Was Evita As Great/Terrible As Everyone Says
I’m here in Buenos Aires, trying to understand if Evita was good or bad, if her achievements deserve praise or not.
The only thing people agree about is that Evita changed Argentina forever.
In 1996, Madonna arrived in Buenos Aires to film Evita.
Everyone protested. The movie would portray Evita in a bad way! Or glorify her!
Nobody was happy. President Menem was unsure about Madonna singing on balcony of The Casa Rosada, where Evita stood in front of thousands.
Director Alan Parker remembers a press conference in Buenos Aires. Reporters were yelling at each other instead of asking Parker questions.
I’m here in the kitchen of the former Eva Perón Foundation, now the Evita Museum. This is where you come to hear all the good things Eva Perón did for her country.
The Foundation was created to help Argentina’s poor.
In 1948, she helped women to win the right to vote.
Evita handed out toys to poor children at Christmas time. She wanted them to have presents, too.
She created a nursing school so poor women could have careers and pull themselves out of poverty.
After she was born, her father abandoned the family. Her mother had to sew clothing to support the five children.
In the next room, you can see the movie poster for La Prologa, starring Evita. The movie is about a wealthy, wasteful woman who decides to dedicate herself to the poor.
The public never saw the movie. Eva Duarte had just married Juan Perón. The couple didn’t thing the movie was appropriate for a President and a First Lady.
The couple became wildly popular, especially Evita, thanks to all her Foundation did to help the country’s poor.
But Evita found out she had uterine cancer.
We all know Evita singing from the balcony of the Casa Rosa, the presidential offices in Buenos Aires.
“Don’t cry for me, Argentina”
She never said those words, but that was the sentiment. And she didn’t sing to her public, los descamisados (the shirtless ones). The tone of the speech sounds very different.
She was shouting with anger, urging people to defend Juan Perón after her death.
She knew the military was threatening to overthrow her husband.
Evita died in 1952. She was just 33 years old.
In June 1955, the military bombed the Casa Rosada. The plaza in front was filled with thousands of Perón’s supporters. Over 300 of them died.
President Perón managed to escape. But just three months later, he was overthrown and forced into exile.
The new military government closed the Eva Perón Foundation and burned everything inside.
They said the Foundation was a propaganda machine and nothing else. They withheld vaccinations from the poor because each one had Eva Perón’s name on it.
They also said that labor unions and other groups and individuals were forced to donate to the Foundation, thanks to Perón’s legislation.
Evita justified wearing designer clothes in her book, My Reason For Living.
Like all women, I also like to look beautiful for the people I love more than I do for strangers… and that’s why I wear my best outfits for the shirtless working people.
I read a book called, The Real Lives of Evita. I’ve talked to people here in Buenos Aires. I visited the museum. I watched the movie.
Sometimes the more you learn about a subject, the harder it is to understand.
Where To Find Evita In Buenos Aires
- The Evita Museum. As mentioned in this blog post, the former Eva Perón Foundation is now the Evita Museum.
- La Casa Rosada. You’ll see this eye-catching but asymmetrical building from Plaza de Maya. Look for the balcony (off-center to the right) where Evita urged her followers to defend her husband after her death.
- La Casa Rosada Museum. Located behind (and below) the presidential offices, you’ll find a history of Argentina and its presidents. One of the final portraits is Juan and Eva Perón (as seen in this blog post).
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