Nearly 60 years after her death, Eva Peron continues to fascinate: Was she the "Standard-Bearer of the Poor," as she was known in Argentina, or "The Woman with the Whip," as her detractors often described her?
Eva Peron married Colonel Juan Peron
a year before he became president of Argentina, and during the first six years of his reign, she was virtually co-ruler of the country and held a number of important positions, including head of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare of Argentina. Peron considered herself to be the "Mother of Argentina" and even refused to have a hysterectomy when
diagnosed with uterine cancer
. She died in 1952 at the age of 33, and Peron's undignified fall from power took place only three years later—but many in Argentina look back fondly on the time when the couple reigned. As Cristina Álvarez Rodríguez, director of the government-supported
Eva Perón National Historical Research Institute
, said in 2002, "In Evita's time, Argentina knew what it was as a country and occupied a position of dignity and respect in the world. Today we are living in a breakdown that makes us rethink who we are."