Maria Eva Duarte was born on May 7, 1919 in Los Toldos Argentina. She was the youngest illegitimate child of Juan Duarte and his mistress Juana Ibarguen. Eva had a difficult childhood, her father had his own wife and children, and he gave Juana’s Ibarguen children his last name and would visit them once in a while. When Eva was seven her father died living them in very poor conditions, all the family, her mother and the five children lived in a tiny one room and in order to pay the rent and have something to eat Eva’s mother her sisters and herself had to work as cook’s for a rich and powerful family in Los Toldos. It was then that Eva got her fist close look at the very wealthy families who controlled Argentina. Eva would recall her childhood in her book “La Razon de MI Vida’;: *’;I remember I was very sad for many days when I discovered that in the world there were poor people and rich people and the strange thing was that the existence of the poor did not cause me as much pain as the knowledge that at the same time there mere people who were rich’;. This was maybe one of the first time’s that Eva felt the injustice of the world, that she felt that there had something to be done for those who did not have enough to eat.
In 1930 Juana Ibarguen decide to leave Los Toldos and left to Junin with all her family seeking for a better fortune. Evita had this dream of someday becoming an actress and she believed in herself saying that she indeed has vocation. She participated in some recitals and plays from school. By 1935 Eva had made up her mind of becoming a great actress. Just after her fifteen birthday Eva met a tango singer: Agustin Magaldi, who had come to Junin to give some presentations. Eva seeking her dream left with him to Buenos Aires. When she left to Buenos Aires, these were times of misery, unemployment and hunger in the country of Argentina. It was hard for her at the beginning; Evita would struggle for ten years leaving on a very low income. She would get some small parts on radio she was working in Belgrano Radio, and also some insignificant parts in theater. After ten years her luck started to change, she would climb her way up getting roles that made people start to recognize her as an actress; she also had some roles in a few movies.
On January 15, 1944 an earthquake almost destroyed the city of San Juan, thousands of people were killed. Juan Domingo Peron who had the post of Secretary of Labor and Welfare organized a national relief effort to aid the people of San Juan. He invited the most popular stars to participate; Eva Duarte was among them and helped aid the needy. On the 22 of January a festival was held with a great number of actors and actresses, all the benefits were destined for the victims of the earthquake. This was when Colonel Juan Domingo Peron and Eva Duarte met each other. This would be the beginning of a relationship that would leave a great mark in the history of Argentina. Juan Peron had been designated as vice-president and Eva had three programs in the Belgrano radio.
By now they had a relationship going and many people were not very fond of it. Eva convinced Peron to help the working class and the government did not like this at all. On October 9, something happened that would start a new change in the course of there lives, the president asked Peron to resign, Peron did. And Eva had been fired from the Belgrano radio. This was a moment when Eva would speak for their rights and fight for what she believed was right. So after Peron resigned Eva organized a lot of people who Peron had once helped and asked them that now it was their turn to help Juan Domingo Peron. A lot of people mostly the working class would stand up to the media and had Peron speak in public, by now all the people were supporting him after he had spoken to the crowd and the people were yelling ‘Peron for president’;. This would be thanks to Eva and to the way she had moved the people to help Peron. She had fought elbow to elbow with them, putting together the movement and bringing the people to the Plaza, and placing herself in the first position of this movement. The people won Peron back. Later Eva would recall this event: *’;That week of October, 1945, is a week of many shadows and many lights. It would be better if we did not come to close…we should look at it from father away. However this does not impede me from saying, with absolute frankness and in anticipation of what I would write someday in more detail that the light came only from the people’;. Eva would show great sympathy and love for the working class for the class that she would look after, for the ‘descamisados’; or shirtless ones. This would bring a new beginning to the history of Argentina, this new beginning would have its foundations between one man, Peron, a woman, Eva, and the bases of his support the descamisados.
On December 9 Eva and Peron got married. By this time the people had chose Peron as candidate for the Labor Party, by the end of December the political campaign was al over the country. This would be the first time in history when a candidates wife would travel with him in a campaign and support him in front of all the nation, she would hand out buttons and propaganda and she would also greet the people personally, this was very smart of her for this would make the people feel at the same level as her and this would bring the people closer to Peron and to herself. On March 28 Peron had won the elections!
Eva Duarte was now Eva Peron and first lady of Argentina. Many, especially high society were infuriated by her new role, later some witnesses would recall comments they heard about her *’;She was an actress and obviously has a reputation, look at her she has no class, I have heard that her family was very poor and with no education’;. This an example of how some people would express themselves about Eva, many would probably think that she did not deserve the role she had, this were factors that did not stop Eva at all. By now she was now to involved in her political life and she was going to show it. Eva was an unusual first lady especially for the Argentines. In the first place they believed that a woman’s place was at her house doing wife’s things, not in political campaigns, but Eva would change all that. She would encourage the people to call her Evita, which was unusual since very close friends only use nicknames in Argentina. The people started to love her and the oligarchs to hate her.
Through her first year as first lady Evita waited impatiently to be offered the traditional presidency of the ‘Sociedad de Beneficiencia’; an exclusive charity organization that was run by ladies of the Argentina society, but it never came. It was more than obvious that the ladies of the society didn’t want Eva there and Eva knew this. In a rage of fury Evita destroyed this organization creating her own. She created her multi-million dollar foundation; ‘Fundacion Eva Peron’;. This foundation would help the needy, specially the children, for who Eva had great love and sympathy. Evita was now starting to become a hero, to the desacamisados, and to all the poor. As she herself had once been poor and she knew very well what proverty meant. By 1952 Eva went to work on the fourth floor of the central post and telecommunications office where she began to attend to delegations of workers. She would have strong relationships with the unions, which would provide her with a solid political power. There she would also receive the needy and do the best that was in her hands to take care of their emergencies. Evita also developed a strong following with women. She gave them the right to vote, set up homes for single working girls and introduced the idea of career women into the country.
Evita was now a very recognized woman and she started to travel. In June 1947, the government of Spain officially invited her; Evita began a tour that would take her to Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Brazil and Uruguay. She was acclaimed in Spain where she received the country’s highest decoration: the Great Cross of Isabel the Catholic. In Italy she didn’t always receive a warm welcome the communist party demonstrated openly the repudiation of her visit shouting ‘Down with Fascism’;! During this trip in Europe she would visit factories, poor neighborhoods and all of the working classes leaving great donations.
After her trip to Europe she started again with her activities, especially that of woman’s rights and the struggle for them to vote. The women in Argentina were starting to become a political part of the country also. Evita would attempt to use her popularity to run for vice-president. However, major army officers feared that she would succeed the president, and stop her nomination. The military still hated her and did not conceive the idea of Evita as a commander in chief. The social work, which Evita began in 1946, began to acquire far-reaching influence and importance. The social Help crusade worked specifically to create neighborhoods of affordable housing, Temporary homes, school food programs, and to provide jobs to unemployed workers, instruments for hospitals, donations to the needy and distribution of toys to poor children. She would create many notorious changes in the country, she would make great donations to hospitals, and the foundation also constructed polyclinics. There was even a school for nurses the foundation had constructed. Evita was by now the most important figure in the country and the people just loved her. She would look after the poor with great hope for them, as she was there in the most glorious days of her popularity. In 1951 Eva went ill, she had been detected a mortal disease which was cancer. This was a hard struggle for her; she would not give up easily still working hard for her people. Sadly after all her hard work and those great changes she had given to the country and the hope she had given to the people Eva Peron died on July 1952. And even when she was ying the only thing she was most worried about was her people, she made Peron promise that he would look after the descamisados and her children as she called them, she would love this children a s her very own maybe because of the fact that she had not been able to have any. It was very impressive the way the people reacted, Argentina wept for days the great loss, thousands of people would stay in lines just to get a glance at her, and they would morn for her. Even Juan Peron was impressed and he would recall, I did not know they loved her this much!
The people would ask the pope to convert Evita into a saint, this never happened, but to many tha was what she was a saint and that was what they called her; Santa Evita. Her body was embalssamed and was put on a display in December of 1974, in 1976 her body was returned to her family to be placed in a vault in Buenos Aires.
-‘EVA PERON’; Nicholas Fraser. W.W. Norton & Co. N.Y. 1984
-‘EVITA FIRST LADY’; John Barnes. Grove Press, inc. N.Y. 1978
-‘THE WOMAN WITH THE WHIP’; Maria Flores. Doubleday and Co. N.Y 1952.
-‘EVA PERON, THE MYTHS OF A WOMAN’; J.M. Taylor. The University of Chicago Press. 1979
-‘THE PERON ERA’; Robert J. Alexander. Rusell & Rusell INC. 1965