Thursday, January 26, 2006

Last March of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo

On my way back from Spanish classes today, I walked through Plaza de Mayo, and stopped to acknowledge the crowds gathered for the final march of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. The Mothers have been gathering in the square for 25 years to demand information about their children who disappeared during the military regimes of the 1970s and 80s. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during the dirty war.

The square was full of people dressed in blue and white, with women wearing the familar white headscarfs that have become a sign of the movement. Around the statue in the middle of the suquare, scaffolding had been errected and covered with photographs of the dead or missing; faces still youthful, full of energy and hope. A large banner read simply, ¨Thank you Mothers¨

The Mothers will continue to meet each Thursday to hold silent vigils for their children. They are often joined by other human rights protesters, and have themselves have made connections between the disappearence of their children under right wing governments and the introduction of neo-liberalism economics, and as a consequence have been vocal in their criticism of this and other manifestations of neo-colonialism.

Photo from
http://www.lanacion.com.ar/EdicionImpresa/politica/nota.asp?nota_id=774958

The website of the movement is:
http://www.madres.org

As for me, I am continuing to enjoy life here. I am preparing for a Spanish test next week to graduate to the next level of classes. I enjoyed the day in Tigre but didn´t get a futon! More soon.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Evo arrives

Members of Argentina´s Bolivian community gathered in Plaza de Mayo on Tuesday morning to great Evo Morales, president elect of Bolivia. Morales will be the first indigenous Bolivian president and his election has caused much excitement in the region. Last Sunday, I attended a Mennonite church here in Buenos Aires and the woman leading the service reflected with joy on news footage of Morales meeting the Spanish president; finally indigenous people were meeting on equal terms the Europeans who arrived on this continent only 500 years ago.

Later in the service, a fellow student from ISEDET reflected on Romans 12.1-18. The church is not to be conformed to the world, but rather is called to transform it. The impact of conforming to the dominant social and economic systems of the world is clearly evident in Latin America. In response, more and more countries are voting for leaders who promise to challenge the multi-national companies and international financial organisations and to seek out alternatives to neoliberalism. In Bolivia, Morales has vowed to renegotiate the agreements made by previous governments with foreign gas and oil companies such as British Gas. Former agreements have not provided most Bolivians with appropriate benefits from the rich natural resources they possess.

See Christian Aid´s website for more.

http://www.christianaid.org.uk/news/features/060104bol.htm

Now for some news from me. The big news is that today I got my computer back complete with new hard drive. Hurrah! My apartment is gradually being organised and filled with stuff. Tomorrow I am off to Tigre on a ´futon buying´ expedition! Tigre is a popular weekend desitination about 20 miles up the coast from BA, in the delta region. It´s also suppost to be a centre of furniture makers and craftsmen. My Spanish classes are going well. Today we had a four hour class to begin making up some time from a missed class last week. Four hours of the subjunctive is plenty! I feel like I am getting to know people and having quite a social time. Argentines seem to make much more time for socializing and I´ve been comparing this approach with my often rushed lunches or coffee with friends in England.

More next week.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hello from Buenos Aires

Hello to everyone checking in.

I´ve been in Buenos Aires a week now and am settling in fine. The flight was long -flying via Canada is not the quickest route as an offical at Toronto Airport helpfully pointed out. My apartment is a good size, lovely views, newly refurbished and secure. Although it´s the middle of the summer holidays here, I´ve begun to meet other students from various countries and some of the staff too. The term kicks off at the end of February with the option of a 3 week intensive course in Hebrew - I´m thinking about it...Until then, I´m busy settling in and getting to know the city. It´s been hot and humid with frequent thunderstorms clearing the air at night. The city seems busy but I´m told is very quiet as everyone is away at the beach. On Monday I began Spanish classes at the University of Buenos Aires language school and so far so good.

Now for a few initial reflections, although I´m a little hesitant after being here just a week.

The Buenos Aires Herald noted on Sunday that poverty in Argentina increased ten fold between 1974 and 2004. Despite being one of the richest countries in Argentina for many years, following an economic crisis a few years ago, the country has suffered. Many people have several jobs to help them meet living costs. In line with many other countries, levels of poverty often correspond to ethnicity. Buenos Aires is a very European city in its ethnic make up, and across the country indigenous people today make up a very small percentage of the population, often the most marginalised. Globalization is very evident - internet cafes and mobile phone shops are everywhere, along with many global brands. And in temperatures of 35 degrees, Argentines celebrate Christmas surrounded by Santa Claus and reindeer, Christmas trees and snowflakes.

more soon.