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overcame poverty and her belief in bringing justice
to the poor made everything that she did for the
people of Argentina possible.
I. Taking action
A. Collections for the needy
B. The Secretariat
II. Continuing the action
A. The Eva Peron Foundation
B. The Social Help Crusade
C. The Hospital Train
D. Twelve hospitals
III. Helping women
IV. Helping children
V. Helping the elderly
VI. Seeing Eva's viewpoint
'Mi vida por Peron!' ('My life for Peron!') [Evita]
cried a thousand times before the roaring crowds, and
then she died. There are parallels that could be
drawn between her life and the lives of other
obsessively ambitious women who have forced their way
through poverty and fame.but instead popular memory
finds parallels between Evita's life and the lives of
the saints, because she did it all for someone else.
From Colonel Juan Peron's election in 1946 until her death from cancer
in 1952, Eva Duarte de Peron greatly altered the lives of the Argentine
people. Knowing from her childhood what it was like to belong to the
lower class population of Argentina, she felt she had the inside
connection to making conditions better for her "descamisados," or
"shirtless ones." Her experience as a member of the lower class who
overcame poverty and her belief in bringing justice to the poor made
everything she did for the people of Argentina possible.
Social injustice was everywhere in Argentina. It was too much for Eva
to bear, so she decided to take action (Peron 12). Eva Duarte met her
opportunity to work for the government when an earthquake destroyed most
of the city of San Juan on January 15, 1944. She helped take
collections for the needy (To Be I). Later, she chose to work in the
Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare. In this department she was
able to meet many people and hear all of their stories and problems
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working class of Argentines. Coming from a family among the working
class, she knew what they were going through. She had a special
understanding of the working class and felt comfortable working with
them to improve their situation (79). Eva considered each worker that
came into her office a friend, and she was a loyal friend to each of
them (81). In all of this, her main purpose was to give justice to the
In 1945 she married Colonel Juan Peron, who became Argentina's president
in 1946 (Taylor 39). Eva helped him a great deal with his campaign and
she won the hearts of the lower class citizens. When Peron took office,
Eva, nicknamed Evita by the descamisados, acted as de facto minister of
health and labor (Mc Henry 301). She also continued her work in the
Secretariat for no salary. Her only earnings were the love and
affection from Peron and the Argentine people (Peron 125).
On June 19, 1948, Evita founded the Maria Eva Duarte de Peron
Foundation, or EPF. This foundation was created to provide national
safety where the government was weak (To Be II). The Foundation's work
was necessary in the lower class areas of the country, rather than in
the cities. Eva believed that the descamisados were the base, the
foundation, of the revolution. They were an essential part of the
country's people (Peron 80).
The Social Help Crusade created housing and neighborhoods that were
affordable for the poor. The crusade also created jobs for the
unemployed and school food programs. It provided inexpensive hospital
supplies and free medication. Workers' unions donated many of these
materials. Evita began The Eva Peron Hospital Train, which provided
free check-ups, vaccinations, x-rays, and general medical care to people
who either did not have access to hospitals or who could not afford a
visit to the doctor (To Be II). Twelve hospitals and two "policlinicos"
(hospitals for the railroad workers) were built with the same objective
as the Hospital Train. These hospitals attracted the best doctor in the
country, and the charge for a visit was minimal, if any (To Be II,
Larson 3). Along with all these efforts, Evita and her foundation
concentrated specifically on helping the women, the children, and the
elderly of the lower class.
Evita fought for the passage of the women's suffrage law, which was
finally approved in 1947 after many years of being "put on the back
burner" (To Be II). She formed the Peronista Feminist Party in 1949 (Mc
Henry 301). She also set up special homes for young women who left home
for the city with little or no money, as she had done when she was young
(Guillermoprieto 105). One of these homes was called the General San
Martin Home for Women Employees. Evita frequently ate her evening meal
here with the young ladies who were staying (To Be II).
Evita commented, "The country which forgets its children renounces its
future" (To Be II). With this in mind, the EPF founded orphanages
called The Children's City and The Student's City. These cities were
created for orphans, children whose families had no place to stay, and
children who could not be cared for at home (To Be II). The Foundation
also constructed 1,000 schools (To Be II) plus agricultural schools,
nursery schools, daycare centers, and workshops (To Be II).
In order to cater to the elderly, the EPF created homes for senior
citizens. As Larson commented, "Evita believed that seniors should live
in a place that encouraged them to go on living, not just wait for
death" (3). The Foundation kept this thought in mind when the homes
were built. The villages were designed so the seniors could continue
their occupations and hobbies if they chose to do so (Larson 3). People
over sixty years of age who had no source of income were granted
pensions. Evita also introduced the Declaration of Rights of Senior
Citizens to President Peron on August 28, 1948. This declaration of
rights was included in the National Constitution in 1949 (To Be II).
Evita did not have specific reasons to help the descamisados. She did
everything based on her deepest feelings. She did not call the work she
did charity. Nor did she call her work social solidarity, benevolence,
or social welfare. She called her actions justice (Peron 5, 121).
It is easy to see that Evita accomplished a lot for her people. She
introduced the descamisados to a better style of living. She gave them
health care and an opportunity for a good education. She gave Argentine
women the right to vote and a place to go while beginning their career.
She gave the orphans a home and the elderly a place to retire. All of
these things she did without expecting anything in return. The only
thing she desired was the love of her people and of Peron.
Guillermoprieto, Alma. "Little Eva." The New Yorker 2
Larson, Dolane. "Evita's Legacy." Evita Peron Historical
Research Foundation. 10 January 1997.
http://www.evitaperon.org/legacy/ (2 April 1999).
Mc Henry, Robert, ed. "Eva Peron." The New Encyclopedia
Britannica: Macropaedia. 1993 ed.
[Peron, Eva.] evita by evita: Eva Duarte Peron Tells Her Own
Story. Redwood City, CA: Proteus Publishing Co., Inc.,
Taylor, J.M. Eva Peron: The Myths of a Woman. Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press, 1979.
To Be Evita. Part I. Trans. Dolane Larson. Evita Peron
Historical Research Foundation. April, 1997.
http://evitaperon.org/biography/part1.html (9 April 1999).
To Be Evita. Part II. Trans. Dolane Larson. Evita Peron
Historical Research Foundation. April, 1997.
http://evitaperon.org/biography/part2.html (9 April 1999).