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feliz cumple!

Not just any birthday, today Argentina celebrates the 200th anniversary of breaking from the Spanish crown. Technically Spain was being run by Napoleon’s brother at the time so they broke away from the French as well… saying goodbye to two empires at once! Buenos Aires was not the first to reject Spanish authority, but it was the largest city to do so & the capital of a Viceroyalty. As such, the Revolución de Mayo marked the beginning of the end of Spanish control in the Americas.

Given today’s significance in world history, there is surprisingly little acknowledgment of the event in Spain. In the print edition of “El País” —the most widely circulated Spanish newspaper— no mention of the bicentennial appears until page 31. Yikes. The opinion piece written by Jorge Taiana, Argentine Minister of Foreign Relations, is embarrassing to say the least… nothing more than propaganda for the Kirchners. The power hungry couple have done a great job of snubbing Spain constantly over the past few years, so the lack of recognition likely stems from their own clumsy foreign policy.

Perhaps the more important issue is: how should a bicentennial be celebrated? Personally, I think it should be the equivalent of an extra-special New Year’s Day… a time to make resolutions on a grand scale. Unfortunately the current administration is too insular & paranoid for that to happen. As an opportunity for reflection, the bicentennial should inspire pride, search for ways to correct past mistakes & arouse enthusiasm for things in which the nation has excelled. Instead, political infighting is how the Kirchners have chosen to celebrate. When historians look back on this landmark day, I doubt they will do so with either pride or enthusiasm.

Argentina’s potential for greatness remains untapped. It occasionally rises to the surface in the form of progressive laws, Nobel Prizes or fantastic architecture… in spite of rampant corruption, dictatorships, or viveza criolla. That’s something worth celebrating. In the 10 years I’ve lived in Argentina, I’ve experienced both the good & the bad. I’m still trying to come to terms with my adopted home… there’s always a new challenge to take on. But if no one else will say it, I will: It’s time to wake a sleeping giant. That’s a resolution worthy of the bicentennial, & from my experience there’s no doubt that Argentines are up to the task. If they put their minds to it.

10 thoughts on “feliz cumple!”

  1. “If they put their minds to it.” Clearly, and if we finally kick the peasants out of the casa rosada! if only they had done it right back in the 70s we wouldn’t have these problems today. We would be like Chile! Except of course, whiter.

    I can’t wait until we have a new president, one who doesn’t want power, like you say about los K.

  2. Jorge – De nada!

    Juan S – I don’t think that anything about the 70s (either Perón or the junta) in Argentina was the right way to go. That wasn’t the point of the post. But political reform is certainly a good first step. Building a stronger civil society would help as well.

  3. Thanks Robert!

    Thanks for this wonderful post, and for re posting the one about the MOP Building.

    Makes me kind of ashamed for not posting anything on my bloc about the Bicentennial.. or about anything, lately.

    I couldn’t find anything about the singer building you mention on the previous post.. did it had anything to do with the sewing machines?

    See ya!

  4. Señor F – You haven’t been posting much of anything lately… why not? I thought I should post *something* about the bicentenario just because I’ve been talking about it for years. And I’m not even there to see it! It was either make money or stay in Argentina.

    The Singer building was indeed the same as the sewing machines. But now that I think about it, maybe I made a mistake. I have an architecture book at home about all the buildings on Avenida de Mayo, but I’m in Bilbao now so it will have to wait until July.

    I’ve had a request to repost the CIAE material so I’ll add a link to that blog… which you should continue too! Saludos!

  5. Robert. You can’t believe how happy I was when I randomly decided to try your old blog URL and found it had come back to life.

    Thanks for your comment on Argentina. Yeah, we have potential but we’ll be stuck at the bottom of the ocean as long as we don’t ever use it. Do you miss living here? Lisboa’s gotta be beautiful too.

    That’s all for now. Keep the posts coming since I’ll stick around here for quite a while.

    Thanks man.


    1. Hey Fede – I think that’s the thing about Argentina… there’s never any in between. It’s either at the depths of the ocean or on the mountaintop. An constant average would be nice for a change! 🙂

      I’m still in Buenos Aires but only part time. Lisboa is great, for sure, but I’ll probably be buying an apartment in BA very soon.

      Hopefully I can continue to post more often after my work schedule slows down a bit. Take it easy!

  6. When historians look back on this landmark day, I doubt they will do so with either pride or enthusiasm.

    Seems a strange analysis of the celebrations – and now I find out you weren’t even here, are you trying to get a job with Clarin? The celebrations I saw were 4 million people along 9 de Julio and queues forever but not a grumble or complaint from anyone, so many smiles from young and old and so much pride in Argentina. It was the usual suspects in the media that wanted to set this up as some sort of referendum on the Kirchners, that predicted, prayed for a failure, that warned of gangs of pickpockets, that snubbed the first night when nearly a million people were celebrating rock nacional (TN had some old lady turning her light on and off in an apartment – I kid you not) – the next day of course they could ignore it no more. I dont think that this can be taken as a vote of support for the Kirchners either, but what joy to see the usual suspects in the media back pedalling on the bicentennial as a referendum theme after 10 million people turned out over four days with barely an incident. There are elements of the Argentine media that just need to grow up, the people deserve more respect than this garbage.

    I would just like to say well done Argentina, your celebration of your bicentenary touched me very greatly, you have a beautiful country and you should be very proud.

  7. Hi Charles – Thanks for the comment. No, unfortunately I wasn’t in BA for the festivities because I had work in Spain scheduled for that time. I’ve been writing about the bicentennial since 2005 (one of the few actually), so I regret not being there. But work is work. Friends who went had nothing but good things to say about that particular day.

    I read nothing about Clarín’s predictions of the day’s events. But just before May 25th, I couldn’t help but laugh at the antics of Macri & the Kirchners. My comment stemmed from their bickering as well as looking in retrospect at the past 100 years. One day of Argentine unity does not erase division in society, solve long-term economic problems or correct many of the ills in Argentina mentioned in the post (corruption, viveza criolla & the like). My first report read about the day’s events was this article in El País… maybe after reading it, you’ll see what I mean about the Kirchners trying to make the festivities all about post-2003 rather than what has happened in the nation since the centennial celebrations in 1910. That was the point of my post.

    I’m glad to hear the day went well, but more than 24 hours of Argentina coming together is necessary for the next 100 years to generate a real sense of pride & enthusiasm.

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