Michael Casey, author of the new book Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image, will be at the Buenos Aires book fair this Friday to present the book.
In the book, Casey, an Australian-American who has lived in Argentina since 2003, offers a biography not of Che Guevarra the man but of the famous photo of the revolutionary.
Readers will find that the story of the iconic image, which is arguably the most reproduced photo of all time, tells them more about themselves and the world they live in than about Che himself.
Michael is my boss at Dow Jones here in Buenos Aires, so ethical prudence probably prohibits me from writing my own review of the book here. But there’s nothing to prohibit me from citing the words of Michiko Kakutani, the brutally critical Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times book reviewer, who described it as a “fascinating, bracing and keenly observed book.”
Kakutani offered the following:
Argentina on Tuesday went to the United Nations to claim a gigantic swath of ocean space stretching for 1.7 million square kilometers (656,000 square miles) from the southeastern coast of Argentina all the way down to “the Argentine part of Antarctica.”
To make its case, Argentina presented UN officials with 840 kilos (1,851 pounds) worth of documentation, asserting that this was the result of 11 years of research into the area and Argentina’s rights to it.
In a statement, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana described the UN presentation as “a national milestone regarding borders and boundaries.”
It wasn’t clear why the government thought it was more important to highlight the physical weight of its documentation in its statement than to focus on the logical weight of its case. Nor was it clear why the government felt it necessary to physically deliver 840 kilos worth of documents when this probably could have been done virtually, for free, via megabytes.
The number of homes sold in the City of Buenos Aires in February plummeted 53.6% compared with the same month a year ago, the public notaries association, or “Colegio de Escribanos,” said Monday.
Sales fell only 2% from the previous month (January). February 2009 sales were the lowest since Argentina’s 2002 economic meltdown. They were also the lowest that month since at least 1999.
Just 2,519 homes were (formally) sold in February, compared with 5,426 a year ago.
The total value of of the homes sold was 617 million pesos (US $167 million), down from 1.3 billion pesos a year ago. That puts the value of the average home s0ld in February at 245,038 pesos (US $66,586).
Real estate agents say the housing market here is not crashing like it did in Miami, where prices plummeted and real estate moguls lost fortunes. But realtors do expect both sales volumes and prices to decline in the months ahead as Argentina’s economic slowdown deepens.
Prices have risen almost constantly since the 2002 crisis. That year the average price of a home sold in the City of Buenos Aires was just 65,113 pesos, or a jaw-droppingly cheap US $17,693 (in current dollars).
Argentine President Cristina Fernández got her long-sought photo with U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday – sort of. The photo, taken at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Trinidad & Tobago, is not the one-on-one that Fernández was looking for.
Instead, it’s a group shot with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Brasil’s Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and Obama. The photo was taken before the leaders met Saturday with other regional counterparts and members of the nominally existent Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR. Right behind Fernández, but barely in view, is her ever-present translator.
The photo Fernández really wanted was one of her in a bilateral meeting with Obama - showing the two on equal footing as important world leaders – not simply a photo of a simple social exchange. But as far as PR goes, the latter will do.
Argentina’s Foreign Ministry had been working for months to arrange a one-on-one meeting between Fernández and Obama. The effort proved to be of little avail, however, as the Obama administration declined to arrange such an encounter.
The U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires has issued the following alert on Dengue Fever in Argentina.
Some Dengue Fever Cases Confirmed in Buenos Aires
This Warden Message, a follow-up to our message of March 27, 2009, is to alert U.S. citizens in and traveling to Argentina that the Argentine Ministry of Health reported 10,594 confirmed cases of dengue fever in Argentina as of April 12, 2009. Up until recently, cases had been restricted to the northern Argentine provinces of Chaco, Salta, Catamarca, Tucuman, Corrientes and Jujuy, however 107 cases have now been confirmed in the capital and in Buenos Aires Province. The Health Ministry reported that all suspected and confirmed cases in Buenos Aires had been imported from the most affected provinces, but media reports said that at least five infected people had not traveled outside of the capital region. 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 http://www.msal.gov.ar/htm/site/default.asp or call 0800-222-1002.
International tourism plummeted in February, falling 22.1% from the same month a year ago, making this the fifth consecutive annual decline since October.
The number of visitors fell to 150,783 in February, compared with 193,682 a year ago. The amount of money they spent while here also fell, tanking 35.2% to $192 million, the national statistics agency, INDEC, reported Wednesday.
In February the average tourist spent $86.9 a day, or almost 17% less than a year ago. Brazilians again spent the most ($151.8), followed by Americans and Canadians ($110) and Chileans ($91.3). Europeans spent the least at $78 a day.
Tourism also fell on the month, declining 34.4% from January.
But while fewer people visited Argentina in February, more Argentines traveled abroad, according to INDEC. “Outbound” tourism (or “turismo emisivo”) rose 4.6% on the year as 159,685 people traveled abroad.
Tourism brings in about $4 billion annually to the Argentine economy, according to official estimates.
INDEC’s measurement is based on the number of visitors who arrive to the country via Ezeiza, or EZE, the airport located outside Buenos Aires. About half of the country’s tourists arrive through EZE.
Crime appears to have risen sharply over the past year, according to a new study published last week by Torcuarto Di Tella University.
The study, which surveys households in 40 urban centers around the country, shows that 32.3% of these homes reported that at least one person living in that household was the victim of a crime within the past 12 months. That puts the university’s “victimization rate” up 20% from March 2008.
In 40% of the crimes reported a gun was used while in 63% of the cases at least two people were involved in perpetrating the crime.
This video has sparked a growing controversy in the U.S. and provided incredible fodder to conspiracy theorists and Obama skeptics who think the new president is either a) a closet Muslim; b) an apologist for American decline; or c) both.
In the video, in which a quiet and relatively reserved Cristina Fernández is seen repeatedly, Obama is shown in a closed-door meeting with other G20 presidents who gathered in London last week.
(Virtually the only social interaction Fernández has in the video comes near the end, when she is approached by her ever-present translator and interpreter. But for the most part Fernández is seen respectfully keeping to herself, self-consciously brushing her hair. Fernández doesn’t speak English, which may explain her unusually introverted behavior.)
In any case, the focus of the video – and the controversy – isn’t Fernández but Obama, who is thought by many to have bowed when meeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. This, in the eyes of critics, is Obama’s crime. An American president bowing to a foreign king? God forbid it. The leader of a nation whose very foundation was born out of the rejection of monarchical government bowing to a king?
The number of cars stolen in Argentina in the first two months of 2009 rose 6.2% from the same period a year earlier, the Road Safety and Experimentation Center (CESVI) reported Tuesday.
The City of Buenos Aires bucked the trend, with car thefts actually actually falling 4.2%.
Residents in Greater Buenos Aires, however, weren’t so lucky. Criminals in the area surrounding the capital stole 12.3% more cars than a year ago.
People living south of the city had the worst luck as thefts there rose just over 20%. Car theft rose almost 17% in areas west of the city while it was up just 1% in “zona norte.”
Meanwhile, an analysis of the data show that 15.5% of all car theft takes place place on Fridays, making that the worst day of the week to drive or park your car.
About three quarters of all car theft involves parked, unattended cars while just 25% involves the armed robbery of drivers who are in their vehicles when the crime occurs.
The car that is most stolen is the Fiat Duna. Some 257,000 Dunas were made in Argentina between 1987 and 2004. It’s a car still commonly used by Taxi drivers. The second-most stolen car is also a Fiat – the Uno. It’s followed by the Volkswagen Gol.
The shocking cover of this week’s Noticias, Argentina’s leading news magazine, highlights the cultural, political and social crossroads at which Argentina finds itself following the recent death of former president Raúl Alfonsín.
The cover shows former president Néstor Kirchner paying his respects to the man who valiantly restored democracy to Argentina in 1983.
Alfonsín’s death sparked a profound and pervasive feeling of respect and nostalgia for the former Radical Party leader’s values, integrity, sense of decency and, above all, honesty.
Alfonsín’s many ideas about how to govern the country weren’t always popular and were in many cases exceptionally flawed. In some ways his presidency was a failure. He didn’t even finish his term in office, leaving six months early because of his gross inability to conquer the hyperinflation that was destroying the economy.
But in the most important way, Alfonsín’s presidency was a success. He set the country back on a democratic path and did so with integrity, a deep sense of moral obligation and a commitment to respect those who disagreed with him. Alfonsín sought to impose nothing on others but the power of his ideas and the requirement that everyone live by the same democratic standard.
Cristina Fernández has just gotten a flashy, positive layout in the Huffington Post, the world’s most popular blog.
In a brief piece in the blog’s Style section, Fernández gets the following gloss under the headline Hello Argentina! Meet The Stylish Madam President:
“You couldn’t find this stylish woman at the first ladies gathering on Wednesday night because as President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was meeting with Obama, Gordon Brown, and the rest of the G-20 leaders. Kirchner honed her sense of style as Argentina’s first lady (she succeeded her husband in office), and is known for her love of designer clothes and handbags. Her purses and stilettos almost always match her bright colored ensembles. Sometimes nicknamed “Queen Cristina” and the “New Evita,” this Latina leader means serious business when it comes to fashion. Which look is your favorite? Check out the slideshow and chime in below.”
HuffPost then provides a 23-photo slideshow of (mostly) flattering photos of the president, who, admittedly, can look pretty fashionable from time to time.
The spot at HuffPost, while obviously superficial in nature, is still possibly the best piece of PR I’ve seen for Fernández since she took office in December 2007. It also comes just a week or so after the Argentine government hired the British-based PR firm Bell Pottinger to manage its image abroad. In a deal reportedly worth around seven figures, Pottinger was hired to improve the way people think about Argentina, starting with Argentina’s participation in the G20 summit this week.
Regardless of how the HuffPost piece came about, it’s a coup for the government, or at least for Fernández, especially after the president suffered this awful setback in a recent piece in the world’s leading paparazzi site, TMZ. (Kudos to Brian over at As Belgrano Byrnes for the heads up on TMZ.)
*Photo from the Casa Rosada Press Office
Cristina Fernández had an awkward moment at this week’s G20 summit in London. Here in this video Fernández is shown alongside the other G20 presidents just before they do a group photo shoot.
Fernández is seen standing in line as Barack Obama approaches her. She extends her hand, thinking Obama is about to great her. But in reality Obama is looking past Fernández at another leader, to whom he actually does extend his hand, completely unaware that Fernández was expecting him to greet her instead. Obama leaves her totally hanging. Ouch! This is painful to watch.
Fernández, aware that she has just been thoroughly dissed, even if unintentionally, gracefully retracts her hand and brushes off the awkward moment. The moment itself probably didn’t bother her, but you know she will be steaming at the local press as they repeat this video over and over again. The clip is funny but also uncomfortable to watch. The dis was obviously unintended, but still….
Curiously, the president’s press office posted the following photo online for reporters to download. It appears to be a picture of the exact same moment when Obama was walking toward Fernández “to greet her.” The photo contains this caption: “The president of the United States Barack Obama approaches president Cristina Fernández to greet her moments before the summit’s official photo is taken.”
But this begs the question: If Obama actually did greet the president at this point, why not include that picture as opposed to this one, which shows him approaching her, sans the actual greeting?
The answer, apparently, is that Obama didn’t actually greet her, at least not at this exact moment. But if that’s the case, which, presumably, the Casa Rosada is aware of, why would they post the picture with a caption that is, evidently, false?