FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Strange Battle Over Eva Peron’s Corpse

by TOM CLIFFORD

The battle over Eva Peron´s final resting place remains as uncertain as her political career was controversial.

Her mausoleum, ironically for a champion of the poor situated in an upmarket area of Buenos Aires, draws thousands of visitors daily. She is surrounded in death by the bodies of those establishment figures who despised her for aiding the descamisados (shirtless ones).

First lady at 26, Evita died of cancer aged 33 on July 26, 1952. Her corpse then embarked on a macabre odyssey.

Proclaimed “spiritual chief of the Argentine nation” by Congress, Evita was born Maria Eva Duarte on 7 May 1919 in the village of Los Toldos. She came to Buenos Aires as a teenager and hopeful actress. There she met and married Juan Peron.
 “It´s one of history´s strange facts that neither had children yet there are so many devoted to their memory,” Pablo Varquez, co-ordinator of the Evita museum, said.

The museum, a former refuge for single mothers that Evita established, opened in 2002, does a brisk business in blurring the lines between myth and reality.

Her image enabled Peron’s third wife to become the first female president of Argentina, and continues to influence politics.

For many Argentines, she was an anti-democratic populist, who used her position for cynical personal gain. Argentina’s chronic social and economic problems can be traced back to Peronism, they claim.

Pictures of Evita with children and dignitaries adorn the museum walls, dresses that she wore on important occasions are displayed but there is no hint of criticism about the woman who still deeply divides the nation.

“A young woman, it is import! ant to understand the context of her time,” Varquez said.
”She looked after her political allies but with her foes, and she had many, she was ruthless.”

Of today´s politicians “President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela most closely resembles her,” Valquez said.
When challenged as to Evita´s legacy, vagueness surfaces.
 “Compassion for the less well off, giving the poor a voice. Peronism comes from the heart as well as the mind.”

It may be easier to define what Peronism is not. It is not liberal and it is not communist.”
It is still a driving force in Argentine politics and a Peronist, Cristina Kirchner, is president.

But it has deep faultline. Without a clear ideology it risks factionalism and splits are evident today with at least three national politicians claiming to carry the banner of true Peronism.

Juan and Eva Peron both realised the political benefits of organising the working class into a political force and launched them on a collision course with the establishment. Juan Peron was overthrown three years after Evita´s death.

“When the military took power they tried to destroy Peronism,” Valquez said. “Even to mention her name publicly could bring arrest. They banned all mention of her in newspapers, magazines or on the radio.”
 Consequently her resting place carried huge political significance.
 “The military did not want a her burial site to be a rallying pace for the masses.”

And so began a macabre two-decade-long battle for possession between political forces as the embalmed body was transported within Argentina, to Italy and Spain and then back to Argentina.

The location of Eva’s body was a mystery for 16 years after Juan fled to exile in Spain in 1955.

Finally, in 1971, Eva’s body was discovered in a grave under a false name outside Rome. The body was flown to Spain where Peron kept the corpse in an open casket on the dining room table.

Peron was now married to his third wife Isabel who combed the corpse’s hair in a daily act of devotion.

In 1974, Juan returned to power as president of Argentina but died that year. Isabel succeeded him and returned Eva’s body to Argentina where it was briefly displayed next to Juan’s body before he was buried elsewhere. In 1987, thieves broke into his tomb and sawed off his hands.

Isabel was overthrown in 1976. The new military leaders had Evita´s corpse intered in the Duarte family tomb under three plates of steel and seven meters of concrete in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Now some Peron supporters want a new mausoleum to house both bodies.

But digging up Evita´s body at a time of a Peronist government grappling with harsh economic realities could cause a public outcry. At the very least it would be accused of opportunism by trying to revive the memory of Evita for political advantage.

Evita´s tomb is said to be secure enough to withstand a nuclear attack whether can it be called the final resting place of a moveable political corpse is not so certain.

TOM CLIFFORD can be reached at tclifford@praguepost.com

More articles by:

Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail