MarÃa Eva Duarte de PerÃ³n
(7 May 1919 â€“ 26 July 1952)
was an Argentine political leader, the second wife of President Juan PerÃ³n (1895â€“1974) and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is usually referred to as Eva PerÃ³n, or by the affectionate Spanish language diminutive Evita.
She was born in the village of Los Toldos in rural Argentina in 1919, the youngest of five children. In 1934, at the age of 15, she went to the nation's capital of Buenos Aires, where she pursued a career as a stage, radio, and film actress. Eva met Colonel Juan PerÃ³n on 22 January 1944, in Buenos Aires during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina. The two were married the following year. In 1946, Juan PerÃ³n was elected President of Argentina. Over the course of the next six years, Eva PerÃ³n became powerful within the pro-Peronist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva PerÃ³n Foundation, championed women's suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation's first large-scale female political party, the Female Peronist Party.
In 1951, Eva PerÃ³n announced her candidacy for the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina, receiving great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or "shirtless ones". However, opposition from the nation's military and bourgeoisie, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy. In 1952, shortly before her death from cancer at the age of 33, Eva PerÃ³n was given the title of "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" by the Argentine Congress. Eva PerÃ³n was given a state funeral upon her death, a prerogative generally reserved for heads of state.
Eva PerÃ³n has become a part of international popular culture, most famously as the subject of the musical Evita (1976). Cristina Alvarez Rodriguez, Evita's great niece, claims that Evita has never left the collective consciousness of Argentines. Cristina FernÃ¡ndez de Kirchner, the first female elected President of Argentina, claims that women of her generation owe a debt to Eva for "her example of passion and combativeness".