Tag Archive | "Argentina"

Book Review: The Militant Song Movement in Latin America

militant song“Without an understanding of the emotional component of political involvement it is impossible to fully understand a movement for social change such as the one operating in Latin America at that time. Without an account of how music was pervasively used in the construction of these emotional components, the political and social explanation of what occurred in Latin America during that period will be always inexcusably partial.”

Pablo Vila’s introduction to ‘The Militant Song Movement in Latin America: Chile, Uruguay and Argentina’ (Lexington Books, 2014) succinctly defines the complexities of a movement whose narration differs across the three countries discussed in the book.

The militant song, which emerged as a powerful movement from the 1950s until the mid 1970s, swiftly became an expression of “el pueblo” – the people. The political mobilisation of the masses, constructed upon the validation of subaltern experience and memory, incorporated traditional folklore, as well as the ramifications of poverty and social injustice. The triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 increased anti-colonial sentiment in Latin America and emphasised the importance of cultural dissemination which, in Cuba, was epitomised by its own variant of militant song known as “Nueva Trova Cubana”.

The book incorporates history and memory, as well as the processes that have constructed divergent forms of remembrance with regard to the militant song movement. While the militant song departed from common objectives – namely the repudiation of colonial and imperialist influences – the memory frameworks in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina differed following the brutal dictatorships and subsequent transitions towards a democratic framework.

Thus, while political mobilisation against oppression provided a common foundation in all three countries, the memory processes in the aftermath of their respective dictatorships reflected the variations in remembrance of the militant song. In Argentina, songs that nurtured the militant song yet lacked a militant element took precedence within the country’s collective memory. The de-politicisation of songs, aided by the emphasis upon aesthetics and poetry, became a characteristic of Uruguayan memory. On the other hand, militant song in Chile emerged as the strongest with regard to memory, owing to the dictatorship-imposed rupture on society.

La nueva canción chilena was the militant song movement that had a profound impact on Chilean society (Photo courtesy of Memoria Chilena)

La nueva canción chilena was the militant song movement that had a profound impact on Chilean society (Photo courtesy of Memoria Chilena)

Three phases characterise Uruguay’s militant song: the triumph and inspiration of the Cuban Revolution, cultural resistance to dictatorship, and the 1985 return to democracy. While the emphasis upon resistance to colonial influence and the incorporation of local traditions remained for a time, within a limited audience, exposure to the intellectual society and the international left by Daniel Viglietti aided dissemination. Viglietti, a radical Uruguayan singer who collaborated also with Chilean nueva canción musicians, stands out as the epitome of the militant song genre in Uruguay.

Uruguay’s militant song encouraged dialogue between the singer and the audience, placing value upon aesthetics and the literary quality of the songs as the primary means through which to combat dictatorship oppression. As the inspiration of “el pueblo” becomes a disseminated collective experience, political oppression is challenged through “simultaneous and complicit engagement”, according to Maria Figueredo. The prominence of aesthetics in Uruguay’s militant song, while failing to act as a deterrent for the exile of more radical singers such as Viglietti, enabled the manoeuvring and rewriting of songs in a manner that challenged authority within censorship restrictions. However, the shift in focus is also testimony to the later trend of depoliticisation, thus minimising remembrance of Uruguayan militant song and its fusion with politics.

Atahualpa Yupanqui, pioneer of the militant song movement in Argentina is considered to have vindicated previously inaccessible social commentary departing from the subaltern and the consciousness of the indigenous, marginalised for a long time by successive governments. A reflection also of the silence imposed upon the indigenous, Yupanqui’s militant song is immediately distanced from the “hegemonic collective imaginary”, particularly with regard to the song “El arriero va”, which is considered to be the first song endorsing critical commentary about social conditions in 1944.

As Carlos Molinero and Pablo Vila state in their chapter, the recognition of difference from within strikes the first challenge against the hegemony, thus bringing social inclusion of the masses to the fore. This also aided in the expansion and exploration of socio-political themes by other singers such as Mercedes Sosa, thus making the change from political representation to using song as a political weapon. With the singer as protagonist, the song is allowed the freedom to become the epitome of struggle – one particular reference and inspiration for the genre being Che Guevara’s utopian metaphor of the “new man”.

However, unlike the continuous experience of Chile, Argentine militant song was less widespread – a fact reflected in the remembrance of non-militant repertoire that nurtured the movement, rather than an affinity to militant song itself. For example, despite its lack of militant content, “Gracias a la Vida”, authored by Chilean nueva canción pioneer Violeta Parra but mostly associated with Mercedes Sosa, remains at the helm of Argentine remembrance of the genre.

A mural for Victor Jara in Santiago, Chile (photo: Wikipedia)

A mural for Victor Jara, one of the leading singers in Chile’s militant song movement, in Santiago. (photo: Wikipedia)

Chile, on the contrary, remains the embodiment of militant song. ‘La nueva canción Chilena’, incorporated within Salvador Allende’s Unidad Popular campaign, was an active movement of political mobilisation and consciousness that rendered the masses participants in political events. Vehemently shunning commercial snares, the nueva canción movement proved formidable in countering imperialist culture at a time when Chilean society was riddled with turbulence, military violence and the resonating clamour for social change. Nueva canción artists willingly pledged their support to Allende’s campaign, with groups and singers such as Inti Illimani and Victor Jara becoming deeply involved the process of rendering the song a viable political vehicle.

Perhaps the most poignant of all was the composition of ‘El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido’ (The people united, will never be defeated’) in August 1973 by Sergio Ortega and Quilapayun, just a few weeks prior to the brutal US-backed military coup led by General Pinochet. The immense inspiration generated by the movement led to the detention and torture of several nueva canción singers such as Angel Parra and Victor Jara – the latter being brutally tortured and murdered in the aftermath of the coup. Other singers and groups, such as Patricio Manns and Inti Illimani, were forced into exile. Records pertaining to the nueva canción movement were destroyed along with other material that reflected the mobilisation of the subaltern, such as literature and indigenous instruments. The fusion of militant song with politics in Chile remains evident – particularly in the ongoing battle for memory and the challenging of dictatorship oblivion – a characteristic that is still enshrined in Chile despite the return to democracy.

Drawing upon valuable historical resources, interviews and a vast repertoire of songs, the book is a valuable reference that highlights not only the role of the singers in this enduring movement, but also the political dimension that is allowed to preserve its emotive aspect. A movement that “has outlived the historical conditions that engendered them,” as Nancy Morris states in her contribution, the relevance of the militant song, epitomised in particular by the Chilean experience of memory in relation to the epoch, needs a constant regeneration to avoid the pitfalls of the political periphery.

The Militant Song Movement in Latin America: Chile, Uruguay and Argentina‘ (Lexington Books, 2014)

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Dams and Deforestation: The Human Contribution to Natural Disasters

As the southern hemisphere Spring approaches, widespread areas of the Río de la Plata basin are still picking up the pieces after suffering a winter of heavy flooding. During June and July, at least 360,000 people in southern Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay were evacuated after several of the region’s major rivers broke their banks, causing some of the worst floods in decades.

Disaster hit after heavy downpours in June around the triple border between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay – an area already soaked by months of unseasonably high rainfall – caused a surge in the region’s key tributaries.

The town of El Soberbio, in Misiones province, was hit hard by flooding after the Uruguay River burst its banks (Photo: Sofia Schiavoni)

The town of El Soberbio, in Misiones province, was hit hard by flooding after the Uruguay River burst its banks (Photo: Sofia Schiavoni)

Over 190 municipalities in southern Brazil declared a state of emergency as the Paraná, Iguazú, and Uruguay rivers overflowed, killing a dozen people and affecting around 50,000 more. In Paraguay, the country worst affected, a quarter of a million people were displaced along the banks of its eponymous river, which cuts 537km from north to south. This included 88,000 from mainly impoverished and informal riverside settlements in the capital Asunción, where many remain in temporary shelters today. Finally, as the swell moved downstream towards the Río de la Plata, thousands more were evacuated in Argentina’s north-eastern provinces and, to a lesser extent, parts of Uruguay.

Though the emergency situation has now eased after a relatively dry and warm August for much of the region, thousands of families remain stranded after their riverside homes were destroyed. And with river levels still well above normal in many areas, the full extent of the damage to infrastructure, livestock and crops has not yet been calculated.

More Prone

A wet autumn and freakish storms in June – some areas received more than three times the average monthly rainfall in just a few days – are widely accepted as the principal cause of the recent floods. However, several NGOs and environmental groups say it is human activity – namely rampant deforestation and the construction of huge hydroelectric dams on major rivers – that has left the region more prone to devastating floods when such rainfalls occurs.

“The jungle acts like a sponge,” explains Manuel Jaramillo, investigator at Fundación Vida Silvestre. “Water that hits leaves on a tree 20 or 30 metres off the ground trickles more slowly down branches and trunks and can filter into the ground. If the earth is bare, or cultivated year round – as is the case mainly with soy – it is quickly saturated with rainwater, which then runs into streams and rivers.”

The Atlantic Forest in Alto Paraná (Photo courtesy of WWF Paraguay)

The Atlantic Forest in Alto Paraná (Photo courtesy of WWF Paraguay)

According to Vida Silvestre, the Bosque Atlántico, or Atlantic Forest (also known as the Selva Paranaense or Mata Atlantico), once covered an estimated 500,000km2 of land in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. After decades of unchecked deforestation, mainly to clear land for soy production and cattle ranching, only around 7% of the original forest remains today. Not only does this make the area less absorbent and more vulnerable to landslides, but the excess run-off also carries top soil and sediment into the rivers, adding to the overall increase in water levels.

Concerns over the environmental impact of human intervention in forests and rivers are not new, says Hernán Giardini, coordinator of Greenpeace Argentina’s Forests campaign. Yet little has been done so far to control them.

“Deforestation in important river basins has repeatedly caused flooding in Argentina,” he says. “There was Tartagal [in Salta] in 2009, and in Santa Fe in 2007, where the local university reported a direct link with deforestation in the north of the province. These incidents keep on occurring, and we argue that they are not just down to natural causes but have been influenced by man.

“It is not about a lack of scientific information, but of political will.”

The Agri-Boom

The expansion of the agricultural sector has been a feature of economic development in the Southern Cone countries in recent decades. Driven by elevated market prices and the proliferation of genetically modified seeds, the territory used to plant soy has doubled in Argentina since the turn of the century, with Paraguay and Brazil experiencing a similar story.

Seduced by rising export revenues and pressured by a powerful lobby, governments in the area have shown little appetite to place stringent restrictions on the large agribusinesses that dominate the sector.

“The three countries see in investment in agricultural and livestock a means of development for a poor region, but in reality this implies serious environmental and social problems. It’s a problem because the same countries favour greater production by any means, even at the cost of the trees and the people that live there,” says Giardini.

Illegal deforestation in Salta (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace Argentina)

Illegal deforestation in Salta (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace Argentina)

There has been new legislation introduced in the last decade to protect native forests: figures show that the 2009 ‘Forest Law‘ in Argentina and to a lesser the 2004 ‘Zero Deforestation Law’ in Paraguay have had a significant impact in slowing the rate of deforestation in some areas, especially in the Bosque Atlántico, though Jaramillo notes that this is also partly due to there being so little forest left.

Moreover, even when improvements are made in some territories, they are often undermined by limited scope or weak enforcement. In Paraguay, the Zero Deforestation Law applies only to the eastern part of the country, where WWF Paraguay says it has reduced deforestation by as much as 90%. In the west, however, deforestation in the Gran Chaco forest remains among the highest in the world, with 236,000 hectares cleared last year alone, according to Guyra, a private, non-profit environmental organisation.

In Argentina, too, the progress has been uneven. Earlier this year, Greenpeace Argentina launched a new campaign denouncing the provincial governor of Salta for issuing decrees that would allow the deforestation of 120,000 hectares in territory protected by the national Forest Law. Greenpeace says around 400,000 hectares of the Gran Chaco forest have already been cleared since the law was approved in 2009. “There is a clear decision at the provincial level not to comply with the law, and a clear decision by the national government not to pressure the regional authorities to do so,” says Giardini.

Dam Politics

The other major man-made contribution of increased flood risks, according to environmental groups, are the large hydroelectric dams that line major rivers. Together, the Iguazú and Uruguay Rivers have nearly a dozen large-scale dams either in operation or under construction, having a major impact on the natural water flow.

According to Jaramillo, who is based in Misiones, after the heavy rains in June led to rising water levels in dam reservoirs, the energy companies were obliged to open their flood gates to prevent damage, sending a surge of water that can have devastating consequences further downstream. It was this that led to water smashing a new dam under construction (Baixo Iguazú), causing the Iguazú river swell to 37 times its normal volume and forcing authorities to close access to the Iguazú Falls for several days.

“There are many issues that result in the dams having a negative impact on the local population, even if they are not directly responsible for the flooding,” says Jaramillo. This includes the creation of massive reservoirs in forested areas: building one of the world’s largest dams, Itaipú, on the Paraná River involved flooding an area of 1350km2. “Changing the surface of the earth from one that can absorb water to one that contains water itself has a big effect [on drainage].”

The debate over the environmental impact of hydroelectric dams, which ostensibly represent a clean and renewable source of energy, is arguably even more contentious. In the search for energy self-sufficiency without carbon emissions, many South American countries have turned to large hydroelectric power projects, accepting the environmental and social impact on local wildlife and communities that are displaced by reservoirs.

Paraguay already generates enough hydroelectric power to satisfy its entire energy needs through its huge bi-national dams with Brazil (Itaipú) and Argentina (Yacyretá), both of which lie on the Paraná River. Meanwhile, Brazil and Argentina are moving forward with projects for two dams (Garabí and Panambí) on the Uruguay River, dams that Jaramillo says would have made the recent flooding much worse by slowing the discharge of excess water towards the Río de la Plata.

Even aside from environmental concerns, recent research suggests that these mega projects are not even a viable economic solution for developing countries. A data study published earlier this year by Oxford University revealed that building large dams typically take nearly a decade with cost overruns of around 90%. The report highlights that the Itaipú Dam, one of the largest in the world, cost 240% more than budgeted, while Yacyretá took nearly three decades to complete and was shrouded in so many murky political and business dealings that it became known as “a monument to corruption”.

It can take decades of full operation for these dams to recover the initial outlay, during which time the project remains vulnerable to economic or political crises that affect energy markets. The economic life of a dam can also be cut short if excess sediment carried in rivers – itself a symptom of deforestation – gradually fills up the reservoir and reduces the dam’s capacity to generate energy over time.

The Itaipú Dam from the air. Recent research from Oxford University claims the dam, one of the biggest in the world, may never recover the full costs of its construction. (Photo via Wikipedia)

The Itaipú Dam from the air. Recent research from Oxford University claims the dam, one of the biggest in the world, will never recover the full costs of its construction (Photo via Wikipedia)

Though Yacyretá now produces around 20% of Argentina’s electricity needs, Jaramillo says the communities in Misiones most affected by the dam’s haphazard construction do not see the benefits because the energy generated is not suitable for the local power infrastructure.

“The energy produced by flooding rivers in Misiones goes to feed cities like Rosario or Buenos Aires,” he says. “It would be more logical and useful for the development of the local economy to use smaller hydro projects to generate energy for local residents and industry but without affecting large areas of land or involving astronomical constructions.”

Preparing for the Future

According to forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), rainfall anomalies (positive or negative) will be larger for tropical areas of Latin America, while the frequency and intensity of weather extremes is likely to increase. The region is already bracing itself for the possibility of an El Niño event later this year, which meteorologists say could lead to above-average rainfall and accentuate the threat of extreme downpours in the Spring and Summer months.

A man uses a boat to travel around his neighbourhood in El Soberbio, Misiones (Photo: Sofia Schiavoni)

A man uses a boat to travel around his neighbourhood in El Soberbio, Misiones (Photo: Sofia Schiavoni)

As the probability of recurring natural disasters like flooding and landslides rises, considering how human activity can exacerbate the damages caused has never been more important. Even more so as Argentina plans to increase its output of grains by 60% before the end of the decade, a programme that Greenpeace’s Giardini says could further undermine the Forest Law.

Moreover, estimated 412 large dams are planned or under construction in the Amazon basin alone, according to a report released in Lima a few months ago. The study concluded that this “hydroelectric experiment on a continental scale” could lead to the “end of free-flowing rivers” and “ecosystem collapse”.

“It’s a big challenge,” says Jaramillo, who nevertheless remains optimistic. “A lot of forest cover has been lost, but we have managed to reduce the rate of deforestation and create more awareness. The challenge now is to work closely with the political sector.

“We believe it is still possible to revert the situation, so that in 50 or 100 years the Bosque Atlántico still exists and society learns to live in harmony with the forests while also obtaining the necessary resources for genuinely sustainable development.”

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Argentina Goes to The Hague over Vulture Funds

The International Court of Justice in the Hague is the world's highest court (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The International Court of Justice in the Hague is the world’s highest court (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Argentina has presented documentations to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, petitioning that a case be opened against the United States for its handling of the vulture funds case.

Argentina’s government blames US Judge Thomas Griesa, who froze a payment of US$539m that Argentina made to a group of bondholders who had restructured their debt, for driving the country into a technical default. The government has said that this decision by Griesa was not impartial, and benefitted the holdouts, or so-called vulture funds.

“The Republic of Argentina argues that the United States of America has violated the sovereignty and immunity of Argentina as a result of judicial decisions adopted by US courts which are related to the restructuring of the country’s public debt,” said a ICJ communiqué.

However, the court has said that it will not be able to take any action unless the US accepts the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the case, something that is unlikely.

Today’s announcement follow a series of smaller developments in recent days, since last week’s technical default.

On Monday, National Securities Commission president, Alejandro Vanoli, said that the organisation would present a formal request for information from the US Securities Exchange Commission.

And yesterday, Judge Griesa ratified an earlier decision to freeze the US$539m payment in Bank of New York Mellon, which was deposited by the Argentine government at the end of June in an attempt to pay the bondholders who had restructured their debts.

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Bolivia to Investigate Pilcomayo River Pollution

Pilcomayo River (image: Wikipedia)

The Pilcomayo River (highlighted) is part of the Río de la Plata basin (image: Wikipedia)

The Bolivian Public Prosecutor’s Office has announced that a prosecutor specialised in environmental issues will be appointed to investigate and bring to court those responsible for the collapse of a tailing dam that polluted the Pilcomayo River last week.

The incident occurred on 10th July in the district of Potosí, when the tailing dam of a mine owned by mining company Santiago Apóstol burst, dumping residues from a lead, silver, and zinc mine into the river. A report confirmed high levels of pollution from toxic substances such as sodium, iron, chromium, and magnesium.

Provincial prosecutor José Luis Ríos said that “the company did not comply with environmental laws. The dam didn’t even have a protective geomembrane, which ended up producing the collapse of the dam that contained toxic residues.” As a first measure, Ríos ordered that all the mine’s activities be suspended.

The Environmennt and Mother Earth Secretary of the district of Chuquisaca, Eddy Carvajal, informed that “mining company Santiago Apóstol does not hold an environmental licence, and neither do other mining companies and cooperatives,” whilst the inter-institutional commission in defence of the Pilcomayo River stated that as many as 80% of mining companies and cooperatives from the municipality of Tacobamba, Potosí, do not hold environmental licences.

The Pilcomayo River, which goes through the districts of Potosí, Chuquisaca, and Tarija in Bolivia, is also shared with neighbouring Paraguay and Argentina. The Paraguayan Foreign Affairs Ministry, currently presiding the Tri-national Pilcomayo River Commission, has requested its embassy in La Paz to provide a report on the river’s situation. Didier Olmedo, Foreign Trade Secretary at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, also said they were considering sending experts from the Commission to the affected site.

A Bolivian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Juan Carlos Alurralde will provide information on the incident to the Argentine and Paraguayan governments in a meeting in Buenos Aires next week.

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Indy Eye: Thousands Celebrate Despite Argentina’s World Cup Final Loss

Tens of thousands took to the streets last night to celebrate Argentina making it to the World Cup final for the first time in 24 years. Despite losing 1-0 to Germany in extra time, festivities went on into the early hours in public plazas around the country. However, in Buenos Aires, despite the mostly peaceful gatherings, at the Obelisco the celebrations ended violently after groups clashed with police. Around 120 people have been detained.

This morning, hundreds of people turned out to greet the squad upon their return to Argentina, and various kilometres of cars packed the streets around Ezeiza international airport and the Argentine Football Association terrain, where the players went after landing. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner travelled to the AFA site to meet with the players in an official ceremony.

Foto: Alejandro Amdan/enviado especial/Télam/lz

Argentina’s hopes lay on the shoulders of these 11 men (Photo: Alejandro Amdan/enviado especial/Télam/lz)


Vecinos de la Villa 31 palpitaron la final de la Copa Mundial 2014 en la calle, donde se instaló una pantalla gigante. Foto: José Romero/Télam/dsl

Thousands turned out to watch the final on giant screens in public plazas around the country, such as this one in Villa 31 (Photo: José Romero/Télam/dsl)


Foto: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf

Many were inconsolable at Argentina’s extra time defeat to Germany (Photo: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf)


Foto: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf

But Argentina’s star striker Lionel Messi won the tournament’s ‘Golden Ball’ (Photo: Juan Roleri/enviado especial/Télam/cf)


Foto: Pepe Delloro/Telam/cf

Although that wasn’t enough for some, like this girl in Neuquén (Photo: Pepe Delloro/Telam/cf)


 Foto: Osvaldo Fanton/Télam/dsl

Thousands headed to Buenos Aires Obelisco despite the loss, to celebrate Argentina making it to the final for the first time in 24 years (Photo: Osvaldo Fanton/Télam/dsl)


Foto: Alejandro Santa Cruz/Télam/dsl

Celebrations continued into the early hours, in a carnival-like atmosphere (Photo: Alejandro Santa Cruz/Télam/dsl)


Foto:Víctor Carreira/Télam/dsl

And whilst the real cup will be heading to Germany, some took the chance to pose with this giant model (Photo: Víctor Carreira/Télam/dsl)


Foto: José Romero/Télam/ddc

This morning fans flocked to Ezeiza to greet the national squad upon their return (Photo: José Romero/Télam/ddc)


Foto: Leonardo Zavattaro/Télam/lz

Star players Messi, Lavezzi, Demichelis, and Mascherano touch down in Argentina (Photo: Leonardo Zavattaro/Télam/lz)


Thousans lined the steets to wait for the team's bus to pass (Photo: José Romero/Télam/ddc)

A multitude lined the steets to wait for the team’s bus to pass (Photo: José Romero/Télam/ddc)


Foto: Presidencia/Télam/dsl

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with the national team (Photo: Presidencia/Télam/dsl)


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Brazil: Environmentalists link Deforestation to Flooding

Map shows how the Bosque Atlantico has shrunk over the past decades (image courtesy of Fundación Vida Silvestre)

Map shows how the Bosque Atlantico has shrunk over the past decades (image courtesy of Fundación Vida Silvestre)

Environmental NGOs have publicly denounced the high levels of deforestation in Paraguay, Brazil, and north-east Argentina as being the principal cause of the devastating flooding in the region.

Nine people have died and thousands have been evacuated as a result of the floods, and a state of emergency has been declared in the south of Brazil.

Greenpeace and Fundación Vida Silvestre have pinpointed the loss of the native Bosque Atlántico and shift towards industrialised agriculture as being behind the high levels of water in the Paraná and Iguazú rivers.

Hernán Giardini, coordinator of Greenpeace Argentina’s Forests campaign, said: “Woods and rainforests, as well as being packed with biodiversity, play a fundamental role in climate regulation, the maintenance of sources and flows of water, and the conservation of the ground. They are our natural sponge and protective umbrella. When we lose the forests we become more vulnerable in the face of rains and we run serious risks of flooding.”

Whilst heavy rains are common in the region, four months’ worth of rainfall has fallen over the past few days, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that extreme weather phenomenons, such as increased rainfall, drought, and hurricanes, can be attributed to climate change, and the advance of the agricultural frontier, which has stripped the previously forested region bare, has increased the effects of these heavier rains.

On the Argentine side of the border, just 7% of the original 2m hectares of forest remain, whilst in Paraguay and Brazil the forest has been practically destroyed. The forest, located mostly in the province of Misiones, with a small part in the north of Corrientes, is one of the most biodiverse regions in Argentina, with over 550 species of birds, 120 mammals, 80 reptiles, 55 amphibians, and 200 fish. More than 200 tree species are also registered. 


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Argentina Invited to Join July BRICS Summit

Foreign Affairs Minister Héctor Timerman (photo courtesy of Casa Rosada)

The announcement came after ForeignMinister Héctor Timerman met with his Russian counterpart (photo courtesy of Casa Rosada)

Argentina has been invited to join the sixth Brics Summit, due to take place in July in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The country will join the bloc of major emerging economies, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The news was released by Russia after a meeting between the country’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Argentine counterpart Héctor Timerman, which saw the ministers sign a joint declaration on the non-proliferation of arms in outer space.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is currently the only non-bloc head of state who will attend the summit, and some analysts believe this is the latest indication that there is interest in Argentina joining the group, who between them are responsible for a quarter of the world’s economy.

China also recently announced a state visit to Buenos Aires in July.

The Casa Rosada responded to the news as being “a new sign that the country is not isolated from the world, but ever more and ever better integrated”.



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Government Reaches Debt Agreement with Paris Club

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof  (photo: Florencia Downes/Telam/dsl)

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof led the negotiations for Argentina (photo: Florencia Downes/Telam/dsl)

After months of negotiation, the government and the Paris Club yesterday reached an agreement over the repayment of Argentina’s US$9.7bn debt owed to the group. The deal will see the amount repaid in full in installments over the next five years.

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof met with the Paris Club leader Ramón Fernández in France to finalise the debt agreement. After the meeting, Kicillof hailed the historic deal, which is seen as a victory for Argentina, as closing a “sad chapter” in the country’s history.

The first payment, of US$650m, will be made in July, with the second payment of US$500m due in May 2015. The remaining debt installments will be managed by the government voted in at next year’s elections.

Interest has been set at 3%, and if Argentina fails to fully repay the debt over the five-year period, it the option of extending repayments for a further two years, with additional interest. The deal also allows for higher interest rates if the creditor nations invest in Argentina.

“Realisation of an initial payment under a formal commitment of Argentina to fully clear its arrears is a necessary and important step for the normalisation of financial relationships between Paris Club creditors and Argentina,” the Paris Club said.

“During the meeting, the delegation of the Argentine Republic provided a description of the economic and financial situation of its country and presented the measures implemented by the Argentine government aimed at enhancing inclusive growth and strengthening resilience to external shocks.”

The agreement allows for credit agencies from Paris Club member countries to resume doing business with Argentina, which is seeking foreign investment to develop its oil and gas industry. Referring to the deal, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said on Twitter: “The financing we will obtain will not be, as in previous decades, for the financial casino. It will be for infrastructure, development, technology, and all Argentines.”

News of the deal has been welcomed in Argentine markets, with the Merval rising 2.2% after opening today.

Germany is Argentina’s biggest Paris Club creditor with about 30% of the outstanding debt, followed by Japan with about 25%. Other debt holders include the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and the US.



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Five Dead After Private Plane Crashes in Río de la Plata

Authorities have confirmed five dead after a light aircraft crashed in the Río de la Plata this afternoon. Another four people remain in hospital, according to reports.

The private plane, travelling from San Fernando in Argentina with nine on board, crashed less than 10km southwest of its destination Carmelo, on the Uruguayan coast. The pilot had allegedly reported a technical problem before communication was lost.

Map of the crash site (via Infobae.com)

Map of the crash site (via Infobae.com)

Emergency services were alerted by passengers calling from on board as the plane fell soon after 2pm and rescue helicopters and boats were immediately dispatched from both countries.

Early reports suggested one fatality, though the increased figure of five was later confirmed by spokesperson for the Uruguayan navy Gastón Juansolo. Two of the survivors were taken to Buenos Aires, and the other two to Colonia, where they continue to receive treatment for injuries.

Argentine Security Secretary Sergio Berni said that the causes of the crash were still unknown, though noted that “experience tells us its was an engine failure,” according to Pagina 12. Berni added that there was extensive fog in the region of the crash.

The plane is owned by Federico Bonomi, of the clothes label Kosiuko, though he was not on board today.









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Argentina Names Preliminary World Cup Squad

Argentina's manager, Alejandro Sabella (photo: Juan Roleri/Télam)

Argentina’s manager, Alejandro Sabella (photo: Juan Roleri/Télam)

The preliminary Argentine squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was confirmed this afternoon by manager Alejandro Sabella.

The 30-man list, which will be reduced to 23 before the squad departs for Brazil, includes a call up for Martín Demichelis, who has not featured in the squad since November 2011. Other surprises include River Plate defender Gabriel Mercado and Catania’s Fabián Rinaudo. However, Carlos Tevez, who has over 60 caps and helped his club Juventus win the Italian first division, was left out. Star player Lionel Messi is the squad captain.

The World Cup kicks off on 12th June, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with Argentina’s first game three days later against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Rio de Janeiro.

The full squad

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andújar, Agustín Orion.

Defenders: Ezequiel Garay, Federico Fernández, Pablo Zabaleta, Marcos Rojo, José María Basanta, Hugo Campagnaro, Nicolás Otamendi, Martín Demichelis, Gabriel Mercado, Lisandro López.

Midfielders: Fernando Gago, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega, Angel Di María, Maximiliano Rodríguez, Ricardo Alvarez, Augusto Fernández, Enzo Pérez, José Sosa y Fabián Rinaudo.

Strikers: Sergio Agüero, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Rodrigo Palacio, Franco Di Santo.



Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

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