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Eva Perón – Princess Diana of Argentina?

The latest news about the return of the famous Broadway musical Evita with Ricky Martin in a leading role has the entertainment press going crazy. However, many of us are still wondering who Evita is, what she did and why she deserves her own musical.

María Eva Duarte de Perón (1919-1952) was the second wife and political partner of President Juan Perón (1895-1974) of Argentina. She is also popularly known by the affectionate Spanish diminutive Evita, which translates to “Little Eva.” She is still a very popular figure in Argentina and a world icon due to the books, movies and musicals based on her life, many consider her comparable to another world superstar, Princess Diana of England. Here we look at the similarities and differences of both women to see if the comparison is warranted.

It is fair to say that both Evita and Diana, despite living almost 50 years apart on different continents, had similarities;

– Both married powerful men, Diana with Prince Carlos and Evita with Colonel Juan Perón. They met in 1943, when Perón had assumed the position of Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare in the military government that had just come to power. Two years later they were married in 1945 when Evita helped Perón to get out of prison after his imprisonment by the military opposition. Perón’s presidency in 1946 took over shortly thereafter, and Evita’s close relationship with Perón gave her access to much power.

– Both Diana and Evita shared an affinity for the poor and sick; During the 1946 presidential campaign, Evita directed her efforts toward the “descamisados” (poor shirtless) and her efforts for women’s suffrage saw laws passed in 1947 that allowed women to vote in the 1951 elections for the first time. time in history. She also spent several hours every day meeting with poor people and visiting hospitals, orphanages, and factories. Additionally, she oversaw the newly created Ministry of Health, which built many new hospitals and established a successful program to combat different diseases.

– Like Diana, Evita was a figure constantly in the public eye. As a result, she, like Diana, was immensely fashion conscious. Her clothes and hairstyle were avidly studied, commented on, and copied.

– Both women died young, Evita of cervical cancer at the age of 33. In both cases, there was a great outpouring of public grievances. All activity in Cesar Argentina; movies stopped playing; restaurants were closed and customers were showing up at the door. The crowd outside the official presidential residence after the announcement of her death was so thick that the streets became congested for ten blocks in each direction. The streets of Buenos Aires were overflowing with flowers that were stacked in huge piles, and the day after Evita’s death, all the flower shops in Buenos Aires had sold out.

– Just as Diana’s legacy and reputation have endured after her death, Evita’s death does not seem to have stopped her international fame. In 1980, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Timothy Rice’s musical “Evita” won a major award and she started the ball rolling for her popularity to rise. After a production delay of nearly 20 years, Madonna was cast in the title role of the film version, which brought Evita into the spotlight of international audiences more than 50 years after her death.

However, despite all the similarities, Diana and Evita shared some fundamental differences;

– Born into a single family of 5 children, Evita’s background was humble, to say the least. Her father left her mother one year after her birth and as a result of her impoverishment after losing her income, the family moved to the poorest area of ​​her city. To support herself and her children, Evita’s mother sewed clothes for the neighbors. The family was stigmatized by her father’s abandonment of her, especially since Argentine law disapproved of illegitimate children.

– Evita’s strong political involvement during most of her public life significantly distinguishes her from Diana. Despite using it as a platform for humanitarian agendas, she also opened it up to criticism, as the Perón administration was seen by many as fascist and ruthlessly suppressing political opposition to a centralized authoritarian government.

– Diana was well known for raising money for charitable causes, just as Evita did, but questions surrounded the money that Evita raised for some causes. Many claim that she extracted large sums of money from wealthy businessmen through intimidation. She was also accused of saving amounts for her own purposes, buying jewelry and dresses. Her European tour in 1947, a highly publicized event in which Evita visited various heads of state, was derided by some as an excuse to deposit funds into a Swiss bank account, part of which was supposed to be earmarked for donations. charitable

Whatever the comparisons, Evita certainly stands out as a unique historical figure who managed to achieve phenomenal popularity and near sainthood among the Argentine lower classes; visitors to Argentina can still see Evita’s lasting effect on the country. It is said that in many houses, the image of Evita is on the wall next to the Virgin Mary. On July 26, 2002, on the 50th anniversary of Eva Perón’s death, a museum named “Museo Evita” was inaugurated in Buenos Aires in her honor. The museum, which was created by her great-niece Cristina Álvarez Rodríguez, houses many of the garments, portraits and artistic representations of Eva Perón’s life.


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