"You might ask what'n the heck..." Argentina Local Custom Tip by la_beba

Argentina Local Customs: 99 reviews and 82 photos

You might ask what'n the heck is doing this on a travel site???? BUT!!!! let me tell you that.... to know Argentina, to understand it and know a little (or actually a BIG part) of their culture, you gotta know about this<p><center><font color=brown size=+1>'Fascinating Story'....</font></center><p><b>Santa Evita</b> Who is the real Evita? History tells us she was born María Eva Ibarguren on May 7, 1919, in the tiny town of Los Toldos, huddled on the edge of the vast Argentina pampas. The daughter of a ranch manager and his mistress, Eva lived under a cloud of illegitimacy for most of her childhood, culminating in the traumatic events of her father's funeral, when she and her family were refused entry by his lawful wife. In her autobiography, La Razon de mi Vida, Eva writes, 'From every period of my life, I retain the memory of some injustice tormenting me and tearing me apart.'
A lively, intelligent girl in love with American films and yearning for a life beyond the endless expanse of grassland, seventeen-year-old Eva left her home for the bright lights of Buenos Aires.
Within three years of her arrival, Eva had carved out a career as a radio and film actress, and the press linked her to a number of powerful suitors.
In January 1944, Eva encountered a fast-rising and immensely popular politician named Juan Perón at a fund-raising concert organized to help earthquake victims. Within weeks, she was sharing his apartment. Perón went on to become Minister of War and Vice President of the Republic, but political unrest at the end of World War II eventually led to his arrest and imprisonment. Freed in a populist revolt, Perón subsequently married Eva and was elected President of Argentina with a huge popular mandate.
With a blend of democratic principle and despotism dubbed 'Peronism,' Juan Perón became one of the most admired and maligned leaders of the modern era. Yet even as she shared her husband's vision of Argentina's manifest destiny, Eva herself became the object of intense, almost mystical adoration by the country's common people. She gained international attention during her Rainbow Tour of Europe to promote Argentinean interests, and at home she was instrumental in the formation of the Perónist Women's Party, as well as The Eva Perón Foundation for charitable works among the nation's poor.
The poor, in turn, clamored for Eva to assume political office beside her husband, and despite growing dissent from military and political opponents, she was put forward as the vice-presidential candidate. Eva was/is known as 'The Argentinian Cinderella'.
It was, however, a goal Eva would never realize; she was subsequently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Renouncing her political aspirations, Eva Perón fell into a steep and sudden decline, and on July 26, 1952, she died at the age of 33.
A measure of her enormous appeal among her fellow citizens could be seen in the outpouring of grief that followed her death. Close to a million Argentineans crowded the streets of Buenos Aires for her funeral procession, and an estimated three million filed past her casket to pay their last respects. The myth of 'Saint Eva' was kept alive by frequent requests to the Vatican for her canonization. Forty thousand such appeals were received in the two years following her death. The day after Eva's death, every florist store in the country was said to be sold out to people planning to place flowers on the coffin, and the rush was so bad that eight people died, and hundreds were injured just to see the body.
The story of what happened to Eva's body after death is almost as fascinating as her life.
After the funeral in early August, the corpse was moved to the Confederation of Labor headquarters, where it remained for three years, while government officials worked out plans for a monument as huge as the Statue of Liberty. Eva had often told Juan of her worst fear, which was to be forgotten. To make sure she never was, Juan hired Dr. Pedro Ara, a Spanish pathologist to embalm her body. Dr. Ara spent two years perfecting the body, including preserving Eva's brain and other internal organs which are normally removed. But when the military overthrew Perón in 1955, a lieutenant colonel with a squad of soldiers seized the building and removed the body, fearful that the Peronistas would snatch it for a totem to rally behind.
Concealed in a plain box, Evita's body was taken in an army truck to a marine base where the truch remained for a day before the commandant discovered its contents and nervously ordered it removed from his jurisdiction.
For lack of a better destination, the truck was simply parked on a street in downtown Buenos Aires. It was Christmas Eve, but the grisly Christmas package was left unopened.
The body was next loaded into a crate marked 'radio equipment' and stashed in the office of the army's information chief until he was transferred in June 1956. The crate disappeared, its whereabouts known to only a few military officers.
In the late 1960's, Argentine journalist Tomas Eloy Martinez learned the closely guarded secret: Evita's body had been sent to Bonn as part of an Argentine military attache's household effects and was buried either in the embassy basement of in the garden of the embassador's residence.
Martinez and a diplomat did some digging - literally - on the embassy property. But they were too late. The body had already been moved and reburied under a false name in a cemetery in Milan, Italy.
After negotiations with Perón, who was living in exile in Madrid with his third wife, Isabel, Evita's body was turned over to the Peróns on September 23, 1971.
The coffin was usually kept in an upstairs room, though visitors sometimes saw it on the dining room table. According to one fascinating report, Perón's private secretary, Jose Lopez Rega, an astrologer and spiritualist, encouraged Isabel to lie on the coffin to soak up Evita's magic vibrations - while Lopez chanted incantations.
Perón returned to power in 1973, and after Isabel succeeded him the next year, she brought Evita's coffin back home and put it on display in a Buenos Aires suburb. But the magic proved non-transferrable.
A military junta overthrew Isabel in 1976 and Evita's itinerant corpse was quietly turned over to her two sisters the next year. It now lies in a family crypt in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. <p>
<b>Her Legacy</b> Eva Peron was so famous that her legacy has extended even to today. In Argentina, masses are still celebrated for their famous leader, although she was never official designated as a Catholic martyr. And throughout the world, Eva's legacy is being carried on by a famous musical, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and a new movie, which can still be found in some theaters.
Although Eva Peron has been called the most powerful Latin American woman of her time, perhaps ever, many people in North America and Europe had never heard of her. In 1973, renowned lyricist Tim Rice, already famous (and rich) from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, was included in this group. Then, one day, Tim Rice happened to be listening to a BBC broadcast while driving his car, which was a radio show on Eva Peron. Since nothing else was on of interest, he listened to the program, and became fascinated by what he heard. He wasn't sure, but he thought there was a chance for the story of Evita to be made into another musical. Rice's next step was to call his old friend, Andrew Lloyd Webber. The two began to work on the musical. The musical opened in London in 1978, despite all the political controversy. Many people questioned the choice of writing a musical about Eva Peron, who was compared to Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. Yet through all the controversy about the subject matter, the reviews of the play itself, and especially the music, were fabulous.
When the musical traveled to Broadway, with the opening in September of 1979, the political controversy which had so racked the London stage was prevented. Hal Prince, the director, persuaded the authors to play up the part of Che, Evita's main counterpart. With her infamous opponent playing a part as important as hers, critics could no longer claim a problem with politics behind the play. Still, some scenes from the musical are touchy. As one person described, the first act ends with a 'scene suggestive of one of Hitler's Nuremberg rallies, in this instance presided over by a beaming Peron'. Still, even with all the controversy, the musical became famous, and can still be found on stages around the world today.
Another follow up to Evita's life is the recent movie version of the musical, with Madonna playing the role of Eva Peron. The honor to play Eva was fought over by several actresses, including Meryl Streep, but given to Madonna when the similarities in their lives ( not to mention her letter to him, begging for the part) caught director Alan Parker's eye. Madonna promised to play the part as no one else could, and to many it seems that she did so. She and Che, played by flashy Antonio Banderas, bring a passion to the movie may not have been there without them. In general, the movie is hailed as a supreme tribute to the life of Evita Peron, or as a failure. No matter what one thinks of the movie, however, it is undeniable that Eva's primary fear, being forgotten, is far from occurring.

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  • Written Aug 26, 2002
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