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Activist Eva Peron MAG
EvaPeron: many thoughts come to mind when her name is mentioned. Some believe shewas a saint to Argentina, loved and adored by her people. Others believe she wasonly out for herself, climbing to the top using her sexual charms. I believe shewas a great woman, a saint of her nation, and a great promoter of justcauses.
Eva Duarte was born on May 7, 1919 in Los Toldos, Argentina. Shewas the youngest of five, and the illegitimate daughter of Juan Duarte, aninfluential politician.
At the age of 15, she met Augustin Magaldi, asomewhat famous tango singer. Desperate to leave Los Toldos, she decided to elopeafter knowing him only a short time. After a year in Buenos Aires, Eva left him.She worked as an actress, and sang in nightclubs. Being a poor, lower-classwoman, she was at a disadvantage. In early twentieth-century Argentina, womenwere regarded as men's property. It was also a time of misery, unemployment andhunger in a country that was a major producer of food. Buenos Aires had been acity for aristocrats, wealthy Argentinians, and Europeans, but industrializationin the late '30s brought many "dark-skinned workers," as the middle andupper classes regarded them. The city had more slums and tenements than wealthyneighborhoods. Eva saw all of this, and vowed to one day change it, making allsocial classes equal.
In 1935 Eva joined the Argentine Comedy Company andsoon debuted on screen. Eventually she started her own theater company, actorsunion and radio shows.
In 1943, the separation between the people and thegovernment was becoming obvious. On June 4th, a military coup oustedthen-president Ramon Castillo. General Pedro Ramieriez took over, and the unknownColonel Juan Peron became prominent in his government. When an earthquake hit anddestroyed 90 percent of San Juan (Argentina) a few months later, killing andinjuring thousands, Peron organized a National Relief Festival and invited themost popular stars to participate - including Eva.
In 1945, Eva and Juan,by then vice president, were married. The Labor Party had chosen Peron as itspresidential candidate. The campaign was violent and aggressive, but for thefirst time the candidate's wife accompanied him on the campaign. Eva handed outbuttons and greeted people in the towns. At this point a different side of Eva(the actress) emerged: Eva the leader. She entered the political arena and tooksteps to work for great causes. Within a few months, she became a differentperson - Evita.
General Juan Domingo Peron was elected president andimmediately gave Evita an office in the Secretariat of Labor. From there shegained control of the unions. She traveled the country making speeches andappearing at union rallies. She also campaigned for women tirelessly, knowingfrom first-hand experience the degradation and hardship.
Although a verypopular woman with the lower class, the middle and upper classes opposed hergreatly. They did not like that she was from the lower class. She once said,"Peron has a double personality and I need to have one also: I am Eva Peron,the wife of the president, whose work is simple and agreeable ... and I am alsoEvita Peron, the wife of the leader of the people who have deposited in him alltheir faith, hope and love. A few days of the year I represent Eva Peron, most ofthe time, however, I am Evita." Her relationship with the unionsintensified, creating a foundation for her social work.
She helped theunion workers get better wages, and cared for the needy. She saw herself as abridge between classes, but she had become much more than that.
Sheestablished an office where she would see people and try to help with theirneeds. She gave out subsidies for clinics for the poor and distributed food,clothes and household goods. When she was told of the unhealthy living conditionsof the poor, she visited them and took charge of a plan to provide the residentswith health care, and build new houses. She aimed for "direct socialhelp" for jobs, medicine, housing and education.
Evita's nextmonumental change took place in 1951 when she helped women win the right to vote.Evita brought intense feminism to Argentina, and through her efforts, many womenentered, and were successful in, politics; in 1952, 23 women took the office ofdeputy, and six the office of senator.
Evita also created thousands ofschools, including nurseries, sports programs and children's hospitals. Her workfor children came from her belief that "The country which forgets itschildren renounces its future."
In 1951, Evita was confronted withboth uterine cancer and the idea of running as vice president with her husband inthe next election. Over a million people voiced their support, but, shockingly,she formally announced she would not run due to her illness. Soon after, shebecame very ill and could not continue her work. In 1952, the Peron-Quijanoticket won, and Evita accompanied her husband to his second inauguration. It washer last public appearance.
Her people could not believe it, and there wasa tremendous upsurge of emotion. They said masses for her, set up altars, andoffered her their own blood for her transfusions. Surgery was unsuccessful, and afew months later, on July 26, 1952, Eva Duarte de Peron died at the age of 33surrounded by her family.
Argentina was overcome with grief and lifestopped for days while the country mourned. Her body was taken through BuenosAires on a gun carriage, and the crowds were so vast that three people werecrushed to death and over 12,000 were injured. Thousands of wreaths filled thestreets around the building where her body lay in state.
Evita knew in herheart that helping the poor was her vocation, and instead of just talking aboutthings, she went out and did them. She always gave of herself, even as she laidon her deathbed.
Evita was deeply loved by her people, and her charms wereirresistible.