Argentina pays tribute to icon Eva Peron on the 70th anniversary of her death

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Crisis-ravaged Argentina marked the 70th anniversary of the death of iconic political figure Eva Peron on Tuesday with a series of events, marches and tributes.

Affectionately nicknamed “Evita”, Maria Eva Duarte de Peron became legendary for her fight for women’s rights and her untimely death in 1952 at just 33 years old.

Wife of former President Juan Domingo Peron (1946 to 1955 and 1973-74), she participated in the founding of the Peronist political ideology, an eclectic mass movement with sometimes opposing political currents but with a pronounced populist social tendency.

In Buenos Aires, the unions gathered in front of the Ministry of Social Development, a building whose facade is decorated with the effigy of Eva Peron.

It was the place where two million people gathered in August 1951 to call on Peron to support her husband’s bid for re-election as running mate.

But already battling cancer, the former actress declined the invitation and died less than a year later.

For student Alma Gambi, 14, Peron remains “a source of inspiration” for the working classes and women.

Center-left Peronist President Alberto Fernandez paid tribute to the icon on Twitter, quoting one of his most famous phrases: “I know you will collect my name and carry it as a flag to victory.”

“We are here, dear Eva, with the conviction to continue working for the people, always giving priority to those who have the least,” added Fernandez.

Its vice president and former leader Cristina Kirchner described Peron as “an Argentinian passion” in her own Twitter post.

“Standard Bearer of the Humble”

Earlier this year, Argentina returned Peron’s image to the 100-peso note after former liberal president Mauricio Macri interrupted a series of banknotes that honored him.

Faced with inflation of over 60% last year and chronic currency devaluation, the Argentine 100 peso note is now worth less than a US dollar.

Inflation in the cash-strapped South American country is expected to reach 80% this year.

Born on May 7, 1919 in Los Toldos, 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the capital, Peron moved to Buenos Aires at age 15 with the aim of launching her acting career.

There she met the future president in 1944 and they were married the following year.

Peron’s fame has spread beyond Argentina as his life story has been portrayed in books, a long-running musical and a film starring pop icon Madonna, who also performed a song on Peron: Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

After her death, her body suffered a dramatic and gruesome escapade as it was taken and hidden away in Italy for several years after the 1955 military coup, before being sent to Spain to join her exiled husband.

He was finally repatriated in 1974 and now rests in the Duarte family grave in the posh Recoleta Cemetery in the capital.

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