Isabel Perón First Latina Female President

isabel peron speaks into several microphones while seated at a table, she holds a stack of papers in front of her and wears a jacket and collared blouse

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Isabel Perón delivers a televised presidential address in February 1975.

Despite her lower-middle-class background and her fifth-grade education, former nightclub dancer Isabel Perón became Latin America’s first female president. Now 92, she led her native Argentina for almost two years in the mid-1970s.

Isabel’s rise to power was through her husband, Argentinian president Juan Perón, who was previously married to the late and beloved Eva Perón (aka Evita). Isabel was Juan’s third wife and known to her countrymen as “Isabelita.” She served as her husband’s vice president and first lady during his third presidential term, starting in 1973.

However, just a year into that term, Juan suffered from a series of heart attacks and died on July 1, 1974. Isabel took over as president, and while her nation and political allies and even some of her husband’s enemies initially showed support for her, she quickly fell out of favor after she issued a government-run suppression campaign against her adversaries, including a string of political murders and anti-left-wing policy measures and purges.

In 1976, Isabel was forced out by a military coup and remained under house arrest before being allowed to move to Spain. In 2007, an Argentinian judge issued an order for her arrest for the disappearance of an activist in 1976, but Spanish courts refused to extradite her, citing the charges didn’t fall under the category of crimes against humanity.

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