Anyone who has looked for a job in Argentina knows that discrimination is rampant in the labor market. Companies across the board engage in all kinds of gender, age, and aesthetic discrimination. Many employers discriminate against candidates based on their marital or parental status. Classified ads typically contain qualifiers such as this: ”Attractive Female Age 18-28″ or “Sales Associate, Good Looking, Up To 35 Years.”
In rare cases, such discrimination can be justified and is even desirable. If an advertising agency needs to shoot a commercial, it can and should be able to cast actors or models “who fit the part.” Meanwhile, an airline, for very good reasons, can discriminate against pilots who don't qualify physically or mentally for the job. Would you want a blind man flying your plane? Would you want a woman with shaky hands operating on your frontal lobe?
With the global economy collapsing, and predictions about its future (even from the apotheosis of hope himself, Barack Obama) turning apocalyptic, it's hard to know what to think about the world economy in general or about the Argentine, American, Asian, or European economies in particular.
Voices from leading “left-wing” economists like Paul Krugman diagnose the malady and its cure one way (more government spending, but not just 'hole-digging') while leading “right-wing” economists like Harvard's Greg Mankiw pinpoint and prescribe things another way (permanent payroll tax cuts). Argentina's Domingo Cavallo indicated in his blog Saturday that the country's poor stock market performance implies a nasty recession. Others say the Argentine stock market has become merely symbolic and is of little relevant value in determining anything of importance.
Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández fondly refer to themselves as “pingüinos.” The reason, of course, is simple: They hail from the southern part of the country where penguins are pervasive. Before Cristina was elected or even
began her campaign for the presidency, Néstor effectively announced her candidacy by saying, “the next president will be a he-penguin or a she-penguin.”
When I saw this penguin gadget on Darío Gallo's blog, Bloc de Periodista, I couldn't resist the temptation to post it here. It's just too fun. So if you've ever wanted to lead the Kirchners around, and get them to follow you in every direction, just move your mouse around and they'll follow in the cutest possible way. I like to think of the two adults as Néstor and Cristina while the three kids are government officials who follow them around in total lockstep loyalty – wherever he or she goes, they follow, ineluctably. Enjoy.
The rumoured deployment of Prince Willliam, the second in line to the British throne, to Las Malvinas has been greeted in Argentina with dismay and disdain, as another example of perfidious Albion and her imperialistic ways.
As part of his search-and-rescue training with the Royal Air Force, William could be posted to the island for up to three months, a decision that would further flame discussion in Argentina about the future of the territory. Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Taina, has “expressed his dismay,” yet the reaction among the general public would be less reserved.
For the British establishment, William’s presence in the “Falklands” would be a means to an end – namly, keeping the Prince out of harm’s way. Given the advanced age of current heir, Prince Charles, there’s every reason to believe that William could be the next King, with the regal lineage skipping a generation. His presence in the armed forces remains a constant headache for the Government, who must encourage some kind of patriotic endeavour while effectively keeping the 26-year old wrapped in cotton wool for the inevitable day when he ascends the throne.
No chance of him being packed off to the Middle East then, like his younger brother Harry, who served in Afghanistan. From Europe, Las Malvinas looks like a choice spot for William to complete his training. While to Argentines the islands remain a source of wounded pride and a focal point for nationalistic sentiment, to most British soldiers they remain a most unpopular destination: quiet, far from home, with atrocious weather conditions.
The decision won’t be made for a couple of years yet, but the turbulent reaction in Argentina may convince the British to send the future King to a less controversial locale.
Argentina, a country whose economy has been growing at the blistering pace of a wild weed since 2003, is almost certainly on the cusp of a recession. That, at least, is what a recent series of data from Torcuarto Di Tella University seem to indicate. The above graphic shows how the survey indicates there is a 99.99% “probability of a recession.”
In a report published Monday that tracks the performance of distinct “leading economic indicators,” the university highlighted data indicating that the economy’s long, happy run has come to an end. Di Tella’s survey is somewhat similar conceptually to a widely watched U.S. report published by the Conference Board. I won’t bore you with more details of the survey, but you can see it for yourself here.
Di Tella’s index seems to support the more pessimistic (more realistic?) forecasts of economists who think Argentina either has already entered into a recession or is about to do so. The government has forecast economic growth totaling 4% this year, but no private sector economist thinks that’s probable. One economist even expects the economy to shrink as much as 3% (less realistic?).
In a speech late Tuesday, former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, who is clearly concerned about the global economic crisis and its impact on Argentina and the government of his wife and successor, Cristina Fernandez, called on companies here not to “eliminate a single job.” He said they should sacrifice profit before sacrificing jobs.
Peace in the Middle East? A man (or woman) on Mars? Free, non-polluting, renewable gasoline? Non caloric Krispy Kreme Donuts?
Well, not quite. But the news we’ve confirmed is still pretty sweet:
The City of Buenos Aires is finally scrapping its anachronistic public transportation payment system and replacing it with a single “electronic” card system that will allow you to prepay for bus, subway and train trips.
A Transportation Secretariat official confirmed the plan, but was unable to provide many details. In a radio interview Friday, however, Transportation Secretary Ricardo Jaime said the new system should be up and running within three months. The Secretariat has mentioned plans for an electronic card system before, but this is first time (I know of) that anyone has publicly provided a time frame for its implementation.
If all goes according to plan, the system will be in place by May, meaning, presumably, that by then nobody will have to scramble to find coins. If it works, the government, in one fell swoop, will have eliminated one of its most embarrassing and persistent problems: a lack of coins that has been a source of frustration for countless commuters and the butt of jokes in countless newspaper and magazine articles. Truly, it will be a thing to celebrate.
The government is set to announce details of the plan Wednesday.
This stunningly cool 360 degree panoramic view of Buenos Aires will leave you dazzled. At least it did for me, so check it out. Be sure to check out the “Full Screen” mode. And don’t forget to follow some of the arrows, as doing so will take you around the city to various places that you surely know and have visited (such as the inside of the Galerias Pacifico mall). The arrows can be hard to see, but you can find them in the bottom left-hand corner of the above image. The full-screen mode option is located in the top-left part of the image. Enjoy!
Kudos to my buddy Julian Gallo for letting me know about this via his blog.
An overwhelming majority of Argentines feel good about having Barack Obama as president of the United States. Almost 76% of Argentines feel positively about the new president, according to a survey released Tuesday by the consulting firm Ibarómetro.
Less than 6% of those polled feel negatively about Obama while around 18% say they have neither positive nor negative expectations for him.
Meanwhile, Obama’s election has done wonders for America’s image here.
As I have written before, Argentina has recently been one of the most anti-American countries on the planet. But now almost 63% of Argentines say they are “willing to favorably change” their view of the U.S. Around 9% of those surveyed say Obama’s election could negatively affect their view of the U.S. while a similar percentage say the election won’t change their views. Just under 20% say they don’t know how to feel about America.
Whether it’s fair or not, Obama’s victory has caused a potentially tectonic shift in the way people in Argentina feel about the U.S. and its government. The reasons for this may be debatable, but the underlying reality of this shift is not.
–Attributed to Khari Mosley, reportedly a 19-year-old single mother in the U.S.. I’m not sure if the attribution is correct but it matters little given its beautiful interpretation of a country’s very real cultural history. Whatever the case, the phrase is being repeated over and over again in magazines, blogs, on posters and billboards across the nation. Such was the case when I saw it this week in the window of a clothing store in Boston, Massachusetts. My father, an 81-year-old Army veteran and Great Depression survivor who was with me, teared up upon seeing the message. Only the greatest of cynics could not be at least somewhat uplifted by the message.
Tuesday’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States was a remarkably powerful testament to the incredible capacity for renewal of a people and nation determined to overcome prejudice and other petty limitations of the human spirit. It was, among other things, an incredible testament to our human capacity for growth, for faith, for trust, for hope and, yes, for greatness.
Argentina’s potential for greatness is limited only by the cynicism of its politicians and the mutually destructive distrust among its citizenry.
The vast majority of my Argentine family members and friends thought Obama’s inauguration would never happen. But it did. May this remind us all that almost anything is possible when we set aside our egos and prejudices to come together as one people to achieve a common goal and meet a higher purpose.
The number of people visiting Argentina declined for the second consecutive month in November, falling 8% to 188,705 people from a year earlier, the national statistics agency, INDEC, reported Thursday. The decline comes after a 6% drop the previous month and, unfortunately, seems to be yet another indication that Argentina will find it hard to escape negative fallout from the global economic meltdown this year.
By now many of you know the cost of public transportation is going up this week. Subway tickets will rise to 1.10 pesos from 90 centavos. The same will happen to bus tickets. Train tickets will also rise, though by varying amounts. Prices have been absurdly low since 2002, when Argentina devalued its currency. (more…)
Crítica de la Argentina, the newspaper run by Jorge Lanata, often has fantastic covers. Like the similarly formatted Página 12, which used to be run by Lanata, Crítica uses exceptionally creative graphics to tell its front page tales in visual form.
Wednesday’s edition was no exception. But this time the paper’s brilliant effort was a sad reminder that Argentina has a dark underbelly.
It’s a reality I’d rather not think or write about. But avoiding the issue does nothing to make it go away and does a great deal to trivialize and simply one’s understanding of Argentina’s more complex yet sometimes unsettling reality.
Crítica’s cover satirically used the image of a yellow “caution” road sign to say, literally, “Danger, Police Kidnapping.” The expression immediately conjures up images of those pervasively placed orange road signs so often seen across the U.S. that say, “Caution, Men Working.” But while humorous and certainly clever, Crítica’s graphic was also a bitter reminder that sometimes even police, the guardians of public safety, simply can’t be trusted.
The cover story gives details about how two policemen – a commissioner and a lieutenant - are suspected of participating in the kidnapping of Leonardo Bergara, a 37-year-old local businessman. Bergara was nabbed two weeks ago and his kidnappers are reportedly seeking a $500,000 dollar ransom. Clarín, Argentina’s top-selling daily, tells a similar story on its more traditional cover. Clarin’s story comes accompanied with a breakaway box that includes this gem:
“This isn’t the first case in which police have been involved in kidnappings. In 2001, a federal court condemned a band of kidnappers comprised of at least four policemen. They were known as ‘The Commissioner’s Band.’ This is the band that in 1991 kidnapped (current Buenos Aires Mayor) Mauricio Macri – among others – and collected a $6 million dollar ransom.”
When my wife’s aunt and uncle were kidnapped a few years ago, the kidnappers told them not to report anything to the police because “they’re with us.”
The kidnappers were probably lying. After all, most police are decent people. But the mere possibility that they could be telling the truth scared the victims and made them feel even more vulnerable, unable to seek help from the very people – the very institution – charged with protecting us.
It’s hard to know if crime is getting worse, or better, or if it’s simply unchanged. I saw two arrests in front of my downtown office building yesterday and another one today. This could be sheer coincidence. But since the government doesn’t regularly publish updated and comprehensive crime data, it aggravates the sense of uncertainty arises when stories like these are published.