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Hands of Peron

The cutting of the Hands of Peron refers to a 1987 incident where the tomb of Juan Peron, former President of Argentina, was broken into and his hands dismembered and removed by persons unknown.

The incident

After Juan Peron's death in July 1974, his body was embalmed and placed in a coffin in the Peron family tomb in Chacarita Cemetery in the city of Buenos Aires.

In July 1987, thirteen years after his death, the Peronist Justicialist Party received an anonymous letter that claimed that Peron's hands and genitals had been removed from his tomb along with his army cap and sword; the letter demanded that the party pay an US$8 million ransom for their return. "Peron Hands: Police Find Trail Elusive." The New York Times, September 6, 1987. Accessed October 16, 2009."Grave robbers cut off hands of Juan Peron". The Chicago Sun-Times, July 3, 1987. When authorities checked Peron's tomb, they discovered that it had indeed been broken into and the hands and other items removed. Forensic experts who examined the body said the mutilation had occurred only a short time before the discovery. One sourceJohnson, Lyman L. Death, Dismemberment and Memory: Body Politics in Latin America. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004. ISBN 0826332013. Pp. 251-253. states that the tomb was broken into on June 23, 1987, and that a poem written to him by his last wife, Isabel, had also been removed from the tomb. At the time, some news reports stated that the hands had been removed with "a surgical instrument", but later reports state that the dismemberment had been done with an electric saw.

The head of the Justicialist Party, Vicente Saadi, refused to allow the ransom to be paid. A criminal investigation was begun under the leadership of judge Jaime Far Suau: although six men were arrested and five arraigned,"5 Arraigned in Theft of Juan Peron's Hands". The Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1987. none were charged in relation to the incident. No suspect has ever been charged, and the hands have never been recovered.

Many of those involved in the investigation of the disappearance of Peron's hands (including Judge Far Suau) have since died, some under circumstances considered questionable. There is evidence that the theft had some sort of official support, as the robbers used a key to enter the tomb.

Argentinian anthropologistVerdery, Katherine. The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Post-Socialist Change. New York, Columbia University Press, 1999. ISBN 0231112300. Rosana Guber has written that Peron's hands were seen by Argentinians as a symbol of his power, and that their theft was not just a simple criminal matter but also had deep cultural meaning; she viewed the debate about the hands as symbolic of the attempt to promote democracy in the country. Lyman Johnson viewed the dismemberment as "a catalyst to destroy the symbolic cult of Peron". With Peron's hands gone, Lyman wrote, his body became less important and his importance as a religious figure also decreased in comparison to that of his second wife, Eva Peron.

In their book Unveiling the Enigma, writers Damian Nabot and David Cox write that the P2, also known as the Propaganda Due, were involved in the theft, and that there was a ritual involved in the cutting of Peron's hands.Nabot, Damian, and Cox, David. Unveiling the Enigma: Who stole the hands of Juan Peron? Zumaya Publications LLC, 2009. ISBN 1934841145.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Hands of Peron

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