Spiritual Leader of the Nation of Argentina
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2010)|
|Spiritual Leader of the Nation of
|Inaugural holder||Eva Perón|
|Formation||7 May 1952|
|Final holder||Eva Perón|
Spiritual Leader of the Nation (Spanish: Líder Espiritual de la Nación, also referred to as Spiritual Chief of the Nation, Jefa Espiritual de la Nación, and Spiritual Chief of the State, Jefa Espiritual del Estado) was an honorary position created by the Argentine Congress in the early 1950s and only ever held by Eva Perón, wife of Juan Domingo Perón. Eva Perón was elected Spiritual Leader/Chief of the Nation on May 7, 1952 and died on July 26 of that year. The title of Spiritual Chief or Leader of the Nation would never again be bestowed on any Argentine, preserved in history as a special position for Eva.
History of the office and title
Power of Evita
The First Lady, Eva Perón was the wife, top adviser, and political partner of President of the Argentine Nation Juan Perón. Her power was such that she was referred to as "La Presidenta", Spanish for "The (female) President" and in the Casa Rosada museum where almost every president's statue stands alone, a statue of Evita stands with her husband, the same as any President. It is widely speculated by historians[according to whom?] that she would have (officially) become the first female President in Argentina had it not been for her early death.
De facto and official offices and titles
Evita held many de facto posts in government. Evita never held a cabinet position, though she was the de facto head of many ministries. Most notably, she was the de facto Secretary of Labour and Minister for Education. She was also the de facto head of the General Confederation of Labour. She was officially the president of the large and powerful state-controlled institute of social welfare which she founded and ran, the Eva Perón Foundation, as well as the official president of the Female Peronist Party. The Justicialist Party also recognized Eva as its national head, a position she shared equally with Juan. Over the years she had been given many unofficial titles in addition to "La Presidenta", such as the Lady of Hope, First Samaritan, Lady of the Descamisados, the Rainbow of Argentina, and Santa (Saint) Evita. As the wife of the President, Eva, of course, held the title of First Lady.
Eva and the Vice Presidency
In 1951 the Peronist Party nominated Evita to run for the office of Vice President and Senate President of the Argentine Nation, however many issues such as military opposition, Perón's personal fear of political opposition to his wife, and, above all, Eva's illness, contributed to Eva withdrawing her candidacy. Should it not have been for her uterine cancer, it seems likely she would have fought the opposing forces whose political powers were considerably weaker than hers, but by the 17 October Eva's condition would so deteriorate, that she would not be able to stand without assistance from Perón. She would never hold national elective political office.
Spiritual Leader of the Nation
Denied the Vice Presidency and swiftly heading towards the end of her life the nation went into a frenzy as Congress hurried to force every honor they could onto the First Lady. Vigils were constantly held, 508 hospitals were ordered by the Minister of Health to hold prayers for her recovery, her autobiography La Razon de mi Vida was ordered to be used as a textbook in all schools, and members of Congress constantly held tributes for their ailing leader. On May 7, 1952 Eva was elected Spiritual Leader/Chief of the Nation by the Peronista majority.
Vice President for a day
On June 4 Juan Perón was re-inaugurated for a second term as President. On this day, had it not been for the illness that had reduced her to a mere 81 pounds (37 kg) and forced her to wear a plaster and wire frame to be able to stand, Eva would likely have been inaugurated as Latin America's first woman Vice President. Instead, she attended in her role as Argentina's Spiritual Chief and took the ceremonial place of the Vice President, occupying his official seat next to the President and taking on his ceremonial duties. The Peróns' Vice President, Dr. Juan Hortensio Quijano, was in worse health than Evita by the time she begged him to join the ticket (following her withdrawal) and he accepted only reluctantly. He died in early April 1952 and was not replaced by anyone by inauguration time, thus Evita took his place. The inauguration was Maria Eva's last public appearance. After she returned home, she would not leave the palace alive again. She died on July 26 of that year, triggering tremendous mourning.
The title of Spiritual Chief or Leader of the Nation has never again been given to any Argentine.