Tuesday, May 23, 2006

EVA DUARTE DE PERON

EVA DUARTE DE PERÓN AND THE MEDIA
1919- 1952- Eva
1928- 1967- Che
The U.S. press make much of Perón’s alleged ties to fascism. They popularly portray Eva Perón as a whore and an opportunist. What is the reality?
Perón is hated in the U.S. because he made an effort to nationalize U.S. oil interests in Argentina. While it is true that Perón , who needed their technical expertise, gave asylum to exiled Nazis and strengthened a sector of the Argentine military, so did the U.S. Government and the CIA. It is common knowledge that Perón did not consort with these people, and any accusations to that effect are based on forged documents after his downfall in 1955.
In 1946, when Perón became President, the ruling class in Argentina had begun to chafe under its dependence on Britain and the United States. This feeling manifested itself in growing national tendencies in the policies adopted by Perón . Perón's position was to bolster the national ruling class and weaken foreign monopolies, American primarily, and to impose restrictions of the power of the landed estates and the church. A state sector of the national economy came into being following the nationalization of the railways and the Central Bank. Ignored by his critics are Perón’s very real achievements; a clean election, protection of Argentina’s post-World War Two economy (which inspired the massive 1945 demonstrations in his favor) nationalization of the railroads, redirection of profits from trade into industry, wage increases, paid vacations, expanded fringe benefits for workers, Christmas bonuses, a pension plan, and expanded unionization. A housing program for workers was inaugurated. A boom in consumer goods encouraged small businesses, the mobilization of youth, and other measures which earned him the loyalty of the vast majority of Argentinos. .. The Peronista party included capitalists, public employees and workers. Its aim was to achieve a harmony of class interests within Argentina itself. Perón proposed to end big international capital and the landed oligarchy. He established diplomatic and trade relations with the Soviet Union in 1946, something the United States never forgave him for. Even so, power remained in the hands of the landlord oligarchy which had close ties with imperialism.
In 1955 the cost of living index was 685 per cent as against 1943. Argentina continued to be dependent on Great Britain and the United States. American monopolies were given full rein to expand at will. The struggle for working class interests grew more intense. The ruling class and the Catholic Church resolved to get rid of Perón . Perón , far from being a collaborator with fascist elements in the military was overthrown by them with the help on the United States. In 1955 a coup d’état was effected and power passed into the hands of extreme reactionaries. Popular and democratic forces did not let up their protests and in 1963 Arturo Illia, of the PCRUP became president and favored maintaining constitutional freedoms, an independent foreign policy and a progressive domestic policy. In 1966 he was overthrown by the military junta.
Eva Perón , of course, spearheaded women’s suffrage, organized the women’s division of the Peronista Party, centralized Welfare for greater efficiency, and mediated with the unions. As a young woman, she saw how the 87 women of the Sociedad de Beneficencia shaved the heads of the orphans under their care and sent them out to beg. After she attained power she swore she would provide for the children. Her cities, villages for seniors, homes for working women, and their children, schools and hospitals were designed with the concept of helping and respecting people as individuals rather than efficiently accommodating numbers. In Children’s City, uniforms and shaved heads were banished but clothes and toys came from the best shops in Buenos Aires. She went to Europe to drum up international trade for Argentina, and it would have been almost impossible not to go to Franco’s Spain, given the historical ties of both countries. The war was over in any case. The black legend around Eva Perón , spawned by the Argetinian oligarchy, was largely an invention designed to disparage her, as were the legends that sprung up around Allende and Hortensia Busi in Chile. As for being a whore, she was no more so but less hypocritical than Libertad Lamarque, certainly less so than Marlene Dietrich or Maria Fèlix or even Madonna. Women to get ahead in public life, especially if they come from impoverished backgrounds, often are required to submit to some of the men who run things or give up their ambition. Eva Perón may have had flings as an actress, but she married Juan Domingo. Who is to say they did not genuinely love each other?
Part of Eva Perón ’s legacy was accomplished in partnership with Perón and the Congress. Together they forged a safety net for the children, the workers, the seniors and the poor of Argentina. Each group had a Decalogue of Rights. The rights of seniors were to assistance, to a dwelling place, to food, clothing, spiritual care, entertainment, work, tranquility and respect. The safety net included access to health care, a minimum wage, paid vacations and pensions. In 1951, thanks to Eva Perón’s efforts, women were elected to Congress for the first time.
The cornerstone of the legacy was La Fundación Eva Perón , paid for by worker’s donations. The unions offered the first 15 days of their pay raises to the Fundación, and the CGT volunteered two working days of salary to the FEP. Other funds came from labor contracts, lotteries, casinos, a movie ticket tax, a racing tax, Congress and small businesses.
As a result for the first time in Argentina there was no inequality in health care. The Foundation built 12 hospitals around the country. The Polyclinic in Avellaneda was a teaching hospital. It sent out a tren sanitario in 1951. The train went throughout Argetina providing free inoculations, x-rays, medicines and the best doctors. Foundation wards were limited to three patients to a ward, and medicines were free.
Eva Perón established the School of nursing and sent nurses in jeeps all over the country to establish clinics. Her Ciudad Evita had shops, church and stadium within walking distance of every low income dwelling. The Foundation built 1,000 schools in seven years.
The Perón government was not perfect, but the vitriol reserved for the Perón couple echoes the hatred that la burguesía argentina and the fascist military had for them. Their hatred for them reached the point of destroying thousands of bottles of blood in the blood banks, burning sheets in the hospitals, destroying iron lungs with the legend FEP, in an effort to destroy Eva Perón’s image and reputation after 1955. Not content with tearing down her work, they slaughtered 30,000 of their country’s citizens in the Dirty War. Peronistas were forbidden to present candidates for election until the 70's.
Workers today have Eva Perón ’s picture in their homes, but that doesn’t interest Americans, who implying that the Argentinos are too ignorant to know how corrupt they were, parrot the attitudes of the Argentinean social elite. Where is the hand wringing over- and the musical about- the dirty war? That was fascism.
As far as the Madonna movie- that molder of public opinion- how clever to have el Che as a spokesperson for international monopoly capital! There are many Ches in Argentina and this reactionary certainly wasn’t Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, although he was touted as such in the reviews. A young Che Guevara left Argentina in 1951, and there is nothing to suggest that he was either a supporter or a critic of the Perón couple. It is no accident that the slanderous musical was written by the British who lost their unofficial colony after Perón took power in 1945. . Perón was a populist and a patriot, even as were Lázaro Cárdenas and Jacobo Arbenz and many other Latin American leaders who are vilified by the U.S. because they dared to suggest a prosperous and independent nation for their people.

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