Candour
Eva Peron
Eva Peron

NEW HOPE

Peronism, then, had revealed itself as a.sort of nationalist, very social and obviously Third Positionist international political ideology. There was, for the first time in a South American country, the participation of the workers in the movement inside the factories where they
worked. There was also an unprecedented amount of construction work done in this period. Constructions which were charitable works accomplished under the banner of The Eva Peron Foundation (Fondazione di Aruto Sociale, Marie Eva Peron). Basically, Evita
considered the whole concept of charity as "The rich giving to the poor as a gesture to make the former feel at peace with their consciences", was substantially wrong.

What was needed was a Foundation that gave to the people what they deserved to have. For the humblest, the poorest, there were immediately established institutions that guaranteed that shelter and food was given to every Argentinian who needed them. Hospitals, factories, and schools were built everywhere. At one stage, Evita sent to every woman in Argentina a sewing machine. That may appear
a demagogic action but it was a very clever, practical and simple way to help a woman in her household. The amount of Evita's work increased every day. It has been said of Evita: "But for all that she was never an eminence grise, a woman lurking behind the throne;
if she felt called by destiny to be a leader of the people, she made no attempt to conceal the fact". In standing squarely as the President's mentor, she defied the strictures of the rigidly male orientated society: for that, the masses in her own land idolised her, and the world outside could not help admiring her. She gave the impoverished descamisados new hope and strength of purpose. Evita enfranchised the women of Argentina. She did more to stimulate a sense of "People Power" than most socialist or marxist regimes have ever been able (or willing-Ed) to do. She worked twenty hour days to plant the seeds of a welfare state that worked, and she put Argentina on the political map.
 
Prior to her death, the work load of Evita had increased to a crazy extent: her appearances to the public, connected with her work in the Foundation, basically, for anyone who went to her to plead for something, was seen personally for she was trying to solve the smallest
problem in every household, all took their toll. When Evita's health problems began is unclear but some say that they were due to the load of work she undertook, others say it was an accident of nature; whatever it was, she contracted a very strong type of anaemia. Obviously, for such an illness one should rest and take an appropriate form of treatment. Evita, however, refused to take the time for this, and whenever she suffered a fainting fit which began happening every two weeks or so, she returned to work as soon as it was over, until, at last, she had to be put in hospital, although she recovered quite quickly. By this time, we have to remember, Evita was seen as a sort of a saint - almost an immortal figure. She was only 33 years old and no one, of course, expected her to fade away suddenly, so when the rumours of her illness started to spread, the people almost began to panic. Not only the descamisdos but government officials too.

The party structure tre€mbled. The members did not really know what was happening and did not want to know that something disastrous might be happening. At one stage Evita was told that she had leukaemia, but no official announcement was made. However, as the atmosphere of uncertainty began to pervade the streets and spread in the homes and schools, it becarne so that everyone began to fear that Evita was actually going.

EVITA DIES

It was in this atmosphere of foreboding that the parliament took an oath of total allegiance to the Spiritual Head of Argentina (Capo Spirituale della Nazione), Evita Peron. Even a star in the€ southern hemisphere is named after Evita, and a number of places in Argentina are named in her honour. Evita is not yet dead but already she is the stuff of legend.

Until one day, so the story goes, suddenly Evita sees her whole life - remembered like a pageant: From her childhood, her arrival in Buenos Aires, her meeting Peron, the beginning of her work; everything comes to her mind. (This is a feature of the musical, Evita.

The doctors cannot stop the ultimate degeneration and Evita is gone.

The news of her death was announced on State radio at 8:25 in the evening of July 26th 1952. All public life in Argentina comes to a standstill. The whole population was in a state of shock.

Only three years of the Peronist regime were to remain, during that time, great efforts were made to try to fill the vacuum left by the passing of Evita. Schoolchildren read daily from 'La Razon de mi Vida"; the annual celebration of occasions such as her birth, her renouncement of the Vice-Presidency, and her death also kept Evita in the public mind, Peronists dedicated the first October 17th after her death, like the last during her life, to "Evita, Spiritual Chief of the Nation".

Months after her death, when her final testament was read to her waiting followers, the words continued to affirm that: "I will feel myself forever close to the people, and I will continue to be the Bridge of Love stretched between the descamisados and Peron".

None of this prevented "The Military" from again removing Peron from office. From that time - 1954, until 1972, there was a continuing political problem in Argentina, which could not be solved until Peronism is back in power. Evita is still proclaimed continuously as the example to follow and the person to refer to. Even her corpse has become a source of legend. With the procession that accompanied the body to its funeral chapel in the Ministry of Labour and Welfare, Evita's posthumous odyssey began. It is, indeed, a story in itself.

Briefly, the body was first on public display, then hidden; transported abroad and taken secretly to Italy and Spain; buried; and then finally, exhumed and eventually reburied in Argentina in 1975. It is a tale of plot, counter-plot, intrigue and murder, involving the Church, the military and the Peronists.

ISABELITA

Finally, in 1972 Peronism was returned to power with 67% of the vote. While in exile Juan Peron had re-married. His second wife was Isabel Marinez, known as Isabelita. Obviously, she was not Evita, but she bravely attempted to follow in her predecessor's footsteps. Only a year after his triumphant return to Argentina, Juan Peron died, and Isabelita became the first woman President in the western world. She attempted to keep a very difficult and unstable political situation under control until the military once again seized power, and a huge massacre of Peronists followed. The period of "The Disappeared" had begun, and ended only when Menem, on a false Peronist platform was elected President.

PERONISM

The strange thing is that no matter what government has power in Argentina, whether Peronist or non-Peronist, the myth of Peronism continues, and mainly the dream of Evita. The Argentinean people, the descamisados, disenchanted with what politicians can give them, or do, still refer to Evita as the ideological source of political purity.