good terms with Jews and Nazis at the same time.He also had his critics, however. The economy eventually stagnated under his rule, particularly in terms of agriculture. He doubled the size of the state bureaucracy, placing further strain on the national economy. He had autocratic tendencies and would crack down on opposition from the left or the right if it suited him. During his time in exile, his promises to liberals and conservatives alike created hopes for his return that he could not deliver. His selection of his inept third wife as his Vice-President had disastrous consequences after she assumed the presidency upon his death. Her incompetence encouraged Argentine Generals to seize power and kick off the bloodshed and repression of the Dirty War.

Eva Peron (or Evita) (1919 - 1952), wife of Argentine president Juan Peron, with French foreign affairs minister Georges Bidault on her arrival from Lisbon at Orly Airport, Paris  on July 22, 1947.Fresh off the win of her husband Juan Perón in the presidential election, 28-year-old Eva visited Spain, Italy, France, and Switzerland as a sign of goodwill between Argentina and Europe

Now politically stronger than ever, Perón became the government candidate in the presidential election set for February 1946. In an action unprecedented for Argentine women, Señora de Perón participated actively in the ensuing campaign, directing her appeal to the less privileged groups of Argentine society, whom she labeled los descamisados. Following Perón's election, Eva began to play an increasingly important role in the political affairs of the nation. During the early months of the Perón administration she launched an active campaign for national woman suffrage, which had been promised in Perón's electoral platform. Due largely to her efforts, suffrage for women was enacted in 1947, and in 1951 women voted for the first time in a national election.Eva also assumed the task of consolidating the support of the working classes and controlling organized labor. Taking over a suite of offices in the Secretariate of Labor, Perón's former center of power, she used her influence to seat and unseat ministers of labor and top officials of the General Confederation of Labor, the chief labor organization in Argentina. For all practical purposes she became the secretary of labor, supporting workers' claims for higher wages and sponsoring a host of social welfare measures.Because of her own lower-class background, Eva readily identified with the working classes and was fervently committed to improving their lot. She devoted several hours every day to audiences with the poor and visits to hospitals, orphanages, and factories. She also supervised the newly created Ministry of Health, which built many new hospitals and established a remarkably successful program to eradicate such diseases as tuberculosis, malaria, and leprosy.A large part of her work with the poor was carried out by the María Eva Duarte de Perón Welfare Foundation established in June 1947. Financed by contributions, often forcefully exacted, from trade unions, businesses, and industrial firms, it grew into an enormous semi-official welfare agency which distributed food, clothing, medicine, and money to needy people throughout Argentina, and even upon occasion to those suffering from disasters in other Latin American countries.Enjoying great popularity among the descamisados, Eva Perón aided significantly in making the masses feel indebted to the Perón regime. On the other hand, her program of social welfare and her campaign for female suffrage aroused considerable opposition among the gente bien (social elite), to whom Eva was unacceptable because of her own humble background and earlier activities. Eva was driven by the desire to master those members of the oligarchy that had rejected her and she could be ruthless and vindictive with her enemies.It is true Eva moved in with Peron practically from day one, and that she packed out his teenage mistress .However, the exact details are unknown. Peron is said to have claimed Eva moved in gradually whereas Eva said she moved in all at once. I have chosen to present Eva’s version since the novel is told from her perspective, however, in this case Peron is the one who is likely closer to the truth. Peron’s rise to power is well-documented, and it is here that Eva begins to emerge as a political figure in her own right in spite of the fact that she did very little to aid him in this aspect. That’s right, Eva did nothing that October 17th, but both Peronist and anti Peronist mythology have either portrayed her as a loyal wife who trusted fate or as a rabble rouser that ended Argentina’s prosperity. In reality Eva was nearly as hated as Peron and did hide out during this time. Eva’s Rainbow Tour is well documented, as well as her friendship with Liliane Guardo. She was well received in Spain and I have tried to remain as true as I could to what most biographies stated about her relationship with the Francos. While Franco and Peron shared similar political statements, he and Peron were not exactly the best of friends,  as is often the case with political alliances. Mrs. Franco was also the exact opposite of Evita and often relationships like this either go very well or very poorly. I’ve known two women in my life who were stay at home moms—one is one of my absolute best friends and the other will not even speak to me now. Eva and Mrs. Franco obviously fell into the latter category. There could not be two women more different in spite of their shared Hispanic heritage. Eva was not well received in Italy or France. In Italy she was painted often as a communist and a whore. Keep in mind, though, Italy had just emerged from World War Two and the Italians equated Peron with Mussolini. Peron did indeed borrow much from Mussolini. Eva was not hated in France, but they were disinterested in her. Most of the things I have had take place in Eva’s sojourn in France did occur. However, I could not resist a chance to recreate post World War Two France or name many figures from this time period, namely Charles DeGaulle and the fictional scene of Evita with Madame DeGaulle. Indeed, this was almost a premonition on my part for not long after I finished Evita I began to become as intrigued by the French culture as a woman in her mid 20s as I had by the Hispanic one in my teens. It’s known Eva was well treated by Georges Bidault and his wife. It’s not known if she met Charles DeGaulle, however, the scene between Charles DeGaulle and Madame DeGaulle was too irresistible as a novelist for me not to include. Eva’s return to Argentina is well documented however, many biographies have not included her sojourn in Brazil and Uruguay. This is where being a novelist I had great freedom. It is true that in Uruguay she was not well received—many of her enemies there found her too close for comfort. In Brazil she truly did listen to George Marshall speak. Eva never met Eleanor Roosevelt. However, once more I could not resist creating a meeting between these two great ladies, nor creating this tribute to a woman who made such a great impact on my own beloved country. The two of them would have liked each other I believe since both were champions of women and the downtrodden. Indeed, when Eva died, Eleanor is said to have stated ‘she was as beautiful as she was brave.’ 

Eva Peron wife of President of Argentina Juan Peron speaks in to a microphone.She now tried to evoke the spirit of Evita having her body returned to Argentina and displaying it alongside that of Peron; but despite having some physical similarity to Eva, dressing and styling her hair in a likewise way, and even appealing directly to the people for support when crisis loomed she was to prove herself no Evita.

Eva’s slide into illness is well documented, almost too much so. However, it’s not known how Peron truly treated her. Many unsympathetic accounts portray Peron as abandoning her. While I wrote this as a ‘memoir’ of Eva, many of Peron’s actions do indicate that her detractors are closer to the truth that her admirers on this. It’s known he did have a mistress, Nelly Rivas, not long after Eva’s death. However, we don’t know if Eva knew about it. Happily, though, Peron was at her bedside when she died and I imagine the two did get to say good bye to each other. Peron did have a kind side. What happened after Eva’s death was almost as remarkable as her life. But for that I recommend either the biography Evita: The Real life of Eva Peron, or Tomas Eloy Martinez’s Santa Evita, since I chose to tell the stor of Eva’s life and not her afterlife. However, to summarize, Peron’s rule ended in an overthrow in 1955 and in the  meantime Eva’s corpse, which was remarkably well preserved, was removed from Argentina and hidden all over the world. In the meantime, various governments tried various strategies to reclaim Argentina’s lost splendors and while some enjoyed success, around the 1960s, the very people who had so hated Peron began clamoring for his return.In January 1950, Perón fainted and was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer (though other sources say she had uterine cancer). She underwent various procedures including a hysterectomy, and she was the first Argentine to undergo chemotherapy, but the cancer metastasized. In 1951, she announced her candidacy for vice president to her husband as president. Millions of working class Argentinians and members of labor unions supported her, but members of the military elite did not. Due to their opposition as well as her cancer she was weak, thin, and in great pain she decided to withdraw from the racePerón’s medical records suggest that she may have had a prefrontal lobotomy in June 1952, a month before she died. Although the purpose of the lobotomy was to control the pain and anxiety caused by her advanced cancer, a neurosurgeon at Yale argued that Juan Perón also ordered the lobotomy as part of a political conspiracy, trying to control her violent, erratic behavior and silence her to prevent a civil war. Despite the possible motives or surgery, she died on July 26, 1952 at 33 years old.After Eva's death, which produced an almost unprecedented display of public grief, Perón's political fortunes began to deteriorate, and he was finally overthrown by a military coup in September 1955.Eva Perón remains a controversial figure in Argentine history. Diminutive, attractive, and highly vivacious, both her friends and her enemies agreed that she was a woman of great personal charm. Her supporters have elevated her to popular sainthood as the patroness of the lower-classes, and the sympathetic portrayal of her in the 1997 film Evita, starring American actress Madonna, reintroduced Eva to the American public. By the oligarchy and a large part of the officer corps of the military, however, she is greatly detested. There is still considerable difference of opinion regarding her true role in the Perón regime and her ultimate place in Argentine history.Juan Perón  had remarried. His third wife, Isabel Peron, had a background similar to Eva’s, in that she grew up poor, had her father die when she was young, and she became a dancer. Isabel , however, lacked Eva’s drive and charisma and was more of a companion and friend to Peron than a partner. She moved with him across the Caribbean and to Spain and in the meantime made trips back to Argentina to make speeches on her husband’s behalf. In 1973, Peron final returned to Argentina and became president a third time, but died of a heart attack the next year. Isabel Peron became President of Argentina, the first woman to rule a nation in the Western hemisphere. Sadly, Isabel’s reign was a disaster and she was overthrown in 1976. Before her overthrow, she had Eva’s corpse returned to Argentina after a long sojourn in Italy, where it had been hidden under a false name. Eva was buried in the Recoleta, an illustrious cemetery for the Argentine elites. Her “neighbors” in death are the very oligarchs she so hated and who so hated her.

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