Thursday, April 19, 2018

Guest Post: Helen R Davis author of Evita: My Argentina.

Helen R. Davis is here to share the epilogue that was cut from her book Evita: My Argentina, which I reviewed here. I highly recommend reading it.

Evita...My Argentina by Helen R. Davis

Publication Date: February 10, 2017
Custom Book Publications
eBook & Paperback; 228 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical
EVITA … My Argentina Evita Perón tells her own spectacular story.  Tracing her life back to her humble beginnings, when she is abandoned by her father, Evita takes the reader on her journey to become an actress and later, to the pivotal moment when she meets Colonel Juan Perón. Never content to stay in her husband’s shadow, Evita reveals how she shares his belief that Peronism will help the working class. Eventually she begins doing work on her own as the president of the Society of Benevolence, helping the poor and winning the peoples’ trust. As the times change and women get the vote, Evita becomes even more powerful, running the Ministries of Labor and Health, starting a foundation, and organizing the first female party, The Female Peronist Party. A larger-than-life story, told in her own fictional words, the powerful novel is as educational as it is entertaining.

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This was cut from my novel Evita: My Argentina and shows the fate of the nation Eva loved- or claimed to-- after her death. 

Eva Peron died on July 26th 1952. This date can also be seen as the 'beginning of the end' for Juan Perón.  After elongating and adding to Eva's suffering during her life, he then began to revere her, both personally and politically, in death. He ordered a statue made in Eva's honor to be built in Buenos Aires. It was supposed to be three times higher than the Statue of Liberty. This never happened.. Perón was overthrown in August of 1955, three years and a month after his revered wife's death. In the years in between, he had taken to riding around Buenos Aires in a scooter, visiting several young mistresses who had replaced Eva, one of whom was a teenage girl, Nelly Rivas.

Perón was driven into exile, as he and Eva had done to so many anti-Peronists, or to any who simply saw that their economic mismanagement was leading to disastrous consequences for Argentina. He traveled all around Latin America and in Panama, met his third wife, Isabel. The couple moved to Spain, where they married and lived quietly during the 1960s.

In the meantime, though Perón was physically driven from Argentina, his curse endured. Nepotism, overspending of money, employer-employee wars and military coups remained a part of Argentine politics during the 1950s and 1960s. Some governments tried strategies to regain Argentina's lost splendors, only to be undermined by the ugly ghosts of Evita and Juan. Many extremist movements began to form in the 1960s and 1970s, to the extent that what was hated in the 1950s and 1960s—Peronism—began to look in the early 1970s like the only way out.

Eva's memory was associated with the 'glory days' of Peronism and the nostalgia of the era. Though Eva's embalmed body had been kidnapped and dragged all over the world,  her memory remained and burned brightly in the eyes of many who had received aid from her.  She was blessed to have escaped the scandal of corruption and indeed, in dying young, at the height of her power, the tragedy of her untimely death eclipsed her legacy of corruption. Forgotten was the fact that Eva, along with Juan, had gagged the press, controlled the radios and newspapers, and that, by the time of her death, Argentina was teetering on bankruptcy. In this moment of the return of the phoenix, all was forgiven—or forgotten.

In 1973, Juan and Isabel returned to Argentina. Juan died nine months later of a heart attack. By this time, Eva's body had been found—in a grave in Italy. Damage had been done to the corpse, but all was repaired. Many people queued by Peron's casket, which was placed next to Eva's. The couple that ruined Argentina together, however, were not buried together. Eva was buried in La Recoleta, a large cemetery in Argentina, known as a necropolis for the rich, her neighbors in death the oligarchs she so hated and who so hated her. Peron was buried at La Chacarita Cemetary, where his tomb was vandalized in 1987 and his body desecrated. He was later moved to a family mausoleum in late 2006.

In the meantime, Isabel became President of Argentina in 1974.  For all of Eva's flaws, it cannot be argued her effect on Argentine women was mostly positive, and Isabel, becoming the first female head of state in the Western Hemisphere, reaped the whirlwind of it. But Eva's legacy was also one of corruption, and Isabel's reign was an unmitigated disaster, as Eva's likely would have been. She was overthrown in 1976 and now lives in exile in Spain.

Was Evita good or bad for Argentina? Let us look at the facts. On the positive note, it cannot be denied that when Eva became First Lady, the Argentine woman was invisible and the rich did indeed neglect the poor.   Eva's moving and shaking definitely helped the women in Argentina. Eva's charity work no doubt came from good intentions, and her working long days for her cause is admirable. However, keep in mind, that by the time of her death in 1952, just four years after she set up the Foundation Eva Peron in 1948, Argentina was nearly bankrupt. So, Eva in a sense built the schools, hospitals, etc. at the expense of Argentina. Don’t cry for me indeed. Argentina should cry for herself.


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