Isabel Peron was the first woman to be elected President of Argentina. She is also the first woman to be president of a country anywhere in the world. She was married to Juan Peron, who had been president before. During his third term as president, from 1973 to 1974, she was both vice president and First Lady. After her husband died, she became the leader of the country. She came from a lower middle-class family, and she had a hard time as a child because her family’s finances were unstable. She couldn’t go to school past the fifth grade, so as a young girl she started dancing in nightclubs. She met the politician Juan Peron while he was in exile. He was 35 years older than she was. The powerful politician, who was a widower at the time, was instantly drawn to the beauty of the young dancer and started living with her. The couple got married quickly because living together was against the rules in their conservative society. After she got married, she also got involved in politics. When her husband became president, she became vice president, and when he died, she became president. But her time in office was full of problems, and she was forced to leave the country.
Early years and childhood
Isabel Peron was born as María Estela Martínez Cartas on February 4, 1931, in La Rioja, Argentina, into a lower middle-class family to María Josefa Cartas Olguín and Carmelo Martínez. Her father ran a bank in the area.
When she was young, her father died, which put her family in a bad financial situation. She didn’t learn much in school and stopped going after the fifth grade. But she learned how to play the piano, dance, and speak French.
She stopped going to school and got a job as a dancer. At first, she danced in folk music groups and nightclubs. Then, when she got the chance, she danced in Buenos Aires’s best theaters. During this time, she started going to work under the name Isabel.
A Years After
In 1956, she met former Argentine president Juan Peron in Latin America while on tour with a dance group. The politician had just been kicked out of the presidency of Argentina and was now living in another country.
At the time, Peron was in his mid-40s. He was immediately taken with Isabel’s beauty and made her his personal secretary. Isabel went with him into exile, and in 1960, the two of them moved to Spain. The next year, they got married.
Isabel Peron helped her husband’s political career get back on track while she worked on her own. Since her husband couldn’t go back to Argentina, Isabel went there several times on his behalf to build support for Juan Peron so he could run for office again.
Juan Peron was finally allowed to go back to Argentina in 1973 so he could run for president. On the advice of his close friend José López Rega, he chose Isabel as his choice for vice president.
Juan Peron won the election with 62 percent of the vote. He started his third term as president in October 1973, and Isabel was both the First Lady and the vice president. By this time, Juan’s health was getting worse, and Isabel began to take on more and more political duties on her own.
After having a number of heart attacks in June 1974, the president’s health became very bad. Juan Peron died on July 1, 1974, and his wife, Isabel Peron, took over as president. She was the first woman in the world to lead a country.
As president, her first big economic policy decision was to pass a new law that made employment contracts better for workers. At first, she got a lot of help, mostly in the form of sympathy, because she was a grieving widow put in charge of the country.
But after a series of murders that were linked to politics, she lost the support of the public. Her close relationship with Minister of Social Welfare José López Rega, who was known to be dishonest, also hurt Isabel’s reputation.
As political killings kept going up quickly, violence in the country got worse and worse. In November 1974, after Buenos Aires Police Chief Alberto Villar and his wife were killed, Isabel was convinced to declare a state of siege.
Operation Independence was a military campaign that began in February 1975. Even though the campaign was successful from a military point of view, it became known for being brutal because innocent people were also attacked along with the insurgents.
Political chaos kept going on, and people got more and more upset with her presidency. She was told to quit, but she didn’t. In March 1976, she was finally taken out of power in a peaceful coup, and she was put under house arrest for five years.
She was found guilty of bribery in 1981, but she was released from prison and went into exile in Spain. She was released from prison in 1983 and went back to living a quiet life in Spain.
In 2007, an Argentine judge ordered her to be arrested because in February 1976, an activist was taken away against his will. She was soon arrested near her home, but the courts in Spain wouldn’t let her go to Argentina.
Personal History and Legacies
When Juan Peron was in exile in Panama, Isabel Peron met him there for the first time. Peron was 35 years older than her. A few years earlier, he had lost his beloved second wife Eva, and he became interested in the young dancer. In 1960, Isabel and Juan moved to Spain. The next year, they got married.
She is currently living in Spain as a refugee.
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