Famous Figures in Buenos Aires

Admittedly and embarrassingly, it took me about 2 weeks (and a trip on the BA City Tourist Bus mentioned in my last blog) to realise that Evita and Eva Perón were, in fact, the same person. While it is unlikely that others will make this mistake, (considering she is perhaps the biggest female figure associated with Argentine culture) I thought by making this simple guide to important figures in BA; such an error may be avoided by others. From footballers to writers to tango stars, these are 5 incredibly familiar names to the average Porteño.

Eva Perón 

More commonly known as ‘Evita’, Eva Perón was the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952, at the ripe age of 33. Married to Argentine President Juan Perón, together they founded the ‘Peronismo’ movement, widely celebrated by the working class and shunned by the bourgeoisie. From running the Ministries of Labour and Health and championing women’s suffrage in Argentina, Eva Perón was awarded the title of ‘Spiritual Leader of the Nation’ by the Argentine Congress, shortly before her tragic and sudden death from cancer. Evita once said ‘My biggest fear in life is to be forgotten’, but given that the city of Buenos Aires is covered with Evita-inspired graffiti and even has a province in the shape of her face – there’s little chance of that ever happening here.

Carlos Gardel 

He has been heralded as the most prominent figure in Argentine Tango history, after having created the tango-canción in 1917 with his rendition of Mi noche triste. He was apparently a bit of a spice, too. The country went into national mourning after he was tragically killed in an airplane crash in 1935, but his impact on Tango as an intrinsic part of Argentina assured his  legacy would live on. 

Diego Maradona

Given that football is such a HUGE deal here in Argentina, this can be somewhat a-credited to Diego Armando Maradona – who is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. For his dribbling talent he was given the nickname ‘El Pibe de Oro’ (The Golden Boy), a name that stayed with him throughout his career. Watch his legendary goal against England here

Jorge Luis Borges

My uncle’s literary hero and, incidentally, Argentina’s too – Borge’s works have become classics of 20th-century world literature. Some say he brought Latin American Literature out of academia and into a global audience, with his notable style packed densely with allusion. Being short-sighted which left him blind by the age of 55, Donald A Yates (one of Borges’ first American translators) claims ‘he escaped into a world where the printed world was more significant than his surrounding reality.’ 

Gabriela Sabatini 

A leading figure for women breaking the glass ceiling in sport, Gabriela Beatriz Sabatini won Wimbledon in 1988, the US Open in 1990, and became #3 in the World Ranking. Sabatini retired in 1996, having won 27 single titles and 14 doubles titles. In 2001, she won the Diamond Konex Award as the most relevant “Sportsman of the Decade” in Argentina. 

So there we have it! A crash-course to not looking ignorant about Argentina’s stars when in conversations with Porteños. You can thank me later.