Tag Archive | "buenos aires"

Habeas Corpus Granted to Orangutan in Buenos Aires Zoo

An orangutan in its natural habitat, in the forests of Borneo (photo: Wikipedia)

An orangutan in its natural habitat, in the forests of Borneo (photo: Wikipedia)

Setting a global precedent, an Argentine court has granted basic rights to Sandra, a Sumatran orangutan that has spent the past 20 years living in Buenos Aires zoo.

The case hung on whether the animal was a “thing” or a “person”.

The ruling, signed by three judges unanimously, would see Sandra freed from captivity and transferred to a nature sanctuary in Brazil after the court recognised the primate to be a “non-human subject” which has some basic human rights. The Buenos Aires zoo has ten working days to seek an appeal.

The habeas corpus ruling in favour of the orangutan was requested last November by the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) alleging that Sandra suffered “unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability”.

“This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks, and scientific laboratories,” Paul Buompadre of AFADA said to La Nación.

The lawyers argued that just as a person, the ape is capable of maintaining emotional ties and has the ability to reason, while feeling frustrated with her confinement. Furthermore, the legal team claimed that the 28-year-old orangutan can make decisions, has self-awareness, and perception of time. And therefore, all things considered, Sandra’s presence at the zoo constituted illegal deprivation of liberty.

The court judges had rejected the writ several times before deciding finally that Sandra could be considered to have rights to freedom which needed defending.

The zoo’s head of biology, Adrián Sestelo, responded to Friday’s ruling, saying: “These kinds of fundamentalist requests fail to understand the natural behaviour of the species. Orangutans are solitary, quiet animals, who only come together to mate or take care of their offspring. Not understanding the species, unjustifiably claiming mistreatment, stress, or depression of the animal, is one of the most common errors of human beings, who try to humanise animal behaviour. Sandra enjoys exceptional care and lives in solitude because that is what her species wants.”

He added that the zoo had already been evaluating the transfer of the orangutan to a sanctuary, given the zoo’s policy of rehoming none-native species as it is redirecting its animal collection towards native, non-exotic species.

It is not the first time Argentine zoos have have caused a stir over their treatment of animals. Last year, Mendoza’s zoo was called into question over its treatment of Arturo, a polar bear, leading to an international petition requesting Arturo be transferred to a nature reserve in Canada. Earlier this year a Swiss man was arrested after freeing all the birds from Santiago del Estero’s zoo, which was due to be closed after petitions from animal rights groups.

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

AFIP Leads Series of Raids as Crackdown Intensifies

AFIP officers lead a series of raids in 71 addresses suspected of being involved in illegal financial activities. (Photo: Victoria Egurza/TELAM/)

AFIP officers lead a series of raids in 71 addresses suspected of being involved in illegal financial activities. (Photo: Victoria Egurza/TELAM/)

Tax office AFIP today led coordinated raids in 71 different addresses in the city and province of Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Córdoba, as part of an investigation into irregular financial and currency dealings.

The raids were ordered by a judge after a request from AFIP, which said in a statement released today that it had detected tax and budget “inconsistencies” in four companies. “AFIP detected bank deposits and financial transfers from these four companies with budget inconsistencies, and without the economic or financial capacity to operate with those sums,” read the press release.

The tax office said that the companies “could be acting as a screen to hide the real beneficiaries and allow capital flight,” adding that dozens of banks, currency exchange houses, and stockbrokers may have collaborated in the scheme.

The operation comes amid an intensifying crackdown by authorities on suspected illegal financial activities such as tax evasion, unlawful capital flight, and operating in the parallel currency market.

Today’s raids come a day after AFIP suspended 30 companies from operating in the currency exchange market after they were found to be paying overseas companies for transport services in amounts that were “incompatible” with their fiscal situation.

In addition, the Central Bank said yesterday that it had summoned nine businessmen and four companies to answer questions over their alleged activities in the parallel currency market (commonly known as the blue dollar market).

At the same time, the National Securities Commission (CNV) suspended two stock brokerage firms – Arpenta and JR Bursátil -for not complying with the established laws and norms.

Last week, AFIP suspended Proctor & Gamble’s license to operate in Argentina over suspected tax fraud and illegal capital flight worth over US$150m.

The price of the so-called ‘blue dollar’ has fallen sharply amid the crackdown by monetary and tax authorities, trading below $13, compared to nearly $16 at the end of September.

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

The Indy Eye: Buenos Aires People’s Climate Event

Sunday marked the People’s Climate March, a global day of action against climate change ahead of Tuesday’s UN summit, when world leaders will gather in New York to discuss proposals about how to best tackle the environmental crisis. Activities took place in over 2,600 cities around the world, including a 310,000-person march in New York, the biggest ever climate gathering. In Buenos Aires, environmental groups joined with campaigning group Avaaz to host an activity in the Bosques de Palermo, next to the Planetarium. The relaxed event gathered a few hundred people to enjoy the talks, music, theatre, and activities for all the family, whilst people mingled, exchanging ideas and mate among the crowds who had flocked to the park to enjoy the first day of Spring.

Photos by Patricio Murphy, Laura Campolongo, and Pablo Santana. 


Photo by Laura Campolongo

Volunteers who arrived early helped finish up the banners (photo by Laura Campolongo)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

The afternoon’s activities included music… (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

… talks, like this one ‘What is Climate Change?’ … (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

… art workshops using recycled materials … (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Laura Campolongo

… and entertainment. (photo by Laura Campolongo)


Some were there to speak up about specific causes, such as this activist who was against proposed changes to Argentina's seed law, which will see seeds being patented (photo by Laura Campolongo)

Some were there to speak up about specific causes, such as this activist who was against proposed changes to Argentina’s seed law, which will see seeds being patented (photo by Laura Campolongo)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

One of the organisers then gathered people for the central call to action (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

The atmosphere was festive (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

This man pledged to make a positive change (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

‘Awakening of consciousness’ (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Patricio Murphy

Photo by Patricio Murphy


Photo by Patricio Murphy

Photo by Patricio Murphy


Photo by Patricio Murphy

The day ended with the crowd gathered inside a ‘heart’ for a group photo (photo by Patricio Murphy)


Photo by Laura Campolongo

Against the backdrop of the planetarium (photo by Laura Campolongo)


Photo by Pablo Santana

Photo by Pablo Santana


Photo by Pablo Santana

Photo by Pablo Santana

Posted in Multimedia, Photoessay, TOP STORYComments (2)

Buenos Aires Approves Relocation of Columbus Monument

The Christopher Columbus statue used to stand behind the Casa Rosada (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Christopher Columbus statue used to stand behind the Casa Rosada (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

After months of debate, Buenos Aires’ city legislature has approved the removal of the Christopher Columbus monument from behind the Casa Rosada to a new location on Costanera Norte, close to Aeroparque. Yesterday, a group of PRO legislators joined with Frente para la Victoria to pass the measure, with 41 in favour, eight against.

The monument’s new home is at the Puerto Argentino breakwater, a location that “brings together symbolic characteristics, such as the proximity to the Río de la Plata and the orientation towards the old continent; and fulfils the appropriate characteristics for restoration and conservation of the sculpture”, according to the law.

The monument was a donation from the Italian community to the Argentine people at the start of the 20th century. Created by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Zocchi and made out of two different types of marble, it was completed in 1921 and has since remained in Plaza Colón (Columbus Place). But the location of the statue has always been a subject of debate, and last year president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner unveiled a plan to remove the statue from behind the government house and relocate it to Mar del Plata, on the Atlantic coast, and work began to dismantle the monument. However, the Buenos Aires city government opposed the measure, saying the statue is part of the capital’s heritage, belongs to the city. The monument, which has already been dismantled, has remained in pieces in Plaza Colón whilst the case was resolved.

Weighing over 600 tonnes and standing at 26 metres, the monument will be relocated in 30 to 40 separate trips over the coming weeks. The move is expected to cost around $25m due to the reinforcements needed to the new location to stop the statue from sinking.

Replacing Columbus behind the Casa Rosada is a bronze statue of Juana Azurduy, a guerrilla military leader born in 1780 in Sucre, Bolivia, who fought for the independence of Argentina and Bolivia alongside her husband Manuel Ascencio Padilla. Created by sculptor Andrés Zerneri, the statue has been completed and is rumoured to be unveiled on 12th October, the anniversary of the day that marks Columbus’ arrival to the Americas.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (1)

Tourist with GoPro Records Attempted Armed Robbery in La Boca

A tourist wearing a GoPro camera has captured the dramatic moments when a man attempted to rob him at gunpoint in Buenos Aires.

Canadian Alexander Hennessy was travelling through the neighbourhood of La Boca in broad daylight on a bike tour when a man on a motorbike intercepted him and demanded he hand over his backpack.

Hennessy did not understand the man’s Spanish, and tried to get away, but the man pursued him on foot and threatened him with a gun. Eventually, after others came to help, Hennessy was able to run away and alert a police officer nearby.

The whole incident was recorded on Hennessy’s GoPro camera, which he had fixed onto his helmet.

It was uploaded onto You Tube yesterday with the description: “I was on a bike tour in a rough part of Buenos Aires (Argentina) in broad daylight when a thief attempted to steal my camera gear at gunpoint. I miraculously happened to be recording with a gopro on my forehead and captured this amazing piece of footage!”

Hennessey is in Argentina with a friend as part of a ‘Global Degree’ challenge to visit 195 countries in 60 months, and film the whole experience.

According to Global Degree’s Facebook page, the footage from La Boca was handed over to police, who apprehended the assailant the same day.

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

Things You Learn When You Live In Argentina

¿Querés leerla en castellano? ¡Podés hacerlo acá!

If, by virtue of charity or the circumstance of desperation, you ever chance to live a little time in Argentina, you will acquire many exotic new facts. You will learn that it is possible, and economically-advantageous, to walk 15 large dogs simultaneously. You will learn that you were never really eating ice cream before, just frozen, flavoured milkstuff. You will learn that it’s OK for Christmas decorations to stay up until Easter.

Buenos Aires at night (photo: Federico Ratier)

Buenos Aires at night (photo: Federico Ratier)

You will learn that socio-economic crisis is Argentina’s default setting and that things are never as bad as some people make out. That expectations of public toilets must always be low. That not everyone tangoes, in fact only a small minority do. That every foreign sub-editor will at some time in his or her life use a variation of the phrase ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ to title an article about Argentine politics/football/whatever.

That the most enjoyable aspect of going to a polo game is telling people that you’re going to a polo game, and that polo as a spectator sport is up there with golf and squash. That the standard way to show your unrelenting passion for your football team (though probably not your polo team) is by jumping up and down on the spot for an unlimited period of time, and that not jumping is a sure sign of Englishness.

That long-distance coach travel at first seems more luxurious than what you’re used to, and aeroplane-like and kind of kitschy, what with the coach driver’s mate pulling on white gloves to serve you a glass of sherry by way of aperitif, but after any amount of repetition becomes an intolerable nightmare of cramped legs and bad films. That films on coaches get worse the further north you go, subcontinentally-speaking. That long-distance journeys overland look far more enticing on the map than in their endless fields-of-soy reality. That on long-distance journeys both tedium and time itself can be reduced significantly by the power of mate.

That cold pizza and mate make an acceptable breakfast under certain circumstances. That the locals will always find it remarkable that any non-Argentine should drink mate, that the drinking of mate automatically makes a non-Argentine Argentine to all effects and purposes, and that no matter how Argentine the non-Argentine is now deemed to be, the Argentine will always be dubious as to the non-Argentine’s expertise re: the making of mate.

Mate can be the answer to many things.

Mate can be the answer to many things (photo: Beatrice Murch)

That sándwiches de miga are pretty much the same everywhere you go in Argentine territory, as if mass-produced by some huge as yet undiscovered underground sandwich factory, and that the locals are terribly enthusiastic about said sandwiches. That it is often considered rude to take your shoes off in other people’s homes. That it is a widely-held belief that any dish or foodstuff can be improved with the addition of ham and cheese. That writing stuff about being an expat in Buenos Aires gets kind of repetitive and fernet-and-dulce pretty quickly. That at first the whole sobremesa thing will come across as both exotic and real and then eventually kind of dull and finally make you pine for solitude and whatever’s on TV.

That there is generally nothing on national TV, but then at the same time that there is so very much on national TV, if you are possessed of a heightened sense of irony.

That self-medication is not a problem. That once you get over all the bullshit about how many psychoanalysts there are per capita in Buenos Aires, psychoanalysis can be wonderful thing. That the cancellation of internet/cable/phone services is usually the quickest and most effective way of getting the internet/cable/phone provider to fix whatever they were supposed to fix three months ago, and that the phrase ‘doy de baja el servicio‘ is the first phrase they should teach you in those intensive Spanish class, along with ‘tengo un novio‘, if you’re a woman. That it is impossible to cross the Av 9 de Julio on foot in one go and that you should stop trying. That secondary qualities such as avenue width can be used as a tourist draw.

That if nothing else, Argentina is water-rich, and that this might come in useful one day, and that the day when being water-rich becomes a useful thing, Argentina will somehow manage to screw up this once in a lifetime opportunity.

That listening to Aspen Classic for any length of time will inevitably lead to all kinds of reminiscences and embarrassing memories of your teenage self. That this is the only country in the world where Rick Astley can play in, if not sell out, a 3,200-seater venue by himself, and that none of the locals will find this particularly odd. That Creedence Clearwater never needed a Revival.

That The Simpsons is pretty much an Argentine institution, and that it sounds better in Spanish, primarily because of the Mexican guy who voices Homero. That the locals bemoan the incursion of American culture and that The Nanny was for a long time the most-watched TV show in the country. That some people get really wound up if you say ‘American’ instead of ‘US’ and that the same people then use the term ‘North American’ with complete disregard for Mexicans. That the average social class and education level of the average McDonald’s user is considerably higher than back home, and some even wear suits.

That winter lasts a week, really, and that you never knew it was possible to get tired of summer. That hyperbole and summertime temperatures are happy bedfellows. That sweating is something you learn to accept rather than combat.

That ‘pelotudo’ is a way, way more offensive term than ‘boludo’, despite their near-identical, big-balled etymologies, and that you can only find this out the hard way. That a surprising number of shopkeepers would rather lose one peso than give you nine pesos in change. That the half-a-kilo-of-meat-per-person asado rule-of-thumb is nearly always a gross overestimation. That eating choripán from roadside stands in insalubrious areas is fine, health-wise, but not recommendable psychosomatically speaking, and it’s often actually the chimichurri that does you in.

Go on, they are fine to eat... (Photo: Irena)

Go on, they are fine to eat, probably… (Photo: Irena)

That clubs don’t really get going until 3am, even on a week night, and that a large swathe of the under-30s survive on pretty much no sleep whatsoever. That ‘torta’ (‘cake’) is a non-offensive slang term for ‘lesbian’ and that no lesbian can tell you why this is. That this is a country forward-thinking enough to legalise same-sex marriage but still backwards enough to continue outlawing abortion under practically any circumstances. That there tend to be more Argentine women marrying foreign men than foreign women marrying Argentine men, and that you think this might say a lot about the failings of Argentine men but would prefer to sidestep any controversy.

That a disappointingly high number of Argentines will take offence at this innocent article, which is more about the narrow experience of an expat in Buenos Aires than Argentina itself, and let their country down in the comments. That no matter how much you love Argentina, you will eventually leave it for a country with a higher GDP and more developed attitudes towards litter, and then pine for Argentina at various unexpected moments for the rest of your life, but that if you stay you’ll always wonder what might have been, if you hadn’t been chicken.

Want to read more from Daniel Tunnard? Then we recommend his book about taking all the buses in Buenos Aires, ‘Colectivaizeishon, el inglés que tomó todos los colectivos en Buenos Aires’, available at all good bookshops in Buenos Aires, Mercado Libre, or by contacting the author.

Posted in Expat, Life & Style, The CityComments (15)

Macri Says Federal Police to Stay in Buenos Aires

Argentine Federal Police (photo: wikipedia)

Argentine Federal Police (photo: wikipedia)

Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri said today that he had reached an agreement with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to keep the Federal Police operating in all parts of the capital.

The announcement came just days after Security Secretary Sergio Berni ordered the withdrawal of 5,000 Federal Police officers from neighbourhoods in the City of Buenos Aires where the Metropolitan Police are already operating.

The neighbourhoods in question are: Saavedra, Coghlan, Villa Urquiza, Villa Pueyrredón (Comuna 12), Nueva Pompeya, Parque Patricios, Barracas, La Boca (Comuna 4), Agronomía, Chacarita, Villa Crespo, Paternal, and Villa Ortúzar (Comuna 15).

“They are not leaving,” Macri said in a radio interview this morning, adding that he spoke with the president on Friday. “We reached a joint commitment to coordinate work in those comunas, and a commitment to start a dialogue to analyse how to implement a transfer. We think this will take some time.”

After Berni’s announcement last week, sources from the Metropolitan Police had claimed that around 4,800 officers were there to “collaborate with federal forces”, but that they do not have enough agents or cars to replace the Federal Police entirely.

According to information from the Security Ministry, there are 9,000 Federal Police officers working in the City of Buenos Aires, distributed among 53 precincts.

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

Marches, Roadblocks Cause Transport Chaos Ahead of General Strike

Coastguard officers look on as the opposition CTA union stages a roadblock on Puente Pueyrredón (Photo: Paula Riba/Télam/ddc)

Coastguard officers look on as the opposition CTA union stages a roadblock on Puente Pueyrredón (Photo: Paula Ribas/Télam/ddc)

A series of roadblocks and marches have caused transport chaos today in parts of Buenos Aires and its surrounding areas. The disruption comes a day before several major unions hold a 24-hour general strike, which is set to cause further headaches for commuters on Thursday.

The opposition faction of Central for Argentina Workers (CTA) umbrella union, which began an extended 36-hour strike at midday today, organised roadblocks on major highways and key access points to the capital this morning.

Some of these since been lifted, though pickets remain on Av General Paz, and the Ricchieri highway, causing delays in travel to Ezeiza airport.

The opposition CTA leadership, headed by Pablo Micheli will lead a demonstration in front of the National Congress this afternoon. The demands of the union include scrapping income taxes on salaries, an end to the dismissal of workers at industrial factories, and the suspension of external debt payments pending an audit to determine the its legitimacy.

Meanwhile, two separate protests aimed at the Buenos Aires government today have added to the transport disruption in the centre of the city. The Federation of Cartoneros and Recyclers marched to the City Ministry for Environment and Public Spaces to protest against proposed changes to rubbish collection.

At the same time, social organisations and residents of Villa Lugano have gathered on Av 9 de Julio near the Obelisco in protest at the razing of the Barrio Papa Francisco slum on the weekend.

General Strike

Wednesday’s chaos comes just hours before the start of a 24 hour general strike held by opposition factions of the General Workers Confederation (CGT) led by Hugo Moyano and Luis Barrionuevo.

The strike will heavily affect transport, with all services on overground trains, the subte B line, and domestic flights suspended. Buses will be running a partial service: the Road Transport Union (UTA) – which governs the majority of urban and intercity bus lines – has decided not the join the strike, but the rival Bus Drivers Union (UCRA) has said it will, and could disrupt other services. Taxi drivers will be working.

Other services to be suspended include non-emergency treatment at hospitals, rubbish collection (this evening), banks, petrol stations, postal services, and affiliated bars and restaurants. Many schools in the city and province of Buenos Aires will also be closed as several teachers’ unions join the strike action.

For more information and updates of the strike and how it will affect you tomorrow, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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

Hundreds Protest Closure of Buenos Aires Cultural Spaces

Hundreds joined yesterday's protest, supported by numerous musicians and artists (photo courtesy of La Cultura no se Clausura)

Hundreds joined yesterday’s protest, supported by numerous musicians and artists (photo courtesy of La Cultura no se Clausura)

Under the slogan ‘Culture is not for Closure‘, dozens of artists, organisations, and cultural spaces protested in front of the Buenos Aires city government’s Ministry of Culture on Av. de Mayo yesterday evening. The demonstrators accompanied their manifestation with live music, street theatre, art, and dancing.

The protest came in response to an increasing number of closures of cultural spaces by the city government, with 20 being closed down in the past three weeks alone.

Protestors have labelled the closures “political persecution against those who propose alternative culture” and yesterday lobbied legislators to move forward with the approval of a law to recognise independent cultural centres and spaces, which are not recognised under current city legislation.

As a result of the legal vacuum, many of the cultural spaces operate with licences as social clubs, cafes/bars, or theatres, which can lead to fines and closures of the space or its activities.

A member of a cooperative who last year ran ‘El Café de los Patriotas’, which was closed down by the authorities, explained to Telám that the cultural space, located in Paternal, used to “organise film projections, political debates, and a variety of free workshops, and the aim was not a commercial one, but one of generated popular culture.”

The new law, which is being propelled by the Movement for Cultural Spaces (MECA) and has already received more than 40,000 signatures supporting the bill, proposes: Recognition of the existence of Art Residencies, Social and Neighbourhood Clubs, Cultural Centres, and Cultural Clubs; Adaptation of the legal requirements to the necessities of these independent spaces; Speeding up the paperwork necessary for new cultural spaces to be run legally; Giving non-profit organisations the option of processing the paperwork for free, among other things.

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (1)

Buenos Aires Teachers’ Strike Enters Second Day

A school in La Plata warns parents about the strike (photo: Carlos Cermele/Télam/lz)

A school in La Plata warns parents about the strike (photo: Carlos Cermele/Télam/lz)

Teachers in Buenos Aires province entered the second day of a 48-hour strike that began with the new school term on Monday. According to estimates by the Federation of Buenos Aires Educators, 98% of teachers participated in the strike yesterday.

Teachers are demanding improvements in wages and school infrastructure, as they consider that the agreements reached at the beginning of the year between the unions and the government are not being fulfilled. On this point, Roberto Baradel, Secretary General of teachers’ union Suteba, said: “The wage increase we agreed on was carried out in two stages and what we ask is that the monitoring clause be applied and the commission we agreed on during wage negotiations be formed. We consider that the first stage of the increase was eroded over various [monthly] wages.”

Baradel also pointed out that: “Among the points in the agreement that put an end to the 17-day strike in March, there were investments in infrastructure, improvements in school cafeterias, and the regularisation of our health insurance, and none of this has been resolved.”

Buenos Aires governor Daniel Scioli agreed to meet with union representatives tomorrow at the Labour Ministry, and in return the teachers confirmed the strike will end today. However, they warned they could go on strike again if an agreement is not reached.

The government has agreed to discussing issues such as infrastructure investments in tomorrow’s meeting, however Cabinet Chief Alberto Pérez clarified that “wage issues will not be discussed, because that’s already been sorted for the 2014 term.” It has also been suggested that teachers that joined the strike could have the missed days discounted from their monthly wage – a discount of between $360 and $800.

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

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Every 8th January, hundreds of thousands flock to Mercedes in Corrientes to pay homage to Gauchito Gil, Argentina's folk saint. We revisit Francesca Fiorentini's 2010 piece on the pilgrimage.

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