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The Samsung LED HDTV I Brought to Argentina

February 10th, 2010 | 09:54 PM


Samsung 6000 LED

It’s an incredibly beautiful TV.

It’s HD, ultra slim, big but not obnoxious, and it’s LED, meaning its bright and doesn’t use much electricity. As far as TVs go, it’s about as eco-friendly as you can get.

I’ve wanted it since the moment I first saw it. But when I left Argentina a few months ago to spend time with my family in Colorado, these TVs didn’t even exist in Argentina. Nobody sold them here. And even if they did, I knew it would cost a lot more than it would in Colorado. As is the case with almost all electronic items here, things are way overpriced.

So while in Colorado, I went to Best Buy and bought myself one. It was On Sale for US $989, taxes included – an incredible deal. But how on earth would I get this thing back to Argentina?

Intellectually, I had always known that it was possible to bring such things on the plane as shipped baggage. But I had never tried something so bold – or perhaps so stupid – as to bring down a gigantic HDTV. So, what the heck, I figured. I called American Airlines and asked if I could bring the TV with me to Argentina. “As long as it weighs less than 70lbs and isn’t more than 115 inches (height x width x length),” they said. The box fit!

But it was fragile, very fragile, with practically no protective padding or reinforced styrofoam. So I got another box, grabbed the TV, still inside its original box, and stuffed it into the other box, lining it wall-to-wall with styrofoam. It was still under 50lbs and it totaled just 93 inches. Bingo! I was ready to go.

I got to the check-in counter at American, where they charged me an extra US $150 to ship the box as “an oversized bag.” I feared it would be destroyed during the flight or by the baggage handlers. But it arrived perfectly, without a scratch. The box didn’t even look like it had been shipped at all. Plus, the TV works perfectly here in Argentina with the local digital cable service.

At EZE airport, I got pulled aside by customs officials, who charged me the typical 50% import fee. The policy is simple. They charge 50% of the value of your item after US $300. Since the TV cost US $989, they charged me 50% of US $689, or US $345. I paid the tax with my Visa card. There was no haggling, no request for a bribe. Just a simple, quick transaction. The whole thing took less than five minutes.

All told, then, it cost me US $1,484 to bring the TV down to Buenos Aires. The TV now sells here for 9,999 Argentine pesos, or US $2,603. So even after all the hassle of shipping it, I still saved US $1,119.

That’s a decent chunk of cash, enough to buy another R/T ticket up to the States.


Violent Crime Falls for 1st Time in Five Months

February 4th, 2010 | 08:41 PM


Crime Victimization Chart Web

The number of violent crimes reported in Argentina fell in January for the fist time in five months, according to a new study.

Torcuarto Di Tella University’s latest crime “victimization rate” survey indicates that both overall criminal activity and violent crime fell last month.

Di Tella’s study, which surveys households in 40 urban centers around the country, shows that 32% of these homes said at least one household member was a victim of a crime within the past 12 months.

That figure is down sharply from 37% the previous month but up from 30% a year ago. That puts crime up almost 7% on the year and down 17% on the month.

As happened in previous months, crime victims were more likely to be well educated. Indeed, almost 41% had a college degree or at least some post-high school education. Around 34% had just a high school degree while 25% had only an elementary education.

Crime was worst in the cities of Cordoba, Mendoza, Rosario and Tucuman, where 39% of households reported having a victim. The victimization rate in the City of Buenos Aires last month was 34% while it was 26% in Greater Bueno Aires.

When asked about combatting crime, a plurality of people (33%) said more police need to be on the streets. Around 29% said tougher penalties are needed while 25% said more “social inclusion” would push crime lower. Just 1.6% said the death penalty would lower crime.

Link: Di Tella Victimization Survey (from December)


El Secreto de Sus Ojos Gets an Oscar Nomination

February 2nd, 2010 | 08:22 PM

YouTube Preview Image

El Secreto de Sus Ojos, Juan Jose Campanella’s recent film starring Ricardo Darín, got an Oscar nomination Tuesday for the Best Foreign Language Film of 2009.

Last year Variety magazine described the movie as “simply mesmerizing:”

“A deeply rewarding throwback to the unself-conscious days when cinema still strove to be magical, “The Secrets in their Eyes” is simply mesmerizing. While it packs two generation-spanning love stories, a noirish thriller, some delicious comedy, a pointed political critique and much food for thought into more than two hours’ compelling, grown-up entertainment, the film is still more than the sum of its parts. Repping a change of direction for Juan Jose Campanella, whose “The Son of the Bride” also starred Ricardo Darin, this is an altogether darker, more complex piece of work, as well as Campanella’s finest film.”

You can read the complete review here.

Also be sure to check out a fun Newsweek interview that Brian Byrnes did with Darín here.

Juan Jose Campanella is an Argentine-born director of both local and international TV and films. He is perhaps most famous for directing El Hijo de la Novia, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2001, though he has also directed episodes of U.S. TV shows such as House, 30 Rock and Law & Order.

Link: Official Movie Site
Link: YouTube Trailer (why it’s not available in HD is beyond me)


Amazon Launches Kindle Service in Argentina

January 6th, 2010 | 06:02 PM


Amazon said Wednesday it has started selling its famous Kindle e-reader to customers in Argentina.

Amazon will offer 3G wireless download options for Argentine users. On average, Kindle books will cost Argentine customers around US $11.99 per book, Amazon said in a statement. That’s more than the US $9.99 that books typically cost for users in the U.S.

The Kindle Store will offer more than 300,000 books to customers in Argentina. Customers will also be able to access Merriam Webster’s English-Spanish Translation Dictionary to translate words from English into Spanish.

“Customers in Argentina have been asking for the Kindle, and now we’re happy to be able to offer it along with more than 300,000 books, as well as magazines and the best-known newspapers,” Ian Free, Amazon’s Kindle VP, said in a statement. “The Kindle allows customers in Argentina and around the world to think about a book, and start to read it, in less than 60 seconds.”

Among other newspapers, Kindle offers customers the opportunity to download El País (from Spain), O Globo (from Brazil) and, of course, The New York Times, etc.

I’ve been testing the Kindle for over a month now in the U.S. and have found it to be somewhat disappointing. Its user interface seems too basic and limited compared with computers and other devices like the iPhone. But its screen is remarkably clear and much easier on the eyes than are typical computer screens or LCD monitors. Meanwhile, given that it is so hard, and so expensive, to acquire English books, magazines and newspapers in Argentina, the Kindle may be just the right option for serious, serial readers.

However, there is one important caveat. Later this month, Apple will announce its new tablet multimedia device, which will likely go on sale in March. It is almost certain to be far more impressive than the Kindle and will offer video and other features which the comparatively troglodytic Kindle does not. Additionally, other companies are coming out with other e-readers that could make the Kindle look even more rudimentary. Check out the Skiff Reader, for example, here.

To get the Kindle or the Kindle DX (which has a larger, 9.7 inch display), you’ll have to pay around $20 for shipping, as well as Argentine customs taxes and fees (I don’t know how much these will add up to). You can order the Kindle by clicking here and here. Amazon will start shipping to Argentina on Jan. 19.


Beyoncé Coming to Buenos Aires in February

December 20th, 2009 | 11:03 PM


The strikingly beautiful, hyper-talented singer and dancer Beyoncé will perform in Buenos Aires on Feb. 12.

Argentina will at least momentarily break from its typical, Rolling Stones-dominated music culture while Beyoncé sings at the Hiprodromo in San Isidro.

For more info from Beyoncé’s official site, click here.

For a very funny video of a fat man dancing to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” song, click here (who says white men can’t dance!). For an even more fun Saturday Night Live spoof with Justin Timberlake, click here.


Argentina to Ban Smoking at Iguazu Falls

December 15th, 2009 | 11:49 PM



The great American novelist John Updike once said of a character in a short story that she “had a nature-lover’s hatred of smoking and drinking.”

Updike’s description led me immediately to wonder if there’s any reason to think nature-lovers actually are more inclined than others to hate such things. Perhaps he was right.

At least that’s what you might conclude from a new decision by the National Parks Administration, or APN, to ban smoking at Iguazu Falls. The APN plans to prohibit smoking within days on the Argentine side of the bi-national park.

The reason? In comments to the newspaper La Nacion, APN officials said they decided on the ban because of so many complaints from international tourists. Such an amazing place of pristine natural beauty should be free from “contamination,” the visitors repeatedly said.

Updike, a smoker who died earlier this year of lung cancer, wrote about the stench of cigarettes in one of his novels, Rabbit Redux:

“You can never get the smell of smoke out. Like the smell of failure in life.”


Chasing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

December 13th, 2009 | 11:24 PM

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy (bottom right) & The Sundance Kid (bottom left)

By John D Farr

Any Westerner knows about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Their daring raids were executed with military precision and skillfully planned. They roamed the west in such a wide ranging region that it was hard to know where they were hanging out.

The “Wild Bunch” was an always changing group of men. If any one thing marked them, it was their fine horses because that was their mode of transportation. In their day, people remembered fine horses.

The railroads and banks got pretty serious about this group of bandits and eventually the outlaws fled to Argentina. Here along the Andes in Chubut province in a little mountain town of Cholila, they settled down. It took a few years for the authorities to find them. Stories of robberies in Argentina tipped off the Pinkerton people that maybe they were down there. (more…)


Argentina to Charge Americans an Airport Entry Fee

December 11th, 2009 | 03:37 PM


visa-stampThe Argentine government will start charging U.S. citizens an aiport entry fee of US $131 starting December 20, the U.S. Embassy said in a notice Friday.

Last year Argentine officials announced plans to start charging such a fee, but then suspended them in a confusing change of position. But the plans are now back on track and any American citizen – who isn’t a resident of Argentina – will have to pay the fee starting December 20.

The fee will also likely apply to residents of other countries whose governments charge visa application fees to Argentines who travel to those countries. The fees will likely vary country by country, depending on how much those countries charge Argentines.

A government official said last year that the reciprocity fee “would not lead even a single person to not visit the country.”

However, that statement seems overly optimistic and is almost certain to lead at least some people to think twice about coming to Argentina.

Over the past year, more than 40 people have emailed The Argentine Post to say they would cancel their Argentine travel plans if the fee were implemented, indicating that the fee’s impact on tourism will be at least moderately negative.

It will be a one-time fee allowing Americans to enter the country multiple times over the period of 10 years.

In a message to U.S. citizens, the Embassy had this to say:

“This warden message is being issued to alert U.S. citizens that on December 20, 2009, the Government of Argentina will begin charging American Citizens visiting Argentina for business or tourism an entry fee of $131 U.S. dollars.  The fee will be collected only at Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport.  Once paid, the fee permits multiple entries into Argentina for ten years in accordance with United States visa reciprocity.  Americans may pay in dollars, by credit card, or with travelers checks.”


Chicago Girl Starts Granola Company in Buenos Aires

December 10th, 2009 | 09:56 PM


granola-mixBy Brittany Darwell

Got milk, need granola?

Granola Mix, a customizable granola company, aims to solve that.

After a year at a Buenos Aires consulting firm, former Chicagoan Marina Lidow decided it was time for something more fun. Marina missed the cereal options she had in the U.S., so she learned to make her own. Thinking she could fill the void for others, Marina started Granola Mix with her boyfriend Adrian Carpintero. (She likes a healthy breakfast. He likes his with chocolate and candies.)

Granola Mix caters to either preference. Although they offer some pre-mixes, you're missing out if you don't create your own on their snazzy website. Start with your base: plain muesli, honey nut granola, chocolate, reduced fat or granola bars. Then you have 19 dried fruit choices,

7 types of nuts, 7 kinds of seeds and 12 “fun” options, from chocolate chips to Sour Patch Kids.

My selection was honey-almond granola with dried apricots, dried cherries, crystallized ginger and flax seeds. It came in a paper carton with printed nutrition information and my name handwritten. The honey almond base was not too sweet, which was the right balance to the fruit and candied ginger. The granola was nice with milk or mixed in yogurt. It's tasty enough to eat straight out of the container, but a bit messy since there aren't many big clusters.

I liked my healthy mix, but if you need a sugar fix, make your own at Also check out their breakfast-in-bed gift baskets.

*Brittany Darwell spent three months in Buenos Aires after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism this year. She writes about food at


Wikipedia Founder to Give Talk in Buenos Aires

December 8th, 2009 | 10:47 PM


WikipediaWikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will give a talk in Buenos Aires this Friday at 10 a.m.

The lecture, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy, will deal with “Wikipedia, Wikia and the future of free culture.”

The talk will have simultaneous translation. For more information, click here. To register, call: 5252-0260

Where: Sheraton Libertador Hotel, Avenida Leandro N. Alem 1191
When: Friday, 10 a.m.


Indian Cooking Classes and Catering in Buenos Aires

December 6th, 2009 | 10:57 PM

Indian Food

Some of the Many Spices Used in Cooking Indian Food

By Fiorella Donayre

Five minutes into the class, Juhi Manwani's kitchen fills with an intense and delicious aroma of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander as she cooks and explains with detail how to prepare peas pilau (spicy rice with peas), paneer (cottage cheese), saag murg (chicken spinach curry) and homemade yogurt. The small group of foreign students follows closely, sipping sweet lassi and enthusiastically inquiring about the best places to find ingredients and spices. They also help, kneading aloo tikkis (savory potato croquettes) that they will later deep fry and serve with a tasty coriander chutney; they flip mung pancakes in a pan. The class wraps up with a tasting of the food they've learned how to make.

Juhi began cooking in 1995, after she moved to Buenos Aires and missed the food of her homeland. She started teaching Indian cooking classes in 1999 and founded a catering service the following year. (more…)


A Personal Note from the Editor

December 3rd, 2009 | 07:57 PM


Dear friends,

The Argentine Post is a blog about culture, economics, entertainment, food and politics, among other things. It rarely has been a personal blog about me or any other contributor. However, recent events have affected me personally in a way that affects this blog and my contribution to it.

My great friend, beloved and otherwise-healthy mother was recently diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, a dreadful disease which does everything it can to suck the life out of you. I am with family and taking care of my mother at a hospital in the U.S., where we are hoping, praying and fighti

ng for remission.

During this time, I will not be able to respond to many emails or post about matters profound or mundane. To the extent possible, friends, fellow journalists and other contributors will do this for me. If you have emailed me and not gotten a response, my sincere apologies. At some point, I will try to catch up with the hundreds of emails that have gone unread.

Life is short, very short. As my mother has always reminded me through her actions: Forgive genuinely, give generously and love unconditionally.

Kind wishes and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.


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