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Where did the money come from?
     "And the money came rolling in!" Millions have heard these lyrics from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Opera Evita.
     Unfortunately, as pointed out in other documents on the Evita website, the Opera Evita is based on a "biography" of Evita written by María Flores, a pseudonym for Mary Main, whose book contains no footnotes, references, sources or documented interviews to lend it credibility.
     On June 19, 1948, Decree 220.564 formally established the Fundación de Ayuda Social María Eva Duarte de Perón. Evita donated $10,000 Argentine pesos as its initial patrimony. On October 13, 1955, when the military government confiscated its goods, the Fundación had assets of three billion two hundred eighty million four hundred fifty eight thousand eight hundred and twelve pesos.(1)
     Where DID the money come from?
     Seventy percent of the Fundación's capital was donated by the workers.
     Both Marysa Navarro and Nestor Ferioli (2) state that most of the Fundación's money came from donations; it is Ferioli who specifies that seventy percent of its capital came from workers' donations. (3)

     He cites seven sources of revenue for Evita's Foundation : (4)

  1. labor union contributions stipulated by law
  2. spontaneous donations given by affiliated or unionized workers
  3. percentages deducted under collective bargaining agreements
  4. state, provincial or municipal subsidies
  5. donations from businesses
  6. donations from individuals
  7. incidental resources

     The fact that in Argentina laws were passed which designated funds for the Fundación was not an innovation created by the Peronista majority in Congress. For example, in 1945, the budget for the Society of Beneficence was $22,232,280 Argentine pesos and $21,889,906 of those pesos came from the Argentine government as a subsidy (which means that the private sector contributed only $342,374 pesos to the Society). Other institutions received government subsidies but none as generously as the Society of Beneficence. (5) The Radical minority in Congress, vehemently opposed to giving money to Evita's Fundación, had never opposed the previous governments' largess to the Society of Beneficence. A Spanish biographer of Evita's found that strange: "The Radical Party never opposed the old ladies who received State funds nor the ostentation with which they carried out their charity works." (6)
     From 1950 to 1955, laws and decrees assigned resources to the Fundación: (7)

     • Law 13.941 (9-30-50) increased the Buenos Aires Racetrack ticket by three percent
     • Resolution 266 (10-6-50) required that the CGT retain and deposit the salaries for May 1 and October 12 in the National Bank to be transferred to the Fundación
     • Law 13.992 (10-31-50) designated a two percent contribution that employers should discount from the annual bonus salary (the "aguinaldo") given to workers
     • Law 5.627 from Buenos Aires Province (11-16-50) established an additional three percent tax on the bets placed at the Provincial Racetrack
     • Law 14.044 (8-2-51) gave the Fundación gambling fines collected as stipulated by Law 4097      
     • Law 14.060 (1951) Argentina Mixta Telefónica gave the Fundación a one-time contribution
     • Decree 7025 (4-13-51) gave eight to twenty percent raises to all National Public Administration Personnel as well as additional cost of living and family salary increases: from this raise a percentage was destined for the Fundación
     • Decree 6000 (3-25-52) brought up to date the raises obtained through Decree 7025
     • Law 14231 (10-31-53) established obligatory life insurance for spectators and participants of sporting events and the Fundación received fifty percent of net profits after operating expenses.
Hogar de transito Evita      Seventy percent of all funds came from the workers themselves. Ferioli cites the first semester of 1949 as an example. Of the total donations of cash and goods received by Evita, sixty-four percent came from syndicates and workers' unions; the rest was divided equally: eighteen percent came from delegations of workers not represented by unions, and eighteen percent came from private citizens [specifically, one million one hundred thousand pesos was donated by the Railroad Workers Union on May 11; ... 5,000 beds were donated by Robert Sherower from the Products Transportation Line, Inc. of New York]. (8)
     Many one-time donations came from unions as a result of Evita's arbitration between employers and employees. Evita was able to mediate their differences and the contracts signed often had a special clause which gave a percentage of the workers' raises to the Fundación (the bigger the raise, the more the Fundación received). For example, the Office Supply Workers' Contract #128, signed on September 21, 1950, gave two percent of the first month's salary increase to the Fundación while the Commerce Employees' Contract #141, signed on July 31, 1950, gave half of the employees' raises for the months of May and June, 1950, to the Fundación.
     In 1948, Rafael Urruela, President of the Inter-American News Association, visited Argentina and spent time with Perón and Evita. One afternoon he was with her when she met with various delegations who had brought contributions to the Fundación. He listed the donors and the amounts of their contributions as follows:

- Syndicate of Gelatin Workers
- Normal School #3 of Almafuerte
- Employees of National Mortgage Bank
- Personnel of the Martona Factory
- Workers of the Vascongada
- Coordinating Committee of the Municipal Slaughterhouse
- Confederation of River Pilots
600
7,740
25,100
7,800
6,065
1,600
5,000 (9)

     The CGT was responsible for collecting the contributions and depositing them in an account which the Fundación maintained in the Banco de la Nación Argentina. (10)
     The State also destined a part of its annual budget to the Fundación to subsidize pensions, retirement funds, and secondary school scholarships. However, since the amount fluctuated according to each year's economic plan, Dr. Cereijo (the Fundación's prudent administrator) proposed that instead of a variable sum which depended on the national budget, the Fundación be given the increase in sales tax determined by Law 13.343 as a sales tax would produce a more stable financial yield. His efforts were in vain. (11)
     Evita tried not to handle cash. She witnessed the giving of the donations but they were received by the Minister of the Treasury or by the administrator of the Fundación and deposited. The donors were always given a receipt. Frequently private citizens wanted to help with a contribution to her social work. For example, in her will, María Sebastiani de Miniaci left one million two hundred thousand pesos to the Fundación to build a home school. On January 14, 1949, Democracia carried the story of José Rodriguez García who used part of his lottery money to buy a house and donated the rest to the Fundación. In La Razón de Mi Vida, Evita tells about a woman to whom the Fundación had sent a sewing machine. The woman sent five pesos from her first earnings to Evita. The Fundación gave away thousands of sewing machines. Clearly Evita remembered the importance of a sewing machine as a means of earning money to support a single parent family.
     Another type of incidental resources were those received ad hoc, such as the fine imposed on the heirs of Otto Bemberg for tax evasion, a large sum which Law 14.028/51 transferred to the Fundación (although the money was never received). (12)
     As Néstor Ferioli states, (13) Evita was not a Robin Hood in skirts. She did not steal from the rich to give to the poor. However, her enemies were so convinced that money was obtained by extortion that after the military coup of 1955, businessmen were invited to report any incidents of extortion or graft. Even though two commissions were formed to deal with their complaints, only one accusation was made (by the furniture company Sagasti) and they lost the case. The Fundación had refused to pay for beds not made to specifications and of an inferior quality of wood. The commissions had to overrule Sagasti's demands for reimbursement. (14)
     As Ferioli points out, "According to Peronistas from Perón's first presidency, donations from companies and businesses were the result of reciprocal convenience. 'Evita asked for nothing; she didn't search for or demand anything.' She helped them get credits from the Argentine Institute for the Promotion of Industry, and they, motivated either by gratitude or interest in obtaining a credit, made donations of cash or goods to the Fundación. This arrangement was not unique to Evita: throughout history businessmen have sought this kind of attention from whatever government was in power." (15)
     Evita did have business connections with her good friend Dodero, the shipping magnate, and the Fortabat family who donated cement used in the construction of the Fundación's buildings. Evita thanked those who helped with donations. When she inaugurated the Ciudad Infantil ( the Children's City) in 1949, she expressed her gratitude to many donors, among them the Tienda Los Gobelinos, Lutz Ferrrando, and Au Mueble Rustique. (16)
     The biography Evita by Marysa Navarro contains a breakdown of the Fundación's resources in its 1953 Memoria: (17)

- Cash donations
- Collective Bargaining Agreements
- Resolution #266

- Rents
- Cinema Covenant
- Hotels and Vacation Colonies
- "General San Martín" Working Women's Home
- Lotteries
- Law 13.992, articles 4 and 5
- Casinos
- Racetrack Taxes, Laws 13.941 & 14.042
- Laws 14.028 & 14.044
- Miscellaneous
291.964.794,29
50.126.644.86
156.025.792,58
1.402.760,20
31.405,627
12.399.079
5.430.531,85

27.742.800

60.028.881,62

130.685.451,82
80.084.537,52

523.339,65

39.491.796,67

     Ramón Cereijo was a careful and prudent administrator who made sure that the Fundación never ran a deficit nor fell into debt. He planned with foresight and realism and the Fundación always operated within its budget.
     After Evita's death on July 26. 1952, Perón reorganized the Fundación. Atilio Renzi, Evita's infatigable and irreproachable private secretary, stayed on as did Ramón Cereijo, her honest and farsighted administrator. A nine member council (five workers and four state delegates) with Perón as president met every fifteen days. Later Perón appointed Lieutenant Coronel Alberto Bolaños as Manager in Chief (Gerente General). Bolaños gave the Fundación the administrative organization it needed after Evita's death: executive, administrative and financial branches. The Fundación continued to function efficiently but it had lost its heart: no one had Evita's passionate, sacrificial love, her total dedication of time and talent to the cause of the disadvantaged, or (except for Perón) the power to overrule ministers and demand that problems be solved immediately.
     The Fundación continued to function until September 16, 1955, when a military coup forced Perón into exile. Ever since he had been elected in 1945, opposition forces had worked to overthrow his government. As Marysa Navarro observed, "... [T]he sectors which had united under the mantle of the Unión Democrática declared total warfare. They never accepted their defeat. Even though Perón was elected in one of the most correct elections of modern Argentina, ... they behaved as though he were by definition a totalitarian ruler. From the moment he came into power, they confronted him as such, harassing him in Congress, denigrating him in the press, hardening their attacks and soon conspiring against him." (18)
     Back in 1948 Rafael Urruela had noticed the opposition's hostility. "The opposition to President Perón cannot be considered any longer as being against his political credo. It has become a weapon of obstruction and on no occasions do the parties who oppose him present to the people any positive program. Their actions are absolutely negative. One has to witness congressional sessions in order to appreciate the depth to which men who are otherwise intelligent and well-meaning can be driven." (19)
     After the military coup, the Fundación was systematically looted and finally destroyed. Blood banks in Fundación hospitals were smashed because each container of blood carried the seal Fundación Eva Perón. Iron lungs were sequestered during a polio epidemic because they carried metal plates saying "Fundación Eva Perón." The furnishings in the hospitals, children's homes, temporary shelters and home schools were deemed to be too luxurious for the underprivileged and, together with the gifts given to Evita by heads of state on her tour of Europe and used to adorn the Fundación homes and hospitals, were taken by the military in private auctions or simply confiscated. Military vans pulled up to the the Fundación buildings and warehouses to haul away whatever struck the fancy of those in power. What was left was often destroyed.
     Laws were passed which punished those who spoke the names Perón, Eva Perón, Evita, or who kept their pictures at home with up to six years in prison. Peronistas who resisted were imprisoned and tortured; some were shot.
     Commissions and subcommissions were created to dismantle the Fundación and dispose of its capital. Subcommission #39 complained that "an organization destined to help the humble had offered its services with a luxury all out of proportion to its goals and to the culture and customs of those destined to use its services." (20) Translated out of bureaucratese this meant that a picture by Caravaggio did not belong in a Temporay Home for women and children whose culture was not sufficient to allow them to appreciate fine art. Therefore, the objects d'art would be auctioned off or given to those who could appreciate them (the oligarchy and the military, who behaved like vandals even though Lonardi, one of the coup leaders had promised Argentines, "There will be neither conquered nor conquerors").
     The Comisión Nacional also had to admit that: "In spite of the exhaustive investigation carried out, it has not been possible to prove anything which would be penalized by law, because all technical and legal proceedings have at all times fallen within routine administrative norms, but neither can we doubt that some sections heads were compromised as many details lead us to this conclusion although it is impossible to prove it since we lack indispensable elements so we can take no legal action against them." (20)
     In 1990, Cereijo calculated that, taking into account the dollar/peso exchange rate on September 24, 1955, the Fundación's debt-free capital would be U$S 289,067,791.94. If you added a four percent interest rate, you would get U$S 1,014,066,796.50. (22)
     What happened to the patrimony of the Fundación?
     "A very Catholic lady, Adela Caprile, a member of the liquidating commission of the foundation that was established after the fall of Peronism, [said], "It was... not a fraud. Evita cannot be accused of having kept one peso in her pocket. .... I would like to be able to say as much of all the ones who collaborated with me in the dissolution of the organization." (23)
     Adela Caprile's words turn on their head the lyrics of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Opera Evita: "When the money keeps rolling out, you don't keep books... Accountants only slow things down, figures get in the way... ."
     The Argentines who participated in the government established by the military coup of 1955 were intent on the destruction not the preservation of works and documents; however, they were not entirely successful. The Fundación's accountants, beginning with Cereijo, DID keep books and COULD account for every cent of the workers' money. Those who have implied otherwise have done Evita a grave injustice. Fortunately, for those interested in historical research, the truth can still be found.



1 Nestor Ferioli, La Fundación Eva Peron/ 1, Centro Editor de America Latina, 1990, p. 37..

2 Marysa Navarro, Evita (Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1981) 250.

3 Ferioli, p. 41.

4 Ferioli, p. 41.

5 La Nación, March 27, 1945.

6 Carmen LLorca, Llamadme Evita (Barcelona:Planeta, 1981) p. 206.

7 Ferioli, p. 43- 44.

8 Ibid, p. 42 9.

9 Rafael Urruela, Argentine Journey (Inter American News Association: New Orleans, 1948) p. 77.

10 Ferioli, p. 44.

11 Ferioli, p. 45.

12 Ferioli, p. 44- 45.

13 Ferioli, p. 40.

14 Navarro, p. 253. Ferioli, vol. 2, pgs. 161-162.

15 Ferioli, p. 40- 41.

16 Ferioli, p. 41.

17 Navarro, p. 251.

18 Ibid, 313-314.

19 Urruela, p. 154.

20 Vicepresidente de la Nación. Comisión Nacional de Investigaciones: Documentación, Autores y Cómplices de las Irregularidades Cometidas durante la Segunda Tiranía (Tomo III, Buenos Aires, 1958).

21 Ibid, p. 269.

22 Ferioli, pgs. 165-166.

23 Alicia Dujovne Ortiz, Eva Perón (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997) p. 236.

    


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