Visual History of the World




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Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Contemporary World

1945 to the present

After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.

The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.



Latin America

SINCE 1945


see also: United Nations member states -

Antigua and Barbuda,Bahamas,Barbados,Belize,

Costa Rica,Cuba,Dominica,Dominican Republic,
El Salvador,Grenada,Guatemala,Haiti,Honduras
Saint Kitts and Nevis,Saint Lucia,Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
Trinidad and Tobago



Rapidly changing authoritarian regimes, military dictatorships, and dependence on the United States were the realities of the political situation across most of Latin America until well into the 1970s. Since then, democratic regimes have emerged in most states, although they have sometimes been undermined by problems ranging from challenges to the state from the radical left and right, to poverty, corruption, and drug cartels. Enormous gaps between rich and poor continue to characterize South American societies. Attempts at political union and economic cooperation have often been undermined by the instability of the regimes in many countries.


Argentina, Brazil, and Chile

The popular postwar dictatorship of Juan Peron had a lasting effect on the political development of Argentina. In Chile the first freely elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, was ousted from office in 1973 in a military coup.


Juan Peron became president of Argentina after elections in February 1946. With military support, he installed a dictatorship, which due to a booming economy was able to carry out social reforms benefitting the working class. All resistance to his government was suppressed.

The most popular member of the regime was his wife, 6 Eva Peron— known as Evita—who championed the interests of the poor. After her death in 1952, she attained an iconic status in the imagination of the Argentine public. As Juan Peron began to alienate employers and the Church, the military deposed him in 1955 and he was exiled. He returned after elections in 1973 to serve as president again but died one year later.

6 "Angel of the poor": The popular first lady
Eva Peron next to her husband, 1952

A repressive dictatorship unde 4 General Jorge Rafael Videla ruled from 1976.

After the Argentine defeat in the Falklands (Malvinas) War against Great Britain, 7 military rule collapsed in 1983.

President 5 Carlos Menem was elected in 1989 and consolidated democratic structures while liberalizing the economy.

4 Seizing of power by the military junta: Jorge Videla (middle) is sworn in, March 30, 1976

7 Naked prisoners bound to posts outdoors in an Argentine prison camp during dictatorial rule under Pinochet, 1986

5 President Carlos Menem,
March 4, 1997

His successors, from Fernando de la Rua (1999-2001) to Nestor Carlos Kirchner (2003-), have had to face the consequences of the economic crash of 2001, when Argentina defaulted on its massive public debt.

In Brazil in 1950, the authoritarian presidential government under Getulio Dornelles Vargas launched an industrialization program; his successor opened up the country to foreign investment. After disturbances in 1964. a military coup deposed President Joao Goulart and backed a series of right-wing presidents over the next two decades. The Catholic Church, especially Archbishop Dom Helder Camara, spoke out against human rights abuses. General Ernesto Geisel introduced democratic reforms in 1974, and the first free elections took place under his successor in took place under his successor in 1982. Since then, the democratic system has been successfully consolidated, although economic inequality and a large public debt have left the country vulnerable to crises.

In Chile, a country with a strong democratic tradition, the independent left-wing socialist 3 Salvador Allende was voted head of state in free elections in 1970.

His revolutionary social program, "the Chilean way to socialism," aimed to nationalize industrial businesses and divide up the large rural estates. It was resisted by the conservatives in parliament.

On September 11,1973, the army overthrew the president in à 1 coup supported by the United States in which Allende was killed.

The leader of the coup, 2 General Augusto Pinochet, then ruled in Chile as a dictator until 1990.

Thousands of his opponents were murdered. After losing a referendum in 1988, Pinochet was edged out of power, and the 1990 election of Patricio Aylwin as president heralded the return to democratic government. Pinochet remained commander of the armed forces until 1998, but in 2000 the Chilean Supreme Court stripped him of his immunity from prosecution.

3 Chilean leader Salvador Allende

1 Units of the military in revolt shoot at the president's palace, Chile, September 11, 1973

2 The Chilean dictator
 Augusto Pinochet, 1997



Juan Perón

Juan Perón

president of Argentina
in full Juan Domingo Perón

born Oct. 8, 1895, Lobos, Buenos Aires provincia, Argentina
died July 1, 1974, Buenos Aires

army colonel who became president of Argentina (1946–52, 1952–55, 1973–74) and was founder and leader of the Peronist movement.

Early life and career
Perón in his career was in many ways typical of the upwardly mobile, lower-middle-class youth of Argentina. He entered military school at 16 and made somewhat better than average progress through the officer ranks. A strongly built six-foot-tall youth, Perón became the champion fencer of the army and a fine skier and boxer. He served in Chile as a military attaché and travelled to Italy to observe the rise of the Fascists and Nazis during 1938–40. He had a bent for history and political philosophy and published in those fields.

Perón returned to Argentina in 1941, used his acquired knowledge to achieve the rank of colonel, and joined the United Officers Group (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos; GOU), a secret military lodge that engineered the 1943 coup that overthrew the ineffective civilian government of Argentina. The military regimes of the following three years came increasingly under the influence of Perón, who had shrewdly requested for himself only the minor post of secretary of labour and social welfare. In 1944, however, as a protégé of Pres. Gen. Edelmiro J. Farrell (1944–46), Perón became minister of war and then vice president. Clearly he was bidding for undisputed power, based on the support of the underprivileged labourers (the descamisados, or “shirtless ones”) and on his popularity and authority in the army.

Marriage to Eva Duarte
In early October 1945, Perón was ousted from his positions by a coup of rival army and navy officers. But associates in the labour unions rallied the workers of greater Buenos Aires, and Perón was released from custody on Oct. 17, 1945. That night, from the balcony of the presidential palace, he addressed 300,000 people, and his address was broadcast to the country on radio. He promised to lead the people to victory in the pending presidential election and to build with them a strong and just nation. A few days later he married actress Eva Duarte, or Evita, as she became popularly called, who would help him rule Argentina in the years ahead.

After a campaign marked by repression of the liberal opposition by the federal police and by strong-arm squads, Perón was elected president in February 1946 with 56 percent of the popular vote.

Perón set Argentina on a course of industrialization and state intervention in the economy, calculated to provide greater economic and social benefits for the working class. He also adopted a strong anti-United States and anti-British position, preaching the virtues of his so-called justicialismo (“social justice”) and “Third Position,” an authoritarian and populist system between communism and capitalism.

If Perón did not structurally revolutionize Argentina, he did reshape the country, bringing needed benefits to industrial workers in the form of wage increases and fringe benefits. He nationalized the railroads and other utilities and financed public works on a large scale. The funds for those costly innovations—and for the graft that early began to corrode his regime—came from the foreign exchange accumulated by Argentine exports during World War II and from the profits of the state agency that set the prices for agricultural products. Perón dictated the political life of the country by his command of the armed forces. He severely restricted and in some areas eliminated constitutional liberties, and in 1949 he arranged a convention to write a new constitution that would permit his reelection.

Juan Perón, 1952

Perón in exile
Reelected leader of the Justicialist Party (Partido Justicialista) by a somewhat larger margin in 1951, Perón modified some of his policies. But he was overthrown and fled to Paraguay on Sept. 19, 1955, after an army-navy revolt led by democratically inspired officers who reflected growing popular discontent with inflation, corruption, demagoguery, and oppression.

Perón finally settled in Madrid. There in 1961 he married for the third time (his first wife had died of cancer, as had Evita in 1952); his new wife was the former María Estela (called Isabel) Martínez, an Argentine dancer. In Spain, Perón worked to ensure, if not his return to Argentina, at least the eventual assumption of power by the millions of Peronist followers, whose memory of his regime improved with time and with the incapacity of the Argentine governments following Perón’s decade of power.

In election after election the Peronists emerged as a large, indigestible mass in the Argentine body politic. Neither the civilian nor the military regimes that precariously ruled in Argentina after 1955 were able to solve the relatively rich country’s condition of “dynamic stagnation,” in part because they refused to give political office to the Peronists.

The military regime of Gen. Alejandro Lanusse, which took power in March 1971, proclaimed its intention to restore constitutional democracy by the end of 1973 and allowed the reestablishment of political parties, including the Peronist party. Upon invitation from the military government, Perón returned to Argentina for a short time in November 1972. In the elections of March 1973, Peronist candidates captured the presidency and majorities in the legislature, and, in June, Perón was welcomed back to Argentina with wild excitement. In October, in a special election, he was elected president and, at his insistence, his wife—whom the Argentines disliked and resented—became vice president.

A legacy of turmoil
While in exile Perón had wooed the left-wing Peronists and had supported the most belligerent labour unions. Once returned to power, however, he formed close links with the armed forces and other previously opposition right-wing groups. When he died in 1974, he left to his widow and successor as president an untenable situation. Isabel Perón failed to obtain the firm support of any power group, not even the labour unions. Terrorist activity and political violence increased. On March 24, 1976, the armed forces took power, removed Isabel Perón from office, and set up a military junta.

Thomas F. McGann

Encyclopaedia Britannica




Eva Peron

María Eva Duarte de Perón

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

María Eva Duarte de Perón (7 May 1919 – 26 July 1952) was the second wife of President Juan Domingo Perón (1895–1974) and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is often referred to as simply Eva Perón, or by the affectionate Spanish language diminutive Evita, which literally translates into English as "Little Eva".

She was born out of wedlock in rural Argentina in 1919. In 1934, at the age of 15, she went to the nation's capital of Buenos Aires, where she pursued a career as a stage, radio, and film actress. Eva met Colonel Juan Perón on January 22, 1944, in Buenos Aires during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan. The two were married the following year. In 1946, Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina. Over the course of the next six years, Eva Perón became powerful within the Pro-Peronist trade unions, essentially for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Perón Foundation, championed women's suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation's first large-scale female political party, the Female Peronist Party.

In 1951, Eva Perón accepted the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina. In this bid, she received great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or "shirtless ones". However, opposition from the nation's military and elite, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy. In 1952 shortly before her death from cancer at the age of 33, Eva Perón was given the official title of "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" by the Argentine Congress. Eva Perón was given an official state funeral despite the fact that she was not an elected head of state.

Eva Perón has become a part of international popular culture, most famously as the subject of the musical Evita. Christina Alvarez Rodriguez claims that Eva has never left the collective conscience of Argentines. Cristina Fernandez, the first female elected President of Argentina, claims that women of her generation owe a debt to Eva for "her example of passion and combativeness".

Early life

Eva Duarte at her First Holy Communion, 1926

Early childhood

Eva's autobiography, La Razón de mi Vida, contains no dates or references to childhood occurrences, and does not list the location of her birth or her name at birth. According to Junín's civil registry, a birth certificate shows that one María Eva Duarte was born on 7 May 1922. Her baptismal certificate, however, lists the date of birth as 7 May 1919 under the name Eva María Ibarguren. It is believed that in 1945 the adult Eva Perón created a forgery of her birth certificate for her marriage.

Eva Perón spent her childhood in the Buenos Aires province of Junín, which at the time was a village in Las Pampas. Her parents, Juan Duarte and Juana Ibarguren (sometimes referred to as Doña Juana), never married. Juan Duarte was a wealthy rancher from nearby Chivilcoy, where he already had a wife and family. During this time period in rural Argentina, it was not uncommon to see a wealthy male with multiple families.

In 1920, when Eva was a year old, Duarte returned to his legal family, leaving Juana Ibarguren and her family of five children in a severe state of poverty. As a result of the impoverishment, Ibarguren and her children moved to the poorest area of Junín. In order to support herself and her children, Ibarguren sewed clothes for neighbors. The family was stigmatized by the abandonment of the father, especially since Argentine law frowned upon illegitimate children. Eva allegedly destroyed her birth certificate in 1945 so as to erase this part of her past.

Eva Duarte in 1935 at age 16.



Prior to abandoning her, Juan Duarte had been Juana Ibarguren's sole means of support. Biographer John Barnes writes that after his abandonment, all Duarte left to the family was a document declaring that the children were his, thus enabling them to use the Duarte surname. Soon after, Juana moved her children to a one room apartment in Junín. In order to pay the rent on their single-roomed home, mother and daughters took up jobs as cooks in the houses of the local estancias.

Eventually, thanks to the older brother's financial help, the family moved into a bigger house, which they would later transform into a boarding house. During this time, young Eva would participate enthusiastically in all of her school plays and concerts. One of her favorite pastimes was the cinema. Though Eva's mother apparently had a few plans for Eva, wanting to marry her off to one of the local bachelors, Eva herself dreamed of becoming a famous actress. Eva's love of acting was reinforced when, in October 1933, she played a small role in a school play called Arriba Estudiantes (Students Arise), which Barnes describes as "an emotional, patriotic, flag-waving melodrama." After the play, she was determined to become a great actress.


Move to Buenos Aires

Eva Duarte in 1939

In 1935 at the age of 15, Eva moved to Buenos Aires to pursue her dreams of movie stardom. In her autobiography, she explained that all the people from her town who had been to the big cities described them as "marvelous places, where nothing was given but wealth". For Eva, Buenos Aires represented an escape from the misery that surrounded her in the provinces.

It is often reported that Eva Perón travelled to Buenos Aires by train with tango singer Agustín Magaldi. However, biographers Marysa Navarro and Nicholas Fraser maintain that this is unlikely, as there is no record of the married Magaldi performing in Junín in 1934. Eva's sisters maintain that Eva travelled to Buenos Aires with their mother. The sisters also claim that Doña Juana accompanied her daughter to an audition at a radio station, and arranged for Eva to live with the Bustamontes family, who were friends of the Duarte family.

Buenos Aires in the 1930s was the continent's most cosmopolitan and elegant metropolis, and soon became known as the 'Paris of South America.' As in any great European capital, the center of the city was filled with cafés, restaurants, theaters, movie houses, shops, and bustling crowds. Eva was one of many people from the provinces who, attracted by the process of industrialization, had come to Buenos Aires in the 1930s. When she arrived with little more than a cardboard suitcase containing her few possessions, she must have felt a wrenching sense of vulnerability and solitude. In direct contrast to the glamour of the city, the 1930s were also years of great unemployment, poverty, and hunger in the capital, and many new arrivals from the interior were forced to live in tenements, squalid boardinghouses, and in outlying shantytowns that became known as villas miserias.

Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, Eva Duarte was faced with the difficulties of surviving without formal education or connections. The city was especially overcrowded during this period because of the migrations caused by the great depression. On 28 March 1935, she had her professional debut in the play "The Perezes Misses", at the Comedias Theater.


In 1936, Eva toured nationally with a theater company, worked as a model, and was cast in a few B-grade movie melodramas. In 1942, Eva experienced some economic stability when a company called Candilejas (sponsored by a soap manufacturer) hired her for a daily role in one of their radio dramas, which aired on Radio El Mundo (World Radio), the most important radio station in the country at that time. Later that year, she signed a five-year contract with Radio Belgrano, which would assure her a role in a popular historical-drama program called Great Women of History, in which she played Elizabeth I of England, Sarah Bernhardt and the last Tsarina of Russia. Eventually, Eva Duarte came to co-own the radio company. By 1943, Eva Duarte was earning five or six thousand pesos a month, making her one of the highest-paid radio actresses in the nation. Pablo Raccioppi, who jointly ran Radio El Mundo with Eva Duarte, is said to have not liked her, but to have noted that she was "thoroughly dependable". Eva also had a short-lived film career, but none of the films in which she appeared were hugely successful. In one of her last films, La Cabalgata del Circo (The Circus Cavalcade), Eva played a young country girl who rivalled an older woman, the movie's star, Libertad Lamarque.

As a result of her success with radio dramas and the films, Eva achieved some financial stability and its comforts. In 1942, she was able to move into her own apartment in the exclusive neighborhood of Recoleta, on 1567 Calle Posadas Street. The next year Eva began her career in politics, as one of the founders of the Argentine Radio Syndicate (ARA).


Early relationship with Juan Perón

Juan and Eva Perón, 1945

His relations with women abound in enigma. He found much happiness with his first wife, a very private homebody. Was he the same husband whose second wife, an actress, wrought changes in the entire political and social order? Was either of these husbands the one who made his third wife, a nonpolitical dancer of minor public skills, the vice-president of Argentina and, as his successor, the first female president in the Western Hemisphere? One Perón valued women more for their company than for their bodies, and another at the age of fifty-eight took a fourteen-year-old mistress, perhaps in subconscious search of the child he never fathered. One part of him was traditional male and another part defied the mores of a male-dominated society.

Juan Perón was born on 8 October 1895, in Lobos, Argentina, and spent his childhood in Patagonia. He entered the Argentine military academy at age sixteen, later joining the Argentine Army in 1915. After graduation, Perón was posted to various garrisons in the country's interior. In 1926, Perón was promoted to captain and moved to Buenos Aires, where he played a minor role in the 1930 coup. Fraser and Navarro claim that the 1930 coup established a new relationship between the army and the government. Within the military, there was some debate as to whether military intervention in politics was appropriate, and whether it should impose the corporate state on Argentina. He married Aurelia Tizón in 1929. She died of uterine cancer in 1938.

Perón was appointed military attache to Chile in 1936. Three years later, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Perón was sent to Europe, where he would travel through Hungary, Austria, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Fraser and Navarro claim that during this time, Perón was exposed to the theatrics of Benito Mussolini's pseudo-imperial Rome. Perón returned to Argentina in 1942. Fraser and Navarro also claim that Perón, along with much of Europe during this period, believed that the only real choice for Europe was between communism and fascism.

Juan and Eva Perón

On 15 January 1944, an earthquake occurred in the town of San Juan, Argentina, killing six thousand people. In response, Perón, who was then the Secretary of Labour, established a fund to raise money to aid the victims. He devised a plan to have an "artistic festival" as a fundraiser, and invited radio and film actors to participate. After a week of fundraising, all participants met at a gala. It was at this gala, on 22 January 1944, that Eva Duarte first met Juan Perón. Evita referred to the day she met her future husband as her "marvelous day". Fraser and Navarro write that Juan Perón and Evita left the gala together at around two in the morning.

Shortly after meeting in San Juan, Eva Duarte and Juan Perón began to live together. This move is said to have scandalized some in Juan Perón's inner circle. During this time period in Argentina, entertainers and politicians were seen as two distinct classes of people. Additionally, it was considered improper for an unmarried couple to share quarters. Perón, however, introduced Eva to his inner circle of political associates and advisors. He even allowed Eva to sit in on his meetings with close advisors and members of government. Fraser and Navarro claim that Perón's decision to involve Eva in his political life is difficult to understand, because it could open him to scandal and damage his career.

Fraser and Navarro claim that Eva Duarte had no knowledge of or interest in politics prior to meeting Perón. Therefore, she never argued with Perón or any of his inner circle, but merely absorbed what she heard. Juan Perón would later claim in his memoir that he purposefully selected Eva as his pupil, and set out to create in her a "second I". Fraser and Navarro, however, suggest that Juan Perón allowed Eva Duarte such intimate exposure and knowledge of his inner circle because of his age: he was 48 and she was 24 when they met each other. He had come to politics late in life, and was therefore free of preconceived ideas of how his political career should be conducted, and he was willing to accept whatever aid she would offer him.

In May 1944, it was announced that broadcast performers must organize themselves into a union, and that this union would be the only one permitted to operate in Argentina. Shortly after the union was formed, Eva Duarte was elected its president. Fraser and Navarro speculate that Juan Perón made the suggestion that performers create a union, and the other performers likely felt it was good politics to elect his mistress. Shortly after her election as president of the union, Eva Duarte began a daily program called "Toward a Better Future", which dramatized in soap opera form the accomplishments of Juan Perón. Often, Perón's own speeches would be played during the course of the program. When she spoke, Eva Duarte spoke in ordinary language as a regular woman who wanted listeners to believe what she herself believed about Juan Perón.


Rise to power

Juan and Eva Perón

Eva Perón

Juan and Eva Perón

Juan Perón's arrest

By early 1945, a group of Army officers called the GOU for "Gobierno, Orden, Unidad" (Government, Order, Unity), nicknamed "The Colonels", had gained considerable influence within the Argentine government. President Pedro Pablo Ramírez became wary of Juan Perón's growing power within the government, but was unable to curb that power. On 24 February 1944, Ramírez signed his own resignation paper, which Fraser and Navarro claim was drafted by Juan Perón himself. Edelmiro Julián Farrell, a friend of Juan Perón's, became President. Juan Perón returned to his job as Labor Minister. Fraser and Navarro claim that by this point, Perón was the most powerful man in the Argentine government. On 9 October 1945, Juan Perón was arrested by his opponents within the government who feared that due to the strong support of the descamisados, the workers and the poor of the nation, Perón's popularity might eclipse that of the sitting president.

Six days later, between 250,000 and 350,000 people gathered in front of the Casa Rosada, Argentina's government house, to demand Juan Perón's release, and their wish was granted. At 11 pm, Eva Perón stepped on to the balcony of the Casa Rosada and addressed the crowd. Biographer Robert D. Crassweller claims that this moment was very powerful because it was very dramatic and recalled many important aspects of Argentine history. Crassweller writes that Juan Perón enacted the role of a caudillo addressing his people in the tradition of Argentine leaders Rosas and Yrigoyen. Crassweller also claims that the evening contained "mystic overtones" of a "quasi-religious" nature. Eva Perón has often been credited with organizing the rally of thousands that freed Juan Perón from prison on October 17, 1945. This version of events was popularized in the movie version of the Lloyd Webber musical. Most historians, however, agree that this version of events is unlikely. At the time of Perón's imprisonment, Eva was still merely an actress. She had no political clout with the various labor unions that supported Perón, and it is claimed that she was not well-liked within Perón's inner circle, nor was she liked by many within the film and radio business at this point. When Juan Perón was imprisoned, Eva Duarte was suddenly disenfranchised. In reality, the massive rally that freed Perón from prison was organized by the various unions, such as General Labor Confederation, or CGT as they came to be known. To this day, the date of October 17 is something of a holiday for the Justicialist Party in Argentina (celebrated as Día de la Lealtad, or "Loyalty Day"). Eva and Juan were married discreetly in a civil ceremony in Junín on October 18, 1945 and in a church wedding on December 9, 1945.

Eva Perón

Eva Perón


1946 Presidential election victory

After his release from prison, Juan Perón decided to campaign for the presidency of the nation. Eva campaigned heavily for her husband during his 1946 presidential bid. Using her weekly radio show she delivered powerful speeches with heavy populist rhetoric urging the poor to align themselves with Perón's movement. Although she had become wealthy from her radio and modeling success, she would highlight her own humble upbringing as a way of showing solidarity with the impoverished classes.

Along with her husband, Eva visited every corner of the country, becoming the first woman in Argentine history to appear in public on the campaign trail with her husband. (Incidentally, she was also the first woman in Argentine public life to wear trousers.) Eva's appearance alongside her husband often offended the establishment of the wealthy, the military, and those in political life. However, she was very popular with the general public who knew her from her radio and motion picture appearances. It was during this phase of her life that she first encouraged the Argentine population to refer to her not as "Eva Perón" but simply as "Evita", which is a Spanish diminutive or affectionate nickname roughly equivalent to "Little Eva" or "Evie".

Eva Perón, 1947

Eva Perón

European tour

In 1947, Eva embarked on a much-publicized "Rainbow Tour" of Europe, meeting with numerous dignitaries and heads of state, such as Francisco Franco and the Pope. Biographers Fraser and Navarro write that the tour had its genesis in an invitation the Spanish leader had extended to Juan Perón. For political reasons it was decided that Evita, rather than Juan Perón, should make the visit. Fraser and Navarro write that Argentina had only recently emerged from its "wartime quarantine" thus taking its place in the United Nations and improving relations with the United States. Therefore, a visit to Franco, the last remaining fascist in power, would be diplomatically frowned upon internationally. Fraser and Navarro write that Eva decided that if Juan Perón would not accept Franco's invitation for a state visit to Spain, then she would. Advisors then decided that Eva should visit many European countries in addition to Spain. This would make it seem that Eva's sympathies were not specifically with Franco's fascist Spain but with all of Europe. The tour was billed not as a political tour but as a non-political "goodwill" tour.

Eva was well-received in Spain, where she visited the tombs of Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. Francoist Spain had not recovered from the Spanish Civil War (the autarkic economy and the UN embargo meant that the country could not feed its people). During her visit to Spain, Eva handed out 100-peseta notes to many poor children she met on her journey. She also received from Franco the highest award given by the Spanish government, the Cross of Isabel the Catholic.

Eva then visited Rome, where the reception was not as warm as it had been in Spain. Though she was not given a Papal Decoration, she was allowed the time usually allotted queens and was given a rosary.

Her next stop was France, where she was generally well received. She visited the Palace of Versailles, among other sites. She also met with Charles de Gaulle. She promised France two shipments of wheat. While in France Eva received word that the British royal family would not be able to receive her when she had planned to visit Britain, and that her visit would not be viewed as an official state visit. Fraser and Navarro wrote that when Eva found that the royal family was not able to meet with her when she had decided to meet with them, Eva interpreted that she was being snubbed and therefore canceled any plans for a trip to the United Kingdom. However, the official reason Eva gave for not going on to Britain was exhaustion.

Eva Perón, 1947

Eva also visited Switzerland during her European tour. This visit has been viewed as the worst part of the trip. According to the book Evita: A Biography by John Barnes, while driving down a street with many people crowding her car, someone threw two stones and smashed the windshield. She threw her hands up in shock but was not injured. Later, while sitting with the Foreign Minister, protesters threw tomatoes at her. The tomatoes hit the Foreign Minister and splattered on Eva's dress. After these two events, Eva had had enough, and after two months returned home to Argentina.

There was speculation by members of the Peronist opposition that the true purpose of the European tour was to deposit funds into a Swiss bank account. "The opposition in Buenos Aires", write Fraser and Navarro, "assumed that the genuine purpose of the whole European visit was for Eva and her brother to deposit money in Swiss bank accounts, and that the rest had been devised to conceal this. Many wealthy Argentines did this, but there are many more convenient and less conspicuous ways of depositing money in Swiss accounts than meeting the Swiss Foreign Minister and being shown around a watch factory." Fraser and Navarro conclude, "Was there a Swiss bank account? It seems unlikely."

During her tour to Europe, Eva Perón was featured in a cover story for Time magazine. The cover's caption – "Eva Perón: Between two worlds, an Argentine rainbow" – was a reference to the name given to Eva's European tour, The Rainbow Tour. This would be the first and only time in the periodical's history that a South American first lady appeared alone on its cover (in 1951, Eva appeared again with Juan Perón). However, the 1947 cover story was also the first publication to mention that Eva had been born out of wedlock. In retaliation, the periodical was banned from Argentina for several months.

After returning to Argentina from Europe, Evita would never again appear in public with the complicated hairdos of her movie star days. The brilliant gold color became more subdued in tone, and even the style changed, her hair being pulled back severely into a heavy braided chignon. Additionally, her extravagant clothing became more refined after the tour. No longer would she wear the elaborate hats and formfitting dresses of Argentine designers. Soon she adopted simpler and more fashionable Paris couture and became particularly attached to the fashions of Christian Dior and the jewels of Cartier. In an attempt to cultivate a more serious political persona, Eva began to appear in public wearing business dress suit combinations, which also were made by Dior and other Paris couture houses.


Charitable and feminist works

Eva Perón Foundation

Eva Perón meets with the public in her foundation's office.

The Sociedad de Beneficencia (Society of Beneficence), a charity group made up of 87 society ladies, was responsible for most charity works in Buenos Aires prior to the election of Juan Perón. Fraser and Navarro write that at one point the Sociedad had been an enlightened institution, caring for orphans and homeless women, but that those days had long since passed by the time of the first term of Juan Perón. In the 1800s, the Sociedad had been supported by private contributions, largely those of the husbands of the society ladies. But by the 1940s, the Sociedad was supported by the government.

It had been the tradition of the Sociedad to elect the First Lady of Argentina as president of the charity. But the ladies of the Sociedad did not approve of Eva Perón's impoverished background, lack of formal education, and former career as an actress. Fraser and Navarro write that the ladies of the Sociedad were afraid that Evita would set a bad example for the orphans therefore the society ladies did not extend to Evita the position of president of their organization. It has often been said that Evita had the government funding for the Sociedad cut off in retaliation. Fraser and Navarro suggest that this version of events is in dispute, but that the government funding that had previously supported the Sociedad now went to support Evita's own foundation. The Fundación María Eva Duarte de Perón was created on July 8, 1948. It would later be renamed simply the Eva Perón Foundation. Its funding began with 10,000 pesos provided by Evita herself.

In The Woman with the Whip, the first English language biography of Eva Perón, author Mary Main writes that no account records were kept for the foundation because it was merely a means of funnelling government money into private Swiss bank accounts controlled by the Peróns. Fraser and Navarro, however, counter these claims, writing that Ramón Cereijo, Minister of Finance, kept records, and that the foundation "began as the simplest response to the poverty (Evita) encountered each day in her office" and "the appalling backwardness of social services — or charity, as it was still called — in Argentina." Crassweller writes that the foundation was supported by donations of cash and goods from the Peronist unions, private businesses, and that the Confederacion General del Trabajo donated three man-days (later reduced to two) of salary for every worker per year. Tax on lottery and movie tickets also helped to support the foundation, as did a levy on casino and revenue from horse races. Crassweller also notes that there were some cases of businesses being pressured to donate to the foundation, with negative repercussions resulting if requests for donations were not met.

Eva Perón

Eva Perón

Eva Perón

Within a few years, the foundation had assets in cash and goods in excess of three billion pesos, or over $200 million at the exchange rate of the late 1940s. It employed 14,000 workers, of which 6,000 were construction workers, and 26 priests. It purchased and distributed annually 400,000 pairs of shoes, 500,000 sewing machines, 200,000 cooking pots. The foundation also gave scholarships, built homes, hospitals, and other charitable institutions. Every aspect of the foundation was under Evita's supervision. The foundation also built entire communities, such as Evita City, which still exists today. Fraser and Navarro claim that due to the works and health services of the foundation, for the first time in history there was no inequality in Argentine health care.

Fraser and Navarro write that it was Evita's work with the foundation that played a large role in her idealization, leading some to even consider her to be a saint. Though it was unnecessary from a practical standpoint, Evita set aside many hours per day to meet with the poor who requested help from her foundation. During these meetings with the poor, Evita often kissed the poor and allowed them to kiss her. Evita was even witnessed placing her hands in the suppurated wounds of the sick and poor, touching the leprous, and kissing the syphilitic. Fraser and Navarro write that though Argentina is secular in many respects, it is essentially a Catholic country. Therefore, when Evita kissed the syphilitic and touched the leprous she "ceased to be the President's wife and acquired some of the characteristics of saints depicted in Catholicism." Poet José María Castiñeira de Dios, a man from a wealthy background, reflected on the times he witnessed Evita meeting with the poor: "I had had a sort of literary perception of the people and the poor and she had given me a Christian one, thus allowing me to become a Christian in the profoundest sense...."

Fraser and Navarro write that toward the end of her life, Evita was working as many as 20 and 22 hours per day in her foundation, often ignoring her husband's request that she cut back on her workload and take the weekends off. The more she worked with the poor in her foundation, the more she adopted an outraged attitude toward the existence of poverty, saying, "Sometimes I have wished my insults were slaps or lashes. I've wanted to hit people in the face to make them see, if only for a day, what I see each day I help the people." Crassweller writes that Evita became fanatical about her work in the foundation and felt on a crusade against the very concept and existence of poverty and social ills. "It is not surprising", writes Crassweller, "that as her public crusades and her private adorations took on a narrowing intensity after 1946, they simultaneously veered toward the transcendental." Crassweller compares Evita to Ignatius Loyola, saying she came to be akin to a one-woman Jesuit Order.

Eva Perón, 1951

Female Peronist Party and women's suffrage

Biographers Fraser and Navarro wrote that Eva Perón has often been credited with gaining for Argentine women the right to vote. While Eva did make radio addresses in support of women's suffrage and also published articles in her Democracia newspaper asking male Peronists to support women's right to vote, ultimately the ability to grant to women the right to vote was beyond Eva's powers. Fraser and Navarro write Eva's actions were limited to supporting a bill introduced by one of her supporters, Eduardo Colom, a bill which was eventually dropped. A new bill in support of women's suffrage was introduced which the Senate of Argentina sanctioned on 21 August 1946, and it was necessary to wait for more than a year before the House of Representatives could sanction it on 9 September 1947. Law 13,010, established the equality of political rights between men and women and universal suffrage in Argentina. Finally, Law 13,010 was approved unanimously. In a public celebration and ceremony, however, Juan Perón signed the law granting women the right to vote, and then he handed the bill to Eva, symbolically making it hers.

Eva Perón then created the Female Peronist Party, which was the first large female political party in the nation. Navarro and Fraser write that by 1951 the party had 500,000 members and 3,600 headquarters across the country. Navarro and Fraser write that while Eva Perón did not consider herself a feminist, her impact on the political life of women was decisive. Thousands of previously apolitical women entered politics because of Eva Perón. They were the first women to be active in Argentine politics. The combination of female suffrage and the organization of the Female Peronist Party granted Juan Perón a large majority (sixty-three percent) of the vote in the 1951 presidential elections.

Eva Peron on the balcony of the Casa Rosada in 1951.


1952 Presidential election

Vice Presidential nomination

Evita embraces Perón during the 1951 joint ticket rally, unable to accept
popular calls that she run for Vice-President.


In 1951, Evita set her sights on earning a place on the ballot as candidate for vice-president. This move angered many military leaders who despised Evita and her increasing powers within the government. According to the Argentine Constitution, the Vice President automatically succeeds the President in the event of the President's death. The possibility of Evita becoming president in the event of Juan Perón's death was not something the military could accept.

She did, however, receive great support from the working class, the unions, and the Peronist Women's Party. The intensity of the support she drew from these groups is said to have surprised even Juan Perón himself. Fraser and Navarro write that the wide support Evita's proposed candidacy generated indicated to him that Evita had become as important to members of the Peronist party as Juan Perón himself was.

On August 22, 1951 the unions held a mass rally of two million people called "Cabildo Abierto". (The name "Cabildo Abierto" was a reference and tribute to the first local Argentine government of the May Revolution, in 1810.) The Peróns addressed the crowd from the balcony of a huge scaffolding set up on the Avenida Nueve de Julio, several blocks away from the Casa Rosada, the official government house of Argentina. Overhead were two large portraits of Eva and Juan Perón. It has been claimed that "Cabildo Abierto" was the largest public display of support in history for a female political figure.

At the mass rally, the crowd demanded that Evita publicly announce her official candidacy as vice president. She pleaded for more time to make her decision. The exchange between Evita and the crowd of two million became, for a time, a genuine and spontaneous dialogue, with the crowd chanting, "¡Evita, Vice-Presidente!". When Evita asked for more time so she could make up her mind, the crowd demanded, "¡Ahora, Evita, ahora!" ("Now, Evita, now!"). Eventually, they came to a compromise. Evita told the audience that she would announce her decision over the radio a few days later.


Declining health and political opposition

Eva Perón addresses the Peronists on 17 October 1951.
By this point she was too weak to stand without Juan Perón's aid.

Eventually, she declined the invitation to run for vice-president, saying her only ambition was that in the large chapter of history that would be written about her husband. She hoped that in the footnotes there would be mention of a woman who brought the "hopes and dreams of the people to the president", a woman who eventually turned those hopes and dreams into "glorious reality". In Peronist rhetoric, this event has come to be referred to as "The Renouncement", portraying Evita as having been a selfless woman in line with the Hispanic myth of marianismo. Most biographers, however, postulate that Evita did not so much renounce her ambition as bow out due to pressure from her husband, the military, and the Argentine upper class, who preferred that she not enter the race.

By 1951, it had also become evident that her health was rapidly deteriorating. In early 1950, Evita fainted in public and underwent surgery a few days later. Although it was reported that she had undergone an appendectomy, she had actually developed advanced cervical cancer. Fainting continued through 1951 (including the evening after "Cabildo abierto"), with extreme weakness and severe vaginal bleeding. Although her diagnosis was withheld from her by Juan, she knew she was not well, and a bid for the vice-presidency was not practical in light of her condition. Only a few months after "the Renouncement", Evita underwent a secret radical hysterectomy in an attempt to cure her of her advanced cervical cancer.

Re-election and Spiritual Leader of the Nation

The Peróns take part in Buenos Aires
parade to celebrate Juan Perón's
second inauguration on 4 June 1952.
Eva died the following month.

On 4 June 1952, Evita rode with Juan Perón in parade through Buenos Aires in celebration of his re-election as President of Argentina. (This was the first election in which Argentine women had been allowed to vote. Evita had organized women voters into the first truly powerful female political party in the country's history.) Evita was by this point so ill that she was unable to stand without support. Underneath her oversized fur coat was a frame made of plaster and wire that allowed her to stand. She took a triple dose of pain medication before the parade, and took another two doses when she returned home.

In an official ceremony a few days after Juan Perón's second inauguration, Evita was given the official title of "Spiritual Leader of the Nation".

Juan and Eva Perón


Passing and funeral

Despite having undergone a hysterectomy by the American surgeon George T. Pack, Evita's cancer returned rapidly. She developed lung metastasis and was the first Argentine to undergo chemotherapy (a novel treatment at that time). Despite all available treatment, she became emaciated, weighing only 36 kg (about 79 lb.) by June 1952. Evita died at the age of 33, at 8:25 p.m. on July 26 1952. The news was immediately broadcast throughout the country, and Argentina went into mourning: all activity in Argentina stopped: movies stopped playing, restaurants were closed and patrons were shown to the door. A radio broadcast interrupted the broadcasting schedule, with the announcer reading, "It is my sad duty to inform you that today at 20:25 Eva Perón, Spiritual Leader of the Nation, entered immortality". Eva Perón was granted an official state funeral.



Upon Eva Perón's death, the government suspended all official activities for two days, with all flags being flown at half-mast for ten days. It soon became apparent, however, that these measures fell short of reflecting popular grief. The crowd outside of the official presidential residence had grown dense, congesting the streets for ten blocks in each direction. Later, while Evita's body was being moved, eight people were crushed to death in the throngs. In the following 24 hours, over 2000 people would be treated in city hospitals for injuries sustained in the rush to be near Evita as her body was being transported from the presidential residence to the Ministry of Labour building. The streets of Buenos Aires overflowed with flowers that were stacked in huge piles, and within one day of Evita's death, all flower shops in Buenos Aires had run out of flowers. Despite the fact that Eva Perón never held an official political office, she was eventually given an official funeral usually reserved for a head of state.

There were different interpretations of the popular mourning of Eva Perón's death. Some reporters viewed that the mourning was authentic, while others felt that the popular grief was merely the result of the public succumbing to the "passion plays" of the Peronist regime. For example, according to a Time magazine article published on 11 August 1952 entitled "In Mourning", the Peronist government enforced the beginning of daily periods of five minutes of mourning, following the daily radio announcement.

During Evita's time, children born illegitimately did not have the same legal rights as those born to married parents. Biographer Julie M. Taylor, professor of anthropology at Rice University, has said that Evita was well aware of the pain of being born illegitimate. Taylor speculates that Evita's awareness of this may have influenced Evita's decision to have the law changed so that illegimitate children would henceforth be referred to as "natural" children. Upon her death, the Argentine public was told that Evita was only 30. The discrepancy was meant to dovetail with Evita's earlier tampering with her birth certificate. After becoming the first lady in 1946, Evita had her birth records altered to read that she had been born to married parents, and placed her birth date three years forward, making herself younger.


Memorial plans

Dr Ara inspects Eva Perón's embalmed corpse.

Shortly before Evita's death, Dr Pedro Ara was approached to embalm the body. Fraser and Navarro write that it is doubtful that Evita herself ever expressed a wish to be embalmed and suggest that it was most likely Juan Perón's decision. Dr Ara was a professor of anatomy who had studied in Vienna and maintained an academic career in Madrid. His work was occasionally referred to as "the art of death". His highly advanced embalming technique consisted of replacing the corpse's blood with glycerine, which preserved all organs including the brain and created a very lifelike appearance, giving the body the appearance of "artistically rendered sleep". Dr Ara was known in Buenos Aires society for his work. Among the people he had embalmed was Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Dr Ara claims that his embalming of Evita's corpse began on the night of her death and that by the next morning "the body of Eva Perón was completely and infinitely incorruptible" and therefore suitable for display to the public.

In the book Peron and the Enigmas of Argentina, biographer Robert D. Crassweller claims that the Anglo Saxon nations of North America and Europe largely misunderstood Argentina's response to the death of Eva Perón as well as the ornate funeral she was granted. Crassweller attributes this misunderstanding to the unique cultural makeup of the Peróns and Argentina itself, claiming that the Peróns are of the Hispanic tradition and that their opposition was largely of Anglo-Saxon extraction:

Almost lost among the memories of Evita that have caught the imagination of the world there was another that has been little noted but whose importance is considerable: the legacy of incomprehension. Her brief and dazzling years were so successful because, in good part, she was so profoundly of the ethos. 'I have the body and the soul and the blood of the people.' But it was the ethos of the old, Hispanic-Creole tradition, born in the interior out of Lima and nurtured on the Pampas. Like Perón, she was wholly indigenous in origin, formation, and spirit; like him, she was distrusted and misunderstood in the Argentina of the Liberal System and in the outside world that knew only that Argentina.

The same was true with regard to Evita's dramatised death during her last ten months, the dying in public that she sought as confirmation of her devotion. Such an attitude toward mortality is a variation of the old Hispanic preoccupation with death and with the dignity and splendour associated with it. It had by then faded away in most of the European Catholic societies and it is unknown in the Anglo-Saxon nations. Therefore, many saw her ordeal and the response of Perón and of the vast public as elements in an essentially political passion play, an attempt to milk some sympathy and benefit out of what should have been a private tragedy. It was simply the legacy of incomprehension, the same legacy that made it impossible for Evita and Perón to grasp fully the emotional intensity of much of the world reaction to the seizure of La Prensa, or other repressions of the Peronato. Thus Evita lived and died, an object of wonder to the world and a memorial to the inability of one ethos truly to understand another.


Disappearance and return of corpse

Shortly after her death, plans were made to construct a monument in Evita's honor. The monument, which was to be a statue of a man representing the "descamisados", was projected to be larger than the Statue of Liberty. Evita's body was to be stored in the base of the monument and, in the tradition of Lenin's corpse, to be displayed for the public. While waiting for the monument to be constructed, Evita's embalmed body was displayed in her former office at the CGT building for almost two years. Before the monument to Evita was completed, Juan Perón was overthrown in a military coup, the Revolución Libertadora, in 1955. Perón hastily fled the country and did not make arrangements to secure Evita's body.

A military dictatorship took power in Argentina. The new authorities removed Evita's body from display and its whereabouts remained a mystery for 16 years. From 1955 until 1971, the military dictatorship of Argentina issued a ban on Peronism. It became illegal not only to possess pictures of Juan and Eva Perón even in one's home, but to even speak their names. After sixteen years, the military finally revealed the location of Evita's body. It had been buried in a crypt in Milan, Italy, under the name "María Maggi". In 1995, Tomás Eloy Martínez published "Santa Evita", which alleges many previously unknown stories  about the escapades of Evita's corpse, such as that many wax copies of the corpse were made. Martínez claimed that the corpse was damaged with a hammer and that one officer even committed sexual acts on one of the copies of the corpse.

In 1971, Evita's body was exhumed and flown to Spain, where Juan Perón maintained the corpse in his home. In 1973, Juan Perón came out of exile and returned to Argentina, where he became president for the third time. Perón died in office in 1974. His third wife Isabel Perón, whom he had married on November 15, 1961, and who had been elected vice-president, succeeded him, thus becoming the first female president in the Western Hemisphere. It was Isabel who had Evita's body returned to Argentina and (briefly) displayed beside Juan Perón's. The body was later buried in the Duarte family tomb in La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires. Extensive measures were taken by the Argentine government to secure Evita's tomb. There is a trapdoor in the tomb's marble floor, which leads to a compartment that contains two coffins. Under the first compartment is a second trapdoor and a second compartment. That is where Evita's coffin rests. Biographers Marysa Navarro and Nicholas Fraser write that the claim is often made that Evita's tomb is so secure that it could withstand a nuclear attack. "It reflects a fear", they write, "a fear that the body will disappear from the tomb and that the woman, or rather the myth of the woman, will reappear."



Legacy and criticism

Argentina and Latin America

In all of Latin America, only one other woman has aroused an emotion, devotion and faith comparable to those awakened by the Virgin of Guadalupe. In many homes, the image of Evita is on the wall next to the Virgin.

In his essay titled "Latin America" published in The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, John McManners also claims that the appeal and success of Eva Perón can be related in terms of Latin American mythology and concepts of divinity. McManners even claims that Eva Perón consciously incorporated aspects of the mythology of the Virgin and of Mary Magdalene into her public persona. Historian Hubert Herring has described Eva Perón as "Perhaps the shrewdest woman yet to appear in public life in Latin America."

In a 1996 interview, Tomás Eloy Martínez referred to Eva Perón as "the Cinderella of the tango and the Sleeping Beauty of Latin America". Martínez suggested Eva Perón has remained an important cultural icon for the same reasons as fellow Argentine Che Guevara:

Latin American myths are more resistant than they seem to be. Not even the mass exodus of the Cuban raft people or the rapid decomposition and isolation of Fidel Castro's regime have eroded the triumphal myth of Ché Guevara, which remains alive in the dreams of thousands of young people in Latin America, Africa and Europe. Ché as well as Evita symbolize certain naive, but effective, beliefs: the hope for a better world; a life sacrificed on the altar of the disinherited, the humiliated, the poor of the earth. They are myths which somehow reproduce the image of Christ.

Though it is not an official government holiday, the anniversary of Eva Perón's death is marked by Argentines ever year. Additionally, Eva Perón has been featured on Argentine coins, and a form of Argentine currency called "Evitas" was named in her honor. Ciudad Evita (Evita City), which was established by the Eva Perón Foundation in 1947, is located just outside of Buenos Aires. Cristina Kirchner, the first elected female president in Argentine history, is a Peronist who has occasionally been referred to as "The New Evita." Kirchner says she does not want to compare herself to Evita, claiming Evita was a unique phenomenon in Argentine history. However, Kirchner says that women of her generation who came of age in the 1970s during the military dictatorships in Argentina owe a debt to Evita for offering an example of passion and combativeness. On 26 July 2002, the 50th anniversary of Eva Perón's death, a museum opened in her honor called "Museo Evita". The museum, which was created by her great-niece Cristina Alvarez Rodriquez, houses many of Eva Perón's clothes, portraits, and artistic renderings of her life. It has become a popular tourist attraction. The museum was opened in a building that was once used by the Eva Perón Foundation.

In the book Eva Perón: The Myths of a Woman, cultural anthropologist Julie M. Taylor claims that Evita has remained important in Argentina due to the combination of three unique factors:

In the images examined, the three elements consistently linked —femininity, mystical or spirituality power, and revolutionary leadership — display an underlying common theme. Identification with any one of these elements puts a person or a group at the margins of established society and at the limits of institutional authority. Anyone who can identify with all three images lays an overwhelming and echoing claim to dominance through forces that recognize no control in society or its rules. Only a woman can embody all three elements of this power.

Taylor argues that the fourth factor in Evita's continued importance in Argentina relates to her status as a dead woman and the power that death holds over the public imagination. Further, Taylor claims that Evita's embalmed corpse is analogous to the incorruptibility of various Catholic saints, such as Bernadette Soubirous, and therefore holds powerful symbolism within the largely Catholic cultures of Latin America.

To some extent her continuing importance and popularity may be attributed not only to her power as a woman but also to the power of the dead. However, a society's vision of the afterlife may be structured, death by its nature remains a mystery, and, until society formally allays the commotion it causes, a source of disturbance and disorder. Women and the dead — death and womanhood — stand in similar relation to structured social forms: outside public institutions, unlimited by official rules, and beyond formal categories. As a female corpse reiterating the symbolic themes of both woman and martyr, Eva Perón perhaps lays double claim to spiritual leadership.


Allegations of fascism

On April 9, 1951, Golda Meir, Labour Minister and future Foreign Affairs Minister
of Israel and Prime Minister of Israel, met with Eva Perón to thank her for the aid
the Eva Perón Foundation had given to Israel.

Fraser and Navarro write that Juan Perón's opponents had from the start accused Perón of being a fascist. Fraser and Navarro also theorize that the perception of the Peróns as fascists was enhanced during Evita's 1947 European tour during which she was a guest of honor of Francisco Franco. By 1947, Franco had become politically isolated as one of the few remaining fascists to retain power. Franco, therefore, was in desperate need of a political ally. As much as a third of Argentina's population is of Spanish descent, and therefore it seemed natural that Argentina would have diplomatic relations with Spain. Commenting on the international perception of Evita during her 1947 European tour, Fraser and Navarro write, "It was inevitable that Evita be viewed in a fascist context. Therefore, both Evita and Perón were seen to represent an ideology which had run its course in Europe, only to re-emerge in an exotic, theatrical, even farcical form in a faraway country."

Laurence Levine, the former president of the U.S.-Argentine Chamber of Commerce, writes that in contrast to Nazi ideology, the Peróns were not anti-Semitic. In the book Inside Argentina from Perón to Menem: 1950–2000 from an American Point of View, Levine writes:

The American government demonstrated no knowledge of Perón's deep admiration for Italy (and his distaste for Germany, whose culture he found too rigid). Nor did they appreciate that although anti-Semitism existed in Argentina, Perón's own views and his political associations were not anti-Semitic. They paid no attention to the fact that Perón sought out the Jewish community in Argentina to assist in developing his policies and that one of his most important allies in organizing the industrial sector was José Ber Gelbard, a Jewish immigrant from Poland.

Biographer Robert D. Crassweller writes, "Peronism was not fascism", and "Peronism was not Nazism." Crassweller also refers to the comments of U.S. Ambassador George S. Messersmith. While visiting Argentina in 1947, Messersmith made the following statement: "There is not as much social discrimination against Jews here as there is right in New York or in most places at home."

In his review of the 1996 movie Evita, movie critic Roger Ebert criticized Eva Perón, writing. "She let down the poor, shirtless ones by providing a glamorous facade for a fascist dictatorship, by salting away charity funds, and by distracting from her husband's tacit protection of Nazi war criminals." Time Magazine later published an article by Tomás Eloy Martínez, director of the Latin American program at Rutgers University, titled "The Woman Behind the Fantasy: Prostitute, Fascist, Profligate — Eva Peron Was Much Maligned, Mostly Unfairly". In this article, Martínez writes that the accusations that Eva Perón was a fascist, a Nazi, and a thief have been leveled against Evita for decades. Martínez writes that these accusations are actually untrue, although he acknowledges that Perón provided a safe haven for Nazi war criminals:

She was not a fascist — ignorant, perhaps, of what that ideology meant. And she was not greedy. Though she liked jewelry, furs and Dior dresses, she could own as many as she desired without the need to rob others… In 1964 Jorge Luis Borges stated that "the mother of that woman [Evita]" was "the madam of a whorehouse in Junín." He repeated the calumny so often that some still believe it or, more commonly, think Evita herself, whose lack of sex appeal is mentioned by all who knew her, apprenticed in that imaginary brothel. Around 1955 the pamphleteer Silvano Satander employed the same strategy to concoct letters in which Evita figures as an accomplice of the Nazis. It is true that (Juan) Perón facilitated the entrance of Nazi criminals to Argentina in 1947 and 1948, thereby hoping to acquire advanced technology developed by the Germans during the war. But Evita played no part. She was far from being a saint, despite the veneration of millions of Argentines, but she was not a villain either.

In his doctoral dissertation for Ohio State University, Lawrence D. Bell writes that the governments that preceded Juan Perón had been anti-Semitic but that Juan Perón's government was not. Juan Perón "eagerly and enthusiastically" attempted to recruit the Jewish community into his government and even set up an entire branch of the Peronist government for Jewish members. Juan Perón's government was the first to court the Argentine Jewish community and the first to allow Jewish citizens to hold public office.

International popular culture

By the late 20th century, Eva Perón had become the subject of numerous articles, books, stage plays, and musicals, ranging from the biography The Woman with the Whip to a 1981 TV movie called "Evita Perón" with Faye Dunaway in the title role.  The most successful rendering of Eva Perón's life has been the musical production Evita. The musical began as a concept album co-produced by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, with Julie Covington in the title role. Elaine Paige would later be cast in the title role when the concept album was adapted into a musical stage production in London's West End. In 1980, Patti LuPone won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as the title character. Nicholas Fraser claims that to date "the musical stage production has been performed on every continent except Antarctica and has generated over $2 billion in revenue".

As early as 1978, the musical was considered as the basis for a movie. After a nearly 20-year production delay, Madonna was cast in the title role for the film version and won the Golden Globe Award for "Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy". In response to the American film, and in an alleged attempt to offer a more politically accurate depiction of Evita's life, an Argentine film company released Eva Perón: The True Story. The Argentine production starred actress Esther Goris in the title role. This movie was the 1996 Argentine submission for the Oscar in the category of "Best Foreign Film".

Nicholas Fraser writes that Evita is the perfect popular culture icon for our times because her career foreshadowed what, by the late 20th century, had become common. During Evita's time it was considered scandalous for a former entertainer to take part in public political life. Her detractors in Argentina had often accused Evita of turning public political life into show business. But by the late 20th century, Fraser claims, the public had become engrossed in the cult of celebrity and public political life had become insignificant. In this regard, Evita was perhaps ahead of her time. Fraser also writes that Evita's story is appealing to our celebrity-obsessed age because her story confirms one of Hollywood's oldest clichés, the rags to riches story. Reflecting on Eva Perón's popularity more than half a century after her death, Alma Guillermoprieto writes that, "Evita's life has evidently just begun."

Madonna - Evita



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