On July 26, 1952, Evita “Eva” Peron died at the age of 33 from the effects of uterine cancer, leaving behind a grieving husband and a country in mourning. The former actress and radio personality had risen from the streets of Los Toldos to become the First Lady of Argentina and the creator of the Eva Peron Foundation. The organization had served the poorest residents of the country giving financial support and developing areas in need of structural improvement. Her policies and actions sometimes drew controversy and faced resistance from different sectors of society including the military, who tried more than once to stage a coup before Juan Peron finally fled into exile in 1955. Her life has been depicted in Broadway and in films but the true story is often subject to speculation, misinformation and mystery. This is the real story as told by Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro of a young woman, born in adversarial circumstances but destined for a life of fame and purpose but destined to a tragic fate. Carefully researching her early life, their account also serves as a historical record of the social climate of Argentina in the early 20th century. Her spiritual and political evolution into a leader who at times garnered more attention than that of her husband, displays remarkable commitment, drive and patriotism. But like all famous historical figures, controversy follows her throughout her life and her tragic decline is a reminder of our own mortality. Her death and the actions surrounding the embalming and theft of her body are both shocking and disturbing.
Well over 50 years have passed since her death and even to this day there are many loyal Peronist and Peronistas that remain committed to an era that has long since passed. Since the time when Eva was the name heard around the world, there have been many figures in Argentine politics that have come and gone. The recent administration of Cristina de Kirchner was plagued by accusations of corruption and even murder after the untimely death of Alberto Nissan who threatened to reveal what he believed to be the government’s complicity in a horrific crime that had been covered up and ignored by the government. In 2015, she was succeeded by Mauricio Macri and many hope that change is in the air. And with the recent visit of President Barack Obama, the people of both Argentina and the United States have renewed optimism that the two nations can repair relations and continue to build a better relationship. While Peron is no longer with us, she remains a mythical figure in the history of Argentina and for some she will always be the unrelenting crusader for equality. But for others, she will always represent the many things that were considered to be wrong with Argentine politics. Nonetheless, her legacy continues and for an eternity, Eva will always be remembered.