This is why many Argentines are devoted to Evita


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Early every morning, as she arrives at her workplace at a labor union in Buenos Aires, Angeles Celier heads to the chapel and prays to St. Cajetan, St. Teresa and Eva Peron.

Peron – unlike the others – has not been canonized by the Vatican, but that doesn’t matter to Cellier.

“For me, she is the people’s saint,” the 56-year-old Argentinian said.

Many union members consider Evita their patron or look upon her photographs with nostalgia, feeling that she and her husband, three-time President Juan Domingo Perón, brought prosperity to their country through an equality and social justice-driven movement. Which was named after him. Them in the 1940s: Peronism.

That movement is currently the largest opposition force in Argentina. And some political observers credit recent polling for Elect President Xavier Miley as a means to defeat Peronism And his previous occupation of the presidency.

“For us, he is the spiritual repository of the people,” said Julio Piumato, human rights director of Argentina’s largest union. He signed the 2019 document requesting the beatification of Evita.

“No other statistic has such profound significance,” Piumato said. “Polite regions synthesized in Avita.”

According to the union leader, between 1946 and 1952, when Evita died of cancer at the age of 33 and Perón ended his first term, the couple respected the working class and prioritized social justice.

“The saints show us the way to Jesus Christ and intercede before God for us,” the thanksgiving request addressed to the archbishop said. “In our homeland, generation after generation is being converted by the humanist and Christian message of the humble standard bearer.”

Apart from the 1996 film starring Madonna or Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1978 musical, many foreigners know relatively little about the former First Lady who died 71 years ago.

But in Argentina, Evita has a continuing presence. Her face is printed on 100-peso bills, adorns a mural on a major government building, and greets guests from an altar placed in a restaurant called St. Evita.

Cellier said, “I keep her image in my wallet, and I have her at home in a little picture frame with a candle.” “I ask him for protection.”

How a first lady became a champion of the poor

The secret behind the attraction it arouses is perhaps hidden in its name.

Long before she became First Lady, she called herself María Eva, a girl who left the city of Los Toldos to try her luck as an actress in Buenos Aires. As a minor film star she was known as Eva Duarte and later became Eva Perón, the wife of the President. Then came Evita.

“Evita is the one that is closer to the people,” said Santiago Regolo, a researcher at Museum Evita. “People started calling her that, and this construction is linked to political and social actions that set her apart from the women who preceded her and that she is taken as an example to this day.”

Evita was the one who visited the elderly and single mothers. The one who distributed toys to children and bread to families. Which promoted paid holidays for workers who were never able to take leave and made a last-ditch effort to gain women’s right to vote in 1947.

She has also inspired some feminists – who carry her photo with her green scarf during protests – as well as a political organization that calls for social change by using her image as a logo.

A protester holds a book titled "eva peron, that woman" During a rally against economic and labor reforms proposed by Argentine President Javier Meili in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

A protester holds a book labeled “Eva Peron, That Woman” during a rally against economic and labor reforms proposed by Argentine President Javier Mellí in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Argentine banknotes printed with the face of former first lady Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, better known as Eva Peron, are displayed at the Peron Peron restaurant in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024 went.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Argentine banknotes printed with the face of former first lady Maria Eva Duarte de Peron, better known as Eva Peron, are displayed at the Peron Peron restaurant in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024 went. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

“Having Evita on our flag represents being with the lower class people and trying to justify her name over time,” said Ivan Tchorek of the Evita Movement, which has 155,000 members nationwide and is known as It was created after the economic crisis in 2001.

He is as relevant as ever, Chorek said, because Peronism is. Thousands of workers like him recently led a general strike against the right-wing Meili, who defeated Peronist candidate Sergio Massa last November. Shortly thereafter, Mieli issued a decree that would repeal or amend hundreds of existing laws limiting the power of unions. deregulation of an economy This has traditionally involved heavy state intervention.

Even as the standard-bearer of the Union in polarized times, Evita and her memory have the potential to transcend politics. “Some of the issues involve matters of an emotional, sacred nature,” Regolo said. “She is seen as a companion, a sister, a mother to the submissive.”

At her home in a poor neighborhood outside Buenos Aires, Rita Cantero, 71, says she almost met Evita. When her mother sought help from the first woman, she was pregnant.

“My mother used to say that Evita was very cooperative, people liked her a lot because of her service.”

Aware of the challenges of being a single mother, Rafaela Escobar attended a public event organized by Evita in a plaza near her home. After being able to go to her and tell her her problem, Evita hugged her and said: “Don’t worry, I’ll help.”

Three weeks later, Escobar received a crib and clothes for his unborn child.

Cantero says her mother never met Evita again, but she sent her letters and the first woman responded with an envelope containing the money.

“For us he is like a saint,” Cantero said. “Many people were critical about her because she was a woman, but she was an honest, hard-working girl. “She fought for our nation and was Peron’s strength.”

Evita’s mixed heritage and the fight over her mutilated body

Perón died in 1974, two decades after Evita, but his name evokes both admiration and disgust, longing and blame.

His critics – among them legislator Fernando Iglesias, who has published several books on how Peronism ruined the country – claim that Perón was an authoritarian leader and that his movement’s social assistance created too much dependence on the government. While doing so hid corruption and patronage.

Critics also address Eva. Some say his foundation pressured donors for resources. Others claim she was careerist and hypocritical. On the one hand, he claimed to protect the poor and on the other, he wore Dior clothes.

“Will she be the saint of slackers?” tweeted a user when the Sangha requested him to be beatified. “Patrons of criminals,” someone else wrote.

Erasing him from history was once an order. After Perón’s overthrow in 1955, saying his name, displaying his image, or possessing his gifts were prohibited. The army removed his dismembered body from a Confederate headquarters, where it was initially kept, and shipped it to Europe.

The body was returned 14 years later, and when the military again took power in the 1970s, it was given to her family under one condition: she would be buried eight meters underground, sealed in a marble crypt so that no one could see it. Could never see him. again.

“Evita is the best thing that could have happened to this country,” said 22-year-old Carolina Castro, holding back tears near Evita’s grave in the Recoleta cemetery, where Argentines and foreigners alike honored her with flowers, letters and garlands. Are.

According to Castro’s mother, 56-year-old Andrea Velesi, Evita is a sensitive topic because her family is going through difficult times. “I’ve never been in so much pain,” Velesi said about it. economic measures Miley recently ordered this and claims it has hurt her business.

Victor Biscia, 36, says he doesn’t keep photos of Evita at home, but he does have photos of the late President Néstor Kirchner and his family. Wife and heiress Christina FernandezAnother Peronist couple Inspires devotion and outrage Among the Argentines.

“They were important in achieving rights that are being curtailed by the current government,” said Biscia, who likens Fernandez to a 21st-century Evita.

“She represents a lot of who we are as Argentines,” says Gimena Villagra, 27, standing next to Evita’s grave. “I don’t think there’s anyone to whom that doesn’t mean something.”


The Associated Press’s religion coverage receives support from the AP Collaboration With The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.


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