“I demanded more rights for women because I know what women had to put up with”-Eva Perón
Despite over sixty years having passed since her death, Eva Perón remains an icon in Argentina. Her social policies and her help towards the poor made her even more famous than her husband, the President of Argentina, Juan Perón. She was an important figure in the political life of Argentina and an active advocate for women’s rights to vote which she managed to achieve. Her legacy lies deep inside the civil society of Argentina, and her actions have become an inspiration for the feminist movement around the world.
María Eva Duarte de Perón was born on May 7, 1911. She was the wife of the Argentinian President Juan Perón and the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until 1952. She grew up in the city of Junin in the province of Buenos Aires under poor conditions. When she was a year old, her father abandoned her mother to return to his legitimate family. Her father died when she was six years old, leaving her only with a document that declared his decision to recognize his children, allowing them to use the surname Duarte. By the age of 15, she had moved to Buenos Aires to pursue her career in acting, appearing in numerous radio and film acts.
In 1944, a deadly earthquake occurred in the city of San Juan, in Argentina. It was that year that Eva Perón met her future husband, Juan Perón, in a gala that was held in Buenos Aires to raise money for the victims of the earthquake. Her political contributions appeared shortly after. She became the president of the broadcast performers union. From there, she had a daily program where she praised her husband’s policies and accomplishments, often broadcasting speeches of Juan Perón to increase his popularity to the voters.
In the 1946 presidential elections in Argentina, Eva played a critical role in her husband’s win. She had a strong influence on the lower economic classes of Argentina and many people have described her as a powerful, yet unofficial political leader of Argentina. Her radio program was her instrument of influence towards the Argentinian voters, who were exposed weekly to her powerful speeches, promoting her husband’s populist rhetoric that became the base for the so-called Peronist movement.
The persona of the First Lady
Apart from being recognized as the First Lady of Argentina, Eva Perón was widely recognized as a saint by the poor people of Argentina because of her charitable actions. She was the founder and chairwoman of the Eva Perón Foundation, an organization that aimed to help the poor and the homeless of Argentina. Before her foundation, there was the Society of Beneficence, a charity group that was responsible for most charity activities in Buenos Aires. Traditionally, the First Lady of Argentina is elected to be president of the charity group. Unfortunately for Eva, she found out that her poor background and acting career was looked down on by the members of the group.
However, this did not bring her down. It was that moment that Eva enriched her image as a strong woman that did not allow her past social class to affect setting an example for thousands of women in Argentina. Thus she created the Eva Perón Foundation. According to writers Fraser & Navarro, she did not expect at first that her initiative would be a success:“She could not have foreseen her sudden transformation, from Latin American politician and religious national cult figure to late-twentieth-century popular culture folk heroine” (Fraser & Navarro, 1996, p.193). After that, Eva managed to gain the support of the government, drastically adding more and more money for her charity work, approaching a level of comparison to a modern female saint.
As the First Lady of Argentina, Eva Perón took advantage of her political position to promote her ideas. However, although her ideas about women’s rights to vote inspired the feminist movement, Eva did not consider herself a feminist. In her autobiography, she states the reasons why she was not a feminist. In her view, the feminist movement of that time was aspiring to become exactly like the men and renounce their womanhood by imitating them. In her own words:
“I confess I was a little afraid the day I found myself facing the possibility of starting on the feminist path. What could I, a humble woman of the people, do where other women, more prepared than I, had categorically failed? Be ridiculous? Join the nucleus of women with a grudge against women and men, as has happened to innumerable feminist leaders? I was not an old maid, nor even ugly enough for such a post which, from the time of the English suffragettes down to today, generally belongs, almost exclusively, to women of this type. Women whose first impulse undoubtedly had been to be like men and if what the world requires is a woman’s political and social movement, how little will the world gain if the women want to save it by imitating men” (Perón, 1953, p. 185-186).
With that being said, even though Eva did not consider herself a feminist, her ideas improved the lives of the women in Argentina, not only through her charitable work but also from her political pursues. In 1947, she was a strong advocate for promoting the right to vote for Argentinian women. She made many radio addresses in support of women’s suffrage and influenced the male members of the government and the Peronist movement to help her out in her quest. On September 23rd, the law passed. In Buenos Aires, thousands of men and women went out on the streets to celebrate the new law. It was a major victory for the Peronist movement. In the years that followed, she managed to achieve more victories for women, by managing to court female voters and create opportunities for them to participate in the broad-based political coalition.
To create more opportunities for women in politics, Eva founded in 1949 the Peronist Feminine Party, an organization linked to the Peronist Movement where only women could be members. In the presidential election of 1951, Eva managed to gather 69.3% of the women’s vote for her husband, Juan Perón who eventually won the elections. Furthermore, the people of Argentina voted for 29 women candidates: 6 senators and 23 deputies, while in the provinces, at least 58 Peronist women were elected deputies and 19 women were elected senators.
Even by today’s standards, this is a very unusually high number, but such was the influence and power of Eva Perón. At the height of her power, she was called by her supporters Evita and was portrayed as a saint for the people. By 1950 she was the founder of her own foundation for the poor of Argentina, she was the First Lady of Argentina, the founder of the Peronist Feminine Party and the only woman member of the Superior Council of the Peronist Party and a bridge of love between her husband and the millions of Argentinians that supported them. She managed to do all this while at the same time, she fought her own battles against sexism and constant criticism because of her poor background and her acting career. Deservedly, she was given the official title of the Spiritual Leader of the Nation by the Argentine Congress in 1952.
Unfortunately, at that time, Eva was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. She had plans to earn a place at the ballots in 1951 and run as a vice-president candidate but her declining health prevented her from doing so. On July 26, 1952, Eva Perón passed away. The announcement of her death brought tears to millions of Argentinians. The government suspended all activities in the country for two days and millions attended her funeral to leave a flower. The popularity of Eva Perón was beyond imagination. She had become the saint of Argentina.
The defender of feminine virtues
Eva was popular and charismatic and she was loved by millions, however, she did have her share of critics. Most of the criticism that he received was from left-wing parties and left-wing feminism movements. She has been accused of using her gender as a political tool to attract voters for the Peronist Movement. Indeed, Eva was not a feminist, but her ideas belonged to the feminist movement. However, she had a different viewpoint of what feminism should represent. The main thrust of Eva’s ideology was focused either on maternity or on women that could be organizers of domestic consumption and promoting the idea that women should work alongside men, with men.
At that time, in Argentina and Latin America, the concept of what it meant to be female and the concept of motherhood were used very often and they were idealized through an idea that the virtues of a woman derived from the role of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic tradition. Motherhood fitted perfectly with nationalistic tendencies that were emphasizing the contribution of women to the forging of nationality through childbearing and, as a result, there was an increasing political activity by women and men to defend motherhood. As a result, through this idealization of motherhood, Eva managed through the Peronist movement to transform motherhood into a political function that would be protected by the state. She became a symbol of those feminine virtues that came in contradiction with the new wave of feminism that expanded in Latin America that challenged this idea about motherhood and how women have a natural role as protectors of the nuclear family that was the central axis of the family.
The limits of gender politics in Latin America
The criticism that Eva Perón has received from the left-wing feminist sector cannot be considered justified, simply because left-wing politics in Latin America have revealed their limits when it comes to the concept of feminism. Those limits include the traditional concept of family in Latin America, the tradition of the Catholic religion, and the sanctification of women with the Virgin Mary.
The left-of-center governments and leftist movements in Latin America have not generally achieved challenging prevailing gender relations. Besides that, they have struggled to overcome the conservative and Catholic backlash on policy proposals on issues that are promoted by left-wing feminism like, abortion which still is considered a taboo in Latin America. In that sense, Eva managed to challenge her critics by showing to the people of Argentina that she was one of them, she understood them and, she genuinely was trying to change the society in Argentina. At the same time, she was dedicated to her political ideas, and the fact that she refused to consider herself a feminist but at the same time, advocate for feminist ideas like the women’s right to vote, shows that she did not need to portray herself as part of a movement but as a part of a country ready for changes in its society without abandoning the traditional mindset of womanhood and feminine. She saw herself and the women of Argentina standing alongside the men and not being exactly like them, and that created this drawing of criticism towards her from left-wing feminism that was seeking to drastically change the socio-political status quo of Argentina.
In conclusion, we can all learn some important lessons from the life of Eva Perón. First of all, she managed to show women in Argentina and around the world that the social class of an individual does not determine his or her worth. She came from a low-class background but she still managed to rise to the top of the political life in Argentina while battling gender and sexist stereotypes. Finally, she proved that you do not have to be part of a movement to change the lives of people around you. Eva was not a feminist, yet she did more for the women in Argentina at her time than any other proclaimed feminist. She understood that you can have feminist goals without the need to identify yourself as one. The world now more than ever needs these kinds of spiritual leaders.
Deliberate efforts were made to give a tough time to President Joe Biden
President Trump-Administration is over-engaged in creating mess for in-coming President Joe Biden. The recent deliberate efforts are made to give a tough time are: naming Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, Terming Iran as a new home to al-Qaida, and lifting restrictions on contacts between American officials and representatives from Taiwan.
The consequence may turn into dire situations, like a return to cold war era tension. Efforts were made to resume Cuba-US relations to normal for decades and were expected to sustain a peaceful co-existence. Any setback to relations with Cuba may destabilize the whole region. Pompeo’s redesignation of Cuba as a sponsor of state terror will possibly have the least material impact, but it signifies a personal loss to Biden and a momentous political win for Trumpism. In doing so, Trump is hitting the final nail in the coffin of Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.
Yemen issue was a creation of Arab spring sponsored by the CIA, and after realizing the wrongdoings, the US was trying to cool down the tension between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, but with the recent move to name Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, may open new hostilities and bloodshed. It has been designated by UNICEF as the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 24 million people — some 80 percent of the population — in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 12 million children.” Such statements may halt humanitarian assistance and may result in a big disaster.
The history of rivalries with Iran goes back to 1953 when the UK and the US jointly overthrew the legitimate government of Prime Minister Mossadeq. But the real tension heightened in 2018 When President Trump withdrew from JCPOA. But the recent allegation that Iran as a new home of al-Qaida may take a new turn and give a tough time to Joe Biden–Administration. Although there is no evidence, however, Secretary of State Pompeo made such an allegation out of his personal grudge against Iran. It can complicate the situation further deteriorate and even may engulf the whole middle-east.
Lifting constraints on contacts between American officials and representatives from Taiwan, is open violation of “One-China Policy.” Since Washington established formal diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, it has resisted having official diplomatic associations with Taipei in order to avoid a confrontation with the PR China, which still comprehends the island — home to around 24 million people — as part of China. Chinese are very sensitive to the Taiwan issue and struggling for peaceful unification. However, China posses the capabilities to take over by force, yet, have not done so far. Secretary of State Mr. Pompeo’s statement may be aiming to instigate China and forcing toward military re-unification. It might leave a challenging concern for Joe Biden-Administration.
Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said, “The Trump administration is locking in place a series of conflicts that change the starting point for Biden walking into the office on the world stage.”
Even Mr. Pompeo had a plan to travel to Europe to create further hurdles for in-coming administration, but fortunately, some of the European countries refused to entertain him, and desperately he has to cancel his trip at the eleventh hours.
It is just like a losing army, which destroys all ammunition, weapons, bridges, infrastructures, etc., before surrendering. Although President Trump’s days in office are numbered, his administration is over-engaged in destruction and creating hurdles for the next administration. He is deliberately creating hurdles and difficulties for President-Elect Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden has many challenges to face like Pandemic, unrest in the society, a falling economy, losing reputation, etc. Some of them might be natural, but few are specially created!
Latin America and the challenges for true political and economic independence
Latin America – and its core countries, namely Brazil, Argentina and Mexico – has become a region of high global strategic value due to its vast territory, abundant resources, great economic development, unique geographical position and active role in global and regional governance.
Factors such as history, geography and reality, combined with the complexity of the region’s internal political logics, have once again made Latin America a place where major powers pay attention to and play key games.
Latin America’s cooperation with ‘external’ powers has become ever closer, leading to unfounded suspicions and malicious provocations among the countries of the region concerned.
What bothers ‘democrats’ and ‘liberals’ is the presence in the area of countries without a colonialist and exploitative past.
Historically, Latin America and the Caribbean were the coveted location of various Western forces. Since the Latin American countries’ independence – and even today – large countries inside and outside the region have competed in this area.
The complexity and uncertainty of the current global political and economic situation in Latin America lie behind the competition between the major powers in geopolitics and international relations.
Latin America’s vast lands and resources are linked to global food security, the supply of agricultural and livestock products, and energy security. It is an important ‘product supplier’ that cannot be neglected.
Latin America has a huge surface of over 20 million square kilometres, covering four sub-regions of North America (Mexico), the Caribbean, Central America and South America, with 33 independent countries and some regions that are not yet independent, as they are tied to the burden of the old liberal-colonialist world.
Latin America is blessed with favourable natural conditions. For example, it has become a well-known ‘granary’ and ‘meat provider’ because of its fertile arable land and abundant pastures. It is an important area for the production of further agricultural and livestock products. At the same time, other countries in the region have huge reserves of natural resources such as oil and gas, iron ore, copper and forests, and have become important global suppliers of strategic materials.
Secondly, the Latin American region has a relatively high level of economic development and has brought together a number of important emerging economies – a significant global market that cannot be ignored.
The Latin American region plays an important role in global economy. Brazil and Mexico are not only the two largest economies in Latin America, but also the top 15 in global economy.
At the same time, recent calculations on 183 countries (regions) with complete data from the World Bank and related studies show that the group consisting of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, etc., has entered the ranking of the “30 emerging markets” (E30) worldwide. According to World Bank statistics, Latin America’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 was about 5.78 trillion dollars and the per capita GDP exceeded 9,000 dollars. With the exception of a few, most countries in Latin America are middle-income and some have entered the high-income ranking.
Therefore, Latin America has become a large consumer market that cannot be ignored due to its relatively high level of economic development, high per capita income and a population of over 640 million people.
Indeed, as Latin American region with a high degree of economic freedom and trade openness, it has been closely connected with the economies of other regions in the world through various bilateral and multilateral agreements, initiatives and free trade mechanisms.
Thirdly, Latin America’s unique geographical position has a significant impact on global trade, shipping and climate change.
Latin America is situated between two oceans. Some countries border on the Pacific, or the Atlantic, or are even bathed by both oceans. This special position gives the Latin American region the geographical advantage of achieving ‘transpacific cooperation’ with the Asian region or building a link of ‘transatlantic cooperation’ with the European region. Thanks to the Panama Canal, it is the fundamental hub for global trade.
Besides its strategic relevance for food security and clean energy production, the Amazon rainforest, known as the ‘lungs of the earth’, has a surface of over six million square kilometres, accounting for about 50% of the global rainforest. 20% of the global forest area and the vast resources covering 9 countries in Latin America have become one of the most important factors influencing global climate change.
Finally, as an active player in the international and regional political and economic arena, Latin America is a new decisive force that cannot be neglected in the field of global and regional governance.
Firstly, as members of organisations such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the major Latin American countries are both participants in and creators of international rules.
Moreover, these countries should be considered from further aspects and viewpoints of multilateralism.
The major Latin American countries, particularly regional powers, such as Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, are members of the G20. Brazil belongs to both BRICS and BASIC.Mexico, Chile and Peru are within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Mexico, Peru and Chile are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), while Mexico and Chile are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
They are playing an irreplaceable role in responding to the economic crisis and promoting the reform of global governance mechanisms; in promoting the conclusion of important agreements on global climate change; in advancing economic cooperation between the various regions; in leading ‘South-South cooperation’ between developing countries and in holding a dialogue on the main current issues (opposition to unilateralism, protectionism, protection of multilateralism, etc.).
It must also be said that Latin American countries are naturally also active in regional organisations and institutions – such as the Organisation of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, etc. – so that they can participate directly and try to oppose U.S. hegemonism.
Within the Latin American region, these countries first initiated a process of cooperation and integration and later established various sub-regional organisations -such as Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur-Mercado Comum do Sul) and Alianza del Pacífico (Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru) – to cooperate with other regions of the world and shake off the unfortunate definition of “America’s backyard”.
Located in the Western Hemisphere, where the well-known superpower is present, Latin American countries have long been deeply influenced by the United States in politics, economics, society and culture.
In 1823, the United States supported the Monroe Doctrine and drove the European countries out of Latin America with the slogan ‘America for the Americans’, thus becoming the masters of the Western Hemisphere.
The Monroe Doctrine also became a pretext for the United States to interfere in the internal affairs and diplomacy of Latin American countries.
In 2013, 190 years after the aforementioned declaration, the United States publicly declared that the Monroe Doctrine era was over and emphasised the relationship on an equal footing and the shared responsibility between the United States and Latin America.
Nevertheless, the current Latin American politics shows once again that the end of the so-called ‘Monroe Doctrine’ era is nothing more than a common myth.
How Americans Struggle Between Nobility and Mean Reality
As a years-long assiduous follower of American academia and thinkers I was somehow misled into believing that the United States is a nation driven by nobility; my mind was blinded to the widespread cruelty in American society. I credit President Donald Trump’s nasty behavior during his presidential tenure for overcoming my obliviousness, allowing me, finally, to notice that the U.S. even declines to employ the remedy of knowledge and noble values that it prescribes to the rest of the world!
American Universities and the knowledge they generate are “heaven on earth”! They are designed to nurture and fulfill their students mentally, physically, and spiritually with the aim of stimulating them to produce ideas and innovations to make this world a better place, result in having 40 percent of all Nobel Prize winners in diversified fields. Yet American executives and lawmakers don’t turn to Academia’s substance and values when shaping their policies or handling crises; U.S. decisions are formulated based on interests, practicalities and leverage – with the option of having them aggrandized by well-educated citizens.
“American Exceptionalism”, which refers to the belief that the U.S. has a destiny and responsibility towards the rest of the world, is the ultimate American society fairytale! The fact that a nation that abides by the values of individual liberty, entrepreneurship and a strong economy is a superpower does not necessarily mean that these attributes are designed to better serve the world. In fact, they could be America’s means to economic growth and world domination!
The myth of “American Exceptionalism” is often countered with the “World Reality” concept that holds that the U.S. must deal with the world as it is, which necessitates compromising American values; a proposition that overlooks the possibility that the United States might be shaping, or at least contributing to form, the development of world cruelty to better suit American interests, as best exemplified by American arms sales. The argument is that refraining from exporting weapons to nations engaged in warfare will only lead to expanding arms sales by America’s rivals – in other words, people are better off fighting and dying with American weapons than with those of U.S. adversaries.
Moreover, although consecutive United States administrations have worked to charm the world with American knowledge and innovation supremacy, U.S. interests have usually surpassed any kind of noble motivation. The USAID budget allocation is a clear example; it has been providing my country, Egypt, with a steady military assistance of USD 1.3 billion annually for over four decades. However, the amount of U.S. economic aid to Egypt, which used to be quite close to the amount of military assistance, has been declining regularly, dropping to under USD 150 million yearly–an indication of the United States’ value to each field!
In any given industry, respective executives naturally tend to produce products that capitalize on the latest industrial knowledge and technology. Politics is an exception here; politicians tend to use their political leverage to serve their narrow self-interests –going so far as to mislead their citizens by spreading false information. The United States’ invasion of Iraq is a clear example of political manipulation that only served President George W. Bush’s desire for war, at the expense of the entire Iraqi population.
The liberties that American citizens enjoy, and their ability to fulfill individual interests while living in their own isolated bubble, have mentally distanced Americans from thinking of the true mission of their nation! The U.S. enables academics to advocate for peace and prosperity in their books, while allowing arms manufacturers to produce and export their lethal products. Americans are living in a hypocritical, harmonized society, accepting their supremacy, both in the area of noble values and the field of arms proliferation, but unaware of the negative impact the later has on the rest of the world.
President Trump’s naturally impulsive ruling behavior, his failure to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the recent pardons he granted to a number of his lawbreaker allies, his entertainment of the possibility of applying martial law and finally inciting his supporters to invade the Capitol to prevent the Congress from certifying the election results – all these acts that consequently happened after losing the presidential election have not yet produced a critical mass that recognizes the deficiency of the American political structure. Ironically, seventy-four million Americans recently voted for Trump to stay on for another presidential term.
Noble American ambitions are an optional blessing offered to whoever wants to exploit them; American realism, however, is imposed on universal citizens. The United States’ supremacy in many fields and its dominant position in the world have failed to produce constructive policies that could make this world a better place. That said, there is some progress in the American scholarly field, where some have begun to use the term “invading Iraq” to define the U.S.’s intervention in Iraq – a sign of progress, but one that has not yet led to the development of a desperately needed new American mission that includes a more productive foreign policy.
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