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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.

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Isabel Peron on YouTube

Video about the coup against Isabel Peron. In Spanish.

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