Tag Archive | "kirchner"

President Fernández to Resume Duties on Monday


President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner . (courtesy of CFK Argentina)

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. (courtesy of CFK Argentina)

The Casa Rosada announced last night that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will return to office next Monday following her successful recovery from surgery.

The presidential spokesman, Alfredo Scoccimarro, indicated that final medical controls “have shown a good cardiovascular state” after neurological tests on Friday gave a clean bill of health.

President Fernández will return to office in just under a week, on Monday 18th November, a date that some of her supporters are now calling “18K”.

This announcement comes just over a month after she received neurosurgery to treat a subdural haematoma.

From the Casa Rosada, Scoccimarro revealed yesterday that Fernández will continue to have “secondary prevention controls” that will include “oscillatory tests”. Additionally, two months after the date of the original operation she will have another “neuroimaging test” to evaluate her progress on 9th December.

Doctors at the Fundación Favoloro, Facundo Manes, and Gerado Bozovich indicated that clinical controls and tests, which took 48 hours during the last few days, proved the absence of any significant arrhythmia.

Finally, Scoccimarro informed that future communications about Fernández’s state of health would be published by the Medical Presidential Unit rather than then Fundación Favaloro.

Vice President Amado Boudou, who was acting president during Fernández’ absence, said “We are happy for your return!” via a public post on Facebook.

City Mayor Mauricio Macri said he remains “optimistic” about the president’s return, adding that he hopes to see “a change of cabinet”.

President Fernández will continue resting at the official residence in Olivos until Monday 18th.

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

Ten Years of Kirchnerism: The Power of Words


Often, words and actions are opposed in a false dichotomy. In politics, saying that one is a “man (or woman) of action”, someone who “talks less and does more” is an old cliché. However, as any discourse analyst knows, the distinction between words and actions can be blurry. Language philosopher John Austin focused much of his research on what he called ‘speech acts’, describing the performative quality of words. This can be observed in simple, every-day situations -the classic example is that uttering words such as “I promise” is, at the same time, performing the act of promising something- and it can also be the base to understand more complex social processes in which words, images, and symbols play a great part.

In the last few years, it has become common place in the Argentine media, and in every day speech, to mention ‘el relato‘ -‘the narrative’- put forward by the government in order to impose their view of reality. More often than not, the term is used in a pejorative way, almost as a synonym for lie, deception, a mise en scène that people naively buy into (or cleverly see through and pull apart).

Many seem to have only recently discovered the fact that governments -as well as other groups- promote certain ‘narratives’ in which they insert their actions and policies. This is in no way an innovation of Kirchnerism. Indeed, all governments and all systems need to construct their discourses in order to give legitimacy to their actions. Within modern, media-dominated democracies, the struggle for power is often played out in the field of cultural hegemony.

It is in this field in particular that words matter. What people, government, and the media talk and do not talk about plays a great part in shaping our understanding of the world.

Tomorrow marks a decade since the birth of Kirchnerism. If there is one thing that can be said about this decade, is that public debate has been well and truly alive. So what have Argentines been taking about?

Néstor Kirchner's inauguration, on 25th May 2003 (photo courtesy of Casa Rosada)

Néstor Kirchner’s inauguration, on 25th May 2003 (photo courtesy of Casa Rosada)

Words Matter

Debate happens within the realm of civil society, and while the government has dominated the agenda for years, not all debate has been started or imposed by it. In fact, to a great extent it has been the regional context -and more specifically, its crises- that has brought to the surface many issues that had been silenced for years.

The international consensus that dominated the world after the fall of the Berlin wall and of Soviet socialism marked the glorious triumph of capitalism and liberal democracy. The ‘end of history’ as announced by US academic Francis Fukuyama, was the predominant theory that explained the state of the world, and dissident voices were drowned out amid the cheerful celebrations of the establishment.

That model, now under the spotlight everywhere, first started showing signs of collapse in the crises that struck Latin America in the first few years of the 21st century. The governments that were tasked with picking up the pieces in their respective countries started breaking -more or less quickly, more or less radically- with the certainties of the past and trying out new ways to move their countries forward.

A new discourse, new ‘narratives’ have developed throughout these years, on subjects such as the economy, the role of the state, the rights of minorities, and the nature of power. These debates have helped shape the society that we live in, and have in many cases been either the cause or the consequence of government policy.

At the same time as the state regained its role as the organiser of economic and social relations, the question arose as to whether real power relies on its control or elsewhere. The first Kirchnerist government started off weakly, after having come second in the 2003 election and in the middle of a massive political and institutional crisis. From its very first days, when it confronted the corrupt Supreme Court it had inherited from the previous decade, it presented itself as the government that had come to fight the corporations that secretly pulled the strings of political and economic life.

Youth has become involved in politics (photo by Simon Guerra)

Youth has become involved in politics (photo by Simon Guerra)

As the government increased in popularity and power, the David and Goliath story lost some meaning. But, regardless of whether one considers that the government really fought the corporations or not, the necessary discussion about where power lies was firmly installed in the public debate.

The most positive outcome of this has been that the privileges of corporations have been put into question. Though in the media-dominated public sphere debates tend to become simplified to the extreme, issues such as the power, influence, and political interests of media conglomerates, the inscrutable nature of the privileged judicial caste, or the lobbying power of big business started to be analysed, or at least talked about, outside of the academic world.

The question of power opened up to debate the question of politics as a space for participation, and after the collapse of the party system in 2001, political activism slowly began to regain its place in society. While the ’90s had given rise to some important and interesting political manifestations, it will go down in history as a decade of apathy and despondency. The restoration of the belief that politics can actually change people’s lives and that it is something worth becoming involved in -in a country with a long history of political activism- has sparked a growing interest, especially with young people who seem to have become more active within political parties and social organisations.

However, the understanding that not everything is the same, and that there is more to politics than just corrupt politicians, seems to be increasingly at risk by the degradation of the public discourse encouraged by mass media. When the logic of reality TV takes over, and shock and scandals matter more than discussions about important issues, the public debate suffers as a result.

The value of the commitment to a cause and the struggle for one’s beliefs was exemplified by some of the voices that had screamed for years to be heard and that finally obtained the recognition they deserved, and important policies to go with it.

Gay Marriage Passes Congress (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Gay Marriage Passes Congress (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

The debate about the importance of dealing with the pending issues from our past and of obtaining justice in order to move forward, promoted tirelessly by human rights organisations for over three decades, resulted in the end of impunity for many perpetrators of human rights violations. The recognition obtained by organisations like Madres and Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and HIJOS was a historical restoration.

Finally, the discussion about equality which ended (or started) with the passing of laws such as those of marriage equality and gender identity allowed us to move ever further from the reactionary conservatism of institutions that still expect to have a final say on issues concerning society’s moral values.

Silenced Voices

Much has been said and much has been put into question in the last ten years. However, in such a vocal era, when everyone tries to scream a little bit louder than the rest, there are still many voices that cry out to be heard.

Despite the massive discussion taking place across the continent -and the world- over the power of media, and despite the regulatory law that was passed in Argentina in 2009, access to the media and the attention it commands remains a privilege reserved to a select few. As with the rest of the economy, the communications’ market is still highly concentrated. The political and economic interests that media owners try to protect shape the agenda, degrading the terms of the public debate and drowning out dissident voices.

Though each new tragedy manages to scratch the surface of the public agenda, the issue of land rights, especially that which involves aboriginal communities, is very rarely analysed with the seriousness it deserves. The expansion of the agricultural frontier and the social and environmental damage it causes is not a concern for the government or for the business elite -both benefit from the dollars obtained by grain exports. One of the most important political conflicts of the last few years, the campo crisis, revolved around the appropriation of those dollars. Not much air time was given to those who used the opportunity to question the agricultural model in place.

QOM camping on 9 de Julio and Av de Mayo protesting their treatment  (Photo: Jessie Akin)

QOM camping on 9 de Julio and Av de Mayo protesting their treatment (Photo: Jessie Akin)

In a resource-rich continent like Latin America, the environmental discussion in general still lags behind. As economic growth and the re-distribution of wealth consolidate, inevitably the time will come when we will have to question our dependency on fossil fuels and non-renewable sources of energy, the appropriate implementation of environmental laws, and our outdated view on industrialisation.

While some minorities have managed to have their voices heard, there are still silent majorities that must keep fighting for their rights. Physical violence against women is a problem that will not go away as long as symbolic violence -which manifests itself in every day speech and in the constant degradation of women in the media- is still prevalent and accepted in society. While the advancement in the rights and participation of women in public life is undeniable, rights that in other countries are considered basic, such as access to a legal and safe abortion, are hardly being discussed on a mainstream level. In these matters, the conservative right still has the upper hand and manages to install a criminal silence.

***

Debate, discussions, exchange of ideas… they are vital to a democracy. While there are many issues that remain unspoken -or rather, unheard- the balance of the last decade is positive in terms of the many truths that have been questioned. Nothing should be sacred, and everything should be up for debate. Going forward, and as the voices seem to become louder and more aggressive, it is important to ensure that meaningful debate is not drowned out or dumbed down, and that the new truths do not in turn become unquestionable.

It is also important to not become too infatuated with the sound of our own voices. Everyone is talking, but we should also learn to listen.

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President Slammed by British Media For Plea to Pope


CFK bunker, presidential primary

CFK bunker, presidential primary by CateIncBA, on Flickr

The British Media have reacted to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s request for Pope Francis to mediate in the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty dispute, with many newspapers criticising Argentina’s president.

“Shameless: Argentina president asks for Falklands help from Pope who was once her sworn enemy,” was how the Daily Mail described President’s requests. The article goes on to call her “two-faced” for having “made a fawning plea to Pope Francis over the Falklands.”

The Times stated, “Argentina presses Pope over future of Falklands” after having “officially asked” the Pope “to help launch talks with Britain on the sovereignty of the Falklands.”

The Independent was also not short of an opinion, “Despite having a patchy relationship with the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cristina Kirchner said she asked for his intercession to “facilitate dialogue,” the newspaper wrote.

“Hot-headed” for asking “about the islands despite Falklanders only last week voting 99.8% in favour of staying British,” was the take of The Sun.

Senator Daniel Filmus of Frente para la Victoria (FpV) condemned the British press’ pessimistic reaction by arguing that “it is flippant to criticise the mediation request, because this is a bilateral issue and they refuse to engage in bilateral dialogue.”

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

Weekly News Roundup, February 8th.


It’s February again!

And yes, I know.

Last Friday was technically already February but it was only the first day of the month and the shit had not had time to hit the fan yet.

But it only took two days for all that bottled up anger that had been incubating inside our humanly vessels during our month-long relaxation to come out in full force, forcing us to vomit a stream of curse words along with some sighing and grunting because that’s the only way to get rid of all of the anxiety. Like Linda Blair on The Exorcist, only she was possessed by Satan.

So let’s get to it before we lose our minds in Gualeguaychu this extra-long weekend. Oh, you didn’t know? It’s Carnival weekend! The only time of the year in which it is socially acceptable in this macho culture to dance and maybe make out with a scantily clad transvestite while riding a float. OK?

This is what you need to know:

  • "Fuck you all." - Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    “Fuck you all.” – Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    Shit just got real! If you thought President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was not going to move forward with an agreement between Argentina and Iran you were obviously wrong. In a rare move that had only been seen thrice since she took office in 2007, Cristina spoke on Cadena Nacional from  her presidential desk. No chants, no crazy fans, no sycophancy coming from a servile cabinet. Nope. Just you and her, all to yourselves. It was almost like being on a date with her. You know, like when you go on a date and this girl talks, and talks, and talks while you’re going “Hmm-hmm” and nodding off? That’s what it felt like. Proxemics also played a crucial role in her message, since she seemed to be a little too close for comfort (your comfort). Anyway, her 40-minute message was to say something she could have said in 30 seconds or less: “We are sending the agreement between Argentina and Iran to Congress so lawmakers can debate whether it should be passed or not”. See? That was easy. But no, she had to go host a full episode of the Cadena, with a preponderance of exposition, political drama, plot twists and even a short recap of past episodes. “Previously on ‘Iran So Far Away‘”…

  • If you’re still wondering why Argentina is making deals with Iran then A) You suck, and B) This is why. 85 people dead.
  • If you are not wondering because you already know, you are a sport and I’m proud of you.
  • The Jewish community in Argentina (which is huge – HUGE! So huge that crazy conspiracy theorists love to warn about the so-called Andinia Plan from time to time) is not happy with this agreement. The AMIA and the DAIA (the two largest Jewish organizations in Argentina) have both rejected the accord, saying Iran is not to be trusted. But Cristina says that “we’re always busting the UK’s balls* about discussing the Malvinas, so if Iran wants to talk to us, we can’t refuse”.
  • Oh and speaking of which… Foreign Minister and gladiator badass Héctor Timerman ultimately decided to prove that he ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts and flew to London to battle William Hague to the death in a jousting match to meet with some random people that would support the Malvinas sovereignty cause. Since he refused to a tri-party meeting with William Hague and the Malvinas islanders (hereinafter referred to as “The Others“), Timerman went on a tirade before the British press making some bold statements, which I will hilariously describe as follows (please cue the music from Lost to make them more ominous):
  • “The United Kingdom has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to find a solution for the Malvinas”.
  • “I don’t think it will take another 20 years (to take back the islands). I think that the world is going through a process of understanding more and more that this is a colonial issue, an issue of colonialism, and that the people living there were transferred to the islands”.
  • “The interests of the existing islanders will be protected under Argentinian rule, including their way of life, their language and right to remain British citizens”.
  • “There’s a distinction between the islanders’ interests, which could be met, and their wishes, which could not”.
  • Also, here are some treacherous Argentines who decided to express their support for The Others via Twitter: this guy, this guy, this guy and this guy. The AFIP has already been notified and they are being Shanghaied as we speak.
  • And speaking of tweets written in poor English, Cristina celebrated this week that the US continues it’s unilateral war against Capitalism and now has decided to sue poor old Standard & Poor‘s. Seriously, generic name much? Just add “average” and you’ve got the trifecta of depressing. Since Cristina is not very fond of credit rating agencies, she celebrated Obama’s decision by sprinkling her Spanish tweets with some English and started warning about  how these vulturian organizations have pillaged citizens all over the world. Which she, or quite possibly Google Translate, translated as “in the whole world”, totally not making any sense. Felicitations, Mrs. President!
  • Please tell me you clicked on that. PLEASE.
  • In repugnant news this week: two parents channel their inner Sherlock Holmes and discover that the child day care center they have been sending their daughter to is like the Disney World version of Guantanamo! After noticing a surprising change in her daughter’s behavior (for the worse), the parents hid an iPod with the voice recorder on in her backpack one day and dropped her off at school. The result was terrifying: physical, verbal and mental abuse for four hours straight everyday, with the teachers calling them names, force-feeding them and even soft-waterboarding them. Here’s the recording, for your listening displeasure. The place has now been closed and politicians keep blaming each other for not noticing that such an abomination had been going unnoticed for many years. Not funny.
  • Enfant terrible and Deputy Economy Minister Axel Kicillof was coming back from Colonia with his family last Sunday when suddenly he realized that taking the Buquebus ferry, along with a lot of dollar-impaired middle-class families, may not have been the brightest of ideas. But alas! By the time he realized, they were already sailing half-way through the Rio de la Plata. The passengers could smell his fear, manifesting in the shape of sweat drops sliding down his long hairy sideburns. Before Kicillof had a chance to pull out his semi-automatic weapon, a horde of dollar-hungry zombies jumped on top of him, seeking retribution for his controversial economic policies. As Kicillof wielded his machete through the rotting corpses, the crew showed up with a flamethrower and grabbed his hand. They led him to sanctuary in the captain’s cabin, where he would remain until reaching port. After being rescued, Kicillof observed the orange sky, marveled by the beauty of a sunset he had looked at a thousand times, but he had never seen. The End.
  • OK, no. So in reality some passengers started yelling at him and he, along with his family, was taken to the captain’s cabin so the mob wouldn’t spit on him or something. There were no zombies involved.
  • OUTRAGE! Those Chilean bastards are at it again! Not only they helped
    That's probably the face Kicillof had when he realized he was surrounded by unfriendlies. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    That’s probably the face Kicillof had when he realized he was surrounded by unfriendlies. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    The Others during the Malvinas War in 1982, but now their soldiers train by chanting xenophobic tunes that involve killing Argentines! Preposterous! Offensive! Unacceptable! The scandal prompted the Chilean authorities to immediately condemn such a disrespectful move by our kindred brothers and order an investigation. Even the local authorities urged the neighboring country to take action because singing about killing your neighbor isn’t funny. Horrible, Chileans. We are very disappointed in you!

  • What’s that? A new video has surfaced, showing Argentines training in Mendoza and singing about  breaking into the Chileans’ homes and slitting their throats and drinking their blood? Well, I don’t approve of the controversial methods but you started it. So take that, Chileans!
  • What’s that? The Argentine video is from six months ago and has already been deleted because it made us look like idiots since we are the ones who started the whole thing? Oh. I see. Well, you know math: -1 + 1 = 0. Which means the controversy gets cancelled. Yay! So… we’re cool, Chileans? Wanna bump fists? No? OK, we don’t need to bum fists.
  • In yet additional proof that Econo-mageddon (TM) is right around the corner, the Government decided to force ask supermarkets to freeze prices for two months in order to fight a rampant inflation.  Remind me again why you stay in this country? Oh, the black market dollar currency exchange rate that is slowly turning you into precocious millionaires. That’s right.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Send Adrian your comments, thoughts or tips at adrbono@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @AdrianBono

And don’t forget to like the Weekly News Roundup on Facebook, so we don’t have to keep reminding you about this every Friday.

* Not actual quote. I totally made that up.

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Weekly News Roundup, January 25th


It’s Friday again!

And aren’t you happy that while yesterday we were melting under the scorching maladies of our pagan god, the sun, today we left our homes wearing only a t-shirt and ended up freezing our asses off?

Ah, the many mood swings of Mother Nature, influenced by her shady boyfriend, Climate Change. You think this is bad? Wait until February. Then you’ll really regret moving to this country.

Anyway, this whole intro has been small talk about the weather. It’s like being stuck with me in a really long elevator ride, isn’t it? I guess there’s nothing left to talk about between us.

Sad when a relationship reaches that point, isn’t it?

Please like the Weekly News Roundup on Facebook so you can keep up with out updates. Are you done?

No, seriously, go do it. I’ll wait right here.

Done?

Alright, this is what you need to know:

  • The ARA Santísima Trinidad officially stole the ARA Libertad's thunder this week. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    We begin with the first journalism fuck up of 2013 (well, at least the first big, big, journalism fuck up) which involves Spanish newspaper El País and an infamous non-photo of an ailing non-Hugo Chávez on the operating table. As we all know, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is battling cancer in Cuba (and if you didn’t know, put down the Xbox and grab a newspaper, you douche). His treatment and current condition has been mostly kept under wraps with all sorts of rumors flooding the Twittersphere. Is he dead? Is he alive? Is he un-dead? Are we all dead, like in Lost? So considering how much relevance and influence El País has on a global scale (think of it as the New York Times of the Spanish language), the world responded with rightful indignation at a front page splashed with a giant photo of some Chávez-looking dude being intubated. The never-resting internet elves, who I don’t know how but always manage to find everything on the web, soon realized the low-res photo was a screen capture from some random 2008 You Tube video and all hell broke loose. A new nail on the coffin of journalism, which by now already has like a million nails on it and has been buried six feet under since 2000.

  • What does this have to do with Argentina, man? Get to the point or something!“, you say? Well, first of all calm the fuck down. And second, everything has to do with Argentina and you should know that by now. After many around the world expressed complete disgust at the cheap stunt (and let’s face it, it was a cheap stunt with no journalistic value whatsoever) El País apologized profusely (for using a fake photo, not for their vulture-like demeanor). But this wasn’t enough to discourage President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner from castigating journalism (its mortal enemy, according to those National Geographic documentaries). “The despicable press. I cannot think of another adjective. It is the same everywhere; El País in Madrid, The Sun in Murdoch’s London embroiled in corruption schemes with Cameron’s government and who knows what else. Which editor authorised the publication? Will they speak about freedom of the press?“, she tweeted. Not really sure what “freedom of the press” is supposed to mean, but then again, she has a very peculiar idea of how the press is supposed to work. Here, let me show you (cue the elevator music):
  • Good press: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is awesome.
  • Bad press: The President is human so sometimes she can make a mistake.
  • Good press: Imperialism and dictatorships are still lurking around the corner, and if you elect anyone but Cristina into office, they will come back and enslave you forever. Also probably rape your parents.
  • Bad press: There’s no chance for a military coup in this country.
  • Good press: There is no inflation.
  • Bad press: Shut up, there totally is.
  • Good press: LAS MALVINAS SON ARGENTINAS!!! FUCK YEAH!!
  • Bad press: We agree, but let’s leave dumb nationalism aside and try to solve this like adults.
  • Good press: You shut up, bad press.
  • Bad press: I wasn’t aware this was a dialogue. I thought this was more of a set of bullet points specifically designed to provide contrast between what the government thinks is good press and bad press.
  • Good press: And that’s exactly why you’re Bad Press. Moving on.
  • Good press: Argentina began its existence in 2003. Everything before that is lies, lies, lies.
  • Bad press: Whatever.
  • Good press: The press sucks, unless it praises the Fernández de Kirchner administration. In that case, it still sucks, but it sucks less.
  • Bad press: The press doesn’t suck. There are good and bad practices of journalism. And comparing a stupid photo stunt to the UK’s hacking scandal, and bringing in the concept of freedom of the press just to make it sound more of an epic battle proves that you’re also trying to manipulate public opinion and that you definitely, absolutely, positively have no idea of what the press is supposed to be like.
  • Cristina made her stellar reappearance on TV today after her “Sex & The City 2/Rambo 2″ presidential tour (she even went down the Cu Chi tunnels and everything! Have fun with this photo, and this one, and this one, and this one), and addressed inflation concerns. In a nutshell? It’s the store owners who are to blame for skyrocketing prices. There’s no such thing as “inflation”. See? Good press was right.
  • Great news, everyone! After interminable months of oppressive import restrictions that kept us from buying essential products such as this, supreme overlord of the netherworld Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno decided that it was time to lift some of the import restrictions tragically imposed on society last year. So additional import permits are no longer required for: paper, home appliances, toys, shoe wear, motorbikes, bike tires, balls, textile products, diverse manufacturing (is that like, a real category? Sounds so broad…) metal parts, auto parts, vehicles, etc.
  • I know, still no banana guard. Life sucks.
  • Oh, and speaking of Guillermo Moreno (AKA, the Hannibal Lecter of Argentine politics), he also said he believes the official dollar exchange rate will reach $6 pesos in December.  Are you an expat getting paid in dollars? This is you. Are you an Argentine getting paid in pesos? This is you. Are you an Argentine studying abroad whose college fees are being paid by your Argentine hard-working parents? This is you.
  • Remember how we all flocked to Mar del Plata two weeks ago to celebrate the arrival of our dear Frigate Libertad, which was retained in Ghana for three months for reasons you probably already forgot? Remember, hmm? Well, you better feel bad about this, because not too far from where you were waving your little Argentine flags, the Santísima Trinidad warship was crying alone because no one gave a damn about her. Decommissioned and stripped down for spare parts in 2004, the proud warship, who saw battle in 1982 during the invasion of the Malvinas/Falklands, couldn’t take such fate and in a final call for attention decided to commit suicide by capsizing in Puerto Madero Puerto Belgrano.
  • But let’s not rush to conclusions here, because Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli decided to confirm that the vessel had sunk as a result of sabotage, because that was better than admitting that it just sunk because no one gave a shit about it.
  • So who are the culprits in this barbaric act of cowardice? Besides Clarín, that is. Is it a rogue military group from the Malvinas/Falklands, trying to vindicate history? Is it everyone who didn’t vote for Cristina? Or was it Mother Nature, that relentless bitch, who told the sea to eat away the ship’s hull until engulfing it in a wave of darkness and oblivion? (Yes, that would count as sabotage too, shut up).
  • Those of you who have been privy to superhero movies lately may have

    Wikipedia has no photos of Menganno so I can't legally post one here. Here's Captain America. They kinda look alike, except for the fact that they look nothing like each other. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    noticed a tendency to humanize them. To show the psychological residues that constantly burden a tormented mind under a latex mask. Batman, Superman, Spider-man, Hulk, they have all returned to the big screen in the embodiment of an anti-hero who leads a life of loneliness because society doesn’t understand that they are not spandex-wearing weirdos with daddy issues. And while in real life the US has Phoenix Jones, Argentina has Menganno. A superhero of sorts, Menganno patrols the streets of Lanús, in the Greater Buenos Aires area and has become a friend of the children and grandmas looking to cross the street. Menganno proudly assures his only weapons are a police baton and some pepper spray because he doesn’t believe in using firearms. So sweet and naive, this guy. Life was swell for Menganno and his wife, until this week some arch-villains (aka car robbers) decided to ambush him while he was parking outside of his house. Menganno resolved he wasn’t going to take any of that funny business and after careful deliberation chose to put his no-weapon philosophy on hold and shoot the robbers 14 fucking times with the assault weapon he was carrying in his glove compartment. After the police and the media showed up, Menganno admitted shame in using a gun to scare off the robbers and then cried as he confessed he was “fearful” they would seek revenge, which for a superhero is kind of lame. But his plight didn’t end there, since as it turns out his gun permit was expired and he was not allowed to carry his weapon. He is now under investigation for illegal possession of firearms and could go to jail anytime soon. The robbers, in the meantime, are planning their next move to take over the world via some contrived scheme of ridiculous, yet effective, proportions. An excellent metaphor for the times we’re living in, people. Being the villain always pays.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Send Adrian your comments, thoughts or tips at adrbono@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @AdrianBono

And don’t forget to like the Weekly News Roundup on Facebook, so we don’t have to keep reminding you about this every Friday.

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Weekly News Roundup, January 18th.


It’s 2013 Friday again!

Happy new year, by the way, and I hope you missed me these last two weeks, even though I’m sure right now you’re going “There was no Weekly News Roundup for two weeks? Huh. I guess I didn’t notice.”

Well, I don’t care. I didn’t miss you either. I spent the first week of the year doing absolutely nothing, sitting on the beach re-reading The Catcher in the Rye and giggling like an idiot at the Grumpy Cat, the best internet phenomenon to slap the world in the face since “All your bases are belong to us“.

But enough talking about you and your uneventful Punta del Este / home-for-the-holidays anecdotes. Admit it: you’re glad you’re back in Argentina. You missed it like crazy. You missed its chaos, you missed its people, you missed its intoxicating deliriums of grandeur.

And most of all, you missed the sheer ridiculousness of our 24 hours news cycle.

Unless you never left, of course.

In a nutshell, this is what happened in the last two weeks (use this soundtrack for a more sensorial experience).

  • The Qom indigenous community are this close to becoming an endangered species but we still care more about who’s going to be a judge on this season’s Dancing with the Stars.
  • Moral of the story: don’t fuck with the president, loser. She’s like, the female version of Vladimir Putin. You just don’t fuck with her and expect to get away with it. Ever.
  • By the way, regarding that link to “ad hominem“? You’re welcome.

OK. Now that you’re up to speed, welcome back. You can stop the music.

This is what you need to know, although bear in mind it’s January, which is a slow news month:

  • Mar del Plata continues to allure millions of tourists every year for some reason. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    We begin with what will surely be the story of the week, since it’s on the cover of every newspaper in this country today. Remember last year when President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner unveiled those evil-looking dolls that were supposed to represent the League of Extraordinary Bolivarian Liberators but in fact resembled a voodoo doll from a scene of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master? Well step aside, horrible creatures of the underworld! Because there’s a new winner in this twisted Toy Story-esque universe. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new and improved Cristina doll (widow dress and presidential sash included in the set!). Now, before you start going “WTF is that thing?” let me just clarify that it’s a gift from the Argentine Toy Industry Chamber which has had huge returns this year because of import restrictions (fuck Monopoly, play El Estanciero and shut up). Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to less relevant things, like rampant inflation.

  • DOLLAR BLUE! That angelical way of calling the black market exchange rate of the US dollar in the dark alleys of mysterious Buenos Aires. That dewy sweet deal you procure to seal by getting rid of all your dollars once you return to Argentina from wherever the hell you come from. Yes, kids. The “dollar blue” exchange rate has reached $7.47 pesos today, which is almost 50% more than the official exchange rate, currently at $4.96. So you know… when you’re back, gimme a call so I know how you’re doing and we’ll meet for coffee. Oh, and bring your dollars for no particular reason.
  • Remember the IMF? It’s back! Although not in pog form. No, this time it’s very real and as they prepare to meet on February 1st to discuss what to do with our rogue nation and its elusive ways, we better brace ourselves for what will surely be another harmless statement saying that if Argentina doesn’t change its strategy, the organization will have no choice but to warn us again.
  • And if you didn’t get that “pog form” reference, A) You never watched The Simpsons and B) You suck.
  • While visiting the UAE as part of her “Sex and The City 2” presidential tour, Cristina signed a series of bilateral agreements with the Emirati president Khalifa bin Al Nahayan. Then she met with “the girls” for a couple of appletinis and later met with downfallen football start Diego Maradona – currently an Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque cave dweller in the Abu Dhabi desert after being banished from Argentina –  who regaled her with the crassest flower bouquet humanity has ever witnessed. He also expressed his strong support for her administration, which is like, super easy to do when you’re living in a different country and getting paid in dollars. But stop judging you guys! In fact Diego has always strongly supported whoever was in power, even former president Carlos Menem and his Economy Minister Lex Luthor, both of them architects of the economic measures in the 90s that resulted in a mess that the Kirchners tried to clean up in the 00s. Don’t believe me? Here’s a photo of Maradona…ahem… “resting” during a press conference and wearing a t-shirt that reads “Thank you Mingo”, in reference to Mr. Luthor himself. That’s like praising Obama’s anti-war stance after wearing a “Thank you Cheney” t-shirt.  The Internet NEVER forgets, Maradona.
  • Re: the flower bouquet… noticed the footballs on top? Oh Diego. Never change.
  • The National Government has announced that it intends to enact a federal plan to slowly replace and repair the national railway network.
  • Oh and conveniently, this happened today. So stay away from all trains until things are working at least by North Korean standards.  I mean, nothing to worry about. Just a passenger train that went off the rails but no one died, which means no biggie.
  • Oh, like you never dented another car while parking. Shut up. Look at it, it’s not so bad.
  • Remember when three years ago everyone was crazy about the Dakar Rally because it launched from Buenos Aires, and everyone was like “Oh my God I’ve been following this forever!“, and everyone was like, yelling at the screens and everything, and waving Argentine flags when what’s his face won the quad bike races and all that? Remember how Cristina wore a pink helmet and rode the quad bike and stuff to celebrate? Remember how then the organization behind the rally decided to expand it to other countries and local people were like “Woa…” and then Argentina just became a “passing through” country and everyone was like “meh“? Yeah, well. That’s now. No one cares about it.
  • Also, for reasons that I fail to compute because I truly dislike football,

    Don't give me any of that "friendly" crap. You either kill or get killed. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    there’s a Superclasico coming to Mar del Plata this Saturday which, what do you know, happens to coincide with the busiest season.  Now, I understand that you like the circus. I understand that you don’t care about paying money for a spectacle that we all know is merely put up to exploit your blind fanaticism and rake in the big bucks. But why the bout of euphoria? Seriously. No matter who wins or loses, the result is exactly the same. It’s a friendly superclásico (I know, oxymoron much?), which means there’s no motivation to win beyond the satisfaction of mocking your rivals to the point of killing a couple hooligans outside the stadium but that’s it. It’s WrestleMania with a ball. It’s a gladiator fight in which both contenders survive. And I don’t know about you, but if I lived in ancient Rome I would have liked none of that sissy shit. Either you stab him in the neck or he stabs you but one of you has to die. If not, I want my gold coins back.

  • And since we’re talking Superclásico: dear staff working at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires: I know you read me (oh yes, I know) and you know I love you. I really do. But you see, I hate football. So please let’s make sure THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. In fact, let’s just pretend it never happened. Let’s just pretend that you decided to go with a lame reenactment of Gangnam Style, like this high school did. Sure, the Spartan name will live in infamy forever, a cheap tin plaque with its name on it hanging and gathering dust and cobwebs in the hall of eternal shame. But I’ll take that to football. So seriously. Never again.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Send Adrian your comments, thoughts or tips at adrbono@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @AdrianBono

And don’t forget to like the Weekly News Roundup on Facebook, so we don’t have to keep reminding you about this every Friday.

Posted in Thoughts of a ForeignerComments (0)

President Fernández to Visit Hugo Chávez in Cuba


Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has planned to visit her Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chávez in Havana this week.

Hugo Chávez is recovering from an operation related to his cancer struggle in Cuba and will miss his scheduled inauguration in Caracas on 10th January.

Oscar Parrilli, secretary general of the presidency, confirmed that Fernández would make a stop in Cuba at the start of her world tour in which she will be visiting United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Página 12 has quoted a government source as saying that “the trip [to Cuba] is being managed very carefully and is a private trip”. Fernández and Chávez have been long-time political allies and share a close personal relationship. According to the same source the Argentine president would only remain in the Caribbean country for 30 hours before starting her official trip.

Hugo Chávez with President Fernández's late husband Nestór Kirchner (Wikimedia Commons)

According to La Nación, the Argentine government received a message asking Fernández to postpone her visit to Cuba but the president insisted she wanted to visit, at least to support Chávez’s family.

La Nación also published that last Thursday Fernández had sent Ricardo Follonier, an aide to the late President Néstor Kirchner and close to the Venezuelan government, to Cuba to express the Argentine government’s support.

Hundreds of Chávez supporters marched yesterday in Buenos Aires in support of the Venezuelan president. The supporters, many members of social movements and political parties, marched to the Venezuelan embassy to deliver a letter of support and solidarity.

“The Argentine people thank you and promise that we will stand firm in following your teachings, defending our achievements, and continue fighting for what still needs to be done,” the letter read.

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

British Tabloid Responds to Falklands/Malvinas Letter


British tabloid The Sun today published an open letter in Argentine English-language newspaper The Buenos Aires Herald in response to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s request for dialogue with British Prime Minister David Cameron regarding the sovereignty of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.

Fernández’s letter, published yesterday in UK dailies The Guardian and The Independent, highlighted the 180th anniversary of the landing of British naval forces on the islands and called for the British government to “put an end to colonialism”.

The letter, addressed to Cameron, drew criticism from British media and prompted the British Foreign Office to respond, via Twitter, that Argentina must respect the islanders’ right to political self-determination.

“The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so”, a Foreign Office spokesperson tweeted. “There can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falklands Islands unless and until such time as the Islanders so wish”.

A referendum is due to be held in March regarding the Falklands/Malvinas status as a British Overseas Territory.

The Sun’s letter, published in both English and Spanish on page 5 of The Buenos Aires Herald, begins “Thirty one years ago this year, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, with the loss of 255 British service personnel, 649 Argentinian (sic) troops and three civilian Falklanders”.

It continues, “This action was in direct conflict with the United Nation’s charter’s principle of self-determination in which the people of the Falkland Islands are British and have chosen to be so”.

Much of The Sun’s letter, as well as criticism from other media outlets, takes issue with Fernández’s wording and interpretation of the events of 1833. The Argentine line of thinking affirms that its settlers and governor were forcibly removed from the islands by the invading British Royal Navy, and that the islands constitute an integral part of the nation’s sovereign territory.

The UK affirms that British territorial claims to the islands date back earlier than the South American nations’.

“British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands dates back to 1765 – before the Republic of Argentina even existed”, The Sun states. “The islands have never been governed by or formed part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Argentina”.

The letter concludes with the firm warning “Hands off!” The Sun drew criticism during the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas war for its sensationalist headline “Gotcha”, at the sinking of Argentine light cruiser ARA General Belgrano, in which 323 Argentine sailors were killed.

At the time of writing, President Fernández has not responded publicly to the letter.

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

Open Letter Marks Anniversary of British Landing on Falklands/Malvinas


An open letter from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to British Prime Minister David Cameron printed today in The Guardian once again invited the British government to open a dialogue regarding the sovereignty of the contested Falklands/Malvinas Islands. The letter, which appeared as an advertisement in the International section, was reprinted in various British and Argentine newspapers.

The publication of the letter was timed to coincide with the 180th anniversary of the landing on the islands by the British Royal Navy. Addressed to Prime Minister Cameron, it begins “One hundred and eighty years ago on this same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism, Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000km (8,700 miles) away from London.”

It continues “Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity.” Fernández then asks the British government to respect the 1965 United Nations General Assembly resolution which calls for a diplomatic resolution to the issue.

“In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations”, the letter concludes.

The British Foreign Office was quick to respond via Twitter, stating “There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The Islanders can’t just be written out of history”. They continue, “The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so.”

Spokespeople from the Falklands/Malvinas have formerly stated that they do not consider themselves a colony, but rather a willing member of the United Kingdom. A referendum will be held on the islands in March to decide whether the inhabitants wish to continue being a British territory, or change their status.

British media have been quick to criticise the content of the letter, accusing President Fernández of historical inaccuracies regarding Argentina’s claim to the Islands and the Argentine presence there in 1833 at the time of the British occupation.

In a column that published in The Telegraph, Nile Gardiner, a former advisor to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, described the letter as “a pathetic act of desperation that simply underlines the futility of the cause”.

Meanwhile, in Buenos Aires, the National Commission of ex-Combatants of the Malvinas will deliver their own letter to the British Embassy today, with the support of the Madres and Abuelas of the Plaza de Mayo, expressing their “concern before the fact that Great Britain does not respect the UN’s resolutions”.

Ernesto Alonso, head of the Commission, told Página/12 “We have always felt that it was a mistake on the part of the dictatorship to take back the islands militarily, it was a decision that placed the islands even further out of our grasp. Latin America is a peaceful region and all we are asking for is dialogue.”

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (2)

Weekly News Roundup, December 28th.


It’s Friday again!

And it’s December 28th, which means that today is the Día de los Inocentes, or “Holy Innocent’s Day“, the Spanish-speaking version of Aprils Fools’. So there, go prank someone.

It’s been a slow week. The end of the year is upon us and politicians are lazy. Actually everyone is lazy because it’s insanely hot outside, so the mere act of breathing makes your pores  secrete tears of sweat.

I’ve tried hard to find what to talk about since President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is not down to her usual antics and everyone else is completely checked out. In fact, I’m completely checked out. Just visit our Facebook page and click like so you can keep up with future updates.

I know I’m supposed to be writing shtick and all that but my mind is on the beach right now, sorry.

This is what you need to No, wait! I forgot to say: No Weekly News Roundup next Friday because I’m on vacation. Get it? OK. Now yes.

This is what you need to know:

  • Winner the polar bear (OK, it's not Winner. It's some random polar bear from Wikipedia. But whatever, they all look the same). (Photo/Wikipedia)

    Infinite sadness! In some twisted turn of fate (either that or Santa Claus has a dark sense of humor), everyone’s favorite polar bear, our beloved Winner, passed away on Christmas morning at the Palermo Zoo as a result of the high temperatures and the loud fireworks that lit up the sky the night before. An entire nation mourned the poor animal (despite the fact that most people only found out of his existence after he died) and took to social networks to express outrage against pretty much everyone who didn’t look after Winner, ignoring the fact that he died BECAUSE OF THE FUCKING FIREWORKS that everyone was lighting up the night before. Or that the poor animal was locked up in a zoo dealing with the intense City heat (and don’t give me that “But he was born in captivity!” crap, tell that to yourself if it makes you feel any better). Anyway, the bear is dead. Winner, we hardly knew ye. Literally.

  • In case you were wondering (you weren’t), the Media Law still has not been enforced because the kerfuffle between the League of Doom, also known as Grupo Clarín, and the League of Infinite Victimization (the National Government) continue to butt heads over it. Now, in all honesty I’m 90% sure I’ve lost you already. You’re wondering what the next bullet point is going to be about because you’re not really into this whole “Clarin vs. Government” thing. Some of you don’t even know who Clarín is! So here’s a link to the latest developments that I’m sure you won’t read. You’re welcome. Moving on.
  • Speaking of the the insanely high temperatures last Monday: remember how you called your parents on Skype to [Whatever country you come from] to tell them of the ridiculously insane temperatures we were experiencing? Remember how you panted, like a feral dog lying on the curb, while staring at a TV screen that read that the windchill factor had reached 50°C (122°F)? Remember how we all took to Facebook to post jokes about melting, global warming, hell, demons and the sun? Turns out we were all wrong because the weather station measuring the windchill factor was apparently faulty. It was only 43°C! So there, now you’re all drama queens who just can’t take a little heat, and in addition this provides climate change deniers with the ultimate evidence to prove that global warming doesn’t exist and it’s just a conspiracy involving 99.9% of the scientists around the world.
  • Oh, and the polar bear is still dead.
  • Have you ever taken the Subte A Line? I’m sure you have. It’s the one with the cars that look like this. Ah, you see? I knew it.  It’s also the one with the cars that are falling apart. So the City Government has announced that starting next month they are shutting down all A Line stations for maybe up to 60 days so they can replace them with some new cars (“new” as in “discarded by China after using them for three decades”). “And what about the 160,000 commuters that use the service everyday?”, you say? Well, chances are most of you don’t ever use that line so we shouldn’t care about them. But if you do, you’re fucked.
  • Fortunately now that we’re done with the whole “Argentina vs. Ghana” thing, we can go back to the regular “Argentina vs. England” thing. I mean, doesn’t it strike you as suspicious that when Argentina was engaging in a bilateral catfight with the African nation we didn’t even hear about the Malvinas/Falklands? Whatever the case may be, a new series of declassified British documents are reopening the wounds of the past and offering new information as to what the hell happened back in 1982. The most “revealing” part is how the Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher, said she thought the Argentine invasion of the island was stupid. Which is like the Vatican declassifying early biblical documents that say that Pontius Pilate was an apathetic creep. In any case you go: “Yeah. So?”.
  • Oh, wait! Wait! It appears the Scooby gang has cracked the case in Salta! Phew! Looks like it was just some kids playing a prank. Haha. Silly kids! That was quite a scare! It’s all good, guys. Those mischievous rascals explained that they found the (real) skeleton in a yard and put it up there as a joke. Yeah, a real skeleton.  Case closed.
  • Oh, come on. You don’t expect to get all the answers, do you? The X-Files always left some stuff unanswered as a tease, so consider this to be the same. Or like a cartoon in the 80s. Police and children make a joke, laugh in unison, closing music plays, freeze frame, end credits. You know how it is.
  • Hi, there. Can I interest you in some footage from Madonna‘s awesome concert in Córdoba last weekend? No? That’s OK, I understand. You probably already saw it here in Buenos Aires. Or you probably don’t care, which is also OK. But wait! What if the footage I offered included a power outage in the middle of a song, lots of backup singers suddenly dancing like idiots because there’s no music, a flabbergasted Madonna, like a deer caught in the headlights and thousands of awesome fans ready to keep the party going at all cost? Ha! Do I have your attention now? Here you go then, enjoy.
  • Well, it was bound to happen. I know most of you do not know who

    The irony is Peña's sex tape is actually less blurry than this photo from Wikipedia. (Photo/Wikipedia)

    actress Florencia Peña is, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t asking for a sex tape. Now, just so you know, despite her Kardashianite looks, Peña is an A-list celebrity here. She’s not one of those sluts-du-jour who keep strutting their stuff on Dancing With The Stars in order to achieve their lifelong dream of marrying a football player and becoming a desperate housewife. So when the word got out that a sex tape was about to be leaked online, many libidinous perverts began rubbing their hands before the dim light of their computer screens. And on Thursday morning, it was all over. The video was leaked and it went viral, ruining Peña’s reputation as a voluptuous femme fatale and turning her life into a never-ending cycle of grief and mortification. But this post is not about the sex tape (which I cannot post here because I don’t want the Independent to get sued, sorry to disappoint). No, this is more about the reprehensible (yet absolutely hilarious) way that the internet covered it. For example. Take a look at this site, the very respectable Agencia NOVA, covering information from the Buenos Aires province. Looks classy right? OK, not classy but average, right? (WARNING: EXTREMELY NOT SAFE FOR WORK) Now this is how it  covered the Peña affair.

  • And yes, I know that this is a macho culture that glorifies a guy having sex but dilapidates a woman having sex, condemning her to eternal damnation. So note to the girls who get offended by these posts and write me angry email:  Don’t yell at me for it. Blame the Spanish/Italian heritage.
  • In fact, I changed my mind: if you want to watch the video, here it is.
  • Ha! I can’t believe you fell for that! Feliz día de los inocentes, bitch.
  • Yeah, I know. It was a lame joke. But you know what’s worse? The fact that for a second you were glad I had decided to post a link to the video. So there. You’re a lot worse than I am.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Send Adrian your comments, thoughts or tips at adrbono@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @AdrianBono

And don’t forget to like the Weekly News Roundup on Facebook, so we don’t have to keep reminding you about this every Friday.

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