A Travellerspoint blog

Memorial March at Plaza de Mayo

Nunca Más

sunny 70 °F

On March 24, we witnessed the 37th Memorial March for the Overthrow of the Military Coup. This demonstration marked the end of the Golpe de Estado, the fall of the military dictatorship, and the denouncement of human rights abuses that occurred at that time. Thousands marched with photographs of loved ones while many more came with their political groups to show solidarity.

They marched to remember.
They marched to show their support.
But most of all, they marched so that nothing like this would ever happend again ('Nunca Mas!')

I recognize the videos from the Casa Rosada and its pretty politicized, but there's some great archival footage of the end of the Military Dictatorship and powerful imagery of the many who fought against it.


Posted by Fabian1993 18:53 Archived in Argentina Tagged demonstration march remember plazademayo golpedeestado militarydictatorship

Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre)

La Revancha del Tango


Posted by Fabian1993 18:04 Archived in Argentina Tagged tango buenosaires gotanproject

Murky Waters

The Matanza Riachuelo Basin

sunny 79 °F

All notes and information comes from a lecture given to us by Yanina Rulb, Policy Advisor at the Environmental Commission in the Senate, during her lecture and site-visit on March 18, 2013.


We stepped off of the bus and onto the embankment of the river. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shimmering across the water, the trees were verdant, and we could hear the humm of the highway a few miles away. Yet there was something upsetting about the picture, drifting just below the surface, we knew this area was contaminated. There was trash (plastic shopping bags and aluminum cans) collected along the riverbank. The waters had a dark cloudy complexion. From far away we could see an unmarked pipe sputtering god knows what into the water. Across the river we saw shanty towns - settlements of concrete and wire fencing gathered along the river. One could only imagine the health effects living in such close quarters with these murky waters.


Environmental Injustice - 5 Million People live in the Infected Zone
Lots of waste is dumped into the river from metal processing industries, leather tanning factories, and the preparation of cereals and meats to be exported out of the country.
368,000m3 of Sewage Dumped EVERY DAY!
88,000m3 of Industrial Waste Dumped EVERY DAY!

With no National Emission Registry its difficult to regulate the dumping of factories and industries along the river, it i very difficult to control the pollution of the natural environment.

"Villa Inflammable" - A famous shanty-town with poor environmental health indicators and exposure to chemicals/toxins.
(nickel, lead, chromium, arsenic, phenol, benzene, xylene, toluene, chlorinated hydrocarbons, pesticides, herbicides)
50x Max Levels of Mercury, Zinc, Lead, and Chromium
5x the Levels of Chromium and Lead found in Children's Blood

Effects of Toxics in Our Body:
- Severe Neurological Damage
- Gastroentological
- Neumonologic
- Carcinogenic
- Affects Nervous System
- Malformation

2008 National Court of Justice pushed the Government of the City and Province of Buenos Aires to set concrete deadlines for an action clean -up plan.
Step Forward!
1. Started Clean Production Programs with some Industries (Criticism: Slow Process)
2. Relocation of Poor Settings (Although Villa Inflamable still Exists)
3. Work on Waste and Open Dumping
4. "Camino de Sirga": Visible Changes
5. Removal of Cars and Wrecks from River
6. Register Effluent Emissions

Some parts of the River are being restored - turtles have returned.

Posted by Fabian1993 19:30 Archived in Argentina Tagged rivers shantytown riachuelo matanza environmentaljustice

Pope Francis I

Witnessing the Inauguration of the 1st Latin American Pope

sunny 72 °F


On March 19, 2013 Jorge Mario Bergoglio was inaugurated as Pope Francis I. Along with thousands of Argentineans, I stood in the Plaza de Mayo as the sun rose and the new pope, broadcasted from miles away, made his way up the Vatican steps.

I first learnt about Pope Benedict XVI's resignation in India. Coming to Argentina I had no idea who the next Pope would be, until one night with the clanging of the dinner-bell came the announcement that the new Pope was not only from Latin America, but the ArchBishop of Buenos Aires. Its difficult to describe the elation that we felt that night. Our host-parents, both devout Catholics, were overjoyed. Growing up a Roman Catholic, I also felt a deep sense of pride. After centuries, the Catholic Church was recognizing the extent of its congregation - its diminishing flock in Europe and its growing masses in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


While we were in Argentina, there was a lot of talk about his involvement in Argentine history and politics. We too took part in that dialogue with our host parents, newspapers, and the world around us. It was a interesting to see how history influences so much of current events as they are unfolding in real time. So many of my impressions of this new Pope were developed in those first moments - now that I'm back in the U.S.

Liberation Theology

As a religious figure in Latin America during the 1970s Pope Francis became involved in the discussion of Christian Humanism as espoused by Jesuit Liberation Theology. 'Liberation Theology' is a movement that interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ as liberation from unjust economic, social, and political conditions. While it has been depicted as 'Christianity through the eyes of the poor' many have accused the movement of being 'Marxist Christianity' because of it call for redistribution of wealth and equality.
For a pope who frequently preached in the slums, who washed the feet of the poor, took the name of 'Francis', and is now being called a Pope of the Poor the line is not clearly drawn. Writer Matthew Fox claims that during the 1970s Pope Francis "fought liberation theology tooth and nail as head of the bishops' conference and he was an effective instigator of papal attitudes in this regard." Others like Leonardo Boff argue that, "though he is averse to liberation theology, which he views as hopelessly tainted with Marxist ideology, Cardinal Bergoglio has emphasized outreach to the impoverished, and as cardinal of Buenos Aires he has overseen increased social services and evangelization in the slums." He continues "I am encouraged by this choice, viewing it as a pledge for a church of simplicity and of ecological ideals." Pope Francis has spoken out both against left-wing Marxism and right-wing Economic Neoliberalism. Instead he has chosen a middle path. Without calling for redistribution of wealth or a strong social movement, Pope Francis has advocated for the poor and upheld charity as the foundation to Christianity.
During the 1970s, participating in the Liberation Theology movement was politically dangerous given how the Cold War violently played out in Latin America. In May of 1976 two Jesuit Priests were captured and tortured by the Argentinean Navy. While there were accusations that Bergoglio threw them out of the Jesuit order and was involved in their kidnapping, such allegations proved false. In the then Cardinal Bergoglio's Biography, Sergio Rubin writes that the man assisted in sheltering dissidents on church property and getting them out of the country. As Adolfo Pérez (Nobel Peace Prize Winner of 1980) points out: "Perhaps he didn't have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship ... Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship." Once again Pope Francis took the middle path and remained apolitical.

Social Issues

On Social Issues Pope Francis has been more vocal. In Argentina, every effort made to pass gay marriage or abortion has been opposed by the then Cardinal Bergoglio. During the gay marriage vote in Argentina, Pope Francis was quoted as saying: "At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God's law engraved in our hearts." When President Kirchner attempted to pass laws to give women the choice to abortion the Pope Francis spoke out saying: "Abortion is killing someone that cannot defend himself." Recently Pope Francis has encouraged bishops to deny communion to pro-abortion politicians. On issues of celibacy and allowing females into priesthood, Pope Francis has been more open, but will refer to the council of cardinals he has set up to advise him on these issues.
In many ways I'm glad that Pope Francis was inaugurated as Pope. Even if we disagree on certain social issues, I recognize his upbringing in the Catholic Church and how difficult it may be to change a fundamentally socially conservative institution. I think the way he is living modestly and the way he is portraying the Catholic Church as servants to the poor is refreshing. He is remaining apolitical, he is taking the middle path, and many love him for it. Yet, part of me also thinks that if the turbulence during Pope Benedict XVI's papacy had continued, the Church would have had to convene a Third Vatican Council and respond to the changes that have been occurring around the world. Thanks to the Second Vatican Council (in 1960) the Mass (and all the sacraments) are now spoken and celebrated in the language of the country instead of Latin, priests now stands facing the people, the Mass and the other sacraments have been simplified for easier understanding, the lay people now have a greater role in the celebration of the sacraments, the rules and regulations of Religious Life and Priesthood have been up-dated, and the Catholic laity is encourage to read and study the bible. Who knows what a Third Vatican Council could have changed - perhaps they would have allowed an end to the celibacy of priests, the ordination of women, and a loosening of social issues. But this is all speculation. Overall, I am happy with Pope Francisco I. Even if his middle path does not radically change some of the fundamental positions of the Catholic Church, I see a man who is committed to helping the poor and the destitute, the forgotten and the marginalized. And for that I am truly thankful.

An Excerpt from my Journal

We woke up at 4am. It was still dark. A few of our roommates hopped on the bus - it was packed with sleepy passengers rubbing their eyes and a few nuns herding catholic school girls in high-socks. They glared at us as more and more passengers boarded the bus and us guys were forced onto their wards. We were headed to the Plaza de Mayo jostling with every bump in the road. A block away the bus doors opened and people rushed out onto the street and headed towards the square. Plaza de Mayo was already packed with students from the University who were holding a midnight vigil for Pope Francis I. There were thousands already gathered in the square, but somehow we managed to squeeze in right in front of the giant projection screen near La Casa Rosada. As the Vatican doors opened we witnessed the thousands of curia gathered in its marbled hallways. The traditions of the Vatican seemed strange, almost occult with the way the thousands of curia walked down the marbled hallways lit with thousands of candles. There were representatives from all over the world - political leaders and religious leaders from all walks of life. And all this, for an aging latino man who made his way up the carpeted steps. I was struck by the different languages that rose from that podium. Prayers in latin, prayers in slavic, prayers in spanish, and prayers in Italian. At one point one of our friends turned to me and whispered, "I can't understand his Spanish, he has such a strange accent." We laughed - the Pope was clearly speaking Italian. As the inauguration continued we shuffled positions on the floor, a few of us began to fall asleep on the bricks of the plaza. The Pontificate was handed a staff and inaugurated as the new Pope as the sun finally broke. It lasted only two hours, but in that moment I felt awash with hope. To share that moment with thousands of Argentineans at the Plaza de Mayo was truly special. And even as the Plaza emptied - as people shuffled off to work and got on the subway - that feeling of elation hung in the air.

Posted by Fabian1993 10:04 Archived in Argentina Tagged pope abortion plazademayo francis1 bergoglio liberationtheology socialissues gaymarriage vaticancouncil historyinthemaking

A Evaristo Carriego

Two Lovers in Tango's Embrace

sunny 72 °F

It's one of the most beautiful performances of Tango I've ever seen. When they dance you can see the sensual reunion of two old lovers, heartbroken yet still passionate.

"A Evaristo Carriego" (An Argentinean Poet)
Music: Eduardo Rovira
Dancers: Marcela Duran & Carlos Gavito

Posted by Fabian1993 21:43 Archived in Argentina Tagged dance tango evaristocarriego carlosgavito

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