The most interesting of these editorials was published at the beginning of and presented a father's explanations to his son about the essence of sports: It's a group game, a team effort, a joint effort; meaning you have to combine all your strength with that of your comrades. Within the group, you have a mission: to defend, attack, or advance You will also learn to listen to a coach who will assess your playing or tell you what you should do, often even against your own wishes, against your own will.
In this way you will find the discipline that is so vital when you want to win. The effort to identify Peronism with Argentine nationalism is also exemplified by the column 'The Peronist Example', which appeared regularly in the biweekly Mundo Peronista during the years , and focused on internationally successful Argentine athletes. For example, an item about the brothers Juan and Roberto Galvez, champion racing drivers, read: 'A Creole example, these two good-looking boys! And a Peronist example, by the same token.
Because Peronist and Creole are synonymous. All those who thought differently - about half the population - were at best defective Argentines lacking in national spirit, and at worst traitors. The Eva Peron Foundation and the Promotion of Sports Downloaded By: [Tel Aviv University Central Library] At: 10 February The promotion of state-supervised children's sports activities was one more manifestation of the effort to occupy young people's leisure time in addition to the hours they spent in school, exposed to an increasingly blatant process of indoctrination.
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On one occasion the column featured the race-car driver Froilan Gonzalez, who pulled over in a race when his engine began to burn, in order to prevent danger to others. To Mundo Infantil, Gonzalez represented the virtues of sacrifice, courage, skill and solidarity, a combination found only in first-rate athletes, and the child reader was expected to learn from it. Marrapodi, or basketball players like Oscar Furlong also featured in this column as objects of adulation. The plethora of colourful pictures and the copious text attempted to make political capital out of Fangio's sporting success: 'Not in vain does Fangio represent the contemporary Argentine spirit: simple, humble and prudent.
In Eva Peron took up an initiative proposed by Dr Emilio Rubio, the sports editor of the evening paper Noticias Grdficas, to organize soccer championships for children. One of the aims was to keep children off the street, away from harmful influences and various kinds of delinquency, and to ensure their moral and physical health, particularly working-class children.
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While inaugurating the Huracan Stadium, Peron explained this idea: 'by this means we will have removed our young people from vice and the places where people gain neither health nor virtue, and make them into athletes preparing their minds and bodies to be virtuous, honourable citizens'. As the years passed, the children's championships became one of the Eva Peron Foundation's most notable and successful enterprises - another means of moulding the next generation of Peronists.
We have no exact statistics concerning the number of children who participated in these tournaments or the amount of money invested in them. The sources available indicate that in the first Dona Maria Eva Duarte de Peron children's soccer championship, held in , 11, children took part in the federal capital, and another 3, in the greater Buenos Aires area.
Gradually, competitions were instituted throughout the country. Beginning in the competitions were expanded beyond soccer to include such sports as track and field, gymnastics, basketball, swimming and water polo; and in the following year girls' competitions were added.
In , the year that the Juan Peron sports championships for young people began, the total number of participants in these sports events had exceeded , In , 4 million pesos were invested in this project, rising to more than 8 million in The fact that the finance minister, Ramon Cereijo, was one of the originators of the Foundation's sports policy facilitated the transfer of government funds for various purposes connected with these sports competitions, and indicated the great importance Peronism attributed to sport.
Deputies of the majority faction in Congress voted appropriations every year to support the Foundation's sports activities, to the open disapproval of the opposition. In deputies Alfredo Alonso, Angel Miel Asquia and others proposed the allocation of no less than three million pesos for this purpose.
In the last two years of the regime, up to the military coup of September , the Foundation sports championships reached their apex in the form of the 'Children's and Young People's Olympics', in which representatives from neighbouring countries participated. Children diagnosed with medical problems were referred for free treatment - treatment that in other circumstances would have been beyond the reach of many provincial families. The idea that sport made an important contribution to the health and physical fitness of the nation was expressed in 'Sports Medicine', a weekly column in Mundo Deportivo which was written by a doctor, Eduardo Saunders.
The best teams went to Buenos Aires to compete in the finals, permitting many children to visit the federal capital for the first time. This contact between children from different parts of the country contributed to the creation of a common national consciousness. In addition, the legal status of children whose births had not been duly registered for one reason or another was rectified when they signed up for the competitions, yet another contribution to the integration of marginal sectors into Argentine society.
Competitors received sports outfits and soccer shoes from the Foundation, as well as various prizes. The team that won the championship also received a soccer field of its own or money to renovate its clubhouse and equipment. Such prizes added to the Perons' reputation as kind benefactors, and contributed to the improvement of the physical conditions of sports centres across the country.
The politicization of the sports competitions organized by the Foundation was obvious at every stage of the championships. The most conspicuous example of this, however, was the official anthem sung by the children competing, an anthem that interwove different concepts from the Peronist lexicon of the time: We owe Evita our club That is why we are grateful to her We fulfil the ideals, we fulfil the mission of the New Argentina of Evita and Peron We'll go out on the pitch eager to win We will be athletes wholeheartedly to form the great new generation.
The young competitors wore shirts printed with portraits of Evita. The outstanding teams were invited to the presidential palace to meet with the President and his wife. On these occasions, Evita made gushing speeches praising Peron and the regime's achievements: Napoleon used to say that geniuses are like meteors that burn up to Downloaded By: [Tel Aviv University Central Library] At: 10 February illuminate a century; and indeed Peron is burning his life away to illuminate the Peronian century, bringing happiness and understanding to all Argentines, the humble as well as the mighty.beefssturortulet.tk
Nothing should separate us, because in this rich and prosperous country the justice to which we all aspire must prevail. By voting against holding the children's championship, they were voting against Argentine children; but, more than anything else, they were voting against the happiness of poor children, since the rich have many places to amuse themselves and every opportunity to practice sports.
However, in the regime set up an organization of high-school students Union de Estudiantes Secundarios - UES whose activities focused on sports and ball games.
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The initiative came from the education minister, Dr Armando Mendez San Martin, who suggested to the president an organization with two divisions, one for each sex as in the Peronist party , in which young people could participate in sports activities. On 6 July a clubhouse for the girls of the organization was inaugurated in the specially renovated former presidential residence at Suipacha Street in the middle of Buenos Aires.
The building contained exercise halls, a library, a cafeteria, and dormitories for young girls from the provinces who had won scholarships to study in Buenos Aires or prizes for educational achievement. At the ceremony to inaugurate the building, Peron gave a speech to the young people assembled there, who would assure Downloaded By: [Tel Aviv University Central Library] At: 10 February Argentina's future as a strong, proud, independent country. A few months later, another clubhouse was opened for the UES girls, this time at the presidential residence in Olivos, a suburb of Buenos Aires.
Peron expressed his approval that 'finally the 46 hectares of the [presidential] residence will fulfil a social function'. March saw the opening of 'new, monumental sports facilities' for the UES boys' division in the Nunez neighbuorhood, presented by the regime as 'the most advanced in the world'. Peron himself often visited the UES clubs on weekends, and sometimes joined in the boys' sports.
Occasionally he gathered a motorcycle convoy of youths from the organization, and led them through the gardens of Palermo and the main streets of the capital. In mid-May the organization arranged a tribute to Peron in the Luna Park Stadium, mobilizing masses of young people who, packing the stadium to capacity, gave 'el Lider' a royal welcome.
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Sports activities for teenagers were accompanied by incessant political indoctrination. Among the goals expressed in the UES charter was: 'Instil [in the hearts of the young] the concept of responsibility and mutual respect in the framework of the national judicial doctrine'. Peron's name and portrait, slogans he favoured, and the like appeared in all the UES sports clubs.
The seven issues of the UES periodical, which ceased publication before the overthrow of the regime, all extolled the omnipotent leader's greatness, wisdom and other virtues. These girls were occasionally invited to have coffee with the president, who was then in his late fifties. After Peron's overthrow, one of the girls, Nelli Rivas, published a booklet about the relationship she claimed to have had with him.
Although her story was probably a distortion of the truth, it indicated the kinds of rumour that were circulating at the time about Peron and the UES. From their pulpits, priests called on mothers not to send their daughters to UES activities, given Peron's dubious relations with the high-school girls in the organization. This effectively terminated organizations such as the UES. Its conclusions were severe and unequivocal: The UES was not an organization at the service of the young, designed to round out their education and promote their well-being, but rather an institution that corrupted and deceived the pupils in order to serve the personal and political aims of the deposed president This is borne out not only by the facts, but by the statement of ex-Minister Mendez San Martin to his close colleagues saying that he 'desired to create a student organization to provide an interest for the president, who had just lost his wife'.
The commission made serious accusations concerning the pressure on teenagers to join the organization, the long hours the president spent enjoying himself in the UES clubs instead of devoting time to affairs of state, and the large amounts of money some million pesos over three years that were spent on the organization rather than on the population's more basic needs. It also said that the boys and girls in the UES were incited to rebel against the accepted norms and traditional values of Argentine society, and that this had repercussions in the schools, where teachers found themselves helpless against aggressive, undisciplined pupils who sought to turn the hierarchical teacher-pupil relationship upside down.
In addition, the favourites had a room in the Presidential Residence for their private use, they lived together with the ex-leader in Olivos All this culminated in the selection of one of these girls, 14 years old, who lived with the ex-president from the end of The Peronists saw their investment in these young people as part of the effort to guarantee Peronism's future even after Peron's second presidential term ended.
Achievements in the International Arena Sport in Argentina, originally based on European models - primarily English it was not until that the language spoken at the meetings of the Argentine Soccer Association changed from English to Spanish - became a source of national pride. The state's encouragement and financial support bore fruit internationally in the form of more impressive achievements in different sports than at any time in the past; and Peron, of course, tried to make political capital out of them.
Achievements in international competitions always help create a positive national image and give peripheral states a sense that they play a creditable part in international affairs. The Argentine delegation that left for London in was the largest that had ever crossed the borders of the Republic.
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It numbered members, of them athletes. Their achievements at the Games were impressive, too: three gold medals, three silver and one bronze. In his speech on that occasion, Peron drew a parallel between the athletes' achievements and the Peronist enterprise: 'Let this be our tribute to the glories of sports, to the champions, to all the athletes who are constructing the New Argentina we yearned for, an Argentina of healthy men, sturdy men, and strong men; because only healthy, tough peoples make great nations.
Argentina's happiness was complete; it had won both an international cup and a prestigious victory over the great imperialist power of the North. Many Argentines celebrated the occasion until three in the morning with a torchlight parade down Corrientes Boulevard in the centre of the capital. A radio broadcaster who attempted to argue that the US team was not the best that could have represented North America paid for his opinion with his job.
On 25 February the first Pan-American Games opened in the Racing stadium officially named the President Peron Stadium with an official ceremony that was the climax of a prolonged organizing effort. In fact, however, the idea had originally been conceived in September during a conference of the continent's sports organizations. It was decided then that Buenos Aires would host the games. They were originally scheduled for , but later had to be postponed twice, first to because of the Second World War, and then to the beginning of because of the London Olympic Games.
Peron's government wanted these games to serve as international proof of the regime's success. To that end, the president urged the games' organizers to spare no effort, promising them any financial assistance they might require: 'On this we will not begrudge a cent These things have to be done properly or not at all In short, I want to leave the impression that we are not counting costs.
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Two months before the opening ceremony, the Argentine delegation set up its training camp in Ezeiza, near the capital. Argentina was indeed the big winner at this international event, its athletes capturing a total of medals 66 gold, 50 silver and 37 bronze. The president was presented with a bicycle himself and rode it the length of the course, to the delighted cheers of the spectators. A large sign was hung next to the track announcing, 'Peron and Evita have won the love etched in the hearts of Argentine cyclists'. Downloaded By: [Tel Aviv University Central Library] At: 10 February The Peronist decade witnessed a growing authoritarian trend, as the regime gradually restricted various political and civil liberties.
At the same time, pressure increased on the athletes representing Argentina to come home with medals.
Prior to the Pan-American Games held in Mexico in , athletes were called upon to show 'loyalty' a concept with a strong Peronist significance at the time and patriotism through effort and sacrifice, since they were performing a national mission. Anything else would be considered a betrayal of the nation. In an editorial in Mundo Deportivo, Carlos Aloe wrote: In the new Argentina we obey the invincible spirit of all the action for the good of the community that our cause demands of us. We are all part of one big team, to which we owe not only solidarity and discipline, but also the greatest adherence to the idea of conquering for ourselves a place of privilege among the civilized peoples of the earth.
Whoever does not, commits an act of disloyalty towards his comrades and the fatherland. Fulfilling the duty of the hour is a sacred obligation, for which no effort or sacrifice should be spared. This last habit was criticized by opponents of the regime, who claimed that Peronism distorted the spirit of sports, violated the sporting ethic, encouraged the routine use of bribery, corruption and special favours, and sometimes even sanctioned the employment of dubious means to guarantee Argentine victory in international competitions held in Buenos Aires. The most notorious example of presidential gifts was the largesse bestowed on the three Argentine gold-medallists of the London Olympics - particularly Delfo Cabrera, who won both the Olympic marathon and a house presented to him by the president of the Republic.
Years later, Cabrera explained how indebted he had been to Peron for his success: 'Peron was very nice to the athletes; he used to help us. I am a typical product of his aid to sport. He was marvellous to us. Sports victories always prompted a major propaganda campaign, while the official media generally preferred to preserve a discreet silence over the failures.