Children of Argentina

Dariela Aquique

Idolatrado por muchos, repudiado por otros, el Che sin embargo es ícono de muchos en el mundo.

HAVANA TIMES — People don’t always speak very well of Argentineans. They’re labeled smug for feeling like they’re Europeans. Even the Mexican poet Octavio Paz once said “Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish and feel themselves Frenchmen.”

Nevertheless it’s a bountiful land that has given grand figures to the history of humanity. The arts, science, politics and sports owe much to the “Rio de la Plata,” and it was once called by the Spanish conquistadors back in the 1500s.

Today Argentina is one of the largest economies of Latin America, after Brazil. According to the World Bank, its nominal GDP is the 30th largest in the world.

Wars of independence against colonialism, coups, instability and a cruel dictatorship were the various stages of the social and political landscape of this country. Now it has erected a new political model that I don’t dare to attempt to define (nor is that my goal).

For me, the curious thing about this country is that it has given children who have made their marks in distinct aspects of world history, though distant in time, ideologies and destinies.

For example, Argentina literature occupies a significant place within Spanish letters, with examples in the late 19th century as Jose Hernandez (author of Martin Fierro, translated into more than 70 languages). In the 20th century there was Julio Cortazar, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Ernesto Sabato and Juan Gelman.

And what can one say about the phenomenal Jorge Luis Borges, one of the most important writers of the Americas and the world (all of these except Cortazar won the Miguel de Cervantes Prize).

That nation’s music doesn’t lag too far behind, having given the world the tango, a style of music with international fame and that has dance schools in many parts of the planet.

Sports greats include soccer player Diego Armando Maradona, known as “el Pelusa” (“The Fuzz,” due to his frizzy hair) and “el Pibe de Oro” (the Golden Boy). He was chosen as the Best Player of the Century, was the star of Club Barcelona and was known for his great ball-handling skills. He was also the technical director of the Argentinean team in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Now their soccer star is Lionel Messi, who also makes Argentina sparkle in the most universal of sports.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara — who was a revolutionary fighter, a statesman, writer and Argentine-Cuban doctor — become a paradigm of millions worldwide. With his historic journey that took him through Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, he began to dream of a unified Latin America.

He joined the struggle of Cuba revolutionaries in 1957, the guerrilla forces in the Congo in 1965 and finally in 1967 allied with the guerrilla movement in Bolivia, where he lost his life. Idolized by many, rejected by others, Che is the icon of revolution for millions around the world.

If all of this weren’t enough, His Holiness Francisco I (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina) is the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church and the head of state of the Vatican City. He’s the first pontiff from the Americas, the first Hispanic since Alexander VI and the first non-European since 741. He’s also the first Jesuit.

This controversial character is praised by many for his humility and commitment to social justice, and people speak of his leading a simple lifestyle. He lived in a small apartment instead of residing in the Episcopal palace, he gave up his limo and his chauffer for public transportation, and he cooks his own food. He enjoys opera and tango, as well as soccer – as he’s a member San Lorenzo de Almagro Athletic Club.

But some people and institutions have also pointed out his alleged collaboration with the civil-military dictatorship in Argentina between 1976 and 1983 (even though no formal charges have been filed with the Argentinean court).

However others who were victimized by the dictatorship have said that Bergoglio helped the persecuted. There are various and conflicting opinions, but nothing conclusive to attribute his responsibility.

As controversial as they are, a literary genius like Borges has been accused of megalomania, while a soccer star like Maradona has been implicated in drug scandals, game expulsions and medical internment. A revolutionary, world citizen like Che has even been accused of war psychosis, and the new Pope is alleged to have associated himself with a dictatorship.

These views are dependent on the messengers – those who give them and for what purpose. In any case, despite its pros and cons, there’s no denying this land has given us outstanding people.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

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7 thoughts on “Children of Argentina

  • i dont need to your arguments speak for themselves alone, all you need to do is look for the information.

  • How Leftist demagogues plan to hold onto power:

    According to former general Guaicapuro Lameda, who is also the former president of PDVSA (the state-owned company that controls the production of petroleum in Venezuela), Jorge Giordani, the current minister of Economy and Finances, years ago responded to his complaints that Chavezism was incapable of generating wealth and told him this :

    “Look, General, you still don’t understand the revolution. Let me explain it to you: This revolution proposes to make a cultural change in the country, to change the way people think and live, and these changes can only be forced from the seat of power. Therefore, the first thing we have to do is stay in power in order to make those changes. The poor people have given us the political stage: they are the ones who vote for us so that is why we’re always talking about defending the poor. THE POOR PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO STAY POOR, WE NEED THEM THAT WAY, until we achieve the cultural transformation. Later, we can talk about economies and the generation and distribution of wealth. In the meantime, we have to keep them poor and hopeful […] this is about a cultural change and that takes at least three generations to carry out. The adults will resist it and cling to the past; the young people will live in it and become accustomed to it, and the children will learn it and make it their own. It will take a minimum of 30 years.”

    So now you know why the poverty in Cuba is shared by all but the ruling clique, why the poor of Venezuela are worse off today than 15 years ago, and why socialism destroys wealth. Because that’s the whole point!

  • Peron, like Casto and Chavez, pitched their appeal to the poor of their countries. And for a while they did help them. But their policies were unsustainable economically, and eventually the poor suffered for it. Argentina had a strong and growing economy in the early decades of this century. They have fallen steadily behind ever since. While pledging to help the people, these demagogues usually help themselves and their cronies (see Venezuela and the Bolibourgoisie). The people pay the price in the long run.

    I would say that pre-revolutionary Cuba was in places prospering, but with economic inequality & terrible poverty. In 1954 Batista illegally seized power, which killed the political culture of the island. Gangsterism and resentment of American hegemony added to the boiling pot. Those are ripe conditions for revolution anywhere.

    I’ve never been against the revolution that overthrew Batista. Too bad the Cuban people never had a chance to put him on trial and hang him. My objections is that once in power, Castro reneged on his promise to hold free elections. He wanted power for himself only. Ironically, Fidel would easily have won an election in 1960, but it would have legitimized the existence of opposition parties, which he could never stomach. After that, he lead the country into a disastrous Marxist economic and social program, which has cost the Cuban people terribly.

    This is not to say the US was blameless in what what happened, for their mistakes and crimes. And this is not to say Castro did nothing good for the people, he did. But the price, the loss of human rights and freedoms for the Cuban people, as well as the economic ruination of the country, has been far too high.

    You seem to thrill at the idea of euphoric crowds cheering on demagogic leaders promising miracles. I pale at the spectacle. In all of human history, such messianic leaders always – ALWAYS – turn out bad.

  • The way you chime in with comments which utterly fly in the face of historical reality, Griffin, is getting to sound a bit like an echo from Moses (who, unlike his namesake, seems to be leading folks further into the wilderness, rather than to the promised land). There were good reasons for the rise of Juan–and Evita–Peron; all you have to do is see the oceans of “descamisados” surrounding the balconiy upon which they appered in the late1940’s and early 1950’s. Too bad Evita, like Hugo, fell victim to cancer. I don’t think Venezuela will suffer the same subsequent fate as Aregentina, however. Not even a decade later other oceans of people surrounded Fidel, and fifty years later, more millions surrounded Hugo Chavez. What these oceans of people all have in common is that they never shared in the wealth of their nations until their champions appeared. Next, I suppose, you’ll say that Cuba was well on the road to prosperity until 1959. There are reasons for revolutions. Ignore them at your peril.

  • If you would care to present an argument instead of making juvenile insults go ahead.

  • not even a rightwinger like yourself can fully believe what your spewing out of your mouth,

  • In the early part of the 20th century, Argentina used to have one of the strongest economies in the world with a rising standard of level. The decline began shortly after Juan Peron seized power and instituted his program of quasi-socialist nationalizations and protectionist economic policies. The country has never recovered from the disaster.

    Ironically, the program Hugo Chavez followed in Venezuela looks destined to repeat many of the same errors, and with the same sad economic results.

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