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On October 22 1945 Juan Domingo Perón married María Eva Duarte (already known to friends as Evita) in Buenos Aires. In 1946 he was elected by a large margin as President of Argentina. This in fact the ending of the movie, that begins with Perón and Evita (then a radio actress starting to feel her way in movies) meeting during relief efforts for the victims of the 1944 devastating earthquake in the province of San Juan. The romance was swift and Evita had the initiative, although Perón was willing from the beginning.
Perón was part of a military junta that took power in 1944. He held three positions, Vice President, Secretary of War and Secretary of Labor. He concentrated on the third. He introduced numerous social welfare benefits for unionized workers, established the first social insurance in Argentina, and forced employers to provide decent working environments. He restricted conditions under which workers could be fired and established severance pay. Rural workers, until then at the mercy of their employers, were provided with minimum wage, maximum hours and vacations. Grievances were handled by labor courts that frequently ruled against employers.
Not unexpectedly, Peron's activities were seen as anathema by the "have" classes, especially landowners. A part of the armed forces, whose members belonged to the ruling class or were co-opted into it by marriage forced Perón to resign on October 9, 1945 and later arrested him; the pretext was his "immoral" association with Evita, who was born out of wedlock and was an actress to boot. On October 17, 1945 workers from Buenos Aires and the industrial belt marched in the millions into the square in front of the Government House and demanded Perón immediate freedom. Cowed, the military agreed and Perón was on his way to the presidency.
During the campaign that resulted in his election US Ambassador Spruille Braden (a rather good prototype of the Ugly American) published a White Paper accusing Perón of Fascist ties. Fluent in (heavily accented) Spanish, Braden addressed opposition rallies in person (although Argentine law prohibited foreign embassy personnel to take part in politics). Alas, his move backfired when Perón summarized the election as a choice between "Perón or Braden", and won by an ample margin.
This movie addresses all of the above. Director Paula de Luque moves the story forward with good pacing. Osmar Núñez and Julieta Díaz impersonate Juan and Eva to perfection, and the rest of the cast is equally good. A movie worth watching.
Is the history shown here accurate? The answer is "partly"; there are significant omissions. For instance, Evita is shown mostly inactive during the prelude to the mass rally on October 17 1945; in reality, she had connections with labor leaders and had an important part in the organization of the workers. Labor leader Cipriano Reyes, who had an even more prominent role in the rally is entirely omitted. Although Peronist hagiography maintains that the October 17 rally was entirely spontaneous it obviously requires considerably organization to move a million people into town, especially with the police blocking the way and bridges over the Riachuelo (separating Buenos Aires from the industrial belt) cut. (Reyes later fell out of favor with the Perons and was dropped from official history). Finally, while Perón was willing to accept the offer of "liberty plus banishment from the country" tendered by the military during his captivity, it is very doubtful that Evita was, as implied in the movie.
There seems to be no DVD Region 1 for this movie. It may be available in You Tube. If you are interested in this period of Argentine history you may want to watch also the excellent film Eva Perón: the True Story (1996) by Juan Carlos Desanzo, which chronicles all of Evita's life (she died in 1952).
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