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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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Don't Cry for Evita

Of course, the strangest of all the Perónistas was the wife of Juan, Evita, as the descamisados—or shirtless ones—called her.

We went to visit her grave on our recent trip there. It is in the Recoleta cemetery, a short walk from our apartment near the French Embassy. There, you will find a whole city of the dead, laid out in tiny houses of marble or granite, often with statues on the roof, sometimes with glass domes and elaborate carvings. Most of the mausoleums have glass doors, some even open, through which you can look in at the cobwebs and caskets.

People wander around, down one street, up another—often looking for a family tomb, or if tourists, just looking. It is a huge place, with a thousand stories, some of them chiseled in stone. After roaming the streets in the ciudad de los muertos (city of the dead) for half an hour, we finally found the grave we were looking for, that of Eva Perón.

We had expected more: a fountain maybe, or a giant statue of the woman. Maybe even crowds of poor people, crossing themselves, vowing revenge on the rich and plotting revolution. But the tomb is like any other—plainer than you'd expect, just gray granite with no particular style or flourish. All that sets it apart from those around it are the flowers—there were several bouquets—along with candles and a few notes. The few other people visiting the monument were, like us, only casually curious.

Eva Perón was a favorite of the poor of Argentina. She had a warm heart, it ...

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