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Isabel Peron

Updated on April 6, 2013

Isabel Peron - First Woman President in the World and in Argentina

In 1974, Isabel Person of Argentina became not only the youngest Latin American head of state, but the first woman ever to become president of any country in the world. Her legacy as president, however, has been tainted by charges of human rights abuses during her term.

She was toppled in a coup nearly two years after she came to power and held under house arrest for the next five years. In 1981, she was convicted of corrupt practices, but then paroled and later pardoned. She then went into exile in Spain. New charges were brought much later. In 2007 an Argentine judge issued an international arrest warrant on charges that the president allowed the Argentine armed forces to commit human rights abuses during her term, but Spain refused to grant an extradition.

(Image of Isabel Peron from Wikipedia)

A Brief Biography of Isabel Peron

From middle class beginnings to the presidency

Isabel Peron was born La Rioja, Argentina into a lower middle-class family. Her name at birth was María Estela Martínez Cartas, but in the 1950s when she became a nightclub dancer, she adopted Isabel as a stage name.

She met Juan Peron, her future husband, during his exile in Panama after his second term as president. Juan Perón was 35 years older than her, but was lonely after losing his second wife, Eva Peron. They married and lived in Spain. The Perons returned to Argentina in 1973 after an 18-year exile. Juan Peron ran for the presidency with Isabel as his vice presidential running mate. They won the election in October 1973 with 62% of the vote.

Juan Peron, however, was in poor health. Isabel had to serve as Acting President on several occasions before Juan Perón suffered a series of heart attacks in June 1974. Isabel flew home from Europe and was secretly sworn in as interim president. Juan Perón died on July 1, 1974, after serving less than a year of his third presidency. Isabel assumed the office, becoming the first female president in the world.

The public originally rallied around the grieving widow, but she soon became unpopular. Peron inherited a number of problems, including inflation and political violence, which she tried to solve by imposing a state of siege. She was deposed in 1976 over human rights abuses and later went into exile in Spain. In 2007, an Argentine judge ordered her arrest, saying that the forced disappearance of an activist in 1976 was her responsibility because she had authorized rgentina's armed forces to take action against "subversives". She was arrested in Spain, but Spanish courts refused her extradition to Argentina.

What do you think of Isabel Peron?

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Isabel Peron on YouTube

Video about the coup against Isabel Peron. In Spanish.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @LisaDH: Jewish people think they are first in everything. Sorry, the whole Abraham thing started in INDIA.

    • LisaDH profile image
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      LisaDH 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Isabel Peron was a president, not a prime minister. She was, indeed, the first female president in the world, as well as the first non-royal female head of state and head of government in the Western Hemisphere.

      Also, the first female prime minister in the world was not Golda Meir - she was the third, after Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka and Indira Gandhi of India.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      You got to be kidding, who wrote this?

      The very first female primeminister was not juan peron's wife...

      It was Golda Meir.... Get your facts right, or else no one will belive the rest of what you have to say!!

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      copernico 6 years ago

      I don't think she is a criminal. She was appointed by her husband Juan D. Perón to be the vice-presidential candidate but she had no political experience and no particular skills, actually she barely had any education beyond elementary school. She was irrelevant until Perón died in July 1974. Since then she was only a figure but the real power was exercised behind the courtains by horrible people such as José López-Rega. This unfortunate situation ended in March 1976, although the outcome was much worse because her government was terminated by the military coup of Videla and Co.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I don't know enough about her, but there was a huge amount of corruption in Argentina at that time. Even though the Falklands war had only finished 8 years before, I received a warm welcome in Buenos Aires when I was there.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Strictly speaking she was elected Vice President but became President following Peron's death