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VIDEO: The Qom Protest Nobody is Listening To

VIDEO: The Qom Protest Nobody is Listening To

Their protest has been going on for more than four years, and now the indigenous Qom community has returned to Buenos Aires to demand recognition of their basic rights “as citizens and as human beings”.

Led by Félix Díaz, members of the La Primavera community have been camped at the busy intersection of Av. de Mayo and Av. 9 de Julio since 14th February to visualise their struggle to protect their territory and receive equal access to justice, health, education. They were in the same spot for five months in 2011, eventually ushered back to their home in Formosa with promises of dialogue and compromise that were never fulfilled.

The Indy visited the makeshift camp to speak to Félix Díaz and other activists about the problems in Formosa, their relationship with politics, and the long search for the respect and recognition of indigenous rights.

Camera & editing: Kate Rooney

Posted in Human Rights, TOP STORY, Video0 Comments

Hand of Pod: River Held, Boca Win, and a Copa Argentina Discussion

Hand of Pod: River Held, Boca Win, and a Copa Argentina Discussion

Hand Of Pod is a podcast dedicated to discussing the domestic football scene in Argentina, with the inevitable occasional digressions into the land of the continental cups and the national team.

Hand Of Pod host Sam is joined by Peter, Andrés and Jon Gilbert to discuss the second weekend of Argentina’s monster new Primera championship. River Plate were held in a lively 2-2 draw with Quilmes, Boca Juniors made it two league wins out of two, and champions Racing have just one point from their first two matches, but there’s a long way to go yet. We also discuss the Libertadores games that have taken place since we last recorded (since we recorded this episode, Boca Juniors beat Montevideo Wanderers 2-1 on Thursday night), and have a brief conversation about the Copa Argentina.

Mystic Sam’s third round predictions (last week: 3/15!)
Godoy Cruz v Huracán
Arsenal v Chicago
Crucero del Norte v Rosario Central
Tigre v Olimpo
San Lorenzo v San Martín
Unión v Lanús
Quilmes v Independiente
Racing v Temperley
Boca Juniors v Atlético de Rafaela
Argentinos v Defensa y Justicia
Gimnasia v Estudiantes
Belgrano v River Plate
Banfield v Colón
Sarmiento v Aldosivi
Newell’s v Vélez

You can find out more about the team behind HOP here.

Posted in Life & Style, Sport0 Comments

Judge Rafecas Rejects AMIA Cover up Case Against President

President Fernández was accused of an alleged cover up in the AMIA bombing case. (Photo: Presidencia/Télam)

President Fernández was accused of an alleged cover up in the AMIA bombing case. (Photo: Presidencia/Télam)

Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas today dismissed the criminal case against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner over an alleged plan to cover-up any Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre.

The accusations were made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, just a few days before he was found dead in his Puerto Madero apartment. On 13th February, prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita took on the investigation and requested that President Fernández and other high-ranking members of her administration be formally charged with attempting to divert the criminal investigation into the AMIA attack.

According to Nisman’s accusations, Argentina would shield Iranian suspects in the AMIA case in exchange for increase trade in oil and grains.

Judge Rafecas ruled that the accusations did not meet the “minimum conditions” to warrant further investigation. He stated that two main elements on which the cover up hypothesis was based – the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran and Argentina’s supposed efforts to remove Interpol’s ‘red notices’ for the Iranian suspects – were not supported by facts.

Approved in 2013, the MoU with Iran, which included plans to create a Truth Commission to investigate the AMIA bombing, was deemed unconstitutional in 2014 and never implemented. Meanwhile, days after Nisman’s formal accusation, Interpol’s ex-Secretary General Ronald Noble stated that the Argentine government had not requested the removal of ‘red notices’ for six Iranian suspects even after signing the MoU.

According to a statement by the judge: “It is clear that neither of the two alleged crimes cited by Prosecutor Pollicita in his petition hold up. The first (the creation of a Truth Commission), because the supposed crime never occurred, and the second (the removal Interpol’s “Red Notices”) because the evidence gathered emphatically rejects the prosecutor’s version of evens, and also leads to a conclusion that no crime was committed.”

Prosecutor Pollicita is now able to appeal the decision by Rafecas.

Story in development…

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups Argentina0 Comments

On Now: Warld Cup

On Now: Warld Cup

‘Warld Cup’ is a documentary photography project gathering images from more than 30 photographers from different latitudes to create a portrait of what was happening in Brazil on the fringes of the 2014 World Cup. After being shown in various spots in Rio de Janeiro, it is now open here in Buenos Aires, in the Centro Cultural de la Cooperación.

'Warld Cup' (Photo: Sebastián Gil Miranda)

‘Warld Cup’ (Photo: Sebastián Gil Miranda)

The exhibit narrates the social distinctions and contradictions of the tournament through well-chosen images that shun a tabloid aesthetic.

A woman kissing the image of [Brazil’s captain] Thiago Silva on the television in the settlement known as Copa do Povo in São Paulo. A group of indigenous men standing around a solitary tree opposite the Maracaná stadium. A person overcome with joy approaching a camera which is focusing on the security forces who are observing the scene. A man entering the only surviving house in a sea of rubble in front of a highway. These images come together in an exhibit whose name is formed through the fusion of “war” and “world”.

The idea for the collective project came from the meeting of French-Argentine Sebastián Gil Miranda, Brazilian Dinho Moreira, Elsa Brugière, and Thomas Belet (both French).

The title ‘Warld Cup’ was thought up by Sebastián Gil Miranda, a documentary photographer and sports fan who travelled to the World Cup with the idea of capturing the other reality of the event. He soon realised that he was not the only one: “The first days there I was meeting people that I thought were interesting, with interesting work, and one day, as I shared my project with some friends of friends, the idea came up of doing something collective. The next day we already had a logo, website, and a call out for entries.”

'Warld Cup'  (Photo: Colectivo Tem Morador)

‘Warld Cup’ (Photo: Colectivo Tem Morador)

The Two Sides of the Coin

The evictions of vulnerable communities, overpriced building projects, reports of corruption, tax benefits for FIFA and the World Cup sponsors, as well as laws designed according to their needs – all of these issues had an impact in the lead up to the tournament.

The social discontent in Brazil over the organisation of the World Cup had become public a year earlier, during the June 2013 Confederations Cup. The protests that began over the hike in public transport fares spread to include diverse problems and people, and combined with a violent police response, exposed the inequalities that hosting the World Cup in implies.

Beyond what he already knew, Gil Miranda was surprised by the almost constant contrast of celebration and police brutality: “Both the inauguration and the closing ceremony began with parties in the stadiums and a few blocks away protesters were being brutally suppressed. You were in two totally opposing worlds, a simultaneous party and a war, just a few blocks apart.”

Perhaps this is why the project quickly gathered momentum; in the end there was a wealth of material from which to select photos. That’s when the concept was fully defined: “We sought to tell the story [of the World Cup] from a much deeper, more subtle place, to search to find out what was really behind the incidents and not fall into sensationalism over the blood and violence,” says Gil Miranda.

Most of the photos are faithful to the goals of the project, even if not always the most aesthetically accomplished. The selection of photos transmits the contradictions between celebration and repression, the tension between poverty and business, traditions and progress, between the passion of the people and the show business of FIFA.

These contradictions were not exclusively felt by the Brazilians who suffered the collateral damage of the tournament. Gil Miranda felt it: “on the one hand I was working to show the other face of the World Cup, but then on the other hand Argentina kept progressing through the rounds and I ended up caught up on both sides.”

Warld Cup (Photo: Frederic Bernas)

Warld Cup (Photo: Frederick Bernas)

Stories

The most powerful photos are those that complement an underlying story. “The most interesting thing is to break down the story behind each image, such as in the photo of the woman kissing the television,” notes Gil Miranda. The photo was taken by Frederick Bernas in the Copa de Povo settlement, the new home to many of the families who were evicted to clear room for the São Paulo Arena in the Itaquerao neighbourhood.

Bernas himself notes: “These people had lost their homes for the World Cup, but when the game started they forgot about everything. The same woman who was shouting about FIFA, saying that they didn’t want any of this in Brazil, started to go crazy during the game. The level of intensity in this situation really surprised me.”

For his part, Bernas picks another example: “I think the photo of the boy playing while a line of police behind him are ready to act frames the tension that was running through society. But there were many good ones – seeing these photos in print is something really special and powerful.

The organisers promise to maintain the spirit of Warld Cup and continue the project in during the European Championships in France and the Olympic Games in Rio, both in 2016.

Warld Cup‘ is on at the Centro Cultural de la Cooperación (Av. Corrientes 1543, 11-5077-8000) until 29th March. Entrance is free. 

Lead image: ‘Warld Cup’ by Felipe Paive, R.U.A. Foto Coletivo

Posted in Art, The Arts0 Comments

Amnesty: Argentina’s Progress Stalled in ‘Devastating Year’ for Human Rights

Amnesty: Argentina’s Progress Stalled in ‘Devastating Year’ for Human Rights

The state of human rights in the world, to put it lightly, is not good. According to Amnesty International’s annual report, published today, many politicians “miserably failed” to protect civilians in 2014.

From Damascus, to Washington, to Caracas, the “State of the World’s Human Rights Report” expounds on some of the year’s worst violations.

Amnesty International released its 2014/2015 global human rights report today (Photo courtesy of AI)

Amnesty International released its 2014/2015 global human rights report today (Photo courtesy of AI)

The most widespread appears to be in Syria, where more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians, have died. Amnesty International, one of the largest non-government organisations, estimates that 4m refugees have fled to other countries. About 7.6m are displaced within Syria. The Islamic State, civilian causalities in Gaza, Boko Haram, and conflicts in South Sudan are only fraction of the issues throughout 160 countries investigated by Amnesty.

The Americas also came under criticism when it came to human rights last year. The region seems to be going backwards, according to the report. For example, in Mexico more than 22,000 people have been abducted or forcibly disappeared since 2006, including 43 students from Guerrero state in September 2014. The report also condemns the United States, Venezuela and Brazil for excessive use of police force.

Argentina, according to the report, remained ‘stagnant’ in many human rights issues. Indigenous peoples’ and women’s rights were a key issue, as well as a failure to bring justice in the 1994 Argentina Israelite Mutual Association, or AMIA bombing.

Mariela Belski, executive director at Amnesty International Argentina, named access to abortions as a top issue in the country.

More than half of jurisdictions in Argentina did not have protocols in place at hospitals for legal abortions, according to the report. Implementation of legal abortions, which are allowed if the pregnancy is a result of sexual abuse or puts the woman’s life or health at risk, was at an all-time low in 2014.

'Legal abortion now!' is scrawled in front of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires (photo: Thiago Skárnio, via flickr)

‘Legal abortion now!’ is scrawled in front of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires (photo: Thiago Skárnio, via flickr)

“We are working very hard in terms of getting the decriminalisation of abortion,” Belski said. “I can mention ten different human rights that this violates.”

She said a new law would reduce maternal mortality, especially in conservative provinces where statistics are much higher.

There was hope in the Amnesty office in Buenos Aires that progress might come in 2015, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s last presidential year. The same-sex marriage law, passed under Fernández in 2010, was a spark of optimism for Belski.

“If you look at the arguments in the equal marriage law, it’s quite the same argument you can use to defend the decriminalisation of abortion,” Belski told the Argentina Independent. “We were thinking, why did she take on this fight and not abortion?”

Belski admits it’s “also kind of difficult” in a heavily Catholic country, with an Argentine Pope. She said those at Amnesty often ask themselves why Pope Francis supports decriminalised abortion in European countries, and not in Argentina.

Meanwhile, indigenous rights in Argentina were “rarely fulfilled” in 2014. The National Constitution recognises Indigenous People’s right to ancestral land and the management of resources. Yet in April, the Formosa Province again violated land rights in building of a healthcare centre without the consent of the Qom community.

The struggle has reached the centre of Buenos Aires, where members of the community are camping to call attention to their plight. Qom leader Félix Díaz, named a human rights defender by Amnesty, and other members of the community have been living in tents at the corner of Av. De Mayo and Av. 9 de Julio since 14th February.

A similar camp in 2011 lasted five months and only ended after government promises of dialogue to resolve territorial disputes and guarantee basic rights. However, these talks quickly broke down and progress has been very limited since.

“The violation of our human rights is not respecting the cultural identity of indigenous communities,” said Díaz, speaking to the Indy at the makeshift camp. “We are protesting here on this little square so that our human rights are respected and guaranteed as citizens and as human beings.”

Felix Diaz, Leader of The Qom, at a protest camp on Av. 9 de Julio in 2011 (Photo:  Patricio Guillamón)

Felix Diaz, Leader of The Qom, at a protest camp on Av. 9 de Julio in 2011 (Photo: Patricio Guillamón)

Other human rights abuses in Argentina included recurring reports of torture in prisons in Mendoza and elsewhere. Many were not investigated, including the cases of Marcelo Tello and Iván Bressan, who were imprisoned in Santiago Del Estero. Argentina is now also dealing with drug cartels, according to the report, a new problem and human rights issue on Belski and Amnesty’s radar.

Amnesty did credit the current government for continuing to hold trials for war crimes. Throughout Argentina, public tribunals were held for crimes against humanity committed during the last military dictatorship. More than 100 defendants accused of crimes committed at clandestine detention centers were tried in 2014.

“[President] Cristina did a good job in terms of some human rights,” Belski said, adding that government representatives were always open to hearing Amnesty’s stance, even if nothing changed. “But she forgot that there are other human rights that are important, and we need to take care of them.”

Belski mentioned that the current government’s promotion of its human rights credentials might hurt progress in the future, especially in upcoming elections. President Fernández, she said, used human rights so much that voters “in a way are fed up with the human rights discourse.”

“Our concern is that the new candidates will not cover human rights issues because of this,” Belski said.

Lead image – photos courtesy of Beatrice Murch, Comité Contra la Tortura, and Patricio Guillamon

Posted in Human Rights, News From Argentina1 Comment

‘Worst Fire in 100 Years’ Sweeps Through Patagonian Forest

Firefighters and emergency services are battling to control a fire that has consumed thousands of hectares of native forest in the Patagonian province of Chubut.

One of the rescue workers leading the operation told local newspaper Diario Río Negro today that this was the “worst fire in 100 years”.

The fire has been raging through forest in Chubut since 15th February (Photo: Pablo Wegrzyn, via Télam)

The fire has been raging through forest in Chubut since 15th February (Photo: Pablo Wegrzyn, via Télam)

The blaze, which started on 15th February, has affected nearly 14,000 hectares of forest on the lower slopes of the Andean mountain range. It has also killed hundreds of animals and livestock in the area.

More than 120 firefighters are tackling the fire on the ground, while planes and a helicopter dump gallons of water from above when conditions allow them to fly.

Provincial governor Martín Buzzi announced that today he would sign a decree declaring an “environmental emergency” for the area. The provincial cabinet, which gathered Monday in the town of Cholila some 40km from the fire, has already set aside $15m to tackle the blaze.

According to weather forecasts for the area, rains are not due for several more days, making it more difficult to prevent the fire from spreading closer to populated areas.

Hundreds of people from rural villages in the area have been evacuated as a precaution, though so far there has been no significant damage to properties. Chubut’s Minister for Infrastructure Maximiliano López confirmed that “only some families have been evacuated but the climactic conditions are not favourable, with west and north-westerly winds, meaning that the fire has not been brought under control yet.”

The fire is thought to have started during a lightning storm last week.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups Argentina0 Comments

18F: Reflections on the March for Nisman

18F: Reflections on the March for Nisman

Wednesday evening’s torrential downpour would normally have cleared the streets of Buenos Aires. But tens of thousands of people stood firm, determined to be a part of the ‘silent march’ organised for a month after the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

“I don’t mind if it rains,” one elderly man told me as the sky over the National Congress turned a threatening grey-blue. “I feel like I need to be here to pay homage to Nisman, who had the courage to investigate those in power. There must be justice.” It was a sentiment shared by many.

Tens of thousands of Argentines defied the weather to join the Nisman march (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Tens of thousands of Argentines defied the weather to join the Nisman march (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

The so-called ’18F’ march had the world’s media fixated on Argentina, as it has been since Nisman’s demise just days after he had accused President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of attempting to cover-up Iran’s suspected involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre.

Yet, with some notable exceptions, this international coverage often lacks context or misses details that help provide a deeper perspective and understanding. Overlooking or ignoring the nuances of an “historic” event like 18F can lead to misinterpretation, or worse, reinforce the binary “us versus them” positions that have done so much damage to the standard of political debate in Argentina of late (with both sides to blame).

With this in mind, here are some observations and reflections from Wednesday’s march.

1. Firstly, this was a very large crowd – the exact number varies greatly depending on the source (some estimating 50,000, others putting the number at half a million), and doesn’t really matter. For a reference point, it was roughly comparable to that of the November 2012 ‘cacerolazo‘ or protests during the 2008 ‘campo crisis‘. The big turnout was expected given the repercussions of the Nisman case and several days of build up in the media, though the stoic perseverance of those marching through the storm was a clear public message of defiance. There was a dominant demographic in attendance: the urban, middle class, with a slight bias towards older generations. There were exceptions – I saw a number of younger families – and marches in other parts of the country may have been different, but the crowd in Buenos Aires could not be considered a full cross-section of Argentine society. Of course, this doesn’t discredit the demands or convictions of the people there, but we must be wary of presenting them as those of the entire populace.

Calls for a silent march were largely respected by the crowds (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Calls for a silent march were largely respected by the crowds (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

2. The frenzied speculation of the last month was – thankfully – largely absent from the march. The organisers, led by a handful of federal prosecutors, had requested people remain silent and avoid the aggressive political chanting of other recent protests, including the day after Nisman’s death. This was well respected: people talked quietly among themselves, but aside from the occasional chant of “Justicia! Justicia! Justicia!” and a few renditions of the national anthem, the most conspicuous noise was the rain beating down on a hotch-potch blanket of umbrellas. It was, in this respect, a peaceful and respectful mass congregation, marred only by the unfortunate chant of ‘Nunca Más‘ (Never Again) – a term used almost exclusively in relation to crimes against humanity committed by the last military dictatorship in Argentina – by a minority.

3. It’s important to remember that these calls for justice took place just one month into the official investigation into Nisman’s death, early stages for such a delicate and complex case. Frustrating there are still more questions than answers, but it is underway and moving forward at a faster pace than many cases (even if not nearly fast enough for the Twitter generation). Furthermore Nisman’s own accusations against the president are now being followed up by another prosecutor, Gerardo Pollicita. To demand “Justice for Nisman” at this stage implies assumptions about him, his work, and his death, which in turn suggest a certain disregard for those charged with discovering the truth. The six prosecutors who organised the march said that it was simply to pay homage to their dead colleague, and not against anyone in particular. But others, including from within the judiciary, criticised the event for undermining and putting undue pressure on their colleagues leading the current investigations.

4. Another contradiction: the prosecutors who were received as heroes in Plaza de Mayo have long been part of a justice system that very few people in Argentina consider to be transparent or effective. To name just a few, cases such as Cromañón, Luciano Arruga, Jorge Julio López, Marita Verón, and the AMIA bombing itself, have exposed corruption, negligence, and impunity in the judiciary, yet did not prompt the same level of media or public outcry. Obviously, Nisman’s profile and the timing of his death makes this a special case. But let’s not forget that he was also part of this flawed system, and there remain concerns over his handling of the AMIA investigation over a decade, especially his proximity to the local intelligence services and US embassy officials (as revealed by numerous Wikileaks cables). This doesn’t mean that his accusations against the president are invalid nor make his untimely death any less disturbing, but it would be a mistake to ignore even the possibility that errors were made, or that there were ulterior motives at play.

Many people have already made up their mind about what happened to Prosecutor Nisman (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

Many people have already made up their mind about what happened to Prosecutor Nisman (Photo: Patricio Murphy)

5. All of this suggests that, though the prosecutors leading 18F publicly attempted to remove politics from the occasion, this was still an anti-government protest at heart. The particulars of the Nisman case (both his death and his accusations) mean it is inevitably mixed up with politics and the demands for justice on his behalf – led somewhat paradoxically by members of the judicial branch – were aimed squarely at the Executive. There is a reason that only opposition leaders participated, albeit presenting themselves as ‘citizens’ rather than ‘candidates’ (for the upcoming elections), and that the march travelled from Congress to Plaza de Mayo, bypassing the Courts. Of course, there is nothing wrong with holding a political or opposition march; on the contrary, public, non-violent demonstrations against the ruling power are a sign of a healthy democracy. But pretending this was something entirely apolitical is to willingly ignore the underlying interests and agendas of some of those involved.

6. What happens post 18F? Probably nothing new. In itself, the march was neither an attempt at a “soft coup” (as some in the government have claimed) nor a “silent revolution” (as some in the opposition would have us believe). The investigations into Nisman’s death and his own allegations against the president will continue at the pace these things move in bureaucracy-ridden Argentina. There are likely to be more twists and turns, more speculation and suspicion, more media hyperbole. And there will be repeated public calls for truth and justice, even though many have already made up their mind about what happened to Nisman, and will be reluctant to accept any outcome that suggests otherwise.

Above all, the whole Nisman saga will play out in the context of a heavily divided society and amid an ugly power struggle involving the government, the judiciary, the media, the corporate establishment, and now the intelligence services. Oh, and in an election year.

Make no mistake: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

@marcdrogers

Lead image by Patricio Murphy.

Posted in Analysis2 Comments

Court Upholds Charges Against Vice-President Boudou

Vice-president Amado Boudou (photo courtesy of Itupictures)

Vice-president Amado Boudou (photo courtesy of Itupictures)

A Federal Court in Buenos Aires yesterday upheld bribery charges against Vice-President Amado Boudou. The ruling means Boudou moves a step closer to standing trial for alleged abuses of power while he was the minister of economy.

Boudou, 52, was charged with passive bribery and incompatible negotiations in the ‘Ciccone case’ last June.

He stands accused of exploiting his power as economy minister to award government contracts and negotiate favourable debt repayment terms for a bankrupt company in which he was allegedly handed a controlling stake. Ciccone Calcográfica SA, now Compañía de Valores Sudamericana (CSV), is one of two printing firms in Argentina that can produce bank notes, cheques, identity documents, lottery tickets, and other high security documents.

The vice-president has denied any misconduct. But Judges Jorge Ballestero, Eduardo Freiler, and Eduardo Farah unanimously decided otherwise, rejecting calls for an annulment filed by Boudou’s defence lawyers.

The ruling means that Boudou moves closer to a trial, pending further possible appeals to higher courts. This means that an eventual trial will not happen any time soon, according to Federal Judge Jorge Di Lello. “I estimate that it will go to trial after the election,” Di Lello told Radio Vorterix Friday.

Di Lello also said it would be better for everyone if they could resolve this in the upcoming months. “If the vice-president committed a crime, it’s healthier that he’s not vice-president,” Di Lello said. “If he didn’t commit a crime, it will help end the [criticism].”

Boudou, whose lawyer Diego Pirota resigned last week, will remain free while awaiting trial. If convicted, he could face up to six years in prison. The vice-president is also waiting to stand trial for allegedly using fake and forged documents to register a car in his name.

The court also confirmed the indictment of five other Argentines involved in the case: José María Núñez Carmona, Alejandro Vandenbroele, Rafael Resnick Brenner, Guido Forcieri, and owner of the firm Nicolás Ciccone.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups Argentina0 Comments

Hand of Pod: How Will Argentine Clubs Fare in the Copa Libertadores?

Hand of Pod: How Will Argentine Clubs Fare in the Copa Libertadores?

Hand Of Pod is a podcast dedicated to discussing the domestic football scene in Argentina, with the inevitable occasional digressions into the land of the continental cups and the national team.

The 2015 Monster Championship has begun, and in this (the 172nd) episode of Hand Of Pod, Sam, Santi and Peter convene to look back on the first weekend of action. Champions Racing got off to a losing start, Independiente edged a five-goal thriller, whilst things were rather more pedestrian for River Plate, Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo, who all recorded routine wins. The first managerial casualty of the season has, quite ridiculously, already occurred, with Reinaldo Merlo dismissed by Colón. We also look at the Copa Libertadores and tell you exactly who will qualify from each group.

Mystic Sam’s second round predictions (7/15 correct last week):

Atlético de Rafaela v Banfield
Huracán v Arsenal
Estudiantes v Godoy Cruz
San Martín v Gimnasia
Central v Tigre
Olimpo v Racing
Vélez v Crucero del Norte
Independiente v Sarmiento
Aldosivi v Newell’s
Chicago v Unión
River v Quilmes
Colón v Argentinos
Temperley v Boca
Lanús v Belgrano
Defensa y Justicia v San Lorenzo

You can find out more about the team behind HOP here.

Posted in Life & Style, Sport0 Comments

Córdoba: Recovery Effort Underway After Deadly Floods

The floods caused widespread damange in Sierras Chicas, province of Córdoba (Photo: Irma Montiel/ Télam)

The floods caused widespread damange in Sierras Chicas, province of Córdoba (Photo: Irma Montiel/ Télam)

Recovery efforts are underway after deadly floods killed at least seven and damaged around 1,500 homes in the province of Córdoba.

More than 300mm of rain – the equivalent of around 30% of the annual average – fell within 12 hours on Sunday. The storm caused flash floods in several areas of the province, leading to fatalities and widespread damage to infrastructure. This included an aqueduct, leaving municipalities in the mountainous Sierras Chicas area in the northwest of the province without running water.

At least 1,000 people were evacuated, including dozens from the provincial capital, though most have since been able to return to their homes. Meanwhile, a search operation is still underway for a 21-year-old girl who went missing during the floods. Mariana Di Marco had been camping near the town of Ascochinga when the storm struck.

Further rains on Tuesday added to the damage, and earlier this morning a bridge on the Ruta 9 highway collapsed. There were no injuries as the road had been closed to traffic since Monday, but authorities warned that it could take a month for the bridge to be repaired.

Meanwhile, on Monday Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich confirmed that national pension organisation ANSES would provide special assitance to nearly 15,000 people affected by the floods.

‘Not a Natural Catastrophe’

Provincial Governor José Manuel de la Sota described the rain on Sunday as a “tsunami that fell from the sky”.

However, in the aftermath of the disaster, several environmental and social groups have claimed that widespread deforestation in the province contributed to the deadly flooding.

The NGO Coordinators for Environmental and Human Rights in Sierras Chicas said in a written statement that this was not a “natural catastrophe”.

“Beyond the amount of rain that fell, the ‘catastrophe’ is not ‘natural': natural is when rain is filtered gradually to the surface (a sponge effect). But the higher grounds are being cleared, burnt, and built upon, leaving the ground unprotected and impermeable.”

Greenpeace Argentina noted that: “Córdoba province retains less than 4% of its original native forests, and in spite of the National Forest Law, clearing for agricultural or urban development has wiped out forests in delicate areas, removing the protection that vegetation provides during heavy rains.”

Legislator for the MST-Nueva Izquierda Alejandro Bodart also criticised governor De La Sota: “He blames nature and talks about a ‘tsunami’, but in reality the real catastrophe is his model of deforestation and the expansion of soy at the behest of Monsanto.”

 

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups Argentina0 Comments

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