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The latest news about the return of the famous Broadway musical Evita with Ricky Martin in a lead role has the entertainment press whipped into a frenzy. But many of us still wonder who Evita is, what she did and why she describes her own musical.
Maria Eva Duarte de Peron (1919-1952) was the second lady and political partner of President Juan Peron (1895 "1974) in Argentina. She is also popularly known by the affectionate Spanish diminutive Evita, who translates to" Little Eva ". A very popular figure in Argentina and a worldwide icon due to books, movies and musicals based on her life, many believe she is comparable to another global superstar, England's Princess Diana, here we look at the similarities and differences of both women to see if the comparison is justified.
It is fair that both Evita and Diana live almost 50 years on different continents, had similarities.
- Both toxic strong men, Diana with Prince Charles and Evita with Colonel Juan Peron. They met in 1943 when Peron had taken up the post of secretary of labor and social welfare in the recent military government. Two years later they married in 1945 when Evita helped Peron with his liberation from prison after his immersion of military opposition. Peron's presidency in 1946 was adopted shortly and Evita's close cooperation with Peron saved her access to much power.
- Both Diana and Evita shared an affinity for the poor and the sick. During the 1946 presidential campaign, Evita directed her efforts to "descamisados" (throbbing poor ones) and her efforts for the women's voting laws were endorsed in 1947, enabling women to vote in the 1951 election for the first time in history. She also spent several hours every day meeting with poor people and visiting hospitals, orphanages and factories. In addition, she supervised the newly formed health ministry, which built many new hospitals and set up a successful program to combat various diseases.
- Much like Diana, Evita was a figure permanently in the public eye. As a result, as Diana, she was extremely fashion conscious. Her clothes and hairstyle were avidly studied, commented and copied.
- Both women died young, Evita of cervical cancer at age 33. In both cases, there was a great outbreak of general grief. All activity in Argentina ceased; movies stopped playing restaurants closed and patrons were shown to the door. The man outside the official president's residence after the announcement of her death was so determined that the streets wept for ten blocks in each direction. The streets of Buenos Aires abounded with flowers stacked in large piles, and within a day after Evita's death, all flower markets in Buenos Aires had been sold out.
- Just as Diana's legacy and reputation have endured after her death, Evita's transition does not seem to have stopped her international fame. In 1980, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Timothy Rice's musical "Evita" won a great prize and started the ball rolling for an increase in her popularity. After nearly 20 years of production delay, Madonna was thrown into the title role of the movie version, which welcomed Evita as a figure for the international public more than 50 years after her death.
However, Diana and Evita shared some basic differences;
- Born in an unmarried family of 5 children, Evita's background was mild to say. Her father left her mother one year after his birth and as a result of the devastation after the loss of his supportive income, the family moved to the poorest part of the city. To support herself and her children, Evita called clothes for neighbors. The family was stigmatized by the father's abandonment, especially since the Argentine law fell on illegal children.
- Evita's strong political commitment through the majority of her public life stands her considerably from Diana. Having used it as a platform for humanitarian agendas, it also opened her to criticism, as the Peron administration was regarded by many as a fascist, contradictory suppression of political opposition from an authoritarian centralized government.
- Diana was known to raise money for charitable causes, just as Evita did, but questions surrounded the money Evita raised for some reasons. Many claim that she extracted large sums from rich businessmen through threats. She was also accused of keeping amounts for her own purposes, buying jewelry and dresses. Her European tour in 1947, a highly publicized store where Evita visited various heads of state, was forced by some as an excuse to deposit money in a Swiss bank account, some of which would be earmarked for charitable donations.
Regardless of the comparisons, Evita simply stands alone as a unique historical figure that managed to achieve near the weekend and phenomenal popularity with the Argentine lower classes. Visitors to Argentina can still see Evita's lasting impact on the country. It is said that in many homes the image of Evita is on the wall next to the Virgin Mary. On July 26, 2002, the 50th anniversary of Eva Peron's death, a museum in Buenos Aires opened to her honor called "Museo Evita". The museum, created by her girlfriend Cristina Alvarez Rodriquez, houses many of Eva Peron's clothes, portraits and artistic designs of her life.