As we move into the mid-20th Century, the appearance of objects and symbols still important to us in 2019 begins. Radio, broadcasting, musical propaganda and more promote the new age of technology in politics – an age which allowed more people to be reached than ever before. Before we head down south to Argentina to visit Evita, let’s pay a stop in Brazil and Mexico, and meet Getúlio Vargas and Lázaro Cárdenas.
As radio access moved throughout Latin America in a (air)wave, people took to the concept like wildfire – whole communities would gather around a radio as a part of the day, or, in the case of the more elite, relax in their living rooms and reflect on the politics of the day. Samba and song spread as well, and the leadership made slightly futile attempts to integrate itself with the modern popularities. Music was the key to a positive nationalist sentiment, and both Vargas and Cárdenas realised this. Poor Brazilians and Mexicans had more power as consumers of popular music than they did as workers or as citizens. For the leadership, the obvious solution was to try and fund governmental radio stations in order to spread their political messages. This did not work as people simply chose not to listen in, and instead moved to their favourite commercial wavelengths. Noticeably, Vargas’ and Cárdenas’ responses to this voluntary switch was too similar – in Brazil ‘Hora do Brasil ‘ was forced onto air, the same happening on Mexican air with ‘Hora Nacional’. Arguably, Cárdenas was much more successful than Vargas in this respect. Vargas appeared tyrannical and stiff on air, and attempted too much to dominate rather than integrate with the people he was trying to reach. His ridicule and semi-failed attempts could be also attributed to the general dislike that Vargas seemed to carry with him for most of his term before suicide. Cádernas was a president of the people, and so people in turn responded to him. A hero for his nation, he made sure to always carry a radio microphone wherever he went, and with his broadcast of the nationalisation of Mexico’s oil industry, he proved to his country and the rest of the world the significance of radio as a technology of power.
However, neither of these Presidents rival Eva Perón (Evita), whose very lifeline was embedded in the electrical cables of the radio stations. It was Evita who struck a chord with millions, her seductive, yet powerful voice pushing Perón into people’s hearts. It was Evita who taught her husband the art of connection. Perón became known for his lunfardo and his appreciation of tango – he became not just a voice in a box, but someone who connected with the people on an intimate level – key to his success. Yet, it was arguably Evita who won the hearts of the people. The famous banners ‘Perón Eva Perón’ highlighted her importance – she, who came from humble beginnings, was so loved by the people that she was pushed to take on a vice-presidency which she was not qualified for. The power of her voice, sweeping across the country united people against the oppression that they had been suffering for years, and they turned out in the millions for her. Arguably Argentina’s most beloved leaders and couple, a former radionovela actress and a bastard solidified themselves in Argentina’s heart with the help of a microphone and two cables.
October 28, 2019 — 4:40 pm
Hi Olga! Your writing is so eloquent, I really enjoyed reading your post! I agree with you, Evita definitely seemed to have been the bridge between the people and Perón, even though Perón was popular with the people as well!
I just had this thought – perhaps her experience and familiarity with media as an actress helped her win the hearts of the Argentinian population, more than other influential figures could?
October 28, 2019 — 6:07 pm
Thank you for your blog!
Regarding the question of political communication as a way to win people’s support, the example of Trump is quite interesting to study. Indeed, do you think the enormous number of his tweets (without dicussing the validity of the content), are efficient to keep his supporters around him?
November 28, 2019 — 6:59 pm
Hi Olga! I really enjoyed your blog! I agree with the fact that Eva acted as a sort of “middle man” between Peron and the general public, as her words connected so deeply with Peron’s supporters.