Anna Scarpa:December 2000

Uncovering The Megalomania Behind Evita Perón

Buenos Aires, July 26, 1952: Argentina is wrapped in silence as the country listens to the official communique from the Subsecretariat of Information: ["It is our sad duty to inform the people of the Republic that Maria Eva Duarte de Perón, the Spiritual Leader of the Nation, died at 8:25 p.m. this evening"]. Following the initial stunned silence, one might have heard the sounds of weeping and the sounds of corks popping from champagne bottles, reflecting both the love and the hate that Evita inspired. The sounds of weeping reached the streets and took the form of interminable lines visible to all the world on the day of Evita's funeral on August 11, 1952. The champagne glasses were raised in private. Each Argentine knew who Evita Perón was; some based their opinions of her without any knowledge, while others depended on the rational interpretation of facts. The works that were published, the movies that were filmed, the voices that even today are raised in praise or condemnation confirm that Evita Perón has transcended both time and myth.

No woman in the history of Latin America ever attained such power and influence as Evita Perón of Argentina. Her rise from obscure poverty to the heights of national and even international prestige is a compelling story of personal ambition and achievement. How did a person of such limited resources - a woman, no less - achieve this unprecedented success in the insular and privileged society of Argentine politics? The answer is that she did it through the sheer force of her own will and desire to become the person that she conceived herself to be. Evita Perón sought to realize her grandiose aspirations by creating her own public image and myth. She truly was a self-made woman and invented herself for the public eye. Evita made herself into the common people's idol by displaying herself to the world in a manner that was best calculated to elicit the adoration of her audience.

Although Evita was hugely successful in her own public life, an examination of her career gives rise to some intriguing thoughts. If Evita would have been able to reach the Presidency in Argentina, would she have been successful in controlling the masses? Would the people of Argentina have continued to praise her as their heroine and saint-like goddess, or would their unconditional support have eroded? The conclusion one cannot help reaching is that Evita's personal charismatic quality, for which she was most known, would not have been sufficient to carry her through the intrigue and back-biting of real political life.

Today, nearly half a century after her death, Evita Peron continues to be regarded as a pivotal figure in the history of Argentina. In a telephone interview on November 14, 2000, Maria Lagorio, public information specialist for the Argentine Embassy in Washington, D.C., shared her impression of Eva Peron's continuing impact on life and politics in Argentina today. Ms. Lagorio was not yet born when Evita passed away in 1952. Nevertheless, she was very familiar with Evita's life story.

["Evita Peron is probably the most popular person in the history of our country. She has become something of an Abraham Lincoln or a George Washington for us. And, as with your Lincoln and Washington, much of what we think we know about Evita is probably more myth than fact."]

Ms. Lagorio believes that Evita had enormous impact upon the popular consciousness of Argentina. She empowered the masses by becoming a symbol of triumph over the poverty and oppression of the old social order. Her life forever changed the political landscape of Latin America by showing her people that even the most disenfranchised among them could rise to the highest levels of influence, and could do so from within the system and not by revolution.

["She established once and for all that the best political power base resides with the working people. Today, all of our politicians want to be perceived as populists. This was not always the case. Before Evita, those with political ambition courted the elite of the military and the entrenched bureaucrats."]

When asked about the apparent contradiction in Evita's public personality, specifically, the contrast between her glamorous image and her professed sympathies towards the under-classes, Ms. Lagorio responded that it was this mix of ostentatious style and social conscience that captured the admiration and loyalty of her followers.

["Evita made herself into the glamorous and romanticized ideal of the modern Latin American woman, who rose above her humble origins to a position of prestige and influence. She created an aura of style and sophistication about herself. Remember that jewels and furs have always carried social significance and status, and Evita used these props to great effect. Most importantly, however, Evita always was careful to temper her power and status with a well-advertised compassion for the under-classes. She continually championed social and economic causes for the benefit of the common people, and especially for women. As a result, she made herself into a great figurehead for the improvement of the working class."]

Asked how things might have turned out if Evita had not passed away at such a young age, Ms. Lagorio responded without hesitation that Evita most likely would never have achieved high political office in her own right.

["Evita had broad popular support. However, most scholars seem to believe that Argentine populism had not yet progressed to the point where the political establishment would have permitted Evita to assume such power. She was still an outsider from the power elite. They would have discredited her and Evita's legacy would surely have been quite different had she lived on."]

Pressing the point, Ms. Lagorio was asked how she thinks Evita would have fared if, in spite of her opponents, she attained the presidency of Argentina.

["Well, I would have to say that her love affair with the people would have inevitably faded. Not that she wouldn't have tried. But, in my opinion, she would have risen to her level of incompetence. She was very skilled at communicating her ideas to her audience. However, I don't think she had the education or experience to implement any real social or economic change. She just didn't have the bureaucratic knowhow to be an effective leader. Plus, she lacked any meaningful constituency within the government. So many of her promises would probably have gone unfulfilled, so that the people would have ultimately been very disappointed. In the end, they would have turned against her."]

Evita Perón achieved enormous popular success by presenting to the people a living image of their own dreams and fantasies. She represented to them the ultimate victory of the common man and woman over the adversities of poverty. It would appear, however, that the secret to her success was her ability to mold her image without the concern for the realities of a true political life. Since Evita held no official governmental office, she could never be truly accountable for her country's state of affairs. Her status as the wife of the president afforded her a highly visible platform from which to project her opinions and personal charisma. Had Evita herself become president, it is likely that she would not have enjoyed such unconditional devotion from the common people. Evita was able to propel her reputation and influence through the cultivation of her own personality cult. She flourished atop her own pedestal. True political power, however, would have forced her off that pedestal, and would have exposed her to the gutter world of politics, the critical scrutiny of the press, and the harsh realities of compromised ideals.

As the wife of a president in a more genteel era than our own, Evita enjoyed a certain immunity from all serious criticism. Consequently, she was able to craft for herself a legacy that transcended the reality of who she really was and where she came from. Evita, in fact, possessed virtually no qualifications for national leadership, other than the strength of her own personality. All that she became, and all that she is today in history, is the result of her own desire to make herself into what others would perceive as a person of greatness.

Evita's career of self-creation is well documented in Frank Owen's biography, Perón: His Rise and Fall. While primarily tracing the life of Juan Perón, this book chronicles the extraordinary role played by Evita in Argentine politics and society. The book introduces us to Evita as the illegitimate child of a poor peasant woman. At age fifteen, Evita determined that she would rise above her squalid life by becoming an actress. Using all her feminine beauty and guile she charmed her way into a radio acting career. Though by all accounts she was only a mediocre talent, she soon became one of the highest paid performers in Buenos Aires. Evita made herself a star, or, at least, made herself appear as a star by always insinuating herself into the right circles. She constantly sought to identify those men who could best help her, and by flattery, romance and other manipulations, made them her allies.

Mr. Owen's book is filled with numerous anecdotes of Evita's career and repeatedly demonstrates how Evita calculated her impact on the public's consciousness. It describes how she quickly recognized Colonel Juan Perón as an up and coming force in Argentine politics and how she immediately dropped her lesser entanglements in favor of the more promising prospects of a relationship with Colonel Perón. It was no accident that Evita's salary and status improved as her employers saw the kind of society she kept.

As Juan Perón rose in government, Evita ensconced herself as his indispensable aid and ally. She quickly established herself as the champion of the working class. Evita's humble background normally would have barred her from any governmental role. However, she turned that liability into her greatest asset, as it enabled her to gain the respect and trust of the masses. She constantly sought to portray herself as the glamourous dream-come-true fantasy of the underclass, a people's princess who never forgot her origins and who would never turn her back on her own kind.

Once Juan Perón became president, Evita assumed an unofficial role as his principal assistant for social welfare matters. In that capacity, she received delegations of labor unions and mediated their grievances. Recognizing her opportunity to enhance and consolidate her own popularity and her husband's political power base, Evita granted wage raises to all of the largest unions. Interestingly, non-union workers, who could not wield the same clout, were turned away empty handed.

One of Evita's favorite social causes was the advocacy of women's rights. Obviously, she was uniquely qualified among the high government officials (virtually all of whom were male) to promote this particular cause. She was especially active in advancing the issue of women's suffrage in Argentina. This was an ideal opportunity for Evita to portray herself as a compassionate champion of an underclass element of society while, at the same time, creating a block of new voters who would be uniquely loyal to her husband or, perhaps, to herself.

Evita presented a woman's suffrage bill to Congress in the early months of 1947. She gave long dramatic speeches in support of the bill and held emotional rallies for women's rights. Her efforts captured the imagination of the women of Argentina as no other politician had been able to do. Evita represented the aspirations of working-class people generally, but appealed to women in particular as one who was sincerely determined to improve their lives, their working conditions, and their rights in government. Most important of all, she made them believe she had the real ability to make these improvements. Notably, Evita was careful to enlist the support of her male listeners by assuring them that after enfranchisement, women would not become masculine or overbearing. On September 27, 1947, Argentine women were granted the right to vote.

Serge Pillar, a retired New York City physician, was a student at the University of Buenos Aires when Evita Peron was approaching the height of her popularity. In an interview held on October 15, 2000, Dr. Pillar recalled one evening in 1948 when Ms. Peron made a speech at the University.

["There was considerable interest in politics at this time. There was a general sense that Argentina was ready to take its place as a leader among Latin American nations. Eva Peron was very representative of the new more modern Latin America which many of us envisioned in the post-war world. You see, Argentina was quite a polarized society at that time. There was a relatively small and wealthy ruling class which traditionally controlled the country. Then there came this Evita woman who rose from a very humble background to become one of the most influential figures in our country. The people knew she was one of their own, and she was saying all the right things. People felt very empowered by her."]

Dr. Pillar pointed out that, although Evita was widely admired in Argentina, her reception that night was initially rather subdued. The speech centered on one of Evita's favorite subjects, the role of woman in the future of Argentina.

["We actually had to admire her courage. The University at that time was very much a male institution. And, of course, we all fancied ourselves intellectuals - something that Evita certainly was not. But if nothing else, she had a fabulous star quality. Evita captured everyone's attention and imagination. We wanted to hear what she had to say just because it was she who was saying it."]

As for the speech itself, Dr. Pillar still marvels at Ms. Peron's passion and stamina.

["She spoke at great length - probably about two hours nonstop - and invested her entire speech with a great deal of emotional power. Quite frankly, I don't remember the particulars of what she said, but I do recall that when she was finished, we all stood and applauded very enthusiastically. I'm sure that very few of us in that hall cared much for the substance of what she said, but we all loved her performance. Yes, we all were a little bit in love that night."]

When asked whether he could ever have imagined Evita Peron becoming president of Argentina, Dr. Pillar smiled wistfully and said:

["You know, with the kind of mindless affection that was showered upon her, I do believe that had she lived long enough, this would have been inevitable. However, if that actually had come to pass, her legacy, I can assure you, would have been altogether different. Instead of us sitting here recalling all of her charm and popular appeal, we would be dissecting the many scandals that would have been inevitably associated with her government, the failures of her policies, and the compromises of her ideals. The fact is that Argentina was in fact still undergoing a lot of divisiveness. There were several factions within the country vying for power and pursuing their own agendas, whether it was organized labor, the military, the industrial autocrats, or even the campus intellectuals. Throughout her lifetime, Evita was able to hold herself above these factions and espouse her ideals without having to answer for them to anybody, except perhaps her own husband. But, once in the seat of power, she would have to start making compromises and subject herself to the constant attacks of her opposition. Her dream quality would no longer have sufficed for her."]

Evita seemed always to be finding new ways to enhance her own public visibility. Clearly, she was not content to stand in her husband's shadow. Evita wanted to create her own image and legacy. Perhaps her most ambitious undertaking in this regard was her self-styled "Rainbow Tour" of Europe. In 1947, Evita embarked on a goodwill mission to the capitals of the Continent, showing herself to the world in a way that previously was unheard of for any Latin American woman. She traveled in style with a massive and costly entourage, and with enough clothing to provide her with three or four outfits per day on her two-month trip.

In Spain, Evita was feted by the fascist regime and decorated by Generalissimo Franco. The masses greeted her rapturously as she handed out money to them at a rate of a $1,000.00 per day. From Spain she moved on to Italy, wearing her fox cape coat in Rome's intense heat. She was granted an audience with the Pope, but the common people shocked her by calling her a whore. After her humiliation in Italy, Evita continued on to France. Here, Evita could enjoy showing off her lavish wardrobe and the French were duly appreciative. She spent vast sums buying clothes designed by many of France's leading couturiers. The French were amazed by the size and variety of the jewels in her exquisite collection. She spent most of her Rainbow Tour in France. Evita then went on to London where she was once again greeted by mixed feelings. The press printed the most unflattering news on her. The Queen invited her for tea, but she was not invited to stay at the Palace. At this act from the Queen, Evita was bitter. She left England with hatred, and made her next stop Switzerland. The Swiss did not make her feel particularly welcomed either when they threw tomatoes at her. But after a short stay in Lisbon and Rio, she returned home to a tumultuous welcome.

The Rainbow Tour stands as powerful testimony to Evita's penchant for public display. Evita totally dedicated herself to making an indelible impression upon the people of Europe. Even though many Europeans reacted negatively to her ostentatious performance, her approach was highly successful in Argentina. In fact, her spectacular success might lead us to conclude, that the surest road to social and political power is the carefully choreographed development of a public persona. Yet, in stark contrast to this idea, we must consider the nefarious career of Pablo Escobar, Colombia's infamous drug lord. Unlike Evita Perón's rise through her own public performance, Escobar achieved power through the total concealing of his self. His own myth was the result of the mystery he created of himself. In both cases, however, it is clear that their megalomania was made possible only by the public perception of who these people were, whether based upon what they were shown, as in Evita Perón's case, or upon what they could not see, but only imagine, as in Pablo Escobar's case.

As illustrated by Gabriel Garcia Marquez's book, News of a Kidnapping, Pablo Escobar's control in the Columbian government and communities was achieved through his untouchable persona. He was popular amongst the Columbian people because they believed he possessed a mythic aura. He enjoyed complete impunity and even a certain prestige because of his charitable works in the marginal neighborhoods of Columbia. Escobar turned himself into a mystery - hidden by layers of intermediaries and zealous foot soldiers of his own iron will - who bestowed gifts of charity, employment and public works from behind his curtain of secrecy. He became a legend who controlled everything from the shadows and it was believed he could perform miracles. No Columbian in history ever possessed or exercised a talent like his for shaping public opinion and none had a greater power to corrupt. People put up altars with his picture and lit candles to him in the slums of Medellin.

"Fernando" was a schoolboy in Medellin during the time that Pablo Escobar was at the height of his notoriety. In a personal interview on November 6, 2000, "Fernando" described his first hand impressions of those years.

["Escobar came to be the biggest thing in our lives. He ran everything. In fact, I think half the town worked for that guy. My own brother - he got pretty caught up in it. He was like a messenger or what you call a gopher for these dudes. I don't think he ever worked for Escobar directly, or ever met him. But he was mixed up in it pretty good."]

When asked whether his family disapproved of his brother's involvement, "Fernando" said:

["Not at all; at least, not at first."]

"Fernando" explained that the money was a welcome inducement for his family. Everybody knew that it was an illegal drug business, but the illegality was just a technicality.

["We just thought about it, like, people wanted to buy drugs and Escobar's business was to satisfy that."]

In time, though, "Fernando's" family grew uneasy about the whole business.

["We could see that this was dangerous stuff. People would get shot or just disappear. We all got to worrying about it, sort of quietly. You had to watch what you said. It was pretty messed up."]

When Escobar was finally cornered and killed by the authorities, "Fernando" said the town was bewildered.

["It was like we got unplugged from life support. We had gotten to where we weren't too crazy about being connected with all that stuff Escobar had going on, but when he was snuffed out, we all of a sudden felt like wow, we're really on our own now. What're we going to do now? So it was like a lot of people had to start over."]

The worst part of it was that "Fernando's" brother went into hiding when Escobar was killed, and has not been seen or heard from since.

["He was in it pretty deep by then. I may hear from him yet. I hear things now and then... but I don't know..."]

Clearly, Escobar was an evil and destructive force in Columbia. He was no paradigm of political virtue, and he is not offered here as an alternative model for Eva Peron's approach to public life. Nevertheless, perhaps some elements of Escobar's method might have improved Evita's chances for success. Evita, of course thrived on her own personality cult. She grounded her entire success upon an intensely personal relationship with the people of Argentina, much more so than on any substantive accomplishments. As a result, the country's ruling establishment was often resentful and suspicious of her. Moreover, Evita's support was built upon the relatively fragile foundation of popular emotion, which could easily be shaken by unexpected turns of political fortune.

Pablo Escobar based none of his power upon his public personality. Escobar in fact, had no public personality. His prestige and reputation were based solely on action, whether it was the ostensibly charitable work he pursued for his people, or the acts of terror he perpetrated against those who would oppose him. The tangible manifestations of his will created his powerful image. The man behind the action was never revealed to the public. Layers of subordinates insulated Escobar from public - and official - scrutiny. Escobar created an aura of invincibility as he wielded power without exposing any human frailties.

Perhaps Evita's greatest weakness was her excessively naive faith in the power of public approval to propel her to her goals and to insulate her from the attacks of her critics. She had total confidence in her ability to seduce her audience, it never occurring to her that maybe her charisma and style would not yield absolute success in all she dared to attempt. This became painfully apparent in her embarrassing public failures in certain European countries during the Rainbow Tour. It became tragically obvious when in 1951, Evita took perhaps the boldest step of her public career and, with the support of her husband, offered herself as a candidate for Vice President of Argentina. For the first time, she sought to establish for herself an official seat of political power. While the office itself carried little constitutional authority, it nevertheless would have represented for her the attainment of a true national office. As vice president, she would have been next in line to the presidency in the event of her husband's death as president. Conceivably more significantly, the vice presidency would have given Evita legitimacy as a high public official, making it much easier for her to take the next step, the ultimate step, to the presidency.

Evita's move for the vice presidency, however, proved to be ill-advised. She overestimated her own strength and underestimated her opposition. Her bid for national office was rebuffed by the country's military leadership, which was the true power base in Argentina. The prospect of this upstart actress presuming to be a heart beat away from becoming their commander-in-chief was unthinkable to the old line generals. Thus, while Evita had developed tremendous popularity among the people, her skills with the public were wholly inadequate, and largely irrelevant to the challenge of overcoming the military's opposition. Evita was crushed, but shortly thereafter, she sickened and died.

Had Evita not died at so young an age, her popular support might very well have carried her to the presidency. Once there, her role on the Argentine political stage would have changed dramatically. She no longer would be playing the part of a supporting character: colorful and entertaining but not in any way directing the action. Instead, she would have assumed the lead, and her audience would have had very different expectations of her. Being the novice actress that she was, Evita's histrionic skills probably would not have sufficed where real action was required. The critics would have become more vocal. Evita's mass appeal would have eroded as she was be forced to compromise her ideals to the patrons of her grand position. In the end, Evita's brand of populism would have been overwhelmed by the realities of power, and her saint-like heroic legacy would have been forever tarnished.

If megalomania is a phenomenon of the exalted personality, if it thrives upon the reflected admiration of others and feeds on its own grandiose public performance, then Evita Peron was a classic megalomaniac. This is not to say that she suffered from some debilitating mental illness. Quite the contrary, Evita's megalomania enabled her to achieve what would otherwise have been impossible for her. Yet, while this megalomania is a valuable - if not essential - tool for a successful public life, it clearly is not in itself a basis for political achievement. Evita Peron would have needed other skills in order to maintain her enormous popularity in high office. She would have needed the ability to work with her critics, to overlook petty slights, and to create consensus. She would have needed to be a builder and not just a performer. As it is, the world will never know if Evita could have achieved the maturity and experience to have developed these important pre-requisites of true greatness.


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El Presidente Juan Peron,

I write to you as champion and protector of the people of Columbia. As you may be aware, I have often been forced to take matters into my own hands. The corrupt incompetence of those who would presume to call themselves leaders of my country has once again caused me to force the hand of destiny. I am at this moment providing protection and solace to your dear wife Evita, the heroine of the great Argentine nation. She is unable to return to Argentina under the present circumstances, but I assure you that I have taken a personal interest in her safety and will not rest until she is returned to the loving arms of her people. Of course, such a delicate situation involves significant expenses. Senor Peron, you know how it is with these local petty officials, always looking for a bribe. Of course, I could defray these many expenses if my business associates would finally be permitted to introduce their natural mind enhancing products to the Argentinian Markets.

One of my assistants will be contacting you shortly in order to establish the proper channels of commerce. I must impress upon you that, if this reasonable request is not satisfy, then, in spite of all my good intentions, I will not be able to assure you of Evita's safe passage.

With much appreciation,

Your neighbor, Pablo Escobar

A Message To My People:

Let me begin by putting your mind at ease and reassuring you all that I am well and keeping strong with the knowledge that this injustice that I am experiencing at the hands of a madman is for the safety of my country and for that of my beloved Juan Peron. You are only to receive this one letter from me for the time being, so I will say all that I can in these few lines. Though some of what I say may not be clearly stated, those of you who know me, will understand the meaning behind my words.

I look back on the course of my life and plainly see the force that has guided me to this moment in history. Ever since I came into the affectionate arms of the citizens of Argentina my one purpose in life has been to protect and improve the lives of you, my people. Today, as I am imprisoned in this lonely place, I have discovered the fire in my heart which completely governs my spirit during this time of struggle. I speak of the utter indignation that stirs within me when confronted with the injustice of money and power. An injustice that cuts my soul like a hot dagger.

I have been shaped by the course of history for the work that I now perform for my country. I have not come to you merely by chance or as an accident of fate. If chance governed the world, all would be chaos. My life, and the future of Argentina are joined together by the hand of God, and it is with the power of God that we will vanquish the forces of injustices. Some of you will call this Destiny and some will call this Providence, but all of us will recognize it as the will of God.

My mission is that which is happening to me now under these circumstances. A mission I must see through to the end for each one of you. I will gladly sacrifice myself for the redemption of Argentina. The strength of our divine destiny will overcome all the obstacles which the lesser men put before us. I leave you with these last words: Evita Peron does not bow to the tyranny of injustice, nor do my people.

Your courageous lioness,


Dialogue Between Evita Peron and Pablo Escobar

Setting: One of the cabinet rooms in the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires.

Characters: Evita Maria Duarte Peron, Presidente of Argentina and Pablo Escobar, political image consultant and adviser to El Presidente, former Columbian drug merchant.

* * * * * *

Escobar: So at last Madame President you have summoned me. I can't help but wonder why after these many months that I have been on your retainer, that you are finally interested to receive my advice. Could it be that your appearance at the Union Labor Conference did not quite go as planned? Is your honeymoon with the common workers coming to an end.

Evita: Spare me your sarcasm, and remember that you work for me. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how the conference went. Half of those people were probably your own spies and operatives.

Escobar: Yes, I have always found it worthwhile to have properly placed people on my payroll. Perhaps, if you would have listened to me in this regard you would have found more supporters of your own at the Labor Conference.

Evita: I've never had to pay people for their adoration. It is enough that I am Evita Peron.

Escobar: Evidently, it is no longer enough. Perhaps the bloom is off the rose. Perhaps, it is time to consider other methods.

Evita: The people love me! They have always loved me. I give them what they yearn for. I give them a dream, a fantasy. I let them make me their savior, their protector. It is the people who begged me to be their president. I would not have wanted this for myself. It is only for them that I have made supreme sacrifices.

Escobar: Please, please Madame President, it is I Escobar, surely you don't have to feed me that pablum. You sacrifice nothing. It is the people who are sacrificing, their innocence, their trust, and affection. As well it should be, for you and I know that such is all these people are good for. They are the instruments by which people like you and me accomplish the power which we crave.

Evita: Well, well never mind all that, the fact of the matter is that these adoring masses are slipping from my grasp. These common workers who once cheered deliriously at a mere gesture from me, now have the audacity to challenge my decisions and question my authority. Do you realize they actual spoke today of a strike?

Escobar: This does not surprise me. They are all ungrateful dogs. Your mistake is that you let them get too close. When you were their distant dream, you could do no wrong. You could hold yourself out to them as their perfect princess, but it was all a fluff. You had no real power then, so you had no real responsibility. You were beyond criticism. But now, all that is quite changed. If the trains don't run on time, you are to blame! If they don't have enough to eat, it is you who can be criticized. Now that you have become their President, you can longer expect to hold your power over these ignorant masses simply by the magic of your false charm.

Evita: My charm, as you call it, is what got me where I am today.

Escobar: It may have gotten you here today, but it will lead to your downfall tomorrow.

Evita: What would you have me do? I can't change who I am.

Escobar: Ha! You've made a career of changing who you are. Do you even know who you are, or have you succeeded in deluding yourself after all these years?

Evita: Well then, I ask you again, what does the great Escobar recommend that I do?

Escobar: Well first thing, stop parading yourself around in front of all of these useless people as if you were one of them. You know there is an old saying familiarity breeds contempt. What you are experiencing now is just the beginning of that contempt and I can assure you it will get worse. Remove yourself entirely from the Argentine people and finally act like a President, their absolute ruler. The next thing you must do is to hire your own secret agents. Call them the special police, the elite guard or whatever. Just pay them well and be sure that they are intensely loyal to no one but you. Let the people experience a little fear. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, learn the true power of money. Establish a network of bureaucrats whose only job is to see to it that all of those who are in a position to oppose you will find it in their own financial interest to support you.

Evita: I should have expected such advice from you. You have the darkest heart that God ever placed in a man. My people will always love me, and that will always be the source of my power. Must I keep reminding you that it is I, Evita Peron, who has reached the Presidency in Argentina, not you Mr. Escobar. I can see we are through with our meeting here and that I no longer will be needing your services, so you may see yourself out now!

Escobar: Very well Madame President, but that you won't be for long. You may have reached the Presidency, but you shall never reach the absolute power such as I did with the Columbian people. I'm sure I'll be summoned by you shortly once again. Maybe in a few weeks, when some other crisis occurs and the people continue to cave in on you. It would be wise of you to consider my methods with some more thought, as it seems that yours are no longer working to your advantage.

Evita: This is the last time I'm asking you to leave now Mr. Escobar. Before I'll throw you out myself or I can ask my elite guards to do it for me!

Professor Huang Fang Chow

Shanghai University - Spring Semester 2050

Survey of 20th Century Political Leaders: EVITA PERON

The question has been asked, who is this historical character whom we refer to now as "Evita?" It is said that, after all, she was never anything more than the wife of a president of Argentina. This rather myopic view is no doubt the result of the fact that, in the years since the Sino-American War (what we in China refer to as the War of Western Aggression), much of the record of this remarkable woman's life has been obscured. Recent scholarship has uncovered her true historical significance.

Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, who in her publicly self-effacing style preferred to refer to herself in the diminutive form "Evita", possessed formidable political instincts. She was the illegitimate child of a poor peasant woman. She had only the most rudimentary education. Yet, she managed to become one of the most influential public figures in the history of Latin America. Moreover, she managed to achieve such prominence in a society where woman were treated as inferior citizens and did not even have the right to vote.

It is true that Evita never actually achieved a position of power in her own right. Her power was derivative of her husband's position as president. Evita used her role as a wife of the president to project her own larger-than-life image upon the public consciousness. She made herself into the glamorous and romanticized ideal of the modern Latin American woman, who rose above her humble origins to a position of prestige and influence. She created an aura of style and sophistication about herself. This was an era when jewels and furs still carried social significance and status, and Evita used these props to great effect. Most importantly, however, Evita always was careful to temper her power and status with a well-advertised compassion for the under-classes. She continually championed social and economic causes for the benefit of the common people, and especially for women. As a result, she created in herself a great figurehead for the improvement of the working class while, at the same time, insulating herself from what we would now call reactionary bourgeois elements by reason of her position as wife of the president.

Evita had enormous impact upon the popular consciousness of Argentina. She empowered the masses by becoming a symbol of triumph over the poverty and oppression of the old social order. Her life forever changed the political landscape of Latin America by showing her people that even the most disenfranchised among them could rise to the highest levels of influence, and could do so from within the system and not by revolution.

We can perhaps better understand the Evita phenomenon by looking to our own history in China. Madame Mao achieved considerable influence by reason of her husband's position. Like Evita, she strove to build her legacy upon the ideological support of the common people, and, as with Evita, she was distrusted by the elite power around her. Madame Mao enjoyed considerable status and visibility. She was able to promote and direct her own agenda for the nation's culture and arts without any serious challenge or criticism.

It is interesting to note, however, that once Chairman Mao passed away, Madame Mao's enemies were able to move swiftly to destroy her. Evita Peron, on the other hand, passed on before her husband, and at a very young age. She never had the opportunity to achieve power in her own right. In fact, her premature death has only served to enhance her mythological status among her people. One can only wonder whether the myth would have been destroyed had she lived to assume official power by herself. In such event, it might be speculated that Evita would have met the same fate as Madame Mao.