Macri bringing Argentine military dictatorship back?


This October 2016 video says about itself:

Stolen children of Argentina’s dictatorship search for the truth

Imagine discovering that your surname, first name and date of birth are all lies? That your family is not your real family?

Hundreds of Argentineans born during the dictatorship of General Videla, from 1976 to 1983, have faced this horrifying discovery. FRANCE 24 went to meet them.

In Argentina, during the dark days of the dictatorship, almost 500 babies were forcibly taken by the military junta from their parents, who were left-wing dissidents opposed to the regime. The parents were tortured and often executed.

The young mothers, accused of “being active militants of the machinery of terrorism”, in the words of the dictator Videla, were killed or thrown into the sea from a military plane. According to human rights campaigners, around 30,000 dissidents were killed or disappeared during the junta’s rule from 1976 to 1983.

Newborns, who were often born in jail or in clandestine maternity wards, were given as spoils of war to military families or those close to the regime. Once adopted, they were given a new name and a new date of birth: a false identity.

In 1983, as the dictatorship came to an end and a civilian government was democratically elected, one group of women, “the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo“, actively set out to find their missing grandchildren.

Today, forty years after the 1976 coup that brought the junta to power, and thanks to a monumental investigation, witness testimonies and DNA tests, 119 people have discovered their real identity and biological families.

In FRANCE 24’s documentary, our reporter Bertrand Devé went to meet these men and women who have discovered the truth of their past, with some of them finding out the horror of who their “adoptive” parents really were. We joined them on their journey to reconnect with their roots and rebuild their identities.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Controversial measure by the president of Argentina: domestic deployment of the military

The Argentine president Macri wants to deploy the army inland. That is sensitive in the South American country; Argentina suffered in the late 1970s, early 80’s under a military dictatorship, where tens of thousands of people disappeared under mysterious circumstances or were killed or tortured.

Macri wants to use the military to address domestic threats, such as drug crime and terrorism.

Authoritarian rulers usually have very wide definitions of terrorism. In this blog post, we have already seen Argentine dictator Videla, calling opposition to his dictatorship ‘terrorism’. The British conservative government does not know the difference between journalism and ‘terrorism’. Neither does the absolute monarchy in Bahrain.

Right-winger Macri, or some coup d’état general succeeding Macri as president, very probably don’t know the difference between terrorism and environmentalism; between terrorism and advocacy of workers’ rights; and between terrorism and advocacy of indigenous people’s rights; with consequences like for indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado, murdered during the Macri administration.

He also wants the army to guard sensitive areas, such as nuclear power stations. In a speech at a military base, Macri said that the military would mainly provide logistical support in border areas.

Defending the country’s borders

From 1976 to 1981, junta leader Videla was in power in Argentina. He used the army to suppress his own people. In 1983 the military dictatorship ended. With this history in mind, a decree was adopted in 2006 in which the role of the army was limited to defending the national borders.

The plans of conservative Macri, leading the country since 2015, are criticized by the opposition and human rights organizations. A wider use of the army can lead to military espionage, repression and more violence.

Criticism by human rights organizations

Former Minister of Defense Rossi says that separation of national security and internal security since 1983 is state policy and that should not change. According to him, it does not work either. He points out that Mexico, Colombia and Brazil have deployed the army in the fight against drug crimes, but those countries now seem to turn back from it.

The Buenos Aires Center for Legal and Social Studies says it is right behind the separation of military and domestic security issues. Messing that up poses a danger to both civil and human rights, says the organization.

The government wants to introduce the new rules through a decree rather than through a law which would have to be approved by Congress.

Argentinians hit the streets to protest against increasing militarisation: here.

ARGENTINA VOTES DOWN BILL TO LEGALIZE ABORTION The Argentine senate has rejected a bill to legalize abortion, pushing back against a groundswell of support from a surging abortion rights movement. [Reuters]

Woman dies following illegal abortion in Argentina: here.

The crisis of the Turkish lira, driven by the strengthening of the US dollar, combined with the increase in US interest rates in recent months and sharply exacerbated by the Trump administration’s imposition of punishing trade tariffs, has spread to a number of “emerging markets” economies, which borrowed heavily during the years of low interest rates. Argentina has now joined Turkey in imposing currency mega-devaluations, threatening a national economic collapse: here.

After a brief respite, turbulence has returned to so-called emerging markets. The Argentine central bank raised interest rates to 60 percent yesterday to try to halt the slide in the peso. The Turkish lira also fell, moving toward the record lows it reached earlier this month: here.

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Argentina-Iceland 1-1, celebration with birds


This 2015 video is about birds in Iceland.

This 2015 video is called 1000 reasons to visit Argentina. Birding in Argentina.

To celebrate today’s World Cup football match Argentina-Iceland, these videos. One bird video for each country, as they both made one goal.

This video is called Argentina vs Iceland 1-1 All Goals & Highlights 16/06/2018.

This is a surprisingly good result for small country Iceland against Argentina, one of the favourites. The Icelandic goalie stopped a penalty by Argentine star player Lionel Messi.

The coach of Iceland is part-time coach, part dentist on the Vestmannaeyjar islands.

Vestmannaeyjar means ‘islands of the Irish people’. As the original inhabitants of the archipelago were ‘maroon‘ Irish runaway slaves.

Trump’s army in South America


This video says about itself:

U.S. Army Is Back In South America

4 May 2018

The United States military, who helped overthrow numerous democratically elected governments in Latin America in favor of brutal right-wing dictators who supported U.S. interests, is in Argentina without approval from the Argentine Congress.

Help Argentina’s flamingos and shorebirds


This 2009 video is called Andean flamingo mating dance.

From BirdLife:

23 Feb 2018

2018 Birdfair project announced: a haven for Argentina’s Flamingos

This year’s British Birdwatching Fair will support the creation of Argentina’s largest national park, in the process providing a haven to nearly a million flamingos and shorebirds.

By James Lowen

A gargantuan pink candyfloss wisps over an immense lake in north-central Argentina before sugar-rushing upwards in a flurry of a hundred thousand wings. Mar Chiquita – South America’s second-largest waterbody, and the world’s fifth-biggest salt lake – harbours most of the planet’s Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis and nearly half its Andean Flamingo Phoenicoparrus andinus. A lagoon with a legend, it is also an IBA In Danger, a national-park-in-waiting… and the focus of the British Birdwatching Fair 2018.

Mar Chiquita means ‘little sea’. This vast salina (salt lake) ranges 45 miles (70km) by 15 miles (24km). Mar Chiquita is a literal oasis – and its water, marshy fringes and surrounding grasslands throng with wildlife. Up to 318,000 Chilean Flamingos (Near Threatened) have been counted, their bubblegum-pink congregation boosted in winter with up to 18,000 Andean Flamingo (Vulnerable) and smaller numbers of Puna Flamingo Phoenicoparrus jamesi (Near Threatened).

Mar Chiquita’s shorebird gatherings challenge credulity. Tens of thousands of American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica, White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis and Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes migrate here from North America. Tens of thousands of each species, that is. But that’s small change.

Six hundred thousand Wilson’s Phalaropes Steganopus tricolor winter here. Six hundred thousand. Roughly one-third of the world population of these delicate, needle-billed shorebirds pirouettes hyperactively atop the water or darken the sky when clouding between invertebrate-rich shorelines. “Mar Chiquita is key to the future of shorebirds using three different intercontinental flyways”, says Rob Clay, Director, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network executive office.

This in itself might be world enough. Yet appreciating the full faunal richness of Mar Chiquita involves venturing away from water. In golden-dry grasslands, South America’s tallest bird, the flightless Greater Rhea Rhea americana (Near Threatened), canters past a diminutive Bearded Tachuri Polystictus pectoralis (Near Threatened). At night, a Maned Wolf Chrysocyon brachyurus (Near Threatened) – essentially, a fox on stilts – lopes along while the bizarre Sickle-winged Nightjar Eleothreptus anomalus (Near Threatened) glides overhead. Swampy areas host Dot-winged Crake Porzana spiloptera (Vulnerable) and Dinelli’s Doradito Pseudocolopteryx dinelliana (Near Threatened), while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus (Endangered) roam over dry, quebracho-stippled Chaco forest.

A haven for wildlife, unequivocally. But also a haven in peril, regrettably. Mar Chiquita may drip with official designations: “it’s a Ramsar Site, one of Argentina’s top Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA), a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and a provincial reserve”, says Malena Srur of Aves Argentinas (BirdLife Partner). But these alone haven’t kept it safe. Ignominiously, Mar Chiquita features among Argentina’s handful of IBAs In Danger. It is this claim to infame that has spurred action by Aves Argentinas. Action that will now receive Birdfair funding.

The organisation has a full plate in front of them. Water is being extracted from Mar Chiquita at a rate that prompts talk of desiccation. The lake suffers pollution from local industry. The area’s integrity, Srur says, “is further threatened by agricultural intensification, an above-average deforestation rate and unregulated tourism”.

Water is being extracted from Mar Chiquita at a rate that risks desiccation

For several years, Srur explains, Aves Argentinas has surveyed birds, raised environmental awareness, improved management and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita. Then came its masterstroke: an ambitious plan, developed with provincial and national authorities, to create what should become the country’s largest national park. Anticipated to be officially designated this year following a concordat signed in 2017 by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of Córdoba province, Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 700,000 hectares. “Being managed at the national rather than regional level guarantees greater protection”, enthuses Srur. This is mighty work – worthy of the gods, indeed.

Which brings us to the legend that seasons Mar Chiquita. The fable both explains the national park’s name and celebrates its flamingos. One day, Ansenuza – the beautiful yet cruel goddess of water – chanced upon a warrior dying in the sandy margins of her lagoon. Unexpectedly, she was entranced by his beauty. Moved by love for the first time, Ansenuza wept as the man’s life expired, her torrential tears turning the lake salty. Fellow gods took pity on Ansenuza and returned life to the warrior, transforming him into a beautiful, slender bird adorned with pink feathers. From that moment on, flamingos have inhabited the salina.

Boosting the local economy through nature-based tourism is fundamental to the project’s success

Enshrining the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title speaks volumes. Community engagement – participatory planning, empowering local stakeholders and establishing a network of ‘local conservation guardians’ – has been integral to Aves Argentinas’ strategy from the outset. Moreover, bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is fundamental to the project’s success. Having identified Mar Chiquita as a priority area in Argentina’s 2016 National Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan, the Ministry for Tourism is delighted. “A vibrant ecotourism circuit at Ansenuza”, explains Srur, “will lengthen the tourist season and generate sustainable livelihoods over a wider area. Local communities will become strongly committed to Ansenuza’s long-term conservation.”

It is this inspiring future that British Birdwatching Fair funds will help create. But it’s not just about the money. “Birdfair recognition has already been a major boost for building domestic political awareness about why Mar Chiquita/Ansenuza needs to be protected,” says Srur. Isadora Angarita-Martínez (BirdLife International Biodiversity Conservation Manager) goes further. The Birdfair brand “will help gain birding-industry support, which is key to making Ansenuza a birding paradise”.

Competition to be the project supported by the annual Birdfair is intense. In deciding which of several worthy initiatives support each year, Birdfair decision-makers take into account how the project will strengthen the wider BirdLife Partnership. Angarita-Martínez welcomes Aves Argentinas’s intention to help “build capacity in policy development among BirdLife’s Americas Regional partnership”. And she praises how the organisation is “integrating the project across BirdLife programmes: from IBAs in Danger, through Flyways to the Southern Cone Grassland Alliance”.

Birdfair projects have always thought big. Last year’s theme, ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’, aims to clear the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti – one of the remotest islands in the world – of invasive predators. Today it was announced that the 2017 Birdfair raised an incredible £333,000 towards the work – the second highest total in Birdfair history.

And this year will be no less ambitious. A project to convert an IBA in Danger into a protected national park. An initiative to develop sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism. A design that will benefit BirdLife Partners across an entire continent. A worthy recipient of 2018 Birdfair support indeed. The goddess Ansenuza may still weep, but her tears are no longer those of sadness – rather those of joy.