- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is facing criticism for quoting Eva Perón, also known as Evita.
- Evita, the wife of Juan Perón, was the first lady of Argentina in the mid-20th century.
- She died young and left a divisive legacy, with some recalling her as a champion of the working class and others as someone who helped enable a demagogue who repressed political freedoms.
- Juan Perón was also a Nazi sympathizer and helped war criminals, including those who played an intricate role in the Holocaust, escape to Argentina after World War II.
- Historians debate the extent to which Evita was involved in or agreed with her husband’s Nazi ties. But Ocasio-Cortez is being bashed by people on all ends of the political spectrum for quoting her.
- Ocasio-Cortez quoted Evita in tweets responding to a nickname President Donald Trump reportedly claimed to have given her when first noticing the progressive star on TV as she ran for office.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is facing some online backlash for quoting Eva Perón, also known as Evita, due to the fact her husband was a Nazi sympathizer who aided war criminals after World War II.
The New York Democrat quoted Evita in tweets, responding to a report that Trump in an interview for a new book was “starstruck” by Ocasio-Cortez early during her campaign for Congress and referred to here as “Eva Perón” or “Evita.”
Evita was extremely popular with the working class and a major political asset to her husband, Juan Perón, who was president of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and again in 1973 to 1974. She’s been popularised via the Broadway musical “Evita,” which was also made into a movie starring Madonna. (Trump has actually repeatedly said that “Evita” is his favourite musical and he’s seen it multiple times.)
Evita died at a young age from cancer, and she is still celebrated in Argentina to this day.
But the Peróns also have a complicated and controversial legacy.
Perón became increasingly authoritarian as the leader of Argentina, shutting down opposition newspapers and jailing political opponent as he oversaw rampant corruption. Under Perón, Argentina’s economy tanked as inflation rose
But what is perhaps the most damning aspect of Perón’s legacy is the fact he aided numerous Nazi war criminals after World War II and helped them escape to Argentina. This includes Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust, and Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the “Angel of Death” who conducted medical experiments on prisoners in concentration camps.
“In those days, Argentina was a kind of paradise to us,”Nazi Erich Priebke recalled in 1991.
Ocasio-Cortez recently compared detention centres for immigrants to concentration camps, citing the academic definition and noting that historically such camps existed well beyond the Holocaust.
Many academics and historians agreed with her, but that didn’t stop politicians and members of the media from criticising Ocasio-Cortez for making such a comparison given the association between concentration camps and the murder of millions of Jews, among other groups, by the Nazis.
In this context, Ocasio-Cortez has received some criticism from activists and groups across the political spectrum for quoting Evita in light of Perón’s ties to Nazis.
Right-wing groups such as Students for Trump, for example,tweeted,“[email protected] casually quoting a Nazi sympathizer on her Twitter…. yikes.”
Meanwhile, Aura Bogado, an immigration reporter for Reveal,tweeted, “It’s hard to know where to begin with Evita’s horrid legacy but how about the part where she took gold stolen from Jewish families exterminated in actual concentration camps in exchange for allowing Nazi war criminals to live in Argentina? Don’t f—ing sanitize her.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.
‘She was far from being a saint…but she was not a villain either’
While there’s no question Evita’s husband admired fascist leaders and was a Nazi sympathizer, the evidence linking Evita to Nazism is more tenuous and widely debated among historians.
As The Washington Post reported on Monday, there have long been rumours that Evita received treasures stolen from Jews by the Nazis, and an Argentine journalist who investigated the Peróns for years once suggested she helped lay the groundwork for Nazi war criminals to come to Argentina.
Evita also apparently had a bodyguard who was a former Nazi, Otto Skorzeny, with whom she also was rumoured to have had a romantic relationship, the BBC reported in 2015.
But historian Marysa Navarro, co-author of the biography “Evita: The Real Life of Eva Perón,” told The Post there’s no “conclusive evidence” that Evita took Nazi gold stolen from concentration camps.
Moreover, Tomas Eloy Martinez, the former director of the Latin America program at Rutgers University, in 1997 wrote for TIME that Evita “played no part” in her husband’s efforts to aid the Nazis.
“It is true that Perón facilitated the entrance of Nazi criminals to Argentina in 1947 and 1948, thereby hoping to acquire advanced technology developed by the Germans during the war. But Evita played no part,” Martinez said.
“She was far from being a saint, despite the veneration of millions of Argentines, but she was not a villain either. Human beings are full of contradictions and labyrinthine complexities,” Martinez added. “Rarely do they resemble their portrayal in the musicals of Hollywood and Broadway.”
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