I began this unit by listening to John Lennon. It would be inconceivable to read this week’s title and not listen to “Power to the People”. I hoped that it would set the tone for the material that would be covered.
( I personally really enjoyed learning about the events that occurred in mid twentieth century Argentina. And it was interesting to learn how technology affected different countries in Latin America, specifically how Evita and Juan Peron used it efficiently. )
Anyways, I found myself conflicted between the appeal of Evita Peron and the sentiments of populism.
As a student who is learning about Peronism for the first time, I feel quite at awe with the impact Evita had on argentines; los descamisados. The way Evita delivers her speech in 1951 seems to be filled with genuine passion for the people of Argentina. Here’s an example where she expresses her devotion from The Peronist Version of the Speech, “All these years of my life, I have devoted my nights and days to helping the humble people of our Fatherland, without consideration for the days or the nights or the sacrifices.”
If I were asked whether Evita and Juan were “good” for the nation, I would answer with a confused look. Because the answer seems obvious at first, what with the love and admiration thousands of Argentines seem to have held for her, why wouldn’t it be a good thing? They must have been doing something right.
Yet, I remind myself of the negative connotations that are intertwined into populism and how populist leaders are easily referred to as caudillos.
- Associated to radical right and authoritarianism
- Appealing to “ordinary people”, they present a radical need to change the status quo which can sometimes lead to credulousness ie. Hitler’s popularity
(Dawson refers to the Perons, amongst other Latin American leaders, to be populist ones)
So.. I know I’m not being asked to decide whether Peronism was beneficial or not for Argentines, but I wonder. I wonder whether this decade was one that is appreciated? And perhaps a way to compile an answer is by asking: Looking at an “after the fact” standpoint, what does Argentina think today about the sentiments of Peronism?