There are cities that resound with the names of great figures whose influence has only got greater with the passing of time and history, but perhaps no other city is in thrall to one person the way Buenos Aires is to its hero, Eva Péron. We are all familiar with the dramatized story of Evita – as the Argentinean people have nicknamed her – but Eva Péron’s influence reaches far beyond the popular world of musicals and film.
Born in rural Argentina, Eva Péron travelled to Buenos Aires in the 1930s (a city often referred to as the ‘Paris of South America’) to pursue an acting career. She rose to fame as an actress, but it was her fierce resilience, her drive for equality and freedoms that had a monumental influence on Argentina’s history and the lives of its people. Evita became a defender and protector of the poor, a powerful voice within the trade unions, she ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, led women’s suffrage in Argentina and became the founder and leader of the first Argentinean large-scale female political party. And all before the age of 33 when she was tragically taken by cancer.
Evita was the spiritual engine of Buenos Aires and it still breathes her essence through its every pore. Find yourself on the streets of Argentina’s capital and you’ll witness her influence, which reaches beyond her physical contributions to the city and its people. From the Presidential Palace (Casa Rosada) where she used to address the adoring masses (also known as the famous setting for the song “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical), to Museo Evita where large collections of her clothes are displayed, and Luna Park where she is said to have met Juan Péron before they married.
Then there is the Salon Rosado, in the majestic neo-classical Congress Building, which Evita turned into a women’s-only meeting place, and República de los Niños in La Plata, a children’s amusement park which is said to have inspired the more famous Disneyland in California. When you think her influence covered all these great places and people, and all in such a short life span, you realize the true depth of Eva Péron.
Visit Buenos Aires and you will not only discover a beautiful, richly historical city, but you will find yourself immersed in the graceful power of one of the most controversial and significant women of the 20th Century.