Since 1860, several thousand Lebanese began immigrating to Argentina, mainly to escape persecution from the Ottoman Empire and from the Mount Lebanon civil war.
Initially, most Lebanese migrants to Argentina were Christians; however, over the decades, Muslim Lebanese began immigrating to Latin American as well.
In 1943, Lebanon gained independence from France and, in 1945, Argentina recognized this independence and established diplomatic relations with Lebanon.
In May 1954, Lebanese President Camille Chamoun paid an official visit to Argentina and met with President Juan Perón, after which Argentina opened its embassy in Beirut.
In May 2016, Argentina Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra paid a visit to Lebanon, during which she met with various local organizations assisting refugees affected by the Syrian Civil War.
She also visited a Syrian refugee camp close to the Lebanese-Syrian border. That same year, Argentina agreed to resettle 3,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon.
And the deep ties between the two countries does not stop there.
Argentina’s First Lady Juliana Awada was born in Villa Ballester on April 3rd, 1974, to Ibrahim Awada, a Lebanese Muslim immigrant native of Baalbek, and Elsa Esther “Pomi” Baker, of Syrian descent.
She is the sister of entrepreneurs Zoraida and Daniel Awada, artist Leila Awada, and actor Alejandro Awada – all also prominent figures in Argentina.
Juliana Awada was actively involved in the family business, a textile company set up by her father in the 1960s. In 1997, she married Gustavo Capello, whom she would divorce one year later.
She would go on to enter into a relationship with the Belgian businessman Bruno Laurent Barbier, whom she had met on a flight of Air France. Despite having lived together for almost ten years, they never married but had a daughter named Valentina.
Awada and Mauricio Macri began a relationship in 2009. They wed on 16 November 2010 and have one daughter, Antonia, born in 2011.
During the presidential elections, Awada played an important role in the campaign of her husband, Mauricio Macri.
At first, with an extremely low profile, Awada always differed from the other wives of the presidential candidates, who had been much more prominent in the campaigns of their husbands.
But the campaign advisers sought to turn their profile and make it much more visible for the campaign.
She joined the campaign of Maria Eugenia Vidal in the Province of Buenos Aires on a tour of the party of José C. Paz. There, they visited the Zonal Hospital of Agudos Governor Domingo Mercante and talked with neighbors and merchants in Plaza Manuel Belgrano of that locality. Awada was concerned about the hospital’s building situation.
She was present during the presidential debate that took place in the Law College of the University of Buenos Aires, between her husband Mauricio Macri and the candidate Daniel Scioli.
In a historic ballotage, the first to be held in Argentina, Mauricio Macri won with 51.34% of the votes, becoming the successor of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Consequently, Awada became the First Lady of Argentina, accompanying her husband during his inauguration as President on December 10, 2015.
In her time as First Lady, Awada has adopted a multitude of social causes which she connects with. They included improving the building situation, providing equipment and supplies across rural areas of Argentina, and supporting food security programs.
In 2016, she was named one of the “best dressed” women in the world, according to Vogue magazine. Her current style has been compared with other famous First Ladies such as Jacqueline Kennedy.
Awada appeared on the cover and in a photo spread in the June 2016 issue of Vogue Latin América, and was dubbed “the most elegant First Lady in the world” in 2016, according to the magazine ¡Hola!.
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