by Norman Berdichevsky (January 2016)
As First Lady of Argentina from 1945 to 1952, Eva Perón was generally regarded as the most powerful woman in the world and referred to officially as the country’s “Spiritual Leader.” The “Cinderella from the Pampas,” was another common nickname for her idealization by many of the country’s poor who identified with her humble origins. She had grown up uneducated in a small rural town, been looked down on as an illegitimate daughter and an actress who had slept her way into fame but rapidly acquired a taste for elegance and glamorous style. When she met and married General Juan Perón, she added greatly to his support among the poor in the slums of the big cities and in the countryside.
Hillary Clinton stands poised to fill the same role in the United States. Like Evita, Hillary’s marriage to a former popular President was the stepping stone to power and although she grew up in comfortable surroundings and is a multi-millionaire today, her ridiculous claim to having been “stone broke,” and her populist campaign appealing primarily to what Democrats call the 99%, amidst multiple ultra-generous promises of social welfare, free higher education and unlimited health benefits, an alliance with powerful unions, and her voting appeal as a woman and feminist, all recall the career of Eva Perón who cultivated her own image as the heroine of the descamisados (shirtless ones – the very destitute urban slum dwellers and impoverished rural workers of Argentina). The distance to becoming “the most powerful woman in the world“ is now within her reach.
Without the continued lurch leftward of the Obama administration and the many cases of manipulation by a compliant media, the abuse of power by Democrat mayors to encourage the mismanagement of court procedures as in Baltimore, a sympathetic Supreme Court (until now), the coercive use of the power of the federal government and its many agencies such as the IRS and EPA to stifle, vilify and punish political opponents, creation of Democrat mini-states in “sanctuary cities” ignoring the law, it is hard to imagine that she would be currently where she is in the electoral process, ready to capture the nomination of the Democrat Party. These developments and the “pen, telephone and scissors strategy” of President Obama (see NER March, 2014) to avoid congressional consent have turned the United States into a veritable Banana Republic without growing any bananas.
It is a term for a politically unstable country, the economy of which is largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product without a significant industrial sector, and where there is no independent judiciary or free press. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a 1% or less plutocracy, often based on a few families who have occupied key positions in government, business, politics, foundations, and the military elites.
It is a pejorative description of a state masquerading as a democracy that cultivates the affection of a charismatic leader who receives kickbacks from large commercial enterprises and unions. Collusion between the State and favored monopolies are built on the acquisition and use of public and private (eminent domain) land, while the debts incurred are assumed as a public responsibility.
Social Justice Platforms
Such an imbalanced economy, a constant negative balance of payments and a commitment to comprehensive social welfare programs inevitably lead to inflation and devalued paper-money. This is the formula that transformed Argentina from one of the wealthiest nations in the world following World War I to the economic basket case of today and its 70 years of commitment to the ideology of social justice known as Justicialismo.
Hillary’s constant appeals for social justice and support for much of the verbiage of the 99% vs. the 1% are breathtaking for their hypocrisy, but she dares not go as far as the Perons did or Bernie Sanders has in the present campaign for fear of attacks on her husband’s involvement with donors to the Clinton Foundation.
More than any other country, Argentina’s political history over the past seventy years can be framed in terms of Peronism, a philosophy uniting many elements of both the Left and the Right against the Center. In its own words, Perón’s Party, still in existence today (but divided into antagonistic competing wings) and called El Partido Justicialista that still describes itself as a “Continuation of the Peronista Party, founded by General Juan Domingo Perón in 1947. Its original and principal banner is The Defense of the Workers, retaining since then a deep attachment to the Working Class and the Unions.” The attachment was so deep that Eva urged Perón to distribute arms to the unions in order to come to his defense when he was threatened by a coup and it was no longer possible to depend upon a military that had become disenchanted with him.
Peronism and its populist imitators have been provided with a set of indulgences by the Left, like those the church granted to sinners in the Middle Ages. This Peronist heritage has been tied to behind-the-scenes moves linking it to the Iranian mullahs and Hezbollah, and is just as sordid as its past record in helping Nazi war criminals find refuge after the end of World War II (see NER March 2015 “I Cry for You” by Argentino Anónimo).
Reliance on union support is a critical element linking the Peronists and Evita with the Democrats and Hillary. Her many flip-flops reflect the need for union support, most critically among the UFT (United Federation of Teachers) which has led her, like Mayor Bill de Blasio to oppose charter schools.
No less important is the feminist appeal. During her 2008 candidacy, the National Organization of Women (NOW) supported Hillary Clinton, based on her “long history of support for women’s empowerment.” A group of 250 academics and activists calling themselves “Feminists for Clinton” praised her “powerful, inspiring advocacy of the human rights of women” and “enormous contributions” as a policymaker. In a recent debate with the other puppet democrat candidates, she answered that the major distinguishing characteristic of her presidency from that of Barack Obama would be her gender. NOW and other mainstream women’s organizations have been eagerly anticipating her candidacy and her supporters have intensified efforts to portray her as a champion of both women’s and LGBT rights.
This last item is of course a major cultural difference between the appeal of Juan and Eva Perón who both played typically traditional Latin-Hispanic gender roles and either ignored or ridiculed homosexuality. What unites them, however, is the role the two women played as mother figures (Evita however, never had children and died at the age of 33). In September, 1947, the bill giving women the right to vote in Argentina was approved bringing her enormous publicity and prestige from feminists the world over for her supportive efforts.
Most charity work in Argentina was neglected by the government leaving a clear road for Eva to pose as the “Sainted Mother” caring for her children. She mocked the charitable Sociedad de Beneficencia whose chairperson (the Papal Nuncio) refused to extend the invitation to Evita when her husband was elected president. They initially claimed that it was because she was too young; but it was widely interpreted by the working class as an insult to the new First Lady. Evita then created her own foundation to benefit the poor, children, and struggling mothers to replace it. ‘It is time,’ Evita declared, ‘for real social justice.’
María Eva Duarte de Perón Foundation and the Clinton Foundation
On July 8, 1948, a new foundation was established whose long name was quickly shortened to the simpler Eva Perón Foundation. Its opening charter declared that it was to remain ‘in the sole hands of its founder… who will… possess the widest powers afforded by the State and the Constitution.’ Its aims were …To provide monetary assistance and scholarships to gifted children from impoverished backgrounds, build homes, schools, hospitals and orphanages in underprivileged areas and ‘to contribute or collaborate by any possible means to the creation of works tending to satisfy the basic needs for better life of the less privileged classes.’
Initially, work began with nothing more than garden parties for single mothers or Evita’s personal trips to the slums (villas miserias) of Buenos Aires to hand out aid parcels. By 1952, Evita and her team of advisers had worked so effectively that the Foundation was better funded and organized than many government departments. It had funds of over three billion pesos, controlled $200 million on the exchange rate, employed over 14,000 workers, purchased 500,000 sewing machines, 400,000 pairs of shoes and 200,000 cooking pots for distribution annually and succeeded in building numerous new houses, schools, hospitals and orphanages.
The vast majority of these funds came from donors and the Peronist-dominated Congress, who were keen to back the First Lady’s efforts. The trade unions that saw Evita as their patron, frequently sent enormous contributions to the Foundation’s work and the foundation received the blessings of the Catholic Church. The congress assisted in 1950 by ruling that a proportion of all lottery tickets, cinema tickets and gambling games played in casinos should be given to the Foundation. By the time of Evita’s death in 1952, the popularity of the Foundation amongst her millions of followers had given her an aura of sainthood. Much of the Foundation’s wealth was ill-gotten, with companies and individuals often being coerced by operatives of the Peronist Party into donating.
The Clinton Foundation
The stated goals of the Clinton Foundation are …..”To unlock human potential through the power of creative collaboration. That’s why we build partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments, and individuals everywhere to work faster, leaner, and better…. Everywhere we go, we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job. Whether it’s improving global health, increasing opportunity for girls and women, reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, creating economic opportunity and growth, or helping communities address the effects of climate change, we keep score by the lives that are saved or improved.”
Both foundations were not officially government agencies but drew widely on the personal links and influence of their funders with the former President, the sitting government, cabinet members and ruling party, labor bosses and union officials, favored old cronies such as Sydney Blumenthal, and a subservient favorable press of the mass media. No one in the Foundation has actually “worked themselves out of a job.” Both Hillary’s and Eva’s foundations were a honeycomb of nepotism, irregular accounting techniques and corruption, but Evita undoubtedly invested many more hours of work and personal contacts with the beneficiaries of the fund, thousands of whom, mostly women and children she met face to face. Hillary and Eva clearly used the charitable foundations to promote other goals, including Bill Clinton’s business ventures and their own political aspirations.
Dirty Deals Galore by Hillary and Eva Peron
Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia demanding to see communications between the U.S. Treasury Department and Hillary Clinton from her tenure as Secretary of State. Hillary used her position as Secretary of State to allow the Russian firm, Rostom, to acquire control of the Canadian uranium company, Uranium One, that owned and operated mines in the United States. The sale was quickly approved in spite of the obvious disconnect – an American resource critical in the manufacture of nuclear weapons was sold to the Russians, followed shortly thereafter by the $500,000 fee for a speech by Bill in Russia from a bank with ties to the Kremlin. At roughly the same time, the Canadian chairman of Uranium One, Frank Giustra, used his family foundation to steer $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. When Hillary became Secretary of State she agreed to reveal all donors to the Foundation, something she “forgot” to do.
By comparison, Eva and Juan Peron often got kickbacks and skimmed the top from many of the regime’s partnerships with private firms, the unions, and received many luxurious gifts from the Foundation’s many “contributors.” She launched large construction projects such as the Evita City development south of Buenos Aires (25,000 homes) and the “Republic of the Children,” a theme park based on tales from the Brothers Grimm. Following the fall of the regime of Juan Peron in 1955, twenty such construction projects were abandoned incomplete and the foundation’s $290 million endowment was liquidated.
Hillary’s Undistinguished and Evita’s Malevolent Foreign Policy Records
Hillary’s foreign policy record has been a disastrous one in which American prestige has sunk to a new low. Hillary’s long support of President Obama’s foreign policy has put her in a position that her opponents, including Democrat rivals can target. Her role as a senator of the 2003 Iraq invasion is among the most prominent of her foreign-policy vulnerabilities,
The Iran nuclear deal is another issue that has provoked opposition from many independents and Democrats as well. As Secretary of State, she laid the groundwork for the controversial nuclear accord with the Iranian mullahs which she called an “important step” on April 4 of this year, asserting that “Diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed.”
Her worst misstep remains the abandoning American diplomats and security staff in the 2012 assault on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya — and the suspicion that she could have prevented the death there of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Clinton’s use of personal email while at State is an issue that looms to make her the subject of a criminal investigation. She has also basically avoided worsening relations with Israel but failed to do more than remain silent in the deterioration of the relationship between President Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu.
In 1947, Eva Peron made a tour of Europe in which she represented her husband and the Argentine government that was considered highly significant politically. She was celebrated with great enthusiasm in Madrid and decorated by General Francisco Franco in gratitude for the massive food aid provided by the Argentine government that helped Spain avoid famine in the post-Civil War era. In Rome, she had a half-hour audience with Pope Pius XII, and was received by French President Vincent Auriol in Paris. According to records from Swiss archives and the investigations of Nazi hunters, an unpublicized side of the European tour was to coordinate the immigration of former Nazis, including war criminals to Argentina.
What is undeniable is that Rodolfo Freude, Juan Peron’s private secretary, was one of Evita’s principal benefactors and the chief of Argentine internal security. His father, Ludwig, was managing director of the Banco Aleman Transatlántico in Buenos Aires, and a prominent figure of the pro-Nazi German community in Argentina who acted as trustee for hundreds of millions of German Reichsmarks that Hitler’s top aides sent to Argentina near the war’s end. The Argentine consulate in Barcelona gave false passports to fleeing Nazi war criminals and collaborationists, especially from Croatia. Recently declassified files from Brazil and Chile reveal that during World War II, Péron sold 10,000 blank Argentine passports to ODESSA – the organization set up to protect former SS men in the event of defeat
In the fall of 1950, Eva Peron hinted of her ambitions for elective office. Rumors indicated that she would seek the Vice Presidency in the 1952 election on the ticket with her husband. Early in 1951, the Peróns started a high-pressure campaign run as a husband and wife team to run the country and by late August, they had “agreed” to “accept” the nominations for President and Vice President. Many of Hillary’s supporters endorsed the idea of a joint Bill-Hillary team with the notion of “When you vote for one you get another one free” (supposedly encompassing the benefits of both).
It remains to be seen whether a dramatic end to Hillary’s career will be by a criminal indictment. My guess is that Hillary will tumble not by an Act of God, but by her own hand, even if spared the ignominy of a formal indictment. The new Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, has just won an unexpected electoral victory over the handpicked candidate of Christine Kirchner and the Peronist establishment – perhaps a very bad omen for Hillary; that even in the classic case of a Banana Republic, truth and justice will ultimately have the last word to say. In that case, the Democrats will be more than embarrassed. Their heroine will be relegated to the fate of the Three Dollar Bill which is where Eva also belongs rather than on the 100 Peso note.
Norman Berdichevsky is the author of The Left is Seldom Right and Modern Hebrew: The Past and Future of a Revitalized Language.
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