FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Strange Battle Over Eva Peron’s Corpse

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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
November 12, 2019
Nino Pagliccia
Bolivia and Venezuela: Two Countries, But Same Hybrid War
Patrick Cockburn
How Iran Back Forces Are Taking Over Iraq
Jonathan Cook
Israel is Silencing the Last Voices Trying to Stop Abuses Against Palestinians
Jim Kavanagh
Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to Pillage
Susan Babbitt
Fidel, Three Years Later
Dean Baker
A Bold Plan to Strengthen and Improve Social Security is What America Needs
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Trump’s Crime Against Humanity
Victor Grossman
The Wall and General Pyrrhus
Yoko Liriano
De Facto Martial Law in the Philippines
Ana Paula Vargas – Vijay Prashad
Lula is Free: Can Socialism Be Restored?
Thomas Knapp
Explainer: No, House Democrats Aren’t Violating Trump’s Rights
Wim Laven
Serve With Honor, Honor Those Who Serve; or Support Trump?
Colin Todhunter
Agrarian Crisis and Malnutrition: GM Agriculture Is Not the Answer
Binoy Kampmark
Walls in the Head: “Ostalgia” and the Berlin Wall Three Decades Later
Akio Tanaka
Response to Pete Dolack Articles on WBAI and Pacifica
Nyla Ali Khan
Bigotry and Ideology in India and Kashmir: the Legacy of the Babri Masjid Mosque
Yves Engler
Canada Backs Coup Against Bolivia’s President
November 11, 2019
Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider
Class War Violence: Centralia 1919
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
“Other Than Honorable?” Veterans With “Bad Paper” Seek Long Overdue Benefits
Peter Linebaugh
The Worm in the Apple
Joseph Natoli
In the Looming Shadow of Civil War
Robert Fisk
How the Syrian Democratic Forces Were Suddenly Transformed into “Kurdish Forces”
Patrick Cockburn
David Cameron and the Decline of British Leadership
Naomi Oreskes
The Greatest Scam in History: How the Energy Companies Took Us All
Fred Gardner
Most Iraq and Afghanistan Vets now Regret the Mission
Howard Lisnoff
The Dubious Case of Washing Machines and Student Performance
Nino Pagliccia
The Secret of Cuba’s Success: International Solidarity
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections
Kim C. Domenico
To Overthrow Radical Evil, Part II: A Grandmother’s Proposal
Marc Levy
Veterans’ Day: Four Poems
Weekend Edition
November 08, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Real Constitutional Crisis: The Constitution
Sarah Shenker
My Friend Was Murdered for Trying to Save the Amazon
Rob Urie
Left is the New Right, or Why Marx Matters
Andrew Levine
What Rises to the Level of Impeachability?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Enter Sondland
Matthew Hoh
And the Armies That Remained Suffer’d: Veterans, Moral Injury and Suicide
Kirkpatrick Sale
2020: The Incipient Bet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Growing Ecological Civilization in China
Conn Hallinan
Middle East: a Complex Re-alignment
Robert Hunziker
Ignoring Climate Catastrophes
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Repatriate the Children of the Jihad
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Neoliberalism’s Children Rise Up to Demand Justice in Chile and the World
John McMurtry
From Canada’s Election to Public Action: Beyond the Moral Tumor of Alberta Tar-Sands
Pete Dolack
Pacifica’s WBAI Back on the Air But Fight for Non-Corporate Radio Continues
Steven Krichbaum
Eating the Amazon
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail