Evita's 24-Year Journey to the Grave
In order to prevent any uprisings, the Aramburu government decided to steal the body and bury it in an unmarked spot in Buenos Aires' largest cemetery, Chacarita [source: Fraser and Navarro]. Burial duty fell to Col. Carlos Eugenio Moori Koening. Koening said later that he never ended up burying the coffin due to eerie circumstances involved with the attempted burial, most notably mysterious flowers and candles appearing beside the parked truck in which he was transporting the coffin [source: Fraser and Navarro]. Instead, he hid the coffin for a year in the attic of the military intelligence building. Another story claims that he hid the coffin in his deputy's apartment, and that deputy accidentally shot his pregnant wife after thinking he heard an intruder breaking in to steal the body [source: Barnes].
Once officials realized that Koening hadn't fulfilled his orders, Eva went on the move again. But this time, it was overseas to Italy. First, officials sent out decoy coffins with fake cadavers to various Argentina embassies in Europe. The real Eva sailed to Italy in 1957, where the casket was buried under the name "Maggi" in a small cemetery near Rome [source: Sims]. It stayed there until 1971, when a military coup overthrew the Argentine government again. In exchange for Juan Peron's blessing for the new leadership, the government agreed to hold free elections and relocate Eva's body to Peron's villa in Spain, among other conditions.
The institution of free elections brought Peron back into power in 1974, but Evita stayed in Spain. Peron's rule was short, though, since he died the same year, and his wife Isabella assumed the presidency. In order to quell the public's anxieties about the unstable political situation, Isabella brought Evita back to Argentina for the final time. There, the well-traveled casket lay next to Juan Peron's in the presidential palace -- but only for a short while. The presence of Eva's body couldn't prevent yet another military coup in 1976.
This time, the officials buried Evita's body for good -- 26 years after her death -- in the Duarte family tomb in the Reloceta cemetery of Buenos Aires. The tomb itself was built by a company that specialized in bank vaults and was constructed to resist any burglary attempts. As an extra precaution, Eva's sister was given the only key. Sealed 20 feet (6 meters) underground, Eva Peron was finally laid to rest in a glass-covered coffin. If Dr. Ara is correct, her body remains perfectly preserved, even able to withstand fire and bombing [source: Quigley].
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More Great Links
- Barnes, John. "Evita First Lady." Grove Press, Inc. 1978.
- Fraser, Nicholas and Navarro, Marysa. "Evita." W.W. Norton & Company. 1996.
- Quigly, Christine. "Modern Mummies." McFarland. 1998. (Jan. 22, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=ZOqU-9BTZO4C
- Rotella, Sebastian. "No Chance to Rest in Peace in Argentina." Los Angeles Times. Sept. 10, 1999.
- Sims, Calvin. "Eva Peron's Corpse Continues to Haunt Argentina." The New York Times. July 30, 1995.