To Americans, Argentina often brings to mind blue and white clad soccer players, big steaks, and fine Malbec wines from Mendoza. We discovered during our time in Buenos Aires, that this ranging South American country has a very tumultous and bloody history, with much of it being scarily recent.
You may or may not have seen Harvard students recently booing Cristina Kirchner, Argentina’s president. With her fabrication of exchange rates, boycott of US dollars and imports, and talk of changing the constitution to allow her an unprecedented 3rd term, she is nothing if not controversial. She also won the election with 54% of the votes, and is beloved by the middle and lower class. With all of this, Cristina can’t hold a candle to the raucous political events in the past 50 years.
Because I tend to ramble, I will try to keep this brief. Peroni and his wife Evita rocked the country with their semi-socialist reign, earning the love and respect of the people, bringing rights to workers and women, while having weird hushed ties to the 3rd Reicht and Mussolini. Military Coups took over in the 70’s and early 2000’s, where army and police would kidnap opposition, torture them, drug them and dump their bodies out of helicopters into the sea. Police shot and killed civilians rallying on the streets in 2001 after bombing their own seat of government (La Casa Rosada – ‘the pink house’), and then destroyed the plaques that people created to memorialize their murdered loved ones. Mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared marched in the streets, and were only heard when a swiss reporter broadcasted a video of them in Europe, which started the beginning of the end of their military coup. Argentinians are nothing if not tough.
So we left Buenos Aires for the second time with a new found respect for the tenacity of the people of this country. We may not love Cristina, but one thing is certain – we love this country.