Tag Archive | "buenos aires"

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.

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Shakespeare in the City


William Shakespeare may have written his collection of works in English, but for the next eight days, “Shakespeare is going to be porteño,” announced reporter and actress Cristina Pérez at the inauguration of the Buenos Aires Shakespeare Festival on Thursday.

Hamlet (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

Hamlet (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

This year’s festival, which opens today and runs until 28th February, was presented yesterday at the British ambassador’s residence in Recoleta. In partnership with the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture, the British Embassy, and the British Council, director Patricio Orozco presented more than a week’s worth of theatre, film, readings, and activities throughout the city to celebrate, share, and enjoy Shakespeare in the city.

“We were attracted by the possibility of diversity that Shakespeare offers,” said Minister of Culture Hernan Lombardi at the festival’s inauguration. “Its connection to the present is what really draws people in. Shakespeare’s theatre is not elitist but rather speaks of us, the people.”

This accessibility makes it possible for all of Buenos Aires to enjoy the magic of The Bard, especially thanks to new offerings in all parts of the city. New this year are functions in Ciudad Oculta and Villa 20, in collaboration with the Romeo Foundation. These functions will allow for children who have been working in the educational programme ‘Shakespeare for all’ to have the opportunity to view theatrical productions of Shakespeare. Orozco comments that these programmes are critical because he believes that “talents are equally distributed throughout the world. We want to give them this opportunity to develop their talent”.

Michael Pennington will be reading at the festival (photo courtesy of the Shakespeare Festival)

Michael Pennington will be reading at the festival (photo courtesy of the Shakespeare Festival)

Two high points of the festival include co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company Michael Pennington’s reading of ‘Sweet William’ and Norma Aleandro’s reading of ‘Venus and Adonis’ in the Usina del Arte in La Boca. Although not mentioned in the programme, Aleandro’s reading will be accompanied by renaissance-era music by Malena Solda and Miguel de Olasso. Orozco notes, “this is the first time Aleandro reads Shakespeare.”

Throughout the festival, troupes from both Argentina and Uruguay will present works including ‘Hamlet’, ‘The Women of Shakespeare’, and ‘Oh! Celo’, a clown adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic ‘Othello’.

The events are not limited to theatre productions: screenings of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with Orlando Bloom, ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’, and Kevin Spacey’s production ‘Now. The Documentary’ will take place in the Paco Urondo Cultural Centre in downtown. Conferences and workshops include ‘In Dialogue with Michael Pennington’ on 26th February at the Centro Cultural de la Cooperación, and ‘Celebrating Shakespeare’ at IES Lenguas Vivas on 23rd February.

The festival proposes offerings for younger audiences as well, including ‘Romeo and Juliet, a Work in Progress’ and ‘How Tired I am this Midsummer Night’.

How Tired I am This Midsummer Night (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

How Tired I am This Midsummer Night (photo courtesy of Shakespeare Festival)

For those looking to bring their love for Shakespeare outdoors, the ‘Shakespearean Bicycle Ride’ on Sunday and ‘Shakespearean Walk’ the following Saturday will allow participants to read aloud works of Shakespeare whilst appreciating the city’s architecture and the beautiful late-summer weather on foot or by bicycle.

For the first time since the festival’s beginnings in 2011, “we will no longer be able to say that we are the only Shakespeare Festival in Latin America” comments Orozco. This year’s festival serves as a launchpad for the upcoming Uruguay Shakespeare Festival, due to be held from 3rd-7th March in Montevideo.

“The family continues to grow,” he says. On the topic of growing families, Orozco dedicates the festival to his newly born son, his “little Hamlet, who often contemplates the question to sleep, or not to sleep.”

All events are free and will take place in theatres and cultural centres across the city beginning tomorrow, Friday 20th February. All events will be in Spanish, with the exception of the film screenings and Michael Pennington’s reading of ‘Sweet William’, which will be read in English with Spanish subtitles.

Check the Festival’s Facebook page or website for a full list of events, and to reserve free tickets. And if all tickets are sold out? Despair not: often those without tickets are able to gain admission to events in a line outside the theatre, in the event that ticket holders do not show up.

 

 

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Undercover BA: Picks for 2015


collage round crop

Vanessa Bell is a freelance writer and trend hunter, running a bespoke personal shopping service called Creme de la Creme, as well as writing as a lifestyle, food, and fashion insider for Wallpaper*, Monocle, and other international publications. She’s lived in Buenos Aires since 2010, having visited all her life as her mother is Argentine. 

I am constantly inspired by the multi-faceted nature of this city and the many hidden spots waiting to be unearthed. Thanks to an innate inquisitiveness and the nature of my work, I am constantly discovering new projects and enterprises. Some have been under my nose all along on some sleepy backstreet, at others the paint is still drying, from an exciting bar on the eve of its inauguration to the showroom of an emerging designer in their first week of trading, discovered through word of mouth or close friends.

Here is a pick of some of favourite new discoveries and recommendations to kick off 2015:

Arroyo Hotel 1

A place to lay my head 

Arroyo Hotel is a design paradise and oasis of calm in an otherwise bustling area of town on the Retiro/Recoleta border. The proprietors have not scrimped on anything here, contracting the WOW factor team to collaborate with the interior design and decor, and it shows. The results are a visual feast, with a specially commissioned tropical mural by artist Eloisa Ballivian taking centre stage in the lobby. The family-run hotel spans over 10 storeys and 77 rooms, with filmmaker Javier Nir and his sister Fabiana at the helm. The perfect spot for a well-earned pamper without having to leave the city. 

Arroyo Hotel – Suipacha 1359, Retiro. 

image-2 cropWhere I go to write and for the perfect sugar fix

ANIMA cafe has been open for little more than a year, and has quickly gained a loyal following despite its inconspicuous frontage and location in a quiet part of Barrio Norte. From neighbours in the surrounding area to those in the know, word on the street is that the city’s best cupcakes are found here. And it’s hardly surprising given owner Inés Maisano’s success trading for three years in London’s Upmarket, where she perfected her baking skills. Upon returning to BA she spotted a niche in the local market and began taking private and corporate commissions for cupcakes and baked goods. If sweet treats aren’t your cup of tea, the range of infusions from Tealosophy available may well be, with tasty breakfast and savoury lunch options also available.

ANIMA, Peña 2665, Recoleta. 

image-3Amazing deli sandwiches

Butcher’s is the ultimate pitstop for lunch, with take-away options available both during the day and at night. Unpretentious in its approach, Butcher’s has a concise menu with a selection of sandwiches and salads. The spot on coleslaw and homemade crisps as accompaniment raise the bar, yet all options remain under triple figures. The decor was all made to measure, with a beautiful communal table fashioned from wood and metal with exposed lighting as the centrepiece, and a few surrounding tables suitable for an intimate meal as a couple. 

Butcher’s – Costa Rica 5863, Palermo.

image-6Most exciting new Buenos Aires fashion discovery

I discovered VERNNA by chance two weeks ago on FB, one of my key tools for keeping up to speed with new showrooms and emerging labels. Here FB is king and most new designers tout their businesses via this channel. VERNNA is a label that offers limited edition robes and capes as well as hand-crafted wooden fans. Barbara Vernengo (founder of the label) creates versatile pieces whose use is determined by the client – I love a garment that invites the user to be daring and experimental and I expect my VERNNA cape will become a staple come autumn. At present she sells by appointment only from her flat, having started out a matter of weeks ago, but there are plans to open a showroom and sell in Panorama boutique in the coming months.

 

image 7 cropFavourite spot for furniture

I am a sucker for mid-century furniture, and Millefiori ticks all my decor boxes. I am fortunate to live in a lovely rationalist building on Congreso plaza with high ceilings and parquet floors and I am about to embark on redecorating and furnishing it slowly, so this shop is on my list to source pieces from.

The selection is meticulous, with an emphasis on restoring pieces to their former glory, offering everything from covetable vintage educational laminates (a personal weakness) to crockery, keepsakes and of course, beautiful furniture. With no website, their FB page has regular updates of new products and sale offers. 

Millefiori – Freire 814, Colegiales.

image-4 cropWishlist 

My wishlist for each season grows day by day, I try and limit myself to one amazing piece a month but my self restraint often wavers. These shoes are from local BA shoe designer Santesteban, a sneak peek of the forthcoming A/W ’15 collection and are a homage to Delauney with a nod towards 70s Pucci. Offering both a court and stiletto heel these are the perfect shows to compliment and lift a pared down monochrome look, which is more and more the style I adopt in this city to counter the bling, leopard print, and stud trends that stubbornly refuse to die – my philosophy is less is more!

Santesteban – Av Alvear 1883, Shop 40, Recoleta.

For more insider tips, news, and updates, follow Vanessa on facebook or instagram

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Two Killed, Ambulance Comes Under Fire in Shantytown Shootout


Relatives of the injured wait at Hospital Piñero. (photo: Enrique Cabrera/Telam)

Relatives of the injured wait at Hospital Piñero. (photo: Enrique Cabrera/Telam)

Two people were killed and two wounded after a clash between rival gangs in Villa 1-11-14, in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Bajo Flores, in the early hours of this morning.

An ambulance which had been called to the scene also came under fire, with at least one bullet hitting the vehicle, and had to be escorted out of the shantytown by gendarmes.

The incident continued at Hospital Piñero, when at around 4am some 70 relatives and friends of the wounded – many of them armed – arrived at the hospital, and proceeded to threaten the doctors, demanding they urgently attend to the injured.

As a result of the confrontation, the emergency room was closed and the ambulance service suspended, according to the president of the Association of Municipal Doctors, Jorge Gilardi.

“The night became really very difficult,” he said in an interview with Radio Mitre this morning, before adding “there is a breakdown in society”.

“Those who care for us are not being looked after. This public hospital – that we have defended for so many years – works around the clock without asking questions. But now we are working in a situation of fear. We are putting ourselves in danger as medical personnel, but those who will suffer most as a result of this are the patients.”

Buenos Aires minister of health, Graciela Reybaud, said that last night’s events were not an isolated case, and that they majority of such incidents in public hospitals are caused by “drug trafficking rather than social violence”. She added that a security protocol was implemented in public hospitals last year, which includes anti-panic buttons and reinforcements of metropolitan police and gendarmes.

She said: “In general they are gang fights that take place inside the hospital. We try to block relatives from entering, apart from the next of kin, and ask the rest to remain outside. We ask for reinforcements each time this happens.”

Sources say last night’s violence was the result of a turf war between rival drug gangs. The victims have been identified as Delia Herrera, 28, and Maximiliano Milessi, 18.

Around 70 gendarmes were on guard this morning at the hospital.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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