Eva Perón 1951
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2014.
Eva Peron had recently been diagnosed with the cancer that would kill her when she gave this speech before over a million workers at a rally in Buenos Aires. Rallies held on October 17, called Loyalty Day, celebrated the monster working-class demonstration of October 17, 1945 that resulted in Juan Perón’s being released from his imprisonment at the hands of the fellow officers then ruling Argentina. It was also set him along the road that would lead to his election to the presidency in 1946. The descamisados- the shirtless ones – were the workers and poor who supported Perón. Originally a term of scorn, it was soon worn with pride.
My beloved descamisdos: Today is a day of many emotions for me. With all my soul I wanted to be with you and Peron on this glorious day of the descamisados. I can’t ever miss this October 17 appointment with my people. I assure you that no one or nothing could ever prevent me from coming, because I have a sacred debt to Peron and all of you, to the workers, to the boys of the CGT, to the descamisados and the people. And it doesn’t matter to me if I have to leave shred of my life along the way in order to repay it.
I had to come and I came to give thanks to Peron, to the CGT, to the CGT and the descamisados of my fatherland. What I say to Perón, who wanted to honor me with the highest distinction that could be granted a Peronist this evening, is that I will never cease repaying you and would give my life in gratitude for how good you have always been and are with me. Nothing I have, nothing I am, nothing I think is mine: it’s Perón’s. I will not tell you the usual lies: I won’t tell you that I don’t deserve this. Yes, I deserve this, my general. I deserve it for one thing alone, which is worth more than all the gold in the world: I deserve it for all I've done for the love of this people. I'm not important because of what I've done; I'm not important because of what I've renounced; I'm not important because of what I am or have. I have only one thing that matters, and I have it in my heart. It sets my soul aflame, it wounds my flesh and burns in my sinews: it’s love for this people and for Perón. I gave you thanks, my general, for having taught me to know and love them. If this people asked me for my life I would joyfully give it, for the happiness of one descamisado is worth more than my entire life.
I had to come here to give thanks to the CGT for the homage they pay me in giving me a decoration that in my eyes is the most beloved remembrance of the Argentinian workers. I had to come to thank you for having dedicated this glorious day of the workers and the CGT to this humble woman. And I had to come to tell you that it is necessary, as the general says, to keep the guards on the alert at all the posts of our struggle. The danger has not passed. Every Argentinian worker must keep his eyes open and not fall asleep, for the enemies work in the shade of treason and sometimes are hidden behind a smile or an extended hand. And I had to come to thank all of you, my beloved descamisados from all corners of the fatherland for being willing to risk your lives for Perón. I was certain that you knew – as did I – how to serve as Perón’s entrenchment. The enemies of the people, of Perón and the Fatherland, have also long known that Perón and Eva Perón are ready to die for this people. Now they also know that the people are ready to die for Perón.
Compañeros, I ask just one thing today: that all of us publicly vow to defend Perón and to fight for him until death. And our oath will be shouted for a minute so that our cry can reach the last corner of the earth: Our lives for Peron!
Let the enemies of the people, of Perón and the Fatherland come. I have never been afraid of them because I have always believed in the people. I have always believed in my beloved descamisados because I have never forgotten that without them October 17 would have been a date of pain and bitterness, for this date was supposed to be one of ignominy and treason, but the courage of this people turned it into a day of glory and happiness. Finally, compañeros, I thank you for all your prayers for my health; I thank you with all my heart. I hope that God hears the humble of my Fatherland so that I can quickly return to the struggle and be able to keep on fighting with Perón for you and with you for Perón until death. I don’t ask or want anything for myself. My glory is and always will be to be Perón’s shield and the flag of my people, and though I leave shreds of my life along the road, I know that you will pick up my name and will carry it to victory as a banner. I know that God is with us because he is with the humble and despises the arrogance of the oligarchy. This is why victory will be ours. We will achieve it sooner or later, whatever the cost, whoever may fall.
My descamisados: I wanted to tell you many things but the doctors have forbidden me from speaking. I have you in my hearts and tell you that it is certain my wish is that I will soon be back in the struggle, with more strength and love, to fight for this people which I love so much, as I love Perón. And I ask you just one thing: it’s certain I will soon be with you, but if for health reasons I am not, take care of the general. Remain faithful to Perón as you've been until today, because this means being loyal to the Fatherland and loyal to yourselves. And to all the descamisados of the interior, I hold them closely, so very closely to my heart, and want them to know how much I love them.
1.Evita had been given two awards, the ‘Recognition of Distinction of the First Category’ and the ‘Grand Peronist Medal. Extraordinary Class’.