I've just finished reading maybe my fourth book about Evita, a fairly poorly-written tome by Abel Posse which, nonetheless, contains an awful lot of information. Set in the last months of Eva's life, we juxtapose the early 1950's with her personal history starting in Los Toldos, eventually catching up with her remaining days in Buenos Aires. The end is, actually, extremely good, but you need to be an Argentina fan like myself to make it through to page 350 or thereabouts, when he gets bitten by the great biographer bug and seriously turns up the heat. We have Argentinian friends in Toulouse, both younger than myself, who have pictures of Evita in their flat, even though she'd been dead twenty years before the elder of the two was born. Apparently, a few years ago, the Argentinian government minted a coin with her effigy. In just over a week her beloved country will commemorate the 59th year of her passing, yet her impact remains, apparently, undented. Once back in Toulouse, I must ask our friends just what it is that is so enduring about Eva Ibarguren/Duarte, later Perón. Better still, I need to spend some serious time in Argentina.
Instead of the usual pictures of Eva, I'm going to post one of Doctor Pedro Ara - posed, of course - who was entrusted with enbalming her body, a task which took over a year and earned him around $100,000:
General Pedro Aramburu participated in the 1955 coup which deposed Perón, who was then sent into exile in Panama. He is said to have been behind sending Evita's embalmed body out of the country, along with a host of fake coffins to throw people off the scent. She eventually turned up in a Milan cemetery in 1972 under the name of Señora Maggio. Her body was returned to Juan Perón who, at that time, was living in exile with his third wife in Franco's Spain. She can now be found in the Duarte/Ibarguren family vault in Buenos Aires' most elegant cemetery, La Recoleta. Aramburu was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by political enemies in 1970.
It's a fascinating story, one with more twists and turns than a crime novel, seemingly distant geographically yet within chronological reach of most people alive today.