Posts filed under ‘politics’

house demolishing parties

goodbye house party August 2007 

While we can’t remember the last time that we’ve been invited to a house warming party, the soy so lindo team has been to two house demolishing parties in the past month. That is, a huge blow-out party the night before the tenants are being kicked out because they don’t want to/can’t pay the increased rents.

goodbye house party July 2007 goodbye house party July 2007

While the parties always prove to be fun– with phrases and images scribbled all over the walls, huge bonfires, and even live bands playing to a packed room–they’re also a bit depressing. The combination of inflation and the real estate boom (bubble?) here in Buenos Aires means that it’s getting more and more expensive to live in Capital Federal. If it’s not out-of-control rents that get you, it’s developers buying the building just to tear it down and build up something bigger and better.

As New Yorkers, we’ve seen this trend before and believe us, it doesn’t end pretty. It was just reported that rates of homelessness in NY are the highest they’ve been in twenty years, thanks to the real estate and development boom (aka gentrification).

While we love a good party, let’s hope that this is a coincidence, rather than a trend.–REBECCA

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August 7, 2007 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

just say “no” to sweatshop labor

Buenos Aires is attempting to put a stop to sweatshops in the city by going on the offensive. Today Clarin reported that the city government has named names, citing some of the biggest brands here of being guilty of producing their garments in sweatshops. Included among these are Puma, Fila, Arena, Bensimon, Topper and Le Coq Sportif.

Many of these sweatshops are based out of Parque Avellaneda, a neighbourhood to the west of the city center. According to IPS News, “In this district alone, there are approximately 40 small sweatshops,” with wages totalling about $20 pesos a month. Most people (perhaps best described as slaves) working in sweatshops are immigrants from Bolivia, although there are also Peruvians, Paraguayans, and Argentines. According to one former sweatshop worker, “They take advantage of us because they know that we Bolivians are submissive and hard-working.”

While the city has denounced these brands for their use of sweatshop labor, it doesn’t look like the government has actually done anything about it. Previous court cases against sweatshops have ended in the owners’ favor, and there still isn’t a federal law that prohibits the trafficking of humans.

So for now, the only way to really respond to these allegations would be to boycott the guilty labels. I haven’t read about anyone protesting outside of Bensimmon, and I don’t see it happening. Am I just being cynical?–REBECCA

July 30, 2007 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

transvestite travesty

Prostitutes and transvestites are nothing new in Palermo– in fact, prior to the recent gentrification of Palermo, it was one of Buenos Aires’ main red light districts— but the recent lifting of a prostitution ban in the area may give them more visibility.

Pagina 12 reports that the suspension of Resolución 38 (“declaraba ‘el Rosedal de Palermo y su entorno’ como ‘espacio no autorizado para la oferta o demanda de servicios sexuales”) by a new resolution, Resolución 43, was done in part to increase awareness and reduce transmission rates of HIV/AIDS.

Basically, making prostitution illegal doesn’t stop it from happening. Instead, prostitution will still go on, but the government can’t officially talk about it or do any sort of outreach, like HIV/AIDS prevention, because it’s supposed to be illegal! So by lifting the ban on prostitution (although not outright repealing it), the government is attempting to address the problem rather than sweep it under the rug.

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Despite yesterday’s protest by a transvestite organization pushing for the resolution’s complete repeal, it looks as though the government has actually been including sex workers in its discussions. As was reported,

‘Decidimos entonces convocar a una amplia mesa de diálogo.’ Se decidió ya incluir a la Asociación de Travestis, Transexuales y Transgénero de la Argentina (ATTA); la Federación Argentina de Personas Gays, Lésbicas, Travestis, Bisexuales e Intersexuales (Fagltbi); la Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices Argentinas (Ammar); la Asociación de Amigos del Lago de Palermo, otras entidades vecinales y vecinos interesados; el Inadi; por parte del gobierno porteño participarán los ministros de Medio Ambiente, de Gobierno y de Derechos Humanos, así como la Procuraduría General.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the government will actually listen to what any of these groups have to say, but at least there was some effort to talk to sex workers before making a decision.

Prostitution doesn’t exist just because it’s legal or allowed; instead, it exists because we live in a society where sexuality (and sexual expression/desire) is repressed, where objectifying and treating people (specifically women) a certain way is promoted, and where increasing rates of poverty (especially among women) forces people to take certain jobs. So making it legal doesn’t necessarily deal with the root of the problem, but it at least addresses safety and health concerns for sex workers.–REBECCA

July 24, 2007 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

next year in jerusalem

Jewish or not, just about any twentysomething East Coast liberal arts school student knows about Birthright Israel. Started in 2000, Birthright Israel (BRI) is an organization that sends youngs Jews (ages 18-26) on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel. While there’s plenty of proselytizing (the purpose of BRI is, after all, to reconnect young Jews with Israel), a free trip to Israel is a free trip to Israel. Which is likely why most of my American Jewish friends, religious or not, eventually opt to go on the trip.

But BRI in Argentina? Apparently. A friend of soy so lindo left today for a BRI-sponsored trip to Israel, and she’s not alone. In 2006, 1129 Argentine youths went to Israel with BRI; in 2005, 1245. And in just January and February of this year, BRI sent 189. The organization claims that in just six years it has sent 5,000 Argentines to Israel, contributing to a total of 100,000 trip participants worldwide.

In a country known for its anti-semitism (the 13th anniversary of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina bombing is this Wednesday), it’s comforting to see that Argentine Jews are still proud of their heritage and interested in visiting Israel. You must register for a trip at least six months in advance, so sign up now if you fit the bill (Jewish, 18-26 years old, have never gone on an educational trip to Israel before). Next year in Jerusalem, indeed.–REBECCA

July 16, 2007 at 7:20 pm Leave a comment

Europeans and South Americans ‘Just Have Sexy in Their Blood’

Female leaders 

It’s been a little over a week since President Kirchner announced that he would not be running for re-election, allowing his wife, Senator Cristina Kirchner, to run instead, and already the media has been all over Argentina’s political drama.

Inevitably, there is much that can be said about the Kirchner-Clinton connection; both couples met in law school, both men became presidents, both women became senators, and now, both women are aiming for the White (or in Argentina’s case, Pink) House.

Yet for some writers, the most important thing is that…Cristina Kirchner is sexy and Hillary Clinton is not!

Yes, that’s right, apparently ABC News thought it necessary to devote three pages to analyzing the differences in dress and appearance between the two women:

When Argentina’s foxy first lady and fashionista Cristina Kirchner announced July 2 that she would run for president, she allowed her long, black hair to cascade over a plunging neckline.

But America’s first lady of politics, Hillary Rodham Clinton — who has often been compared to Kirchner — opted for a solid black pants suit during her recent presidential debate.

Other international women with brains and power, such as France’s Ségolène Royal, flaunt their sexuality. But Americans prefer to play the dowdy card.

And that’s just the first three paragraphs. The atrocious dek of the piece declares, “Europeans and South Americans ‘Just Have Sexy in Their Blood,” making a sweeping generalization about entire continents based on the evidence of just three people. Apparently ignoring the existence of “dowdy” (or–gasp–women who fall into neither category) leaders like Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Mary McAleese of Ireland, Tarja Halonen of Finland, and Angela Merkel of Germany will make your already-shoddy argument work.

It goes without saying that you would never find an article dissecting the dressing habits of Bush, Sarkozy, or any other male politician (except perhaps John Edwards, but that’s just veiled homophobia at work). Nestor Kirchner is in no way easy on the eyes, plus he’s got a major lisp, and yet not a peep about his physical appearance. 

Cristina Kirchner hopes to succeed her husband Nestor

Like with most things, women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t; that same old virgin-whore complex means that she’s either totally dowdy (and, in Clinton’s case, a lesbian) or a complete vamp. Getting dressed to go to a fundraising event is no longer just a simple routine, but instead an indicator of how a woman is as a political leader. And that’s worrisome.

Because even if they are elected, they will never escape the judgements that are passed on them and not on their male predecessors. We can say that we’ve made history and elected a woman president, but it won’t mean anything if we still hold her to a double standard.

And it’s not just some small time blogger saying this (and believe me, several have), but ABC News. Perhaps the question that needs to be asked is not, “Are we ready for a female president?” but rather, “Is the media ready for a female president?” We’ll know it is when the answer is, “We’re ready for a president.”–REBECCA

July 11, 2007 at 7:34 pm 1 comment

a “Día especial” for Live Earth

It’s Rio de Janeiro, rather than Buenos Aires, that is Latin America’s Live Earth host today. It makes sense– who could say no to a concert on the beach?

Rio Live Earth

But having his country passed over as host didn’t stop Gustavo Cerati of Soda Stereo fame from joining Shakira onstage in Hamburg. Cerati played guitar as Shakira did a cover of the SS song “Día especial.” Needless to say, this has been the only coverage Argentine newspapers have given to the event so far.

I’ve been a bit torn about the premise of Live Earth (are rock concerts across the globe really going to help fight climate change?), and the coverage here only backs up my fears; in Clarin, there is no mention that the concerts are carbon-neutral, nor that there is a seven-point pledge audience members are asked to take. Obviously, pledges are often forgotten and musicians may return to their gas-guzzling ways, but to write only about the bands gracing the stages kinda defeats the whole purpose of the event, no?–REBECCA

July 7, 2007 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

the kids are alright

The kids are alright, or at least that’s the theme of the poll printed in the June issue of Plan V. The results from the poll, done by La Fundacion Odiseo, give a peek into the inner workings of Argentine young folks– opinions, attitudes, and beliefs. You can see the full results here, but a couple of numbers caught our eye:

– 65% of young people would donate their organs

– Only 17% are practicing Catholics, compared to 56% who are non-practicing Catholics. A whopping 62% believe in miracles.

– 43% of those polled know someone their age who has had an abortion; 46% believe that abortion should be permited only in special cases.

– 60% live with their parents. 

– 76% don’t identify with the images and personalities that advertising uses to characterize young people today.

– 29% said that they have homosexual friends, 67% claimed that they didn’t. 78% think that in Argentina there is discrimination against people who are homosexual.

Do you think that these numbers accurately represent young Argentines?

July 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

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