In the footsteps of Evita



By | Category: Travel destinations

Conservative businessman, Mauricio Macri – Argentina’s first non Peronist president in more than a decade – may have swept to power in December 2015 on the back of promises to end leftist populism, but even Macri’s most ardent supporters remain enthral to María Eva Duarte de Perón.

Evita, as she was affectionately known, was the charismatic second wife of Juan Domingo Perón – founder of Peronism (whose three banners are political sovereignty, economic independence and social justice) and, to date, the only Argentine to be elected president three times.

The life of Argentina’s beloved First Lady was short (she died of cancer in 1952, at the age 33) but active: the former actress founded the Eva Peron Foundation which went onto provide financial assistance to gifted children from impoverished backgrounds in addition to building homes, hospitals, schools and orphanages in deprived ares like Los Toldos – where Evita herself was born. The revered political figure became the first South American woman to be featured on the cover of Time magazine and played an important role in winning Argentine women the right to vote.

Yet despite her good deeds towards the country’s descamiscados (shirtless ones), Evita certainly had her share of critics. For, while the country’s working class saw her as saint like figure who championed their needs, Argentina’s aristocracy (at the time) by and large loathed her. Evita’s enemies hailed as her “power hungry” and bemoaned the way in which her eponymous foundation took from the rich and gave to the poor. There’s also no getting away from the fact that Evita and Peron ruled with an iron fist, banning newspapers and jailing opposition leaders.

Fast forward some 60 years and the most famous Argentine in the world is widely respected for extending social justice and her legacy – a children’s amusement park, a shelter for unwed mothers, a beach resort for the working class – continues to live on throughout the country.

Want to follow in the footsteps of Eva ‘Evita’ Peron, when in Buenos Aires – where Evita moved at the age of 15, in search of fame and fortune? Walk this way…

Recoleta cemetery
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Recoleta – an upmarket neighbourhood that’s often compared to New York’s Upper East Side – is home to Buenos Aires’ number one tourist attraction: take a bow Recoleta Cemetery. This city of the dead is where generations of Argentina’s elite, together with past presidents and military heroes were buried. You can easily while an afternoon checking out their impressive tombs – many of which were made from marble – and built above ground.  But Cemetery de la Recoleta’s biggest star is without a doubt Evita. To find Evita’s final resting place, – simply follow the crowds!
Junín 1760, Recoleta

Avenue 9 de Julio
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The former First Lady is a cultural and historical icon in Argentina – something the 100ft tall iron portrait which looks down on the 14 lane Avenue 9 de Julio (the widest avenue in the world), bears testimony to. The colossal Evita monument – it stands at 31m tall and 24m wide – depicts Evita with her trademark topknot hairstyle. The government-funded sculpture was inspired by the famous Che Guevara sculpture in Havana’s Revolution Square.
Microcentro

La Casa Rosada
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The rosy La Casa Rosada whose pretty pink facade was originally achieved by, erm, mixing pigs’ blood with whitewash, is where Evita famously addressed her legion of fans. It’s also where Argentina’s famous footballing son, Diego Maradona (who much like Evita was born in poverty before becoming a hero), greeted crowds from the balcony after he helped his country lift the 1986 World Cup four years after the Falklands War debacle.
Pink House, Plaza de Mayo, corner of Av de Mayo and San Martin

Peron Peron restaurant
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For a politically charged dinner, pop into Peron Peron – a Palermo hotspot where food and fun are always on the menu.The heart of Humboldt Street (a popular haunt of Buenos Aires’ middle classes) isn’t where you would expect to  find a restaurant paying homage to Eva and her husband General Juan Peron but, regardless of Macri’s recent win, this place is always packed.
Diners can sit outside at a sidewalk table or inside where  Evita’s passionate speeches to the Peronist masses play every so often from loud speakers. As does the Peronist march with diners rising to sing along while slapping the table.
Meanwhile the menu is packed full of Peron’s favourite foods – think Pastel de papas (shepherd’s pie) and loco (pork and red chorizo stew) washed down with Malbec, natch. Elsewhere Evita memorabilia and graffiti adorns the walls.
El Peron Peron, Carranza 2225, Palermo Hollywood, www.facebook.com/ElPeronPeron/

Museo Evita
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If you were any doubt as to the fact that Evita has acquired a status akin to a saint in Argentina, a visit to the Evita Museum in upscale Palermo will put you right. “God sent his favourite angel to the earth and when his work was done, ordered her return” is how one exhibit explains Evita’s premature death from cancer at the age of 33, in 1952. 
The Argentine heroine is immortalised through photos, posters, newspaper headlines and videos – and there’s also the opportunity to view her stylish wardrobe (Evita’s shoes, handbags and hats are all on display). Afterwards enjoy a Mate (pronounced “mah-tay”) on the terrace of Museo Evita’s highly rated restaurant.
Laminar 2988; Palermo; www.museoevita.org

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