Week10: Power to the People

This week’s reading and lecture showed how appliances, such as the microphone and the radio, played a significant role in forming the politics in Latin America. Politicians were able to reach larger audiences more efficiently and civilians were able to view political leaders as closer figures. Out of the four texts Dawson presents of Eva Perón’s renunciamiento, I will focus on Document 7.3, Evita’s speech including the interaction with the crowd.

The first point I noticed while reading the text is how often she uses the phrases, moral and spiritual.  She also says “the Argentine nation is comprised of honorable men and
women”(Dawson. 232) and “Argentine people have a big heart” (Dawson. 232), referring to the personality traits of the nation in general. Eva goes out of her way to appeal to both the rational side and the emotional side of the listeners. Her repeated use of these two words clearly represents the populist stances of the Peróns. The next thing I would like to mention is the way Evita describes herself in her speech. She portrays herself as a weak, fragile, and humble Argentine woman who would sacrifice everything for her people, the descamisados. She uses the adjective “humble” to refer to her own character and actions 7 times throughout the text. Being a humble woman was probably an important factor to give a sense of closeness to the people instead of someone above the clouds. Her description of herself was a bit puzzling to me since the video clip of her in Professor Jon’s lecture seemed to suggest quite the opposite. Evita had a relatively low, clear, and strong voice which gave me the impression of a sturdy woman. She also attributes all her achievements, actions, and belongings to General Perón which establishes her reputation as a supportive, devoted wife as well as reaffirms her frail character. Lastly, and most importantly, the interactions between the crowd and Evita concerning the matter of her running as VP, represents the theme of this week, power to the people. The crowd of descamisados had the power to get their demands through in a way previous populations did not. This clearly shows how the power dynamic shifted in these regions.

discussion questions:

  1. Why do you think Evita used the adjective “humble” in particular to describe herself?
  2. Do you think Evita would have been able to refuse to run as VP if it were in a public setting instead of the radio?
  3. Do you think how a politician represented themselves through the media was more closely related to their popularity rather than the policies they stood for?

5 thoughts on “Week10: Power to the People

  1. Emilia


    I am going to agree with you that while Evita described herself as “humble”, she was able to create a sense of belonging and closeness with the people. She wanted to underline that she was just like them and that she had not become anything else. I think this is really interesting also, because as she was a woman, this might have been the only way she could gain the support of the people. Women are often questioned in positions of power and while reminding that she was humble, fragile and devoted to Perón, she also highlighted her role as a “proper” woman. I don’t think she would have been able to gain all that love and support if she had appeared in some other way.
    As to your third question, I believe politicians representations is a sum of both factors. In Evita’s case, I believe she had an agenda, but as she got all that support, she had to comply with the desires of the people who supported her. I think this applies to all politician’s after all, because they would lose their support if they didn’t care about their supporters opinions.

  2. Simran


    To answer your last question, I think the media is a powerful tool that can manipulate how someone is viewed to the public. Regardless of their policies or faults, the persona one shows to the people is what most people remember about them. Politics rely on media representation whether that be positive pro negative. I agree that a politician’s popularity is seen as more important because that’s a way to leave a mark.

    1. cynthia lightbody

      Hi Simran,
      I agree that it is the persona that one shows to the people that is most memorable. For example, think about all the people who last minute decide to vote. Most of them have no idea what each leader has planned for the future, but to them that doesn’t really matter. What matters is who stands out to them the most. Who have they seen appear the most in the media? Who looks the smartest or the most attractive? As we know, politics is not just about politics (if that makes sense).

  3. Madeleine Kindbom


    In response to your first question, I think Evita referred to herself as “humble” to be able to relate more to their target audience e.i. working-class Argentineans. Part of the socialist school of thought is “the people” vs. the elite- you generally wouldn’t label elites as the humble type, thus by Evita referring to herself as the very same qualities that their supporters value she is gaining their support & trust.

    In regards to the second question, I am unsure as to what Evita would have done had she been forced to announce her refusal to run as VP in that public context versus on radio. I would have suspected that it probably would have very difficult to turn that down in a setting in which the crowd loved her and was very riled up.

  4. ana laura vazquez paniago


    Since Evita was a bridge between Perón and the people, I think she had a duty to be a more down to earth political figure, hence her constant reiteration of being “humble”. Her connection to the descamisados of Argentina is heavily intertwined with her ability to understand their conditions and being able to empathise with them through her own experiences.

    I feel like she would’ve still rejected to run as Vice President even if it were in a public setting. She seems like a very strong-minded person from the videos we watched this week. I also think that she would not have wanted to disappoint Argentines if she had been elected, so it was easier for her to step away from the role before even attempting to fill it.


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