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Evita Peron - Evita Peron In 1949 the most familiar scene...

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Evita Peron In 1949 the most familiar scene in Argentina was the one played out almost daily at the Ministry of Labor in Buenos Aires. There, under the glare of camera lights, a former radio star and movie actress, now the most powerful woman in South America, would enter her office past a crush of adoring, impoverished women and children. Evita Peron, the wife of President Juan Peron, would sit at her desk and begin one of the great rituals of Peronism, the political movement she and her husband created. It was a pageant that sustained them in power. She would patiently listen to the stories of the poor, then reach into her desk to pull out some money. Or she would turn to a minister and ask that a house be built. She would caress filthy children. She would kiss lepers, just as the saints had done. To many Argentines, Evita Peron was a flesh-and- blood saint; later, 40,000 of them would write to the pope attesting to her miracles. She was born on May 7, 1919, in Los Toldos, and baptized Maria Eva, but everyone called her Evita. Her father abandoned the family shortly after her birth. Fifteen years of poverty followed and, in early 1935, the young Evita fled her stifling existence to go to Buenos Aires. Perhaps, as some have said, she fell in love with a tango singer who was passing through. She wanted to be an actress, and in the next few years supported herself with bit parts, photo sessions for titillating magazines and stints as an attractive judge of tango competitions. She began frequenting the offices of a movie magazine, talking herself up for mention in its pages. When, in 1939, she was hired as an actress in a radio company, she discovered a talent for playing heroines in the fantasy world of radio soap opera. This was a period of political uncertainty in Argentina, yet few people were prepared for the military coup that took place in June 1943. Among the many measures instituted by the new government was the censorship of radio soap
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operas. Quickly adapting to the new environment, Evita approached the officer in charge of allocating airtime, Colonel Anibal Imbert. She seduced him, and Imbert approved a new project Evita had in mind, a radio series called Heroines of History. Years later, people would say that Evita had been a prostitute. Six months after Evita met Imbert, an earthquake struck Argentina. Colonel Juan Peron, the secretary of labor in the military government, launched a collection for the victims. He arranged for the Buenos Aires acting community to donate its time for an evening's entertainment, with the proceeds going to disaster relief. Evita was present on the big night, and she
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