Eva Perón, the Madonna of the Argentine people

Eva Perón, the Madonna of the Argentine people

The life of Eva Perón, legendary figure of Argentina who played a major role in the history of the country in the years 1940’s and 1950’s.

Portrait of Eva Perón, Evita museum Buenos Aires

María Eva Duarte was born on May 7, 1919 from a hidden love affair between a farmer from Chivilcoy (province of Buenos Aires) and his maid. When her husband died, Mrs. Duarte opened a family pension in Junín and was determined that her children enter into convenient marriages. Only Evita refused. While she read cinema magazines, she dreamed with another faith: to conquer the capital city and become an actress such as Jean Harlow, the beautiful blond from Hollywood. She wanted glory.

The young woman arrived in Buenos Aires in 1935 and stayed in a pension in La Boca. She dyed her hair blond; went to the theaters and visited producers; she multiplied the tests without finding the part she was looking for: she wasn’t much talented, she didn’t act, she recited.

Actress Eva Duarte, Evita museum Buenos Aires

Full of ambitions, she didn’t quit. Eventually, Radio Belgrano offered her the social program more adapted to her virulence, difficult to apply to theater’s parts. She became the voice of the people.

At the beginning of 1944, she met Coronel Juan Domingo Perón, Secretary of the Department of Employment and twenty four years older than her. Admirer of Mussolini, he waited for the victory of the powers of the Axis to take the power. Waiting for the big night, the couple Duarte-Perón cheered the working class: the “descamisados“, the “shirtless” men were their strongest support.

Evita in Buenos Aires, Evita museum Buenos Aires

Perón was Vice-president of a military regime that imposed the coup d’état in 1943 when Germany collapsed in 1945. Evita prevented Perón from going away definitely gathering sindicalistas and workers: the “descamisados” at Plaza de Mayo on October 17.

Four days after that, Eva Duarte became Eva Perón. And Eva Perón was the first lady of the Argentine Republic, chosen democratically in February 1946. A triumph.

Evita with miners, Evita museum Buenos Aires

Although she didn’t hold an official position, from the beginning Eva Perón took part in State affairs having an important role. She created a Foundation to help the poor, distributed packages and favors; she consolidated herself as the Madonna of the people and had trade unions on her side. She was the artisan of her own myth. The people called her Evita. Her name and image were everywhere.

With great prejudice by the military men, the aristocracy and the middle class, this woman was a living legend. Her behavior as a cinema star covered in diamonds and expensive dresses, her cult to personality, nothing could stain her charitable popularity.

Eva Perón, Evita museum Buenos Aires

Her only failure was her desire to be Vice-president in 1951. Her illness was serious. Eva Perón died of womb cancer in July 1952, at the age of 33. Her funeral was as impressive as her glory. The regime became unstable and Perón was separated from the power in 1955.

Evita’s embalmed body disappeared from the building of the faithful CGT. For twenty years, the body was transferred from a hideout to a hideout, buried under another name in Italy and handed over to Perón when exiled in Madrid in 1971. In 1974, after Perón’s death, Evita’s body was repatriated and finally buried at the Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Meeting Madonna, Betancourt and Kirchner

Fifty years after her death, Evita’s myth still exits. There is a museum dedicated to her in the capital city. But above all, there are several labor unions and social movements that still proclaim her legacy embodying the eternal icon of the people. For others, she represents a hated character, a symbol of the authoritarian, corrupt and populist regime. Either loved or hated, Eva Perón is still one of the emblematic characters of the Argentine history.

What to visit:
Eva Perón Museum: Lafinur 2988, Buenos Aires (Palermo neighborhood). Closed on Mondays.