1919 – 17 May.
Eva Duarte is born in Los Toldos , a village 150 miles west of Buenos Aires. Youngest of five illegitimate children, her parents never married.
Juan Duarte, Eva’s father dies, his legitimate family bar her mother, Juana Ibarguen, and family from attending the funeral and their financial situation becomes much worse. The seed is sown for her hatred of the middle class.
Tango singer Agustin Magaldi plays in Junin, now the home town of the teenage Eva where her mother runs a boarding house. Eva elopes with Magaldi in search of fame and fortune.
1935 – January
Eva arrives in Buenos Aires and begins her quest to become a successful actress. She has some small theatre roles and appears in some magazine photos.
Eva’s first significant role in a play on Argentine Radio.
She is featured in a series of radio dramas sponsored by a soap company on Radio Belgrano, Buenos Aires’ leading radio station.
For the same radio station she leads a series of radio dramas about famous female historical figures playing among others Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great and Josephine. By this time she has also been in a few films and is financially secure with her own flat in the Calle Posadas, near the radio station. She begins a relationship with Colonel Imbert, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, and makes inroads to military society.
The Grupo de Oficiales Unidos (Group of United Officers) who believe that only military dictatorship can bring glory to Argentina march into Buenos Airesand depose President Castillo. With the mantra “Hitler’s fight in peace and war will be our guide” Juan Peron becomes Chief of the Secretariat of the War Ministry and catches Eva’s attention.
1944 – 22 January
Eva and Peron meet for the first time at a fund raising concert for the victims of the majorSan Juan earthquake at Luna Park Stadium inBuenos Aires. Eva plans the meeting and their sexual attraction ensures she has no problem in usurping his sixteen year old mistress. They set up home in the flat next door to her old one in the Calle Posadas. President Ramirez breaks off relations with Nazi Germany and is deposed. The new President Farrell makes Peron Minister of War and of Labour and later Vice President. Eva’s career as an actress takes off both on radio and film. She also broadcasts on current affairs programmes and is featured in newspapers and magazines allowing a wider forum for her public support of Peron. To realise both Peron and her own political ambitions she courts the support of the workers or descamisados (shirtless ones- a description meant as an insult but transformed by Eva to a term of pride and glory).
1945 – September
Strikes across the country and a huge protest march in Buenos Aires against the Government worries the military powers. Knowing a general election would only increase Peron’s power, they demanded his resignation along with the Chief of Police, using the violent protests as an excuse.
Peron’s resignation is announced.
Peron is imprisoned and Eva gets busy rallying support from the workers whose wages had increased when Peron combined the unions into one huge organization, the Confederation General de Trabejo.
Plaza de Mayo is the scene of a massive pro-Peron demonstration with between fifty and a hundred thousand workers calling for the re-instatement of Peron. Peron is released and appears in triumph on the Casa Rosada balcony.
Peron and Eva marry secretly.
1946 – 24 February
Peron is elected President of Argentina. Eva is given office in the Secretariat of Labour.
Juan Peron is formally declared President and Eva becomes the First Lady of Argentina. Hated by the Argentine aristocracy and military she becomes the darling of the working class who now call her “Evita”. They believe her when she says she is taking riches only for them so they may inherit them in the future. She campaigns tirelessly for women’s suffrage.
Eva founds her Social Aid Foundation having been excluded, by the ladies of the Argentine Establishment, from the Society of Philanthropy, which is traditionally led by the President’s wife. Through the foundation gifts and money are distributed to the poor but there is much criticism of how the money has been obtained. Companies that refuse to sponsor projects are closed. Eva works fourteen or fifteen hours a day on the Foundation’s work.
Eva begins her Rainbow Tour to Europe, a hugely expensive trip, to gain the new regime respectability in theOld World, to bury old associations with Nazi Germany and to re-open European markets for meat and grain. 150,000 people wave her off at the airport. She is feted inSpainbyFranco, treated with some respect inItaly, tolerated inFrance, insulted in Switzerland and snubbed byGreat Britain.
The Peronist Women’s Party set up with Eva as its President.
It is announced that Eva will run as a Vice Presidential candidate in the November elections in an attempt to divert attention fromArgentina’s financial crisis which affect everyone with rising inflation and the introduction of beef rationing.
Eva makes a moving radio broadcast turning down the chance of Vice Presidency because of her ill-health.
The sixth anniversary of Eva’s first appearance on the Casa Rosada balcony and she makes her last public pronouncement urging all who love her to understand her life had been devoted to the people, her country and Peron. Peron declares 17 October Santa Evita’s Day.
Eva is admitted to hospital and undergoes a four hour operation which is not successful. She votes for Peron from her hospital bed, the first time women have been allowed to vote – her greatest achievement.
Her book La Razon de Ma Vida, a Peronist tract revealing little more about Eva than her speeches had shown, is published. It is phenomenally successful.
1952 – 4 June
Eva’s last public appearance when Peron is sworn in for his second term as President. She collapses later that day in the Casa Rosada.
Eva Peron dies. Her family are with her and the embalmers immediately begin work on preserving her remains.
All places of entertainment, shops and businesses are closed for three days. It is weeks before life in Buenos Aires returns to normal.
“It is the sad duty of the secretary of the press toinform the people ofArgentinathat Eva Peron, spiritual leader of the nation, entered immortality at 20.25 hrs. today.”
With thanks to Mark Fox