Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón, a round number for arguably the best-known Argentine worldwide (with the only possible rivals coming from football), with Peronism united in honouring the occasion but in separate events giving it a relative importance.
President Alberto Fernández perhaps downplayed the anniversary more than most – in a crisis-ridden atmosphere buzzing with rumours, he seems to have concluded that a simple homage to the “abanderada de los humildes (standard-bearer of the poor)” was not enough with a need to be more pro-active. He thus marked the occasion in oblique fashion by re-inaugurating a mass tourism hotel in Chapadmalal whose main connection with Evita was the Fundación Eva Perón’s sponsorship of its original construction.
The anniversary primarily aimed at a demonstration of government unity by summoning the entire Cabinet to join President Fernández but less than half the ministers showed up – nor in an event hosted by a leading member of La Cámpora (ANSeS social security chief Fernanda Raverta) did any of its militants attend apart from Raverta herself, including the youth grouping’s two ministers.
President Fernández also incorporated the icon into his blast against the farming sector for “speculating with a devaluation before selling,” urging the country to “seize the banners of Evita to fight the speculators … sitting on US$20 billion” in an aggressive speech which was nevertheless followed later in the day by the Central Bank offer of a more attractive exchange rate for grain sales.
“She was an immense woman who can only oblige us by her conduct to be like her,” was otherwise his only mention in a speech centred on criticising rural speculation, supermarket price increases and the dire heritage of the Mauricio Macri administration while insisting that the economy was growing despite all the difficulties. President Fernández also used the occasion to announce a belated midyear bonus of 11,000 pesos next month for the 1.2 million beneficiaries of the Potenciar Trabajo programme at an estimated fiscal cost of 13.2 billion pesos.
Vice-President Cristina Kirchner’s tribute was far more succinct – posting on her Twitter account a photo of the giant Evita image on the wall of the Social Development Ministry with the caption: “Eva Perón, una pasión argentina.”
Organised labour as a whole urged unity but that was belied by two separate marches. The mainstream CGT labour umbrella marked the anniversary during the day its Azopardo 802 headquarters headed by two of its three secretaries-general but the third (teamster Pablo Moyano) broke away to join the torchlight march of the rival CTA labour grouping in the evening.
Both marches subordinated their tributes to Evita to confronting the ongoing socio-economic crisis which they both blamed on speculators and hoarders but whereas the CGT exempted the Frente de Todos government from any responsibility, the CTA criticised an insufficient response to its demands.