Week 10: Power to the People

This week’s readings talked about “populists” in Latin America. I put the term in quotes because it has a very ambiguous meaning in the context of Latin America; As Dawson says: “almost every popular Latin American leader of the mid-twentieth century could be called a populist” such as Caudillos that we learned in week 5. Nevertheless, during this time period came technological and social change, and this is the time period where we find our ‘populists.’ This was the time period where radios became popular (pun? intended?). The radio meant something significant to these leaders, as it was a significant medium which helped propagate their ideas and messages, helping people come together and unite in a certain way.,

This week’s documents were quite interesting, as it focused on various ‘sides’ to the same story – The story of María Eva Duarte de Perón. She was the wife of General Perón, who served as president of Argentina. In these readings, the people of Argentina wanted her to run for vice-president, alongside her husband. She was popular for a variety of reasons, including being the “head nation’s largest social services organization, the head of the Peronist Women’s Party, and she was adored by the people she addressed”. It is clear that she was thought to be a fitting and kind leader by the people.

From the documents, it is also clear how desperate the people were for a humble and considerate leader that could oppose the oligarchy. I want to briefly talk about the ‘dialogue’ between Evita and the crowd, according to Mónica Amaré who compiled various newsreels and footage to construct a somewhat accurate version of the events on August 22nd, 1951. In all honesty, it makes me a bit angry at the crowd, and how it seems that they don’t truly consider her, as a person. Evita tries to connect with the people, but it seems that the people have established some form of separation where they see her so high on a pedestal that they fail to try to see things from her perspective, as they refused to give her time to think it over. They even threaten a strike, which could have vast negative effects throughout. Evita turns down the post of the vice-presidency, which I believe is in part due to her failing health, and how she believes that she best serves the people of Argentina, and most specifically, the “descamisados”, by her husbands side.

From what I’ve read this week, I see why Evita was such a likeable figure – she was selfless and humble, and kept the best interest of the public in mind. My question for you today is – do you think that Evita would’ve been as popular if it wasn’t for the radio, or do you think that she’d still be able to garner ample support due to her likeable character? Do you think that her message would’ve reached (at least near) as far as the radio did?

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