The New York Times
July 27, 1952

Saga Of Eva Peron: 12 Years To Power


                Ambitious, Beautiful, Ruthless, She Began in Obscurity and Rose to the Heights

                By THE NEW YORK TIMES

                Ambitious, ruthless, untiring, clever and strikingly beautiful, Maria Eva Duarte de
                Peron had in large measure many of the qualities needed to lift her in a dozen
                short years from obscurity to fame, wealth and power on the unpredictable
                currents of Argentine political life.

                The child of a poor village landowner who had been separated from his first
                wife, she rose meteorically through a brief radio and motion picture career to
                become the first lady of her land and one of the most influential women in the
                Western hemisphere.

                Senora Peron's ascent and her important role in
                governmental affairs and propaganda were all the more remarkable for the
                contrast that they presented to the conservative social traditions of Latin
                America, where women previously were seldom seen, and never heard, in
                public life.

                No less than her husband, Senora Peron was a controversial figure. To her
                supporters, among whom were the many recipients of her highly publicized
                charities, she approached the stature of a dazzling goddess. She was "la dama
                de la esperanza," the lady of hope.

                For her opponents, political and social, however, there were not words strong
                enough to express their dislike and envy of this blonde upstart, who seemed
                to have virtually taken over the country.

                The controversial aspect of the role of Senora Peron was by no means limited
                to Argentina. She became a truly international figure, a world-wide topic of
                conversation and invariably a subject of conjecture.

                Countless anecdotes--factual as well as apocryphal--pointed this up. The
                inevitably humorless way in which she lent herself to the promulgation of
                absolute peronismo was never better illustrated than on the day she had to
                undergo minor surgery.

                'Viva Peron!'

                One of the Buenos Aires newspapers owned outright by the Government ran
                a front-page box, allegedly describing the moment that she was being wheeled
                into the operating room.

                "Before they put me to sleep," she was quoted as having said, "if I do not
                awake--Viva Peron!"

                She was born May 7, 1919, in Los Toldos, a village of Buenos Aires
                province, youngest of five children of Juan Duarte and Juana Ibarguren. Her
                father died while she was still a child, and her mother moved to the near-by
                town of Junin and opened a boarding house.

                After two years of high school, still in her mid-teens, the slim blonde girl went
                to Buenos Aires on her own to seek an acting career. Through characteristic
                persistence, she was able to land a permanent job with Radio Belgrano, a
                major station, after several fruitless excursions into both radio and motion

                Finding favor with her employers and several government officials, she rose
                from a starting salary of $35 a month to about $1,000 a month in 1943, and
                seven times that figure the next year. In 1944 her monthly income was
                reportedly $15,000, half of which was paid for her motion-picture

                It was in 1943 that she met at a studio party Col. Juan D. Peron, a
                49-year-old widower who was Under-Secretary of the War Ministry and a
                rising figure on the political scene. Both evidently were impressed, for a close
                association resulted, and they were married secretly in October, 1945.

                Aided Radio Employees Union

                Even before her marriage, Evita, as she preferred to be known, began to
                broaden her interests to suit those of her future husband. While he was
                becoming the champion of the "decamisados," originally the shirtless, and later
                the shirtsleeved ones, as Minister of Labor, she helped organize a radio
                employee's union and undertook her first campaigns for the underprivileged.

                When Colonel Peron was forced to resign from the Government in October,
                1945, Senorita Duarte was dismissed from her radio post. Within a week,
                however, he had returned to power, and four months later he was elected
                President and took Senora Peron, then 26, to the executive mansion as his

                From then on her activities, wealth and influence expanded rapidly. She set up
                offices in the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, there holding daily
                audiences and distributing food, medicine and money to petitioners. In 1947
                she incorporated the Maria Eva Duarte de Peron Welfare Foundation, which
                carried on much of this work.

                Spreading with her welfare work was her personal propaganda machinery.
                Large pictures of the handsome "presidenta" appeared throughout Argentina.
                Many of her gifts were accompanied by highly colored speeches emphasizing
                her warm heart, generosity and affection for the people. These sentiments
                were echoed by a large part of the Argentine press, which was coming under
                Peronista control financially as well as politically.

                Growth of Political Influence

                Although Senora Peron insisted repeatedly that she was only interested in
                social work, political observers began to credit her with influence in
                Government affairs that was second only to her husband's--if indeed that.

                In 1947 Senora Peron made a tour of Europe that was considered highly
                significant politically. She was feted with great enthusiasm in Madrid and
                decorated by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. In Rome she had a half-hour
                audience with Pope Pius XII, and was the subject of several leftist
                demonstrations. She was received by President Vincent Auriol in Paris, but
                canceled plans to visit England.

                One of Senora Peron's several legislative triumphs was won in September,
                1947, when a bill giving women the right to vote in Argentina was approved.
                This brought another round of eulogies from the press.

                The first lady's power to control unfavorable press commentary was
                considerable. Time magazine was banned in Argentina for four months after it
                published an article on Senora Peron that was not considered flattering. In
                1948 her press campaign became avowedly personal with the publication of a
                weekly signed column, "Eva Peron Says."

                Her political influence was credited as being instrumental in forcing the
                resignation of the entire minority bloc in the Argentine Parliament in August,
                1948. She took an active part in the campaign to "reform" the Argentine
                Constitution four months later.

                For nearly a month early in 1949 Army officials exerted pressure on the
                President to curb his wife's activities, but the movement was unsuccessful, and
                two months later she played an important role in the resignation of Dr. Juan
                Bramugha as Foreign Minister.

                In the fall of 1950 reports were circulated in Buenos Aires that Senora Peron
                had ambitions for elective office. The rumors hinted that she would seek the
                Vice Presidency in the 1952 election on the ticket with her husband.

                Early in 1951 the Perons started a high-pressure campaign to have themselves
                drafted as a husband and wife team to run the country. By late August they
                had "agreed" to "accept" the nominations for President and Vice President of
                the Peronista party.

                After taking four days to make up her mind, Evita told a demonstration
                audience of 250,000 in Plaza Moreno that she and her husband would "do
                what the people want."

                Then on the last day of the month, she changed her mind and declined the
                nomination. In a choked voice on the same broadcast that on which she had
                announced her decision, Senora Peron said she had hoped history would say:
                "There was a woman alongside General Peron who took to him the hopes
                and needs of the people to satisfy them, and her name was Evita."

                Senora Peron's book: "The Purpose of My Life," published in 1951, had the
                widest distribution of any book printed in Spanish in Argentina, and the
                Chamber of Deputies later made it compulsory reading in the schools.