Maria Eva Duarte de Peron
May 7, 1919 – July 26, 1952
She was born in the village of Los Toldos in The Pampas, rural Argentina in 1919, the youngest of five children. In 1934, at the age of 15, she went to the nation’s capital of Buenos Aires, where she pursued a career as a stage, radio, and film actress. Eva met Colonel Juan Peron on January 22, 1944, in Buenos Aires during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina. The two were married the following year. In 1946, Juan Peron was elected President of Argentina. Over the course of the next six years, Eva Peron became powerful within the pro-Peronist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Peron Foundation, championed women’s suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation’s first large-scale female political party, the Female Peronist Party.
In 1951, Eva Peron announced her candidacy for the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina, receiving great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or “shirtless ones”. However, opposition from the nation’s military and bourgeoisie, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy. In 1952, shortly before her death from cancer at the age of 33, Eva Peron was given the title of “Spiritual Leader of the Nation” by the Argentine Congress.Eva Peron was given a state funeral upon her death, a prerogative generally reserved for heads of state.
Eva Peron has become a part of international popular culture,most famously as the subject of the musical Evita (1976).Cristina Alvarez Rodriguez, Evita’s great niece, claims that Evita has never left the collective consciousness of Argentines.Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the first female elected President of Argentina, claims that women of her generation owe a debt to Eva for “her example of passion and combativeness”.