FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail