First of all, I want to talk about whether or not Eva Peron, first lady of Argentina, was actually friends with freedom fighter Che Guevera, because, you know, she spends the entire musical dancing around a young revolutionary named “Che”. They waltz. They waltz the hell out of a waltz:
And people say Madonna can’t act. I don’t know. Possibly she can’t. A lot of her “acting” in this scene seems to be throwing her arms up like goalposts. But she is good at staring longingly and lustfully at Antonio Banderas, so that’s enough for me.
When I mentioned I was thinking of Eva Peron as a Shelved Doll, my mother immediately exclaimed, “Friends with Che Guevera!” Meanwhile I thought, “Perhaps they were lovers! Lovers who loved waltzing!”
No. She wasn’t, and they weren’t. Turns out that was a thematic device used by Andrew Lloyd Webber because he wanted to juxtapose Eva’s policies with the goals of South American freedom fighters. Additionally – fun fact – in Argentina the word “Che”, according to the Spanish Royal Academy dictionary, is a familiar form used “to call someone or ask for attention”.
The closest the real Ernesto “Che” Guevara ever came to meeting Evita is touched upon in Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life which says:
“One friend recalled Ernesto advising his mates to vote for Peron because his policies favored their class. He also used the Peronist system to his own advantage when it behooved him. [His cousin Mario recalls] Ernesto joined a Peronist youth organization on campus in order to use its extensive library facilities and check out books otherwise unavailable to him. Another time, on the suggestion, half in jest, of Tatiana Quiroga, before an ambitious trip through Latin America he drafted a letter to Peron and his gift giving wife, Evita, asking her for a jeep. Tatiana recalled helping him and said they had fun writing it, but no reply ever came from Argentina’s flamboyant first lady.”
However, it may still have been appropriate to pair them symbolically, because, as Tomás Eloy Martínez stated:
“Latin American myths are more resistant than they seem to be. Not even the mass exodus of the Cuban raft people or the rapid decomposition and isolation of Fidel Castro‘s regime have eroded the triumphal myth of Che Guevara, which remains alive in the dreams of thousands of young people in Latin America, Africa and Europe. Che as well as Evita symbolize certain naive, but effective, beliefs: the hope for a better world; a life sacrificed on the altar of the disinherited, the humiliated, the poor of the earth. They are myths which somehow reproduce the image of Christ.”