Sunday, June 19, 2016

Biographical Book Review: Eva Peron: Leading Women

Leading Women: Eva Peron by Lesli J. Favor, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, New York, 2011.

This book starts with the day of renunciation, and talks about Eva declining the vice presidency, and then it goes back and tells her life.  The story told here is much different than that presented in Evita, although it admits she was a person with two sides to her story, the power hungry woman, using funds from the Eva Peron Foundation to buy furs and jewelry, versus the advocate for the poor, who helped establish woman's suffrage, woman's political party, and social action for the poor.
On thing is for sure, Eva rose from the lowest rung in Argentina, to the highest.  However she was never accepted by the oligarchy.  She was porn to the mistress of Juan Duarte, and in early life he took care of the family, but about the time Eva was born, he abandoned the family of his mistress.  He died when she was six years old, and the family went to his funeral.  It was only after a struggle that they were admitted.
Eva left rural Argentina, and moved to Buenos Aires when she was fifteen.  More likely she harassed her mother until she relented and took her, rather that Augustin Magaldi as presented in "Evita."  Evita lived in poverty for a time, but slowly made a name for herself, first in radio.  She eventually helped establish a radio station and performed melodramas.  She eventually became an actress in film, and received publicity in magazines.  She was 24 when she met Juan Peron.  The circumstances were at a benefit for victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina.  She quickly became his lover and moved in with him, and followed his rise through the department of labor, and then to the vice presidency.
However all was not rosy.  Peron was arrested and taken away.  For two weeks Eva id not know where Juan had gone.  Her role in having him restored may not have been as great as presented.  More likely labor, for whom Juan had worked in the department of labor, threatened strike if he was not returned.  This was likely a bigger role.  At any rate, Juan Peron was returned, and all charges were dropped, and he ran for President of Argentina.  Eva supported him in this endeavor.  When he won, Eva was a different First Lady than others.  She moved into a government position in the Labor Department.  From this office she organized her Eva Peron Foundation as a way to help the poor.  She also worked with her descamisados (shirtless).  She did in fact go on the Rainbow Tour, represented Argentina in Europe.  She had an audience with the Pope.
WHen Peron came up for reelection, she had aspirations of  running with him for vice president.  However her health would not allow this, and she had to decline.  Eva had neglected her symptoms, but finally relented to doctor visits and was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  She survived the election, and Peron's second inauguration ceremony.  However shortly after she passed away.
In death Eva was still a political tool.  Her body was preserved, and she lay in wake for 16 days in the Department of Labor while people filed past for one last look.  From there work to preserve her body continued.  However, when Juan Peron was deposed, Eva's body disappeared.  Many felt it might be used to help Juan Peron politically.  It was only when he came back into power that the location was restored to Argentina.

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