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Starbucks Opens New Store In Abasto Mall

March 31st, 2009 | 07:01 AM



More good news for Starbucks coffee lovers out there. The Seattle-based company has opened a new store in the Abasto Shopping center. The store will be the first of its kind in Argentina to offer Kosher food and snacks.

Starbucks will soon have 10 stores in Buenos Aires. You can find them at the following locations:

  • Shopping Alto Palermo – Arenales y Av. Coronel Díaz (Palermo)
  • Av. Federico Lacroze 2301 – corner of 3 de Febrero (Belgrano)
  • Callao 702 – corner of Viamonte (Centro)
  • Avenida Elcano 3179 (Belgrano R)
  • Malabia 1738 (Palermo Soho)
  • Calle Florida (Florida, at the corner of Rivadavia)
  • Abasto Shopping Mall Corrientes 3247
  • Coming Soon I: Dot Shopping Center (Melian Avenue and the Panamerican highway)
  • Coming Soon II: Dot Shopping Center (Melian Avenue and the Panamerican highway)
  • Coming Soon III: Patio Bullrich Shopping Mall (Posadas 1245)

For a previous post about Starbucks (and all the comments that followed it) click here.


Skype’s New iPhone App Works In Argentina

March 31st, 2009 | 06:23 AM


skype-11There was great news Monday for tech savvy Argentines and expats living here. Skype, the user-friendly free (or heavily discounted) international phone and chat application, is now available for free for the iPhone.

I’ve been testing the application on my iPhone and it seems to work brilliantly. With Skype you can make free calls to other online contacts and super cheap calls to non-Skype landlines and cellphones.

I used PayPal to add $10 to my account so I could try calling regular cellphones of friends and family living in the U.S. So far it has worked perfectly. The calls worked just as as they do when using the regular, PC-based version of Skype, only now, on the iPhone, the calls feel like real phone calls instead of a slightly inconvenient, computer-based experiment.

The audio quality so far has been very good. It’s still not as good as regular VOIP or Vonage-based calls. Still, given how decent the quality is, and the fact that you can make these calls without being tied down to a computer, this new version of Skype deserves stellar accolades. Early user reviews on iTunes complain about the application crashing, but I have had any trouble yet in my limited tests.

I’ve been testing Skype on my home WiFi network, which is an important caveat. I haven’t yet used it on my Movistar cellular network, where a much narrower bandwidth could negatively affect the quality of calls. But I’ll be testing this aspect of the service during the week and will report back with more details later.

You can download the Skype App through the iTunes store here.

Argentina’s two main iPhone providers are Movistar and Claro, though hacked iPhones can be used wtih any GSM provider. Skype can also be used on Windows Mobile Phones, Play Station Portables (or PSPs), the Nokia Internet Tablet.

UPDATE: As some readers already have mentioned, Skype doesn’t work on the iPhone’s 3G network. Truly this is a shame. Apple seems to have deliberately blocked this possibility, perhaps in a concession to its cellular service providers who want their clients paying (through the teeth) for long distance calls. This is a major setback for Skype,although Skype’s WiFi-based calling options still work great.


Berocca: The Ultimate Hangover Cure?

March 30th, 2009 | 08:46 PM


beroccaIt's probably safe to assume that for as long as humans have had access to alcohol, hangovers have been a problem. But hangovers seem to be less of a problem in Argentina – which lacks a tradition of immoderate drinking – than they are in places like Australia, Germany, the UK and the US, where binge drinking is often celebrated.

This makes it all the most interesting – as well as more understandable – that Argentines pay little attention to the alleged curative – or, perhaps more accurate, preventive – power of the country's most famous hangover palliative: Berocca.

I first heard of Berocca a few years ago not from an Argentine but from a group of foreign journalists who had come to visit the country. “This stuff is magic,” said one of the reporters.

“I've gotta get more of this and bring it back to the States.” I soon found myself taking orders from people who wanted to import Berocca back to the U.S., where it is not sold in pharmacies or supermarkets (although it can be found on eBay).

Berocca isn't particularly well known in Argentina. It's sold mainly as an energy effervescent and it garners about 21% of the country's multivitamin market, competing with brands like Centrum. This is no small feat, given that the multivitamin market here totals about 50 million pesos annually. Still, Berocca isn't a household name and it certainly isn't marketed as hangover medication. “Beyond it's being a multivitamin, this is the first time I've heard someone talk about it as a hangover cure,” said a pharmaceutical industry official I spoke with about the product.

But that hasn't prevented the product's legend from growing. A Google search on “Berocca hangover” turns up more than 11,000 results in English. One of them, oddly, is a BBC page that discusses hangover cures. It has this to say:



US Embassy Issues Dengue Fever Alert

March 29th, 2009 | 02:46 PM


mosquitoThe U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires has issued the following alert on Dengue Fever in Argentina. Since the alert was issued, heath officials in the Province of Buenos Aires, which surrounds the City of Buenos Aires, have confirmed the discovery of 15 cases in the province, including two in Quilmes, just south of Capital Federal, while more than 30 others are being studied. (It appears that the cases in Quilmes were contracted through travel to northern Argentina and are not the result of mosquito bites that occurred in the city itself.)


This Warden Message is to alert U.S. citizens in and traveling to Argentina that the Argentine Ministry of Health reported 2,200 confirmed cases of dengue fever in Argentina as of March 26, 2009.  According to a ministry spokesman, the majority of cases have been reported in the northern Argentine province of Chaco, although some cases have also been reported in Salta, Catamarca and Jujuy provinces. Dengue fever is a mosquito-transmitted illness, for which there is no vaccine, and no specific treatment. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a rare, more severe and sometimes fatal form of the disease. For the latest information, you may visit the ministry’s website at or call 0800-222-1002.

The Ministry of Health recommends eliminating sources of standing water, which form breeding grounds for mosquitoes.  To further reduce the risk of contracting dengue, Argentine officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend wearing clothing that exposes as little skin as possible and applying a repellent containing the insecticide DEET (concentration 30 to 35 percent) or Picaridin (concentration 20 percent or greater for tropical travelers).  Because of the increased risk of Dengue fever and the ongoing risk, practicing preventative measures is recommended by the CDC.  For further information on Dengue fever, please visit the CDC’s website at:

Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website the U.S. Department of State’s, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website , where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found.  The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review to “A Safe Trip Abroad,” found at , which includes valuable security information for those both living and traveling abroad.  In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

United States Embassy
Av. Colombia 4300, Palermo
Buenos Aires
telephone 011-54-11-5777-4387
after hours 011-54-11-5777-4873;
fax 011-54-11-5777-4293.
Public hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday except U.S. and Argentine holidays


CFK, Biden Meet At Progressive Summit

March 28th, 2009 | 02:34 PM



President Cristina Fernández met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Friday at a summit of self-described progressive leaders in Chile. The meeting comes a week before she meets President Barack Obama and other G-20 leaders in London to discuss the global financial crisis.

String Theory

Like other nations, Argentina is pushing for greater regulation of financial institutions. But its main interest in the upcoming meeting can probably be summed up in one word: cash. It's pushing to get multilateral organizations like the International Monetary Fund to lend money without strings attached. In that past, the IMF lent billions of dollars to Argentina, but the money always came with a lengthy laundry list of conditions, many of which were not always in Argentina's best interest.

Those conditions infuriated Fernández's husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, who has repeatedly slammed the IMF for “ruining” the Argentine economy and causing incalculable damage to economies around the world.

The IMF already has become more flexible with its loans. But at least one so-called string seems to be holding up Argentina's ability to get fresh cash: Argentina's refusal to reform its controversial statistics agency, INDEC. The controversy boils down to a simple dispute. On one side of it is INDEC, which says its data on inflation, poverty and economic growth are spot on. On other the side is, well, every other sentient being outside the administration who thinks the data are bogus.

Until this chasm is narrowed, or until the IMF drops virtually all of its strings, Argentina will likely still be pushing for reforms at the fund, and still pushing to get fresh cash.

*Photo courtesy of the presidential press office.


BAFICI's Must-See Films Start Screening

March 27th, 2009 | 08:17 PM



By Alexandra Salas

BAFICI kicked off on Wednesday night at the 25 de Mayo Theater. The venue was packed to the brim with filmmakers, celebrities, press and aficionados all excited to commence the festivities. In total 417 films will be projected throughout the festival.

Among the must see films (by category) are:

International Competition:
Everyone Else, Maren Ade 119min – screening times: Fri 27, 17:15 Hoyts 11; Sat 28, 19:30 Atlas Santa Fe 1
El Ultimo Verano de Boyita, Julia Solomonoff 93min  – screening times: Mon 30, 22:00 Hoyts 10; Tues 31, 16:15 Hoyts 11; Wed 1, 20:15 Atlas Santa Fe 2

Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman 90min – screening times: Fri 27, 20:30 Hoyts 11; Sat 28, 15:30 Arteplex Duplex Caballito 1; Tues 31, 21:15 Atlas Santa Fe 1

Un Conte de Noel, Arnaud Desplechin 150min – screening times: Sun 29, 18:15 Hoyts 6
Nucingen Haus, Raul Ruiz 94min – screening times:  Sat 28, 18:00 Hoyts 9; Tues 31, 15:30 25 de Mayo
Entrenamiento Elemental para Actores, Martin Rejtman/Federico Leon 52min – screening times: Fri 27, 21:30 Hoyts 5; Tues 31, 14:45 Hoyts 1
35 Rims, Claire Denis 100min – screening times: Thur 2, 20:00 Hoyts 8; Fri 3 14:30 Hoyts 8; Sat 4, 13:15 Atlas Santa Fe 1
L'Intrus, Claire Denis 130min – screening times: Sat 28, 19:00 Hoyts 8; Mon 30, 17:00 Hoyts 11; Wed 1, 19:15 Atlas Santa Fe 1

Shiran, Abbas Kiarostami 93min – screening times: Mon 30, 11:30 Hoyts 5; Tues 31, 22:45 Hoyts 4; Sat 4, 14:00 Malba
A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy, Robert Drew 90min – screening times: Fri 27, 23:15 Arteplex Duplex Caballito 2; Tues 31, 14:00 Hoyts 3; Thurs 2, 19:30 Alianza Francesa

La Nana, Sebastian Silva 96min – screening times: Fri 27, 18:30 Atlas Santa Fe 1; Sun 29, 23:30 Hoyts 6; Tues 31, 17:15 Hoyts 6
Chomsky & Cie, Daniel Mermet/Olivier Azam 112min – screening times: Fri 27, 18:45 Alianza Francesa; Mon 30, 12:00 Hoyts 7; Thurs 2, 13:15 Arteplex Duplex Caballito 2

Backfici: a trip down festival lane
Humo Sagrado (Hideous Kinky), Jane Campion 115min – screening times: Fri 27, 12:30 Hoyts 6; Sat 28, 23:45 Hoyts 11; Sat 4, 22:15 Atlas Santa Fe 2
Rushmore, Wes Anderson 93min – screening times: Fri 27, 16:15 Atlas Santa Fe 1; Sat 28, 13:30 Arteplex Duplex Caballito 1; Sat 4, 00:45 Atlas Santa Fe 4

Mamachas en el Ring, Betty M. Park 74min – screening times: Sat 28, 15:45 Hoyts 9; Sun 29, 19:15 25 de Mayo

Alianza Francesa, Av Cordoba 946
Arteplex Duplex Caballito, Rivadavia 5050
Cine Atlas Santa Fe, Av Santa Fe 2015
Hoyts Abasto, Abasto Shopping, Av. Corrientes 3247
Malba Cine, Av Figueroa Alcorta 3415
Teatro 25 de Mayo, Av. Triunvirato 4444

To view the entire film program, please visit BAFICI.

*Alexandra Salas is a writer based in Buenos Aires.

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Maradona To Debut In Argentina, Venezuela Matchup

March 27th, 2009 | 05:56 AM


soccer-jerseyLegendary soccer star Diego Maradona may have seen and done it all in the world of football. But the always entertaining sports supernova will make a big debut Saturday when he takes to the field as the coach of the national team.

Maradona’s coaching and management prowess will be on display for the first time as he leads the “selección” in a World Cup qualifying match against an inferior squad from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

The teams have met 15 times over the years and each time Argentina has won, scoring a total of 62 goals compared with just 8 for Venezuela.

Argentina is currently ranked third (behind Paraguay and Brazil) out of 10 South American teams trying to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The top four teams in each regional category qualify.

Tickets for the match, being played at River Stadium, are selling out quickly, though scalpers will surely have some available at the gate. The game starts at 7:10 pm local time.

“I want the River stadium to explode and for the players to be applauded,” Maradona said Thursday in comments to reporters. It’s a pretty good bet this is exactly what will happen.


Earth Hour: Buenos Aires Dims The Lights

March 26th, 2009 | 04:27 PM



By Dean Nicholas

This Saturday, March 28, lights will be switched off across Buenos Aires as the city participates in Earth Hour. Between 20.30 and 21.30 local time, businesses and individuals across Capital Federal and beyond are being encouraged to turn the lights off for one hour. Thousands of conurbations across the globe will be doing the same thing as part of a world-wide movement which aims to give the planet’s power stations a breather and encourage folk to think seriously about the necessity of eternal illumination.

Organisers the World Wildlife Fund are pitching this as an election (like Argentina needs another one of those this year), with a stark choice between planet Earth – which you can vote for by turning out your lights – or global warming, which you can vote for by leaving them on. Simplistic, perhaps, but an effective way of highlighting the incredible waste of power used in keeping unoccupied buildings lit at night. The WWF hopes that 1 billion people globally will pledge to switch off this weekend, and they plan to use Earth Hour to send a powerful message to a major United Nations conference later in the year.

In Buenos Aires, numerous companies have pledged their support; a list can be seen here. Whether the effect will be noticeable in this insomniac city, particularly in the bright lights of the Microcentro, is another matter. But it would be interesting to see some of the skyscrapers dimmed for just a short while. The local government has done its bit by running a poster campaign during the past week, urging citizens to join in.

As an attention-grabbing stunt, Earth Hour certainly has merit, but will it encourage people to think more constructively about their energy consumption and environmental matters in general? Buenos Aires isn’t a city with much to boast of environmentally – go for a stroll along the Riachuelo if you need a reminder – though there are encouraging signs. The city recently ran a series of posters encouraging Porteños to re-use their plastic bags from the supermarket, which, alongside initiatives like “No Uso Bolsa,” is a positive development. Meanwhile, English-language newspaper The Argentimes dedicated its most recent edition to green issues in the country. While these measures aren’t going to change peoples’ habits overnight, the more that environmentalism is spoken, written and blogged about in Argentina, the greater the chance that it will sink into the public consciousness.

As for Earth Hour, the only concern is whether the electric grid will be able to handle the surge when everybody switches back on at 21.30.

*Dean Nicholas is a writer currently based in Argentina


Juan Cabral: Argentine Creative Genius

March 24th, 2009 | 08:57 AM

YouTube Preview Image

Anyone who’s spent any time watching Argentine TV knows that Argentine creatives are fantastic. The country has some of the best creative ad designers on the planet. Argentine ad agencies consistently do well at international competitions and local creatives have gained remarkable reputations in the advertising world.

One of the best is Juan Cabral, the man behind what is easily one of the greatest ads ever created, the Cadbury gorilla commercial (see above). Barring Alzheimer’s or alcohol, the commercial is impossible to forget. It starts with an intense, emotionally powerful close-up of the gorilla’s face. You see the gorilla breathing deeply, preparing himself emotionally and physically for what is about to take place. As he breathes and concentrates – practically meditates – the viewer becomes enveloped in the moment in a way that is highly uncommon in TV ads. You almost become part of the moment, sharing in his act of preparation and expectation.

Then, at just the right moment, once the gorilla seems to have taken on a surreal human-like quality, and once you are anticipating the moment almost as intensely as he is, the pounding percussive trance begins. You are now so enveloped in the commercial, so taken in by its unusual mixture of oddity, emotion, entertainment, animal connection and rhythm that it’s hard to turn away. It’s one of few commercials that truly invites continued viewing and wonder. The YouTube version here doesn’t do it justice. But it’s good enough for you to get the point.

Based in Buenos Aires, Cabral works for Fallon, the London-based ad agency. Among other ads he is known for are the Sony Bravia series spots such as this “paint” one, this “bouncing ball” one and this Play-doh one.

You can see more of his work here (sign-up required).

UPDATE: A point I forgot to mention here is that even while I loved and couldn’t forget the gorilla commercial, I couldn’t remember what it was actually advertising. I remembered the gorilla but forgot the Cadbury. Which makes me wonder how effective creative advertising such as this actually is. After all, if I couldn’t even remember the product being advertised, was the ad itself really effective?

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Perhaps the more creative an ad is – that is, the more it distracts you from thoughts of the product being promoted – the less effective the ad is.


CFK, The Most Democratic President Since Alfonsín?

March 22nd, 2009 | 09:20 PM



Cristina Fernández has been vilified by many people for many reasons. She’s the least popular president since Fernando de la Rua fled the Casa Rosada in a helicopter in 2001. She seems to aid her detractors by constantly clashing with those who disagree with her, labeling them not just as wrong or wrongheaded but as undemocratic “coupmongers.” She seems to favor confrontation over consensus, and it is hard to find political analysts who say she leads by the power of her ideas. Her persuasive power has always come from the power of her purse, so to speak. In this sense, her administration is little different from that of her predecessor and husband, the always combative Néstor Kirchner.

Meanwhile, as president, Fernández’s record in Congress is one less characterized by dialog and debate than by the imposition and passage of bills in unplanned rapid-fire sessions. A case in point was the decision to nationalize the country’s 14-year-old pension fund system. The system, which took years to build, was destroyed, for good or bad, almost overnight, with exceptionally scarce debate about the long-term consequences of doing so. To outside observers, the breakneck speed with which Congress eliminated millions of peoples’ private pensions was stunning, so stunning that it led fearful investors to withdraw billions of dollars from the Argentine financial system.



Americans Fleeing The US For Argentina?

March 22nd, 2009 | 06:15 AM


clarinEvery six months or so local newspapers like Clarín and La Nación write stories about foreigners living in Argentina. The articles usually refer to expats who have blogs or own businesses here. La Nación has had two such pieces so far this year and Clarín has just come out with this one.

The premise of Clarin’s story, if one can call it that, is that Americans are fleeing the crisis-ridden U.S. to escape to Argentina. Clarín’s evidence: a few interviews and immigration data that show a 12% increase in the number of Americans (742) who applied for permanent residency last year.

But most Americans didn’t really start to feel or think about the financial crisis until the fall of 2008. Clarín doesn’t break the immigration data down by months or quarters, so it’s hard to know, from the data, if more people really started immigrating to Argentina because of meltdown on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, the upward trend in immigration to Argentina started in 2002-2003, when Argentina suddenly became a cheap place to live. Immigration to Argentina was rising even when the U.S. economy was still booming.

Nonetheless, it would surprise nobody if the U.S. crisis has led to an uptick in American emigration. (On a related note, I also know of Americans here who say Barack Obama’s election has made them want to move back to the U.S.)

In any case, Argentina is a great place to be for multiple reasons, not just because it’s comparatively inexpensive. (I first came here in 1995, when Argentina was the opposite of cheap, but it was fabulous nevertheless.) Still, the local stories about foreigners always seem to have the same feel, they often quote the same people, and they nearly always talk about the exchange rate. Typically, the stories are neither original, insightful or even particularly interesting. This time, however, Clarín included a video, in English, in which its foreign subjects discuss some of their reasons for making the move. You can see the video (and the rest of the article) here.

*Kudos to Brian Byrnes for passing this along.


Photo Post: “Assy,” The Cure For Lice!

March 20th, 2009 | 06:57 AM



A friend of The Argentine Post submitted this photo of the classic product “Assy,” a cure for lice (“piojos”) It’s one of a growing list of hilarious, if poorly-conceived product names. This one even comes with a fine steel comb to force those little buggers out.

“Assy, It’s Classy!”

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