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Category: In the press

380. life magazine, dec 1974

Life magazine, Eva & Juan Perón caskets

Found in the fantastic Life magazine archive; photo credited to Keystone/Getty Images & taken on 10 Dec 1974.

The bodies of Argentinian President Juan Domingo Peron (1895 – 1974) and his first wife Eva Peron, known as Evita, (1919 – 1952) at the Presidential Residence in Buenos Aires where they could be viewed by the public. The body of Eva Peron had been brought from a tomb in Italy.

This photo was taken about one month after the procession (see previous post), & the caskets could not have been on display for long… too much of a security risk. But the Montoneros got what they wanted—Evita back in Argentina.

After Isabel was ousted by the 1976 dictatorship, Eva’s next stop was Recoleta Cemetery. Perón went to his family vault in Chacarita. Although Perón was transferred to his San Vicente country estate in 2006, the (in)famous couple has never been reunited again.

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379. gente magazine, nov 1974

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

A wonderful online source, Mágicas Ruinas takes popular magazines from Argentina during the 20th century & reposts original photos & reports… a great documentation source. After the Montoneros held the corpse of de facto President Pedro Aramburu as ransom for the return of Eva Perón embalmed body, she finally returned to Argentina on November 17, 1974. The following article appeared in Gente.

Update (28 Jul 2010): Marcelo obtained a copy of the 21 Nov 1974 issue of Gente, so we replaced the scans from Mágicas Ruinas with our own. Text has also been added which did not appear online.

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Saturday, the 16th, 16:00. The Aerolíneas Argentinas Boeing 707 especially destined for the final transfer to Argentina of the mortal remains of María Eva Duarte de Perón positioning on the runway of the international airport in Barajas, Madrid, ready to begin the historic return flight. The funeral procession was sent off by Spanish Foreign Minister Pedro Cortina Mauri. Vigilant reporters waited for hours:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Sunday, the 17th, 06:00. The specially-fitted Aerolíneas Argentinas Boeing 707 has arrived at the Morón air base. An Argentine Air Force Fokker TC-76 waited there, whose mission was to transfer the casket with the remains of Eva Perón to the metropolitan airport (Aeroparque). Heavy security had been placed at both military bases. After 19 years, the remains of Eva Perón returned to the country:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Sunday, the 17th, 10:00. After the Air Force plane landed at Aeroparque, the casket is lowered & place in a hearse which would immediately take it to the official stage, where the President & other high authorities waited. Meanwhile along the coast gathered in silence to witness the procession exit to Olivos:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Aeroparque, military zone, 10:05. From left to right, Ivanissevich, Rocamora, Savino, Campano, Martinez, López Rega, Blanca Duarte & Herminda Duarte (sisters of Eva Perón) & María Estela Martinez:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Funeral prayer. Aeroparque, 10:10. The chaplain of the General San Martín Horse Guard regiment, reverend father Héctor Ponzo, prays a final blessing for the soul of Eva Perón. Impressive general silence:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Aeroparque, Sunday, the 17th, 10:15. After the funeral prayer, the heavily guarded coffin is slowly taken by the hearse out of the military zone area of Aeroparque. Soon after, cars began the journey toward the Presidential residence in Olivos, while people threw flowers on the street & cried out along the entire route: Thank you, Isabel:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

The procession, Avenida Libertador & General Paz. Motorcycle Federal Police, dressed in formal uniform, escort the procession, drawing a symmetric & moving scene. The car with the President goes immediately behind the hearse:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Flowers, silence. Along the entire way people threw flowers as the funeral procession passed in Vicente López. The only things left are the empty street, stains of color on the cement, a few police agents & people with signs. The remains of Eva Perón are already in Olivos (the presidential residence):

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Waiting. Intersection of Villate & Libertador. The procession is about to enter the residence in Olivos. People who have waited hours express emotion as the coffin of Eva Perón passes. This took 19 years to happen. There are choruses, flags & mourning:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Olivos, Sunday, the 17th, 10:38. The remains of Eva Perón arrive at the Presidencial residence in Olivos. The unloading of the coffin is witnesses by María Estela Martinez de Perón, José López Rega & the Argentine embassador in Spain, José Campano Martinez. At that time, the men & women who had come to receive the body of Eva Perón returned to their homes:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

To the crypt. Presidencial residence in Olivos. At 10:40 the coffin with the remains of Eva Perón is taken to the crypt which holds the body of Juan Domingo Perón. A dramatic chapter in Argentine history comes to an end:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

Olivos, Sunday, the 17th, 10:45. Historical moment. Eva Perón’s casket enters the crypt where Juan Domingo Perón rests in peace. It was placed on a pedestal in front of the altar to Our Lady of Luján. Within two weeks, after some site improvements, the coffin will be placed alongside that of Perón, where it will remain until the construction of the National Altar:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

In the crypt. The casket with the remains of Eva Perón now rests in front of the altar of Our Lady of Luján, in the crypt of the Presidential residence in Olivos. Héctor Ponzo, the chaplain of the Horse Guard regiment, prays again for the soul of the deceased. María Estela Martinez de Perón, José López Rega & José Campano are present. The coffin has been covered by an Argentine flag crossed with a black stripe:

Revista Gente, 21 nov 1974, "Los restos de Eva Perón están en Argentina"

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374. pdf guide for sale

PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery

Take this blog with you! Several years, thousands of photos & 24 pages later, the only guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery which can be easily used inside is available for purchase.

The PDF has a clean & crisp look, designed to be printed either at home or while in Buenos Aires. It covers 70 tombs & mausoleums, divided into easy-to-navigate sections of about 10 tombs each. In addition, there are sections which discuss the foundation of the cemetery, its current operation, some of the symbolism to be found inside, & a full-page master map… in fact, it is the only accurate map in existence.

PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery

PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery

The walk focuses on art & architecture, a number of important historical events, a bit of urban legend & of course the cemetery’s most famous resident.  Eva María Duarte de Perón—simply Evita to her devotées—had a bizarre post-mortem journey which is described at length. The entire walk should take about two hours to complete… keep in mind that the PDF is directed to those who want to explore the cemetery in depth.

PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery

Purchase from PayPal for US$ 5.49 on the dedicated sale page. A download link will appear after the sale has been approved. Thanks for supporting our research!

For background on the making of this guide, read the following series of posts titled “map development”: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4part 5part 6, & part 7.

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357. the big wake-up

Mark Coggins, August Riordan series

What if Evita is not in Recoleta Cemetery? What if she is actually in the Bay Area?

That’s the premise behind author Mark Coggins‘ latest book in the August Riordan series. San Francisco-based private investigator Riordan witnesses the tragic death of a beautiful university student from Buenos Aires & is drawn into a mad hunt for Evita’s remains. Mark’s promo sheet goes on to say:

He needs all of his wits, his network of friends and associates, and an unexpected legacy from the dead father he has never known to help him survive the deadly intrigue between powerful Argentine movers and shakers, ex-military men, and a mysterious woman named Isis who is expert in ancient techniques of mummification.

How could you not want to read a book like that? To be honest, it’s surprising no one has done this before given Eva’s bizarre post-mortem journey. The story would make for a great movie too. Mark was nice enough to send me a pre-release copy where I found the following:

Big Wake-Up, authors note

The genesis of this book came from a tour I took of la Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Christmas morning, 2007. My tour guide was Robert Wright and he inspired me not only with stories of Evita Perón and her macabre odyssey, but with the accompanying stories of the politicians and military men buried in the cemetery who were responsible for, and participated in, the bizarre machinations behind it. Robert has a blog about the cemetery, which is well worth visiting if you are interested in more information about Recoleta.

Makes me wish I was still doing tours of the cemetery :) In the few spare moments I’ve had since returning to Buenos Aires one month ago, I’ve read the book & can definitely recommend it. The character of August Riordan is textbook PI, & Coggins deftly takes the reader into his underground world. Check it out!

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354. in the city of the dead

The Nose

More press for AfterLife… yea!

Editor Hernán Cortiñas contacted me & Marcelo a few months ago about an article for the November/December edition of The Nose. It hit the press recently, & we couldn’t be more pleased. The Nose promises to deliver “Buenos Aires in a different sense” & they certainly do.

As a free bi-monthly publication in tabloid format, issues focus on explaining more than just BA basics, give visitors insider tips not found in any guidebook, & present it all with a fantastic, modern design. Be sure to grab a copy & learn something new about the city.

Below are a couple pics from the current issue, including the article about Recoleta Cemetery:

The Nose

The Nose

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337. staircase destruction

As reported by every other blog concerned with saving the architectural heritage of Buenos Aires, the entrance gate staircase for Recoleta Cemetery is currently being demolished. Just like that. No one could have foreseen that repavement of the sidewalk adjacent to the cemetery could have generated such a blatant disregard for the city’s  biggest tourist attraction.

The need for some sort of change of the staircase comes from poor planning. By using thicker, pre-fabricated sidewalk tiles, the new sidewalk level is higher than the original & exceeds the base of the staircase:

Entrance gate destruction, Recoleta Cemeter

As reported by Sergio Kiernan in a mocking article appearing in Página/12’s architecture supplement m2, workers began breaking up the Carrara marble staircase with hammers before Teresa de Anchorena (member of both city & national heritage organizations) found out about the destruction on May 20th. She contacted Jorge Sábato—city Subsecretary for Urban Projects, Architecture & Infrastructure—reminding him of the mistake being made. According to Kiernan, Sábato did not respond to Anchorena’s communiqué. It was too late… several local residents had already taken pieces of staircase marble home with them as souvenirs.

Sábato’s next-in-command Miguel Ortemberg sent a letter six days later to the National Commission of Museums, Monuments & Historical Places requesting advice on how to modify the cemetery’s staircase after the damage had already been done:

Ortemberg letter

Days passed while Sábato & Ortemberg submitted a variety of documents to the city legislature claiming that there would be drainage problems given the new sidewalk level. Only one solution existed & the marble staircase would be removed & stored for any future solution or modification. All lies. Another problem they cited was the lack of a permanent disability ramp for cemetery access. Adding insult to injury, both Sábato & Ortemberg are degree-holding architects. Their solution was destruction over preservation.

Entrance gate, Recoleta Cemetery

With officials like Sábato & Ortemberg in charge, there is little question why so much destruction of the city’s architectural heritage  has happened in recent years. In spite of being listed as a National Historic Monument in 2007, the cemetery entrance gate has lost an irreplaceable part of its foundation & only serves to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of local & national government. At the very least, Sábato & Ortemberg should be removed from their posts & fined for the cost of replacing the staircase… an exorbitant amount given that 5 cm thick pieces of Carrara marble are rarely found these days.

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Update (25 Jan 2010): Six months of inaction & the cemetery entrance remains a construction site. After completion of the ramp, the makeshift barricades pictured above remained in place for several months. Only recently has an attempt been made to hide from plain sight the destruction of the staircase. A scaled photograph of the column bases currently wraps around half the entrance gate until city authorities decide what to do:

Entrance gate, Recoleta Cemetery

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