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ARGENTINA | 07-05-2019 09:42

100 Evitas on streets of BA to mark 100th anniversary of her birth

Eva María Duarte, who died in 1952 from cancer at age 33, was an actress who became the second wife of Juan Perón, the Army general who served as president for two different spans. The 100th anniversary of her birth is being marked today.

One hundred people dressed up as Evita Perón and paraded in the streets of the capital on Monday night, a day before the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Argentina's most famous former first lady.

Eva María Duarte, who died in 1952 from cancer at age 33, was an actress who became the second wife of Juan Perón, the Army general who served as president for two different spans.

Best known as "Evita," she was idolised as a "champion of the poor" and helped women obtain the right to vote.

The performers marched through the streets of Buenos Aires, starting at the Obelisk and continuing onto to the Health and Social Development Ministry building on Avenida 9 de Julio that is decorated with a large cast-iron portrait of Evita. It was at that spot on August 22, 1951, that approximately two million people gathered to call for Evita to stand on the presidential ticket with her husband, who was seeking re-election.

Nine days later, Evita, ill with cancer and under pressure from the Armed Forces, declined her candidacy in a famous message broadcast across the nation on the radio.

All those marching last night wore costumes resembling Evita. Some wore her trademark top-knot hairstyle, while others donned ballroom dresses in homage to the combative first lady.

"We want to highlight the image of Eva Perón as a combative woman. As feminists, we believe in her struggle," said Nora Elia Savio, an actress. "In her time, she fought for our rights."

"I never thought it would happen to me to be her, I am the daughter of a rural labourer and a servant, but life changed us. If it were not for her I would not be here today," said Ana Tula, a 65-year-old actress. 

"Evita is a permanent inspiration, a beacon, a role model," said Marina Chmielarczyk, 37.

Many of those marching had tied a green handkerchief – representing the call to legalise abortion – on their person, arguing that Evita would back that call if around today.

"Evita is alive in her thinking, her thought is what represents me the most of Peronism," said Silvia Lobo, a retired 54-year-old teacher.

Evita's persona has transcended time – and Argentina's borders. The global fascination began in the 1970s with Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Evita. Then came Alan Parker's film starring Madonna based on the musical, and it was followed by Evita's dresses shown at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of a Christian Dior exhibit.

The Evita Museum in Buenos Aires recently inaugurated an exhibition titled Childhood and Peronism, the toys of the Eva Perón Foundation to mark the 100th anniversary of her birth. (See more on this exhibition in this Saturday's edition of the Times.)

- TIMES/AFP/AP

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