Tag Archives: Buenos Aires

The Politics of Empowerment in Buenos Aires

philips - argentina - poster

A poster describing how to enroll in AUH.

My work is on a social program in Argentina called, Asignación Universal por Hijo para la Protección Social (AUH), a conditional cash transfer (CCT) implemented by presidential decree in late 2009. Under the program, the government uses a portion of income tax and sales tax to provide monthly transfers to poor families that are unemployed, informally employed, or who do domestic work and make less than a livable wage. Families receive $160 pesos (roughly $40 USD) per child ages 0-18, for up to five children. The money is given directly to the mother each month and is received under the condition that the family verifies children’s school attendance and medical checkups. It is designed to incentivize education for the poor population and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty via human capital accumulation.

In addition to drastic inequality and high rates of poverty, Argentina has a high rate of domestic violence. My work is focusing on whether transferring the money directly to mothers is empowering to women by giving them more financial control, helping them leave abusive homes, etc. or limits female agency by reenforcing traditional gender roles and providing a point of contention between a husband and wife regarding household finances. If there are negative consequences associated with the distribution system of the grant, a change in the structure of the policy could reduce domestic violence and save the lives of women. If the current system empowers women, there could be good reason to continue and expand the program. It could also incentivize collaborative work on finding additional funding sources.  Continue reading

Juan Esteban Fassio. Orígenes de la ‘Patafísica porteña [‘Pp] – Parte primera [Pp]*

Cadenas Canon - Argentina - 'PataphysicsPermítaseme vincular, a modo de conclusión, la Patafísica con el budismo Zen. Si se le preguntara a un maestro zen-patafísico “¿cuál es el verdadero sentido de la frase sobre el cocodrilo?”, se echaría a reír y nos golpearía varias veces con su bastón de física. No existe verdad fuera de la experiencia patafísica.

Juan Esteban Fassio, Creador-Fundador del IAEPBA, Regente de trabajos prácticos rousselianos, Proveedor Propagador de los Países platenses de Mesembrinesia Americana, Administrador Antártico y Gran Competente de la Orden de la Gran Guidouille [o espanziral].

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La historia es así: un joven argentino, más bien solitario, lee un día de principios de los 50 o finales de los 40, en la Nouvelle Revue Française, un artículo sobre la fundación, en París, del Collège de ‘Pataphysique. El joven, que además de ser francófono es, entre otras muchas cosas, dibujante, se empieza a interesar por esa sociedad de pensadores de la que nadie en Buenos Aires ha oído hablar hasta entonces. Su nombre es Juan Esteban Fassio, “inventor, imaginero, ensayista, dibujante, traductor, compilador, patafísico, bibliófilo y pensador heterodoxo”, y es, aún hoy, una figura más bien desconocida en el panorama cultural argentino. Salvo, claro está, entre los lectores de Julio Cortázar, que le dedica su “De otra máquina célibe”, con foto incluida en la primera edición de La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos.

A Jarry ya se lo había leído en Buenos Aires: lo muestra un artículo en Martín Fierro, en enero de 1925. Pero para Fassio, como buen patafísico, Jarry no es más que una excusa para hablar de “la ciencia” y hacer que otros lean sobre ella. Así, en 1954, aparece en Letra y línea, revista de corte surrealista dirigida por Aldo Pellegrini, su “Alfred Jarry y el Colegio de ‘Patafísica”. Y el artículo no empieza con Jarry, sino con otro raro, sin duda más cercano al Río de la Plata: “Hay obras que desafían todo ‘ensayo de explicación’, que resultan incómodas de ubicar en las historias de la literatura. El tomo que lleva el título Obras completas de Lautréamont, con sus dos partes todavía contradictorias para la crítica […], constituye una constante provocación”. Lautréamont será una constante en la ‘Pp [recordemos: ‘Patafísica porteña]: años después, otras dos figuras clave, Albano Rodríguez y Eva García, se mudarán a Montevideo para realizar una investigación sobre el escritor franco uruguayo. Fruto de esa investigación será la biografía Isidore Ducasse, Comte de Lautréamont, firmada por otro ilustre del Collège, François Caradec, “avec la collaboration de Albano Rodríguez”. A fin de cuentas, no es de extrañar: entre los 27 volúmenes de la bibioteca del Doctor Faustroll, Jarry había incluido, nada menos que en el número 13, Los cantos de Maldoror. Continue reading

Crossing Boundaries, Crossing Disciplines

Garrido - Argentina - Stoppani by Copi

Drawing by Argentine writer, actor and cartoonist Copi in homage to his close friend Juan Stoppani -materials like this give as a hint of the links and the fruitful exchanges among these Argentine exiles in France.

My second interview during my stay in Buenos Aires was with Juan Stoppani, another relevant artist from the Instituto Di Tella who moved to Paris by the end of the sixties. As a member of Groupe TSE, created by Alfredo Arias, Stoppani started a career as a costume and stage designer. Throughout the seventies and the eighties, Stoppani continued to work in theater under the direction of Jean Louis Barrault, Jerôme Savary, Roland Petit, and Jorge Lavelli, among others. The curtain he designed for the play Le frigo by his close friend Copi, in 1984, attracted a great deal of interest.

After many decades of living abroad, Stoppani returned to Buenos Aires and lives now in a sort of Mundo Stoppani, an old beautiful house in the neighborhood of La Boca, fully renovated according to his personal style and peopled by works of art -all of them his own creations- dispersed in every single room, in every single wall. Continue reading

The Repercussions of the Luis Viale Fire and the Ghosts of Cromagnon

Wachs - Argentina - Nunca Mas

"Nunca mas" Never Again--the title of Argentina's human rights' report on the victims of the Dirty War. Part of the memorial dedicated to the victims of the Cromagnon Fire.

It has become clear to me that the Luis Viale fire was, at its moment, very important in bringing the existence of slave labor and undocumented immigration into the spotlight, albeit for a limited time.

One of the issues that was publicly revealed through the fire was the existing extensive network that smuggled immigrants, mostly Bolivian though not exclusively, to Buenos Aires to live and work in these clandestine textile shops. From what I can see, at the time of the fire, oddly enough, Argentine newspapers were giving lots of coverage to George Bush’s 2006 proposed Guest Worker Plan, and the criminalization of the undocumented in the United States, without a mention of the country’s own increasingly problematic status with respect to its undocumented residents. However, within a month of the fire, national legislation was launched called Plan Patria Grande, intended to facilitate the legalization of hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the surrounding countries that include but are not limited to Bolivia, Uruguay and Chile. I was told by an attorney that works for the Ombudsman to the City of Buenos Aires that one of the problems with the execution/implementation of this legislation among the Bolivian sweatshop workers (among them the 50 some survivors of the fire) was that it required participants to provide government documentation from their home country. This was a nearly impossible condition for many of these workers to fulfill given that they had had this documentation taken away from them when they were trafficked into the country. There were also multiple allegations from the Bolivian community that the Bolivian Consulate had committed to facilitate and assist the victims in obtaining this paperwork but was in fact overcharged and drew out the process. President Morales replaced the head consul shortly thereafter. Continue reading

Eloisa Cartonera

Jusino Diaz - Argentina - Eloisa 1The starting point for my research was the work of Argentine writer Washington Cucurto. I intended to interview him during my stay in Buenos Aires but very soon I learned that he is notoriously hard to get in touch with. While very well-known for his novels—most of which are about the lives of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Paraguay and the northern regions of Argentina in Buenos Aires—Cucurto’s most famous project is Eloisa Cartonera. Founded in 2003, Eloisa Cartonera is an independent non-profit publishing cooperative working out of la Boca. They buy cardboard from urban collectors or “cartoneros” to make hand-made and hand painted books. These texts are given to Eloisa Cartonera by a great number of Latin American Writers and the beautiful, one of a kind editions are sold for as little as 8 Argentinean pesos or 2 US dollars. Wanting to know more about the project and hoping maybe to run into Cucurto at the workshop, I visited their space in la Boca and got to see first hand how the cooperative works.

Jusino DIaz - Argentina - Eloisa 2Across the street from one of the entrances to the mythical La Bombonera stadium, home of the Club Atlético Boca Juniors, colorful windows invite you into the workshop space where the coop members cut and paint the cardboard and put together the books. Washington Cucurto’s novels showcase a multicultural Buenos Aires, something that seems to be at the heart of the Eloisa Cartonera project, not only in  terms of the books they’re publishing but also in how the space works. Aside from being primarily interested in distributing the work of authors from all over Latin America, the Eloisa Cartonera workshop space also serves as a sort of community center in la Boca. During my short visit, kids, mostly of Paraguayan and Bolivian descent, would drop in, say hi, chatted about football and offered to help paint. At one point, a neighbor joined in the conversation with his bilingual parrot, who spoke both spanish and guaraní, like many of the members of the community. While I did not get a chance to speak to Washington Cucurto, visiting Eloisa Cartonera gave me great insight into his work, helping me to better understand the Buenos Aires that he creates in his pages, one where the geographical and cultural frontiers between the Caribbean, Bolivia, Paraguay and the north of Argentina (to start with) are blurred.

Posted by Cristel Jusino Díaz — PhD Candidate in Spanish at NYU