‘Build more wildlife bridges in England’


This video says about itself:

Drone buzzes South America’s first wildlife bridge

27 February 2015

Full story: here.

Aerial footage reveals a unique green overpass designed to reconnect habitats sliced in two by an Argentinean road.

From Horticulture Week in Britain:

Government advisor finds in favour of green bridges for wildlife conservation

27 July 2015, by Elizabeth Henry

Bridges built to carry wildlife over roads and railways are preventing species from becoming isolated and reducing the number of accidents, according to a study published today (27 July) by Natural England.

Known as “green bridges”, they are usually planted with a variety of local trees or shrubs and other vegetation so that animals can remain mobile despite the barriers imposed by transport infrastructure. Although common in Europe and North America, only a handful have been built in Britain.

Land Use Consultants have now undertaken the first ever worldwide study of research on green bridges, on behalf of Natural England. It found they are an effective way of linking wildlife across roads, which means they could become a key aspect of the sustainability of future transport projects.

The report, “Green Bridges – a literature review“, found that not only do the bridges help to prevent important wildlife habitats from becoming fragmented by aiding species movement, they are also used by wildlife as a home in their own right.

As the Government’s conservation agency, Natural England gives advice on environmental impacts to planning authorities and developers to promote sustainable development. The information contained in the review will help developers and planners factor new green bridges into their construction plans or consider the greening of existing bridges.

Argentine grandmother rediscovers her grandson, stolen by dictatorship


‘I begged God not to let me die before I found him’: Estela Carlotto hugs her grandson Ignacio Montoya Carlotto, son of her daughter Laura, who ‘disappeared’ in 1977. Photograph: Leo La Valle/Getty

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

A grandmother’s 36-year hunt for the child stolen by the Argentinian junta

In 1977 Estela Carlotto’s pregnant daughter was arrested. The Argentinian regime let her live long enough to have the baby before killing her. With others, Estela formed the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo to search for the grandson she’d never known. Uki Goñi reports

Sunday 7 June 2015 10.30 BST

Practically all of Argentina has cried on this one,” says Ignacio Montoya Carlotto, patting his right shoulder. We are crisscrossing the old cobblestone streets of San Telmo, the colonial district of the capital, Buenos Aires. The 36-year-old musician, his crinkly curls prematurely greying, his mouth fast to resolve into a smile, is not bragging. It’s impossible to walk even one city block without someone rushing to hug him and then burst into tears, as he predicted, on his rumpled T-shirt.

Maybe it’s because, thanks to his grandmother, the whole of Argentina had been waiting – praying – for more than 30 years for the day when he would be “found”. Most Argentinians can remember exactly what they were doing when that moment finally came in August last year.

“When I turned 80, I begged God not to let me die before I found my grandson,” says Estela Carlotto. Estela has led an extraordinary life, rising from tragedy into one of the most loved and respected public figures in Argentina. It took four more years. “We all cried; everyone has something to say about how they felt to have found this grandson we were all searching for.”

Estela was a 47-year-old schoolteacher, housewife and mother of three in November 1977 when a death squad from Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship picked her daughter Laura off a street in the city of La Plata where she lived, about 32 miles south of Buenos Aires. Laura, a 22-year-old political activist, became one of the thousands of young dissidents who were made to “disappear” by a bloody, fascist regime. Unknown to Estela, her long-haired, strikingly beautiful daughter was three months pregnant at the time of her abduction. She was taken to a secret “detention centre” called La Cacha. There, in her presence, they killed her companion and the father of the child she was carrying, 26-year-old Walmir Montoya.

Ignacio was born in June 1978 while his mother Laura was still in captivity. One report states she gave birth handcuffed and was allowed only five hours with her baby. Two months later, she was dragged out of the camp and a mock armed confrontation was staged by the military. When her body was turned over to Estela, she had been shot through the stomach and her face was smashed, apparently by a rifle butt. Survivors of the camp told Estela about the birth, and that she had named the newborn Guido, after her father.

For 36 years afterwards, Estela devoted herself to finding her grandson. All she had was a name, Guido, and an approximate birth date. An excruciatingly difficult search led her through three decades of legal action against police officers, military officers and doctors involved in the “missing grandchildren” cases. Leads were hard to come by. Her grandson had been swallowed by the complicity and silence that surrounded so many of the regime’s horrendous crimes.

Estela realised there were many others like herself looking for the babies of their “disappeared” daughters. They formed a group called the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, named after the city square facing the presidential palace in downtown Buenos Aires where they marched, drawing attention to their plight. By 1989 Estela had become president of the association.

The group believes there are some 500 cases of grandchildren born in captivity. In most cases, the babies were turned over to military families to raise as their own. In the warped thinking of the profoundly Catholic yet murderous generals who ruled Argentina then, it would have been unchristian to kill an innocent, unborn child by executing the expectant mother. By the same token, in their macabre minds turning the babies over to “good” military families to raise as their own represented the ultimate victory over the “godless” left-wing enemy they wished to crush into nonexistence.

Even now, three decades after the collapse of the dictatorship, some Argentinians defend the military’s campaign against Cuban-inspired guerrillas in the 1970s, but even the most die-hard reactionaries draw the line at the baby-snatching cases. Each DNA confirmation that a missing grandchild had been found and reunited with their biological family, usually accompanied by legal action against the “mother and father” who had appropriated them, has been greeted with joy across the political spectrum.

Over three decades of work, 113 cases had been resolved by the slowly ageing grandmothers, but despite this, Estela Carlotto’s missing grandson remained unaccounted for, which left a deep, unhealed wound in the nation’s psyche. Despite being behind the restitution of the grandchildren of so many of her fellow grandmothers, the white-haired, softly spoken woman who had endeared herself as a perennial hopeful for a Nobel Peace Prize for Argentina, and a worldwide symbol of peaceful women’s activism, had not yet been able to find her own slain daughter’s son. “I am such a well-known public figure,” says Carlotto. “Everybody kept asking me: ‘When is it going to be your turn?’”

At the time Ignacio Montoya Carlotto still believed he was Ignacio Hurban, the only son of Juana and Clemente Hurban, a couple of humble rural workers who lived near the city of Olavarría on a farm belonging to Francisco Aguilar, a well-to-do, conservative landowner who died last year.

“A few years ago I was watching television with my wife and Estela comes on talking about the search for her grandson,” Ignacio tells me. “And I said: ‘Look at this poor woman. It’s heart-breaking – she’s spent her whole life searching, and she may never find him.’”

Ignacio had, he says, a golden childhood. “I had a great life, but there was always this background noise. I didn’t look like my parents.” Growing up on the farm, surrounded by animals and cared for by those he still refers to lovingly as “Mother and Father”, he became a voracious reader, excelled in school, travelled to Buenos Aires to study music and finally returned to Olavarría to become a successful music teacher and professional musician with his own band, the Ignacio Hurban Grupo.

“When this all started,” he says. “I was scared of it devouring my whole life. Things were really great for me, damn it. I was recording records with musicians I respected, I was able to buy myself a brand-new car working as a musician, teaching and playing the piano. I had my wife and we were thinking of starting a family. And before that I had a healthy childhood on the farm, with lots of love.”

It was precisely that bucolic, protective environment in the deep countryside that made it almost impossible for his despairing grandmother to find him. “Where he was, 200 miles away in the middle of farm country,” says Estela, “I was never going to find him.”

A year ago, on 2 June 2014, fate intervened. It’s the date the then Ignacio Hurban has always celebrated his birthday. Olavarría is a small city of only 111,000. Among them was Celia Lizaso, a woman who knew the true story of his birth. “Celia Lizaso was the daughter of a farmer who was very good friends with Aguilar,” says Ignacio today. “She told my wife that I was adopted.” After a tearful birthday dinner during which his wife revealed to him the secret of his “adoption”, Ignacio went to see Lizaso, who had only told his wife half the story. “She left out the part that I was the child of a couple killed by the dictatorship.”

Both Ignacio’s adoptive parents are still alive and are certain to face a judicial inquiry due to the fact that he was falsely registered as their biological son. “When I went to them about it,” he says, “they explained their reasons for not telling me. They are humble farm people. They barely finished primary school.”

The circumstances of their employment with Aguilar weighed heavily in the equation, believes Ignacio. “They couldn’t have children, and Aguilar gave them the opportunity of bringing them a child born from a woman who didn’t want to have it, which was common in those days. They never suspected anything. They believed their boss – he was like God to them: they lived on his land and he was their only source of income.”

Ignacio is convinced of their innocence and good intentions. “I realise the sacrifices they made to raise me – I have nothing but gratitude for that. I also understand that they were tricked, they were made to sign things. They were made to believe things that weren’t true.”

Although the details remain unclear, and there is a court investigation pending, Ignacio has been able to piece together the essentials. Aguilar received him from the military when he was probably only a few days old and handed him over to the Hurbans, to raise as their own, with a solemn warning never to tell anyone the truth. “Aguilar probably did it to collaborate with the military,” he says. “Guys from his social background, sucking up to power – he’d do anything to ingratiate himself with some military officer. It’s kind of sad, actually.”

Ignacio grew up knowing Aguilar and his children well. “The kids used to come visit the farm. They live across from the music school where I teach.” But he has never thought of crossing the street to pound their door in anger. “Aguilar is dead and I’m told his widow has Alzheimer’s. That’s for the courts to deal with, I trust justice. There’s only two things that can affect families like that. Economic consequences, which is losing what they have, because those families often are what they own, or losing their prestige, and that they have definitely lost: their last name is now associated with the worst crime in our history.”

He is nonetheless adamant that Aguilar’s sons are innocent in the case. “I’ve met them and talked with them about it. The father was responsible, but the sons weren’t. They are victims of the shit their father did.”

Over the decades of their search, it was inevitable that some of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo died. The years are ticking by ever faster for those still in the fight – Estela is 84. With hundreds of grandchildren still unfound, they have set up a DNA bank with samples from their own DNA to ensure that anyone who suspects they are a “missing grandchild” can step forward after they are gone. In what was probably one of the last acts of his life as Ignacio Hurban, Estela’s missing grandson went to the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, took a DNA test and then went back to his daily life.

Estela says: “Somebody told me – and he hasn’t denied it – that he said: ‘Well, if I turn out to be the son of a “disappeared” couple, I want to be the grandson of the top grandmother, Estela.’” But when the phone call came, it not only showed that he was Estela’s grandson, it also revealed he was the son of Walmir Montoya, Laura Carlotto’s slain secret boyfriend. Suddenly the pieces fell into place. Montoya had been a drummer in a rock band. Nicknamed Puño (Fist) as a baby by his mother, Montoya, as a young man in the 1970s, soon gravitated to the Montoneros guerrilla organisation. He moved to La Plata, where he met Laura. They fell in love and lived in hiding, in an unsuccessful bid to outrun the secret police.

In 2006 forensic anthropologists unearthed his bones in a common grave. They found 16 bullet wounds, showing he was probably executed by machine gun fire. In Caleta Olivia, the coastal town in Patagonia where he grew up, a statue of Puño Montoya had been erected in his memory. Although there’d been rumours, no one knew for certain that he had a child, least of all his surviving 91-year-old mother, Hortensia Montoya, who also received a phone call with the surprise DNA results.

“God has given me a long life so that I could live to meet my grandson,” Hortensia said to the press. Like Estela, Hortensia is an exceptional woman, considered a pioneering teacher in Caleta Olivia. The two grandmothers talked to each other in a joint radio interview after the DNA results were announced, as a wave of joy swept across the nation. “We still haven’t met, but I love you so much for sharing this wonderful grandson with me,” Estela told Hortensia. Referring to the photos in the press of her son Puño, Estela added: “Now I understand why my daughter fell in love with your son.”

‘The only thought I had was: Laura can rest in peace now’: Estela with her daughter in the 1970s. Photograph: Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo

The phone call to Ignacio Hurban had been made by Estela’s younger daughter, who heads the DNA bank which holds the samples. “I asked for time,” Ignacio says now. “But then I thought: ‘They’ve been waiting for this for over 30 years. One more day for them must feel fatal.’” What followed was a hurried 400km journey with his wife and a group of their friends to meet the Carlottos in La Plata. “We left early, avoiding the press. We got lost, we went round in circles, it was a total scream.” By then Argentina’s media were staked out en masse in front of Carlotto’s La Plata home, so they had to rendezvous at the home of one of her daughters.

What the then Ignacio Hurban encountered at the Carlotto home provoked something akin to culture shock. An only son, raised among animals in a faraway farm, walked into a home where Estela’s 13 other grandchildren, his cousins, aunts and uncles were eagerly awaiting him. “It was meeting a whole family who are looking at you and can’t believe it: ‘It’s impossible – he’s there!’ Seeing the joy in their eyes simply because I was there – everybody crying, the hugs, the emotion.”

His grandmother Estela understands: “We’re a noisy bunch. He’s very quiet – I think he had more contact with animals than with children of his own age growing up.”

“I was a mess when I arrived after this long trip,” says Ignacio. As he got out of the car, he was told his grandmother was inside.

Estela recalls: “‘That’s my grandson,’ I thought. All the love I’d kept for him came over me, to tell him how much I loved him, how much I’d looked for him. He stood his ground, holding back. I, of course, had been travelling around the world looking for a baby, looking for a child, looking for a young man, and I’d always thought: ‘When I find him, you can all meet him because you’ve all helped me look for him.’” She soon saw she had to be more careful. “A grandmother’s anxiety wants everything to be fast, but there’s been cases where it’s taken years for a grandchild to accept their grandmother. So my advice to the grandmothers always is: give them time – that’s how you show your love. You must not get angry, you must not hurry them, you must demand nothing.”

For Ignacio, the sweetest moment came a few days later, when Hortensia Montoya arrived and the two grandmothers embraced.

“Meeting my two grandmothers was the most moving thing,” he says, speaking with passionate anger against the military who murdered his parents, “because it was like: ‘Bam, there it is, this is it – we won, we did it, we’re here, seeing each other, talking.’ Do you know what it was like hearing those two women talking to each other? The ground shakes when they meet. Two such powerful persons talking about their children, getting to know each other through the love their children had, crying for joy in the midst of this terrible tragedy.”

Ignacio has stood his ground by refusing to give in to one of his grandmother’s most cherished wishes: to rename himself Guido. “It hurt me when he said he didn’t want to change his name,” says Estela, sadness clouding her voice. “‘If it’s a boy, I want him to be called Guido,’ my daughter told one of her fellow prisoners who survived. She must have called him Guido when he was in her tummy; that has to resonate. But he told me he is Ignacio. It’s to reaffirm himself after that explosion. I understood completely. So I told him: ‘Look, I am going to call you Guido. I’ve been looking for you for 36 years as Guido.’ And he accepted that. But now, I don’t know – sometimes I avoid calling him Guido if he doesn’t want it.”

As the night descends over Buenos Aires at the end of my time with him, Ignacio Hurban is now fully transformed into Ignacio Montoya Carlotto the rising musician, talking about his new project, the Ignacio Montoya Carlotto Septeto. “They’re songs with folkloric roots, closer to folk music than to tango.”

Driving his car through the busy streets of Argentina’s capital, he seems slightly lost, far away from the quiet night skies and open horizons of his home, asking for directions, on his way to a rehearsal for a television show he will be performing on. He insists that he will not give in to resentment nor will he feign a suffering for what happened to his biological parents that he has not felt himself.

“It was horrible, to be ripped from your mother, but I have no recollection of that. Plus, what good would it do me to cry for what could have been? Or to start living a life of suffering that I have not lived? My parents suffered. When I think about what they went through, it’s so sad, and that willingness to give up their lives for their beliefs, such a strong will to go through with the pregnancy. It’s incredible. But I didn’t live through any of that. My memories are of growing up on the farm with a mother and a father. And they did everything any other parents would have done.”

It is difficult to say whether denial is at play in Ignacio’s reasoning, although he himself admits to none. Perhaps he is that rare thing, a person determined to make the best of the world he has been born into, even if he discovers at the age of 36 that he had been “born” into a false world, the victim of a heinous crime.

Meanwhile Estela continues her work. She still travels to the offices of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires every day. That’s about a three-hour round trip. She travels continuously, carrying her message around the world. Her grandson was the 114th missing grandchild to be identified. Two more have been identified since then. Hundreds of others remain unfound. She has no intention of stopping: “The only thought I had was: Laura can rest in peace now. I felt Laura said to me: ‘Mother, mission accomplished.’ But there’s so much still to do. I’m going to keep looking for the other missing ones.”

Birds of Antarctica and Argentina


This video, recorded in Argentina, says about itself:

Birds & More: Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

Fabulous scenery, wide open spaces, whales, extraordinary Andes and the bottom of the world. Spectacular Magellanic Woodpecker, very scenic cruise in Drake Channel; 11-12/2008.

Brent Stephenson is a wildlife photographer, guide, and birder based near Napier, New Zealand.

From B1RDER: The birding blog of Eco-Vista | Brent Stephenson (with photos there):

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Looking back to January – Antarctica

Well the year to date has been a hectic one, but with a lot of fantastic places along the way. First off was a trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica – I always say if you are going to go to Antarctica, then you HAVE to do a trip that includes the Falklands and South Georgia. So this is one of my favourite trips, and despite the increase in tourism in the Antarctic you still get the feeling of isolation and that you could well be the first people looking at the landscape.

We started in Ushuaia, with awesome views of both male, female and young Magellanic woodpeckers in the National Park – stonking views! Epic birds, and also got great views of ashy-headed geese. Then out of the Beagle Channel and heading to Saunders Island in the Falklands. This has to be one of the best islands for diversity in the Falkland group, with a great array of species there nesting within easy walking distance. To be so close to nesting black-browed albatross is always a treat, and whilst we were there the birds had young chicks in the nest, so there was a lot going on. Having spent four incredible days on this island camping under a rock at ‘The Neck’ back in 2004 this place is one of my all-time World favourite spots!

Next stop South Georgia, and with landings at Salisbury Plain and St Andrews Bay we got to see a fair sack of the king penguin population that breeds on the island. Our afternoon at St Andrews was just spectacular, with incredible weather and so much going on. I managed a bit of time with tripod and neutral density filters to play around with some long exposures which was fun – let me know what you think of the images below. There might still be a slight colour cast from the ND filters, but I am pretty happy with the results…I’d just like to spend some more time experimenting with these filters.

This video says about itself:

Albatross – Penguins – ICE BIRDS – Antarctica © 2009 C. Hunter Johnson

Nesting Albatross Chicks, King Penguins and Gentoo Penguins. … on a recent visit to South Georgia Island to explore and photograph these rare endangered Albatross in natural, unspoiled surroundings.

The Brent Stephenson article continues:

We also called in to Coronation Island in the South Orkneys, with a little bit of sleet and drizzle it was a chilly landing, but thousands of chinstrap penguins were there to keep us company! Back onboard that afternoon my Canon 1Dx decided to give up the ghost – leaving me with my old worn out 1D MkIV for the rest of the trip. On getting back to NZ it turns out the 1Dx was the first in the country to have completely died – making me wonder if i was lucky or unlucky (!) – having blown a circuit board and some fuses. All covered under warranty when I got home, but effectively an expensive paper-weight for the rest of the trip!

Down on the Antarctic Peninsula we had stops at Brown Bluff, with a little foray along the ice front of the Weddell Sea in Antarctic Sound. There had been an Emperor penguin reported, but rising winds meant we could’t get too close, and had to head back onto the western side of the Peninsula and carry on to the South Shetlands. A morning at Hannah Point was fantastic with lots of activity amongst the chinstraps and gentoos – including the gory killing of a gentoo chick by several giant petrels. At Deception Island, not normally know for its wildlife (at least the interior of the island), we had an awesome leucistic chinstrap penguin. At first it seemed to be playing hard to get, and then at the end walked up on to the shore with another bird, and right into the middle of our group! Ha, what little show off!

Then it was off south along the Peninsula, making landings at Petermann Island and Plennau. Awesome iceberg graveyard, and VERY ‘friendly’ leopard seals – one of which came steaming in and chomped on the end of my zodiac! That was a new experience – it all happened so quick I didn’t have time to get out of there, so after our 2.5 hour zodiac cruise one of the pontoons was VERY flat! We only lost two people out of the zodiac…just kidding! We also had an incredible show with a female and calf humpback right at the stern of the ship. With everyone out on the stern of the ship, they came right in under us and just hung out at the back of the ship for more than 15 minutes – just incredible.

A final afternoon at Portal Point – after finally catching up with killer whales in the Neumeyer which I managed to spot a few miles off. We had stunning views of a pretty large pod of these Type B (small form) killer whales, in what looked like a feeding slick. There was a huge slick on the surface and clearly something attracting large numbers of Wilson’s storm-petrels, giant petrels and other species, but we couldn’t spot anything that looked like chunks of prey. A mystery!

And then we were on our way back to Ushuaia. Time just flies so quickly on a trip like this, with days at sea and the start of the trip seeming to go relatively slow, and then all of a sudden you are heading back across the Drake Passage! A great trip with great folks and an excellent Zegrahm Expedition team!

Argentine military dictatorship in London theatre


This video from Britain says about itself:

These Trees Are Made of Blood – Minidoc (Client: Lucy Jackson Productions)

2 March 2014

1978. With the world watching, Argentina has won the World Cup and patriotism is running riot.

After some development time at BAC, director Amy Draper continues exploring her cabaret style show about Argentina’s Disappeared, which intertwines live music and narrative.

By Michal Boncza in England:

Theatre: War crimes caught in the acts

Wednesday 25th March 2015

MICHAL BONCZA recommends a cabaret exposing the long night of fascism in Argentina; These Trees Are Made of Blood, Southwark Playhouse, London SW1 4/5

THE THOUGHT of a play dealing with the “dirty war” in Argentina during the 1970s and ’80s might fill anyone familiar with that grim period with trepidation.

The appalling enormity of the crimes instigated by the US beggars belief to this very day. But These Trees Are Made of Blood by Amy Draper, Paul Jenkins and Darren Clark rapidly dispels such misgivings.

In the theatre’s small C-shaped auditorium, the crowded intimacy of a cabaret is recreated as the quartet of musicians in the corner play The Boy from Buenos Aires.

The “hosts” for the night are the 1976 putschists, the supreme commanders of the three branches of the armed forces, whose rationalisation of their odious deeds is subjected by the authors to biting ridicule — the targeting of the nazis in the musical Cabaret comes to mind — yet the hint of menace and foreboding is never far away.

To the authors’ credit, the combination of slapstick and song is an effective device — bar some ancient jokes — in advancing the narrative in which Greg Barnett is suitably slimy as The General while Alexander Luttley as the air force chief emanates egotism and duplicity.

So far, so satirical, but in an unexpected development one of the guests of the show Gloria Benitez (Val Jones) sees her daughter disappear when invited on stage to join the naval chief (Neil Kelso) in his magic tricks.

This tragedy, and her evolution from housewife to protester with the legendary Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, is charted with unassuming mastery by Jones.

After the interval the mood changes and, in a series of rapid vignettes, the historical blanks are filled in.

Everything from CIA involvement, the torture chambers at the school of naval mechanics, the Malvinas war and finally the trial of the military chiefs comes under scrutiny.

There’s a fair degree of disconcerting detail, some loose ends and short cuts that may baffle some in what occasionally comes across as over-elaborate. But it remains a riveting production, directed by Amy Draper with panache, with a cast that is as gifted as it is passionate. The songs by Darren Clark effectively catch the nuances of mood and, Greek chorus-style, comment on the action.

That culminates in a powerful theatrical moment at the conclusion when the curtains around the auditorium are drawn back, revealing walls filled top-to-bottom with the faces of the disappeared to a shell-shocked audience.

This video is called Amy Draper: These Trees Are Made Of Blood; rehearsal.

These video from London says about itself:

These Trees are Made of Blood Trailer

16 March 2015

At Southwark Playhouse from 18 March – 11 April 2015

#TheseTreesShow

Call 020 7407 0234 or click here to buy tickets.

And for our next act …

The Magical Military Junta …
Will make 30,000 people disappear before your very eyes.

During the 70s and 80s, Argentina was locked in a period of state terrorism, with a military dictatorship waging war on suspected left-wing political sympathizers. Thousands of citizens were “disappeared”; seized by the authorities and rarely heard from again.

Set in a timeless Buenos Aires cabaret club before, during and after Argentina’s Dirty War, These Trees are Made of Blood tells the story of one Mother’s search for her daughter. Blending original live music and exciting cabaret acts with an urgent narrative, this is a new piece of political theatre which promises to be an unforgettable audience experience.

So come on in. The club’s open all hours and history can always be rewritten after one too many.

This video says about itself:

These Trees are Made of Blood: How to make empanadas

5 March 2015

The team behind These Trees are Made of Blood give you a taste of what’s to come from this new production.

Remembering Latin America’s Disappeared: here.

Argentina’s military dictatorship on trial


This video from the USA says about itself:

Argentine Torture Survivor Tells of Her Struggle to Bring Her Torturers to Justice

12 November 2010

Democracy Now! speak with Patricia Isasa, a torture survivor from Argentina’s military dictatorship. She was a 16-year old student union organizer in 1976 when she was kidnapped by police and soldiers. She was tortured and held prisoner without trial for two-and-a-half years at one of the 585 clandestine detention and torture centers set up during the dictatorship. After a long legal battle to bring her torturers to justice, six of her nine torturers were recently sentenced to prison.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Dictatorship-era soldiers to reveal missing dead

Thursday 11th December 2014

FOUR former soldiers charged with committing crimes against humanity during Argentina‘s 1976-1983 military dictatorship have said they will admit guilt and help to identify victims and burial sites.

Presiding judge Diaz Gavier said on Wednesday that the men had “voluntarily expressed their intention to provide information that will facilitate the location of some human remains.”

The four are on trial for participation in crimes committed at clandestine detention centres in Cordoba province during the US-backed dictatorship that cost the lives of 30,000 people.

Ernesto Barreiro, who is accused by human rights groups of being the chief torturer at the La Perla detention centre, indicated places on Wednesday where 25 missing people might have been buried.

Mr Barreiro led a 1987 military rebellion that forced the elected government of President Raul Alfonsin to pass an amnesty law for accused human rights abusers.

The amnesty law was overturned almost two decades later, allowing prosecutors to reopen hundreds of cases.

Anne Frank statue in Argentina


Anne Frank statue, Merweedeplein, Amsterdam

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Anne Frank statue unveiled in Argentina

Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 21:39

In Argentina, a statue of Anne Frank has been unveiled. The statue is in Buenos Aires on the Plaza Reina de Holanda.

The artwork is a replica of the bronze statue which stands on the Merwedeplein in the Amsterdam Rivierenbuurt neighbourhood, by sculptress Jet Schepp. The 74-year old artist was present at the unveiling in Argentina.

The statue of Anne Frank has been put there on the International Human Rights Day. The monument is a joint initiative including the Argentine Ministry of Education, the Dutch Embassy in Argentina and Centro Ana Frank Argentina.

The statue at the Amsterdam Merwedeplein was unveiled in 2005. Anne Frank lived for almost ten years at the square before the Frank family went into hiding in 1942 at the Prinsengracht.

Classical music world tour, new film


This video is the trailer of Heddy Honigmann‘s new film on the jubilee world tour of the Concertgebouw Orchestra from the Netherlands.

I saw that film on 7 December 2014 in a crowded cinema. The name of the film is Around the world in 50 concerts (Dutch: Om de wereld in 50 concerten).

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2013 made a tour around the world, as they had been founded 125 years ago. The film is not about all places where the orchestra played then.

It concentrates on four cities: Amsterdam, where the orchestra is usually. Buenos Aires in Argentina. Johannesburg in South Africa. And Saint Petersburg in Russia.

In the opening scene of the film, we see an empty Concertgebouw hall in Amsterdam. Well, not completely empty: there is one musician. A percussionist. He explains that he plays in a symphony by Bruckner, which lasts ninety minutes. During all that time, he says, he just has to do one thing: crash the cymbals once. He has to watch out not to crash the cymbals at the wrong time, as what the other musicians play is quite unchanging for some time before the cymbals’ short, but important role. It would be interesting at this point to mention the difference between the roles of percussionists in classical music versus jazz or rock, where they play during most of the music.

Amsterdam is also in another film scene: an open air concert by the Concertgebouw Orchestra at the inner city canals of Amsterdam; more precisely, the Prinsengracht. There, they play the song ‘Aan de Amsterdamse grachten‘, about these canals.

It is not really classical music, more a music hall waltz, about the beauty of the canals. In the 1970s, there was a political satirical version of the lyrics, wishing that politicians like Dries van Agt and Hans Wiegel (then Prime Minister, respectively Vice Prime Minister) should preferably be ‘in the Amsterdam canals, or, still better, under tramway #10′.

After the first scene in the Concertgebouw, the film continues with transporting the many instruments to the airport for the world tour. The violin cases have to be packed inside plastic ‘winter coats': as it is cold inside aircraft holds, and else the transition to hot concert halls would be a problem for instruments.

The aircraft brings the orchestra to South America. The continent where director Honigmann (originally from Peru) was born.

Memorial Park wall, with names of dictatorship's victimsMs Honigmann interviews a Buenos Aires taxi driver about the role of classical music in his life. She also shows images of a monument to the bloody Argentinian dictatorship: a wall where victims’ names are inscribed. Buenos Aires in 1997 opened the Memorial Park – A Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism.

Heddy Honigmann’s camera pans over the names of the junta’s victims; but without any explanation. It is a pity that as a spectator one is supposed to already know about Argentinean history beforehand.

After South America, the film moves to Johannesburg in South Africa.

There, the orchestra members are not only depicted as playing music, but also as listening to music: the sounds of the Soweto Marimba Youth League.

This video is called Soweto Marimba Youth League performs at Rosebank Market. Johannesburg, South Africa.

The film also has an interview with a Johannesburg violin player. He told that, when he was small, during the apartheid regime, he wanted to learn to play the violin. But his parents did not have money for a violin or for music lessons. His father gave him a violin bow. He then played ‘air violin‘. White music teachers did not want to teach this young black boy, as they were afraid of the apartheid system. Finally, a Jewish music teacher was willing to teach ‘as Jews knew what it is like to be discriminated against’, the now elderly violinist told. Now, he teaches the Soweto Youth Orchestra.

The final scenes of the film are in Saint Petersburg in Russia. There, Ms Honigmann has an interview with elderly Sergey. He tells his ancestors were nobility during the czars’ empire. They used to like Gustav Mahler‘s music. Things went well with the family, until Sergey was twelve years old in 1937. Then, the Stalin regime arrested his father and later executed him. When Sergey was fifteen, he became a prisoner of the German nazi invaders and was put into a concentration camp which he barely survived. He was very happy to hear the Concertgebouw orchestra play Mahler.