By Maricel Seeger.
Sixty years after her death, Eva Peron "lives" not only in monuments but also in Argentina's mixed political folklore and in the "epic poetry" of the government of Cristina Fernandez.
In tribute to Evita - who died of cancer on July 26, 1952, at age 33 - the Buenos Aires provincial legislature has organized a program of cultural activities that will begin on Monday and include concerts, gatherings, the exhibition of personal items and even parades with original costumes of that time period.
Numerous books, films and theater works have sought to deal with the life of the so-called "champion of the humble," who forever branded the country's political history and remains prevalent in the idiosyncracies of the ruling Peronist party.
The publishing of books about Maria Eva Duarte has also surged this year on the eve of the sixtieth anniversary of her death.
"The figure of Eva has great relevance. Her figure has remained and was claimed by different political groups. Her name today still awakens love, but also hate, and it resounds beyond our country's borders," Argentine historian Norberto Galasso, who has just published "La compañera Evita," a new biography of Evita, told Efe.
Born of a secret romantic liaison between a landowner and a woman of humble social station, the then-15-year-old Eva came to Buenos Aires from the provincial town of Junin in 1935 with the dream of becoming a successful actress, but she met army officer Juan Domingo Peron and transformed herself into "one of the most passionate and, at the same time, controversial figures of the 20th century," Galasso said.
Although her enemies undertook to destroy a good part of her legacy, in the Argentine capital there are still several emblematic buildings that figured significantly in Evita's life.
One of those housed the Eva Peron Foundation, although nowadays it contains the Engineering Department of the University of Buenos Aires, and another is the large old capital house that is the current site for the Evita Museum, where the management established a shelter for homeless women and children.
Others continue in operation as well, including the Evita hospitals in the capital suburbs of Lanus and San Martin, both established by the foundation within the framework of its intensive social work.
"Some people recognize Evita as the good fairy who gave ... assistance, and others recognize her as the maximum expression of the left (wing) of Peronism, but she was rather a bridge for Peron to the labor movement. She functioned as a parallel ministry of labor who received the requests of the workers," Galasso said.
The links she forged with the working class persist in the continuous references by politicians to her name and in the dozens of posters with her image that appear at every workers' march.
During the 2011 election campaign, Evita's image was used on the brochures of the Front for Victory, the Peronist faction in the government, in an initiative that was rejected by dissident sectors of the party.
President Fernandez, who was reelected last year, regularly invokes Evita in her speeches, particularly at the Bicentennial Museum at the Casa Rosada, the presidential residence, where an enormous picture of Eva and Peron is prominently visible at her addresses.
Eva Peron was "a woman who signified not only the entry of women into Argentine politics, not only our country's most important social revolution, but who assumed without hypocrisy the representation of the people and the homeland, perhaps with more passion and love than anyone else," said Fernandez during her campaign. EFE