Mirdza Restberga-Zalta, an art historian, singer and Latvia’s former honorary consul in Argentina, has died at the age of 78.
Restberga-Zalta (known in Spanish as Mirdza Restbergs de Zalts), died April 26 in Buenos Aires, according to a May 18 report by the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība, or PBLA).
She was born March 30, 1931, in Kuldīga into the Alberts Restbergs family. Restberga-Zalta left Latvia with her family in 1944 to escape the Soviet occupation during World War II. She arrived in Argentina in 1948.
She worked first as a seamstress, then in a medical laboratory and then in a sweets shop, Restberga-Zelta told the Liepāja newspaper Kurzemes Vārds in a 1998 interview. She learned stenography, typing and Spanish, and then became a secretary. At the University of Buenos Aires she earned a degree in art history. Under the stage name of Mirdza Kalve, according to the PBLA, she performed as a singer on the Buenos Aires city radio station and in several operas.
She published a small Spanish-Latvian dictionary to help the non-Latvians in mixed marriages learn something of the Latvian language. Restberga-Zalta also taught at the University of Buenos Aires.
The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1997 appointed Restberga-Zalta as honorary consul in Argentina. Among her duties was organizing polling in the Buenos Aires area during elections in Latvia. She served as honorary consul until 2007 and for her service was awarded Latvia’s Cross of Recognition, Third Class. Restberga-Zalta also was active in the Latvian Association of South America (Dienvidamerikas Latviešu apvienība), serving on its board of directors and representing Argentina.
In 2001, she teamed up with Ilgvars Ozols to publish Latvieši Argentīnā, Čīlē un Urugvajā, a history of Latvians in three Latin American countries. Restberga-Zalta also published a 50,000-word Latvian-Spanish dictionary in 2006.
Restberga-Zalta had a son and a daughter from her first marriage and helped raise two daughters with her second husband, according to the PBLA.
A Latvian-Spanish dictionary published in 2006 by Mirdza Restberga-Zalta is still available in Rīga bookshops.
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