At the opening of Perón Returned, Víctor Santa María and María Seoane presented a book about the General’s first return to Argentina, which marks fifty years, and there were various activities for the whole family. The theme park will be open until December 17.
At one point the past and the present intersect, historical rigor with fantasy, raw memory with the possibility of play that can awaken the inner child. This is what happens when touring the Perón Volvió theme park, produced by Grupo Octubre, at the El Dorrego property (Zapiola 50, CABA), which opened its doors on Thursday, November 17. The opening date –and the park– commemorate the fifty years of the first return of Juan Perón to Argentina, in 1972, after almost 18 years of exile and proscription.
The inauguration event included the presentation of a book that bears the same name as the park: peron came back. Published by Editorial Octubre, the work, which combines texts and photos, was written by Víctor Santa María, general editor of Grupo Octubre, and by the writer and journalist María Seoane, content director of the magazine Faces and masks.
When you start walking through the park, Juan Domingo Perón Avenue appears as the main street. There is the Leonardo Favio cinema, which has its illuminated canopies. The featured film is Return.
A few steps away is the Unidos Triunfaremos vermouth bar. Inside there is a group of actors wearing costumes from the mid-20th century. They are sitting at a table by the window, from which you can see Perón Avenue. They drink coffee and talk about the news of the time. Behind the counter, against the wall, a Siam refrigerator, made of wood and six doors, looks majestic; a symbol of industrial Argentina that can still be found in some neighborhood stores in Buenos Aires.
The “Marilina” store is one of the park’s attractions.
Leaving the Vermutería, you can visit School Number 45 “17 de octubre”. There are projections on the walls of the school: the march of the torches after the death of Evita; an act of the CGT on July 9. Suddenly, a Perón appears in exile speaking: “When we presented the Five-Year Plan there were 76 thousand works. The first effect was that unemployment fell. That made wages go up because when unemployment goes down, wages go up on their own.”
Now, suddenly, the actors who are among the visitors begin to say “come back, compañera, come back.” From different points of the park they run towards a gray Rastrojero van that is parked on Perón Avenue. They get on the back, which has an Argentine flag hanging, and begin to throw out flyers with the image of the General that say: “Come back.”
Staging of the people haranguing to go to Ezeiza to receive Perón.
“We are going to Ezeiza to wait for the General”, says an actress. The actors come down from the back of the Rastrojero and walk towards the center of the property. There is a stage with a scenography of Perón waving with his arms raised. The Peronist march begins to sound in a version of electronic music. The costumes of 1950, with the historical episode of 1972, mixes with the sound of the 21st century.
A book and emotional memory
The presentation of the book peron came back, from Santa María and Seoane, took place in a space called the “Peronist Party” Basic Unit. On a table, a few steps from the entrance, a typewriter of those known only to those over 55 and a rotary telephone set the place.
Santa María maintained that among the motors of the book there was a question that had inhabited him: “Why so many young people, 17 or 18 years old (the age he was in 1972) went to receive Perón, if they had not seen him govern ?”. The general editor of Grupo Octubre explained that “the government from 1946 to 1955 produced a cultural revolution.” He said that it was not only about “the creation of rights” and the improvement of “material conditions”, but that this experience was transmitted to the younger generations during the years of exile and proscription of Perón, after the 1955 coup. In addition to referring to his own family environment, Santa María stated: “We all went to public school. Me, who was the son of a manager, and the children of other workers. And the children of the workers talked about what Peronism had been”.
María Seoane and Víctor Santa María presented the book Peron came back.
At that point, Santa María connected the book with the theme park, since both seek that “young people can see it and we can get excited.”
Returning to the text, the author maintained that the objective was “to reflect what that year (1972) was like, in which Perón changed one of his 20 truths and said that for an Argentine there was nothing better than another Argentine; in which he came to give (Ricardo) Balbín a hug ”.
Santa María reviewed the journey of history after that November 17, 1972, and stated: “We are about to begin to go through forty years of democratic stability. This is not a sample of Peronism. It is a sample of Argentine history”.
Meanwhile, María Seoane began her speech by diving into her own memories. “I was 25 years old when Perón returned. And he was not a Peronist. He was a member of a group of the Guevara left. We had a strong internal debate because they had invited us to look for Perón. Some of us went. I remember that we left Lugano with a group of workers. People were getting on the train. I remember that day as the possibility of hope”.
The writer drew a parallelism between that historical moment and the current one. It was 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, and there were a few hours left for the massive act that the Vice President of the Nation, Cristina Fernández, would star in at the Estadio Único de La Plata. “Today in La Plata it will also be the force of hope,” Seoane said. Because our people have never resigned themselves to a miserable life.”
In the presentation of the book and touring the property, were the national deputy and benchmark of the CTA Hugo Yasky; the national deputy and former governor of Tierra del Fuego, Rosana Bertone; the former Chief of Staff Juan Manuel Abal Medina, among other references.