July 26, 2012 / 12:13 AM / 5 years ago

Argentine icon Evita graces 100-peso bank notes

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez unveiled a commemorative bank note on Wednesday bearing the image of Evita Peron to mark the 60th anniversary of the iconic first lady’s death.

The bill is based on the design of a five-peso note that the mint had planned to issue after Evita died of cancer at the height of her popularity, but which went missing during the coup that toppled her husband, late former President Gen. Juan Peron.

“It’s a homage that we don’t just owe to her, we owe it to ourselves,” said Fernandez, who belongs to the Peronist party that has dominated Argentine politics since the late 1940s heyday of Peron and his wife Eva, known as Evita.

“She wasn’t perfect, she wasn’t a saint. On the contrary ... she was an ordinary woman who had the immense fortune to find her place with a man and with a nation,” she said, proposing the Evita bills eventually replace the current 100-peso bank note bearing the image of controversial former President Julio Roca.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner unveils a large scale bill of the new 100 pesos bank note with a portrait of former First Lady Eva Peron to commemorate Thursday's 60th anniversary of Eva's death, during a ceremony at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires July 25, 2012. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

The new bills will be legal tender, but it was not immediately clear how many would be issued or when they would enter circulation.

Evita’s figure is still very much alive in Argentine politics six decades after she died of cancer at the age of 33.

Slideshow (4 Images)

Fernandez, a fiery centre-leftist sometimes compared to the famous first lady, often invokes her memory in speeches. Just before last year’s election, she unveiled a huge portrait of her on the Health Ministry building.

Evita, who found fame as an actress before marrying Peron, is adored by many Argentines for helping women get the vote, securing labour benefits for the working classes and founding hospitals and orphanages.

($1 = 4.5675 pesos)

Reporting by Helen Popper; Editing by Bernard Orr

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