It’s Friday again!
And I’m away for the weekend but as rumors of a possible coup continue to spread like gasoline, here I am writing this for you in order to bring you peace of mind.
God, I hate you.
Like us on Facebook and forgive any possible typos. I wrote this while riding a tour bus.
This is what you need to know:
It’s a coup! It’s not a coup! It’s a coup, maybe! In case you haven’t been paying attention to the most important news of the week (shame on you), two branches of the armed forces are up in arms against the National Government and trust me, it ain’t pretty. The whole thing started on Tuesday when members of the Coast Guard (in Spanish, Prefectura Naval) decided to start protesting against the recent signing of a presidential decree that pretty much cut their salaries in half. The sight of men in military uniform standing up against the President is obviously not a pretty one, specially since it brings back memories from a past no one here wants to revisit (for all you low-information readers, I’m talking about this), but as usual, both sides of the political spectrum have been using the conflict to try and score a few political points:
- Pro-Government factions: “It’s a coup! Oh, my God, the armed forces are rising against our hard-earned democracy and are trying to topple our dear leaders!”
- Anti-Government factions: “It’s a legitimate protest by hard workers who are being exploited by the National Government.”
- The truth? Their protest is legitimate, their methodology is not. The leader of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo organization, known for her brave work during and after the last military dictatorship, offered a press conference to “bring peace of mind” to the population. Mayor Mauricio Macri did the same and urged the protesters to go home to their families, although he said “he understood their reasons to be angry since they have been mistreated by the National Government for the last ten years” (or “vote for me next time,” wink wink). The uniformed protesters have stated repeatedly that they are 100% behind democracy and that this is not a coup, they just want to be paid accordingly. But considering that several recent pseudo-coups in Latin America (this and this) began in a similar way it wouldn’t hurt to be cautious. As of today, and even though the Government has offered a solution to their demands, the protesters have said their fight would continue during the weekend until they get what they want in writing and signed.
- Sorry for the depressing, unfunny, reductionist viewpoint I just offered. I wanted you to understand. I promise the next bullet points are as stupid as usual.
- In the meantime, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was in Lima, Perú, attending the South American – Arab summit, expressing her support for the recognition of a Palestinian state and addressing the Malvinas/Falklands issue. However, the most relevant piece of information to come out of that summit was that Cristina didn’t know that alfajores were in fact an Arabic delicacy. No, I’m serious. You think I cover shitty news? Think again, the mainstream media does the same: check it here, here, here, here and here.
- Also, the president of Lebanon visited Argentina this week but no one cared.
- Youth in revolt! High-school students continue their crusade against the City Government and its plans for a syllabus reform that would reduce hours of art and lab classes in order to focus on more core subjects such as math and Spanish language. In the last three weeks, students have taken over more than 40 schools and marched to the City Education ministry in protest and now a judge has ordered Education Minister Esteban Bullrich to meet with them so they can solve the conflict. In the meantime, it’s like spring break out there. If you walk by a school that’s been taken over, join them for a mate and stay for the protests. It could get fun.
- [UPDATE] Bullrich has said he will suspend the syllabus reform if students agree to end the takeovers. Which is a bummer because you could have had fun with them.
- Well, well, well. Look who comes crawling back. Maybe it’s a sign that things are not that bad in Argentina?
- OK, maybe not.
- This week, on ‘Restrictions on the Dollar that Absolutely Don’t Exist’: Game over, kids! You can no longer send dollars abroad via Western Union or any other loophole you may have been taking advantage of. As of this week, you can only send abroad $2250 pesos a month. The good news is you don’t really care about this since you’re more worried about getting your money in the country than out of the country. In fact I don’t even know why I’m wasting time on such irrelevant piece of information. Oh well, at least it helps perpetuate the notion that this country is going to hell.
- Ah, the pride of Puerto Madero. The Frigate Libertad, that marvel of engineering that decorates the docks of the area with her pristine white sails moving gently in the Costanera winds. For years, a vessel of such global recognition has ventured into terra incognita and endured inclement weathers only to later return home and allow primary school students to see her from the inside while Navy officials of yesteryear talk about her many voyages into the unknown. But this week, as lady Libertad was approaching the coast of Ghana, a new danger was lurking in the waters (cue theme from Jaws). The American Task Force Argentina (otherwise known as Argentina’s repo man and nemesis) asked the Ghanaian supreme court for mercy and as soon as the ship docked there it was fucking impounded. No need to worry though, considering that Puerto Madero is completely unprotected because the Coast Guard is striking somewhere else, I’m sure that old piece of crap would have been stolen anyway. At least this way it helps reduce some kind of debt. Win-win.
- Well, the jig is up. We knew it was coming. We can pretend it doesn’t exist or blame the media, but according to a new study by the OAS Argentina is leading the “country with the most robberies” list in all of the Americas. According to the research, there’s 973 robberies for every 100,000 people. A dubious honor, so don’t tell your parents.
- Seriously, don’t tell them.
- In case you’re wondering where that’s from, it was published along with a press statement from Proyecto Sur lawmaker Virginia González Gass, who later revealed it was “sent over by mistake.” Sure it was.
- Horror! If you ever needed an excuse to revolt, this is it: now Kenzois
leaving the country too! Yes, my fellow fashion-conscious people, Kenzo is joining Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren in their decision to move to greener pastures (“greener” pastures… because of the dollars… geddit? I know, I’m hilarious) and leave us all empty handed (or as Clarín calls it, “exodus”). Whatever, you may not be able to get Kenzo perfume, but you can always support the national industry by buying the Diego Maradona “Eau de Toilette.” That is some classy shit, right there.
- Argentina, being the attention whore that it is, is mad at Facebook. OK, true. Everyone is always mad at Facebook. But this time it is not because Mark Zuckerberg unilaterally decided to expose your private messages from 2010 by posting them on your wall, a breach that in fact never happened. No, this time it’s because as Facebook reached one billion users, it released this pretty little ad, which was partly shot in this country. The problem? NO ARGENTINE FLAGS ANYWHERE. No celeste y blanca at all. Which is in everyone’s mind a federal offense that should be punished by death. So now people are taking their rage to message boards, complaining that “there’s only one flag in it and it’s red and white. What are we, Peruvians?“. Ah, the internet. Letting idiots speak their minds since 1995.
- Oh, and to you hate-mongers already planning to use that last line against me in a future email, let me tell you: your simple missives devoid of originality make you an unworthy, unoriginal opponent. Try something else.
- This is the story of the unluckiest man in the world. Italian-born Rafael Napolitano lost the fingers from his left hand while working a machine in his home country. Though initially certain he would never find love, Rafael was later proven wrong when he met Argentine-born “Marta”, who swept him off his feet with her hypnotic siren chants and urged him to move back with her to a mythical land called Argentina. “Where are you from?” he asked, naively. “Salta,” she replied cryptically (Did you just go “Oh, shit”? Yeah, you know where this is going). Anyway, I’m in a hurry. Long story short, she stole all his money and passport after they got to Salta and he now roams aimlessly in that provincial purgatory, looking for an absolution to his soul and begging for money outside a church in order to buy a plane ticket back home. Salta. A foreigner’s worst nightmare. You still wanna go?
- Remember Roger Waters? No? Ask your parents about him, I’m sure they remember. He was a bassist in Pink Floyd. He was also the lucky bastard who gave nine shows last March here and got to leave the country with 20 trillion dollars before the non-existing restrictions on the dollar were applied. Anyway, Roger is once again making the headlines as he retells his Argentine adventure, but not because of the beautiful women in this country, or its butter-like beef of its trendy nightlife. Nah. It’s actually because some shady cop asked him for a bribe while he was here. Don’t feel so special Roger, it’s happened to all of us.
- Worst part is the bastard refused to pay the bribe. DUDE! You’re leaving the country with a trillion dollars, give the guy his 100 pesos and be on your way! So selfish, these people.
- Great news, Moria Casán fans (if there are any)! Remember her imminent imprisonment in Paraguay over the disappearance of an $80,000 necklace? Well, get this: her lawyer has found indisputable evidence but the aforementioned piece of jewelry was “melted and turned into rings in the black market. They will never be seen again.” There, problem solved! How is she cleared of all charges by this? I have no idea! You know those sitcom episodes in which there’s this big conflict that keeps getting worse and worse and worse and then it all resolves itself in the last 30 seconds with some bullshit Deus ex machina twist? Well, this is just like it. Only even more predictable.
- What’s even better: she’s getting some financial compensation by the guy who pressed charges for all the troubles caused! Is Paraguay Argentina’s Canada? All signs point to no, but also kinda yes. You know what I mean.
- And now the football: The Superclásico of the Americas was advertised as the sporting event of the century. Millions and millions spent on advertising and infrastructure, as Resistencia, a city you’ll never visit unless you engage in some serious volunteer work, readied to welcome Argentine and Brazilian fans eager to see a live-action clash of the titans. After traveling thousands of kilometers, hooligans and casual fans prepared themselves to endure the extreme weather of the region and flocked to the football stadium as governor Jorge Capitanich proudly heralded the imminent kick off of a game that would be watched by millions all over South America. And then a few minutes before it started, a cable got “cut off” and the power went out in the field, forcing the authorities to cancel the match and turning the whole event into an international embarrassment that will be remembered by generations to come. And I loved it.