I decided to include a section on Eva’s mother, Dona Juana, because I believe Juana’s personality and life shaped Evita quite a bit.
Juana’s birthday is not known, but she was very young when she became the mistress of Juan Duarte, Eva’s father, a landowner from Chivilcoy. It is assumed Juana was a native of Los Toldos, the pueblo Eva was born in. Her mother was Petrona Nunez, who was descended from the Argentine Indians and also had Basque blood in her. (The Basques are a nomadic tribe who live on the Spanish-French border and are known for stubbornness.) Juana’s real name was Juana Ibarguren.
Juana is assumed to have been a very proud and resourceful woman. To quote Fraser and Navarro, ‘She did not behave as though she were merely Duarte’s mistress. She adopted the name Duarte.’
Juan Duarte abandoned Juana in 1920, one year after Evita’s birth. Juana and Juan had four other children in addition to Evita– Elisa, the eldest, Blanca, Juan, and Erminda. Juana is supposed to have been a good mother and worked very hard to support her ‘little brood.’ After Duarte left her, she made her living sewing pantaloons, which aged her prematurely.
Juana attempting to attend Duarte’s funeral is true. Juana marched her children to Chivilcoy and insisted on seeing Duarte’s body. This was a huge affront to Duarte’s legal wife, Estela Grisolia de Duarte.
Contrary to the film, Juana and her children were permitted to see Duarte but only for a short time. The Argentine film Eva Peron has a much more accurate description of the funeral.
Juana had other boyfriends after Duarte left her, the most famous being Don Pepe, who, according to some biographers, encouraged Juana to let Eva move to Buenos Aires. I personally believe Juana was like any other mother– protective of her children and worried that Eva may have been disappointed.
Juana moved to Buenos Aires sometime in the 40s with the rest of her children to be closer to Eva. Eva remained quite close to her mother while she was First Lady, and Juana was one of the people who was by her side when she was dying. Not long before Eva died, she said to her sister Elisa, “Poor woman.” Elisa is reported to have said, “Why poor? Mom looks great,” and Eva is to have replied. “Lo se. Lo digo porque Eva se va.” (I know. I say that because Eva is leaving.)
Juana outlived her daughter by almost twenty years. After Eva’s death, Juana’s interactions with Peron deteriorated. I do not know the details exactly, but Eva supposedly had a great fortune and it is unknown what happened to it. Supposedly Juana and Peron were said to have quarreled over it and Peron won the argument. Juana died in 1972, after living a long but very tragic life. I believe it is obvious that Juana’s hard work and devotion were greatly emulated by Eva. I have also attached into this post a photo of Juana with Eva’s father, Duarte, a picture of Eva, her mother, her sister and her nephew, and a depiction of Juana attempting to enter Duarte’s funeral from the film with Madonna as well as the more accurate but slighlty less heartbreaking version from the Argentine film Eva Peron. The latter is in Spanish.