Argentina


“Paredes que hablan” (Talking Walls) is an outstanding new series of short biographical films showcasing the work of 16 street artists from three cities in Latin America.

Having had the pleasure of admiring the art first-hand last summer, I was thrilled to take a break and watch the first three shorts featuring artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I find artists’ processes fascinating and really loved watching the dissection of their inner-workings.

Below is the short featuring Gualicho, or “the one who is amongst the people”. For him, street art is… “it’s my way to understand the expansion and evolution of the world and the universe”

Cheers to Wooster Collective for continuing to showcase excellence in street art!

After two short months and four visitors later, I have managed to make the rounds to most (if not all) of the monumental meccas and touristical fancies of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

El Flor de Buenos Aires

El Flor de Buenos Aires

I won’t rewrite the travel guidebook, but after landing in BA after 8 wonderful years in Washington, DC, I felt it necessary to share with you at least one monumental tour of this nation’s capital, starting with the one that made me (miss and) feel most at home – El Obelisco!

Long street view with Obelisko

Long street view in BA with Obelisco

The obelisco was designed by Alberto Prebisch and built in1936 for the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city of Buenos Aires.  This 220 feet tall  is located at the center of la Plaza de la Republica, where Avenida Corrientes and Avenida 9 de Julio intersect.

Obelisko close up

Obelisco close up

They say that Avenida 9 de Julio is the widest street in the world, stretching 16 lanes across, 8 on each side, and squeezing even a few more depending on the hour of the day.

Avenida 9 de Julio

Avenida 9 de Julio

While Buenos Aires is a great walking city, it would probably take an entire week to see this monumental tour by foot.  If you prefer to avoid driving or taking a taxi in the craziness that is BA traffic, you will want to get to know the BA Subte, or subway, and numerous bus lines flowing through the city.

Buenos Aires Subte

Buenos Aires Subte

At the end of the D line, and where several subte lines intersect is the famous Plaza de Mayo, the heart of many political moments in Argentina’s history including legendary Peronista political rallies and later weekly demonstrations by the “madres de la plaza de mayo“, mothers of the disappeared.

Plaza del Mayo

Plaza del Mayo

The plaza stretches out in front of the Casa Rosada, or pink house, where day to day political business decisions are made and the president and their cabinet offices are located.  Unlike the White House in DC, the Casa Rosada is not where the president and her husband reside; there is a presidential mansion in the province of Buenos Aires that they call home.

La Casa Rosada

La Casa Rosada

Just a short walk from the Plaza de Mayo is a stretch of the city that runs along the Rio Plata known as Puerto Madero.

El Puerto de Rio Plata

Rio Plata, Puerto Madero

Puerto means “port” in Spanish.  Buenos Aires being a port city, this area was a crucial commercial focal point in the history of Buenos Aires, and the origin for the name of people from Buenos Aires, “Porteños”.

Old storage along the waterfront promenade

Old storage along the waterfront promenade

Much like the warehouse district of Minneapolis, the old port buildings and surrounding area of Puerto Madero have been transformed into a hip part of Buenos Aires, home to some of the newest modern BA condos , and a slew of classy, tasty restaurants, all the while keeping that historical ‘feel’.

Puente de la Mujer

Puente de la Mujer

About a 1/2 mile through the city grind beyond the peaceful riverbank of Puerto Madero is the biggest, and best plaza in Buenos Aires, Plaza San Martin.

View of English Tower from top of Plaza San Martin

View of English Tower from top of Plaza San Martin

The beginning of the plaza starts at Avenida del Libertador (San Martin was afterall the liberator of Argentina) and runs up along one of the only major hills in city of Buenos Aires.  The top of the plaza boasts a spectacular view, and a spacious plaza lined with lovers on park benches and voluptuous trees year-round.

Plaza San Martin Arbol

Following Avenida del Libertador to the north you’ll want to take a slight detour to the Recoletta to see the beautiful cemetery.

Recoletta Cemetery

Recoletta Cemetery

The cemetery is home to some of the most famous, and infamous,  figures in Argentina’s history, including Eva Peron, and continues to be a place where the highly esteemed hope to bury their kin.

Un angel (con fuerza!)

Un angel (con fuerza!)

Where city meets cemetery

Where city meets cemetery

Back to Avenida Libertador and following it north leads us to another greenery stop along the monumental tour: El Jardin Botanico.

Green!

Glorious!

I don’t really know NYC that well, but everyone likes to compare Buenos Aires to Nueva York so I’m giving it a shot: the botanical garden is to BA what central park is to NYC. (!)

Greenhouse

Greenhouse

With over 5,000 varieties of species from all over the world, this Jardin is truly a piece of heaven in the midst of a bustling, elbow-to-elbow, bumper-to-bumper, grime to grim, 24-hour energy and noise producing city that we love.

Peaceful

Peaceful Heaven

Even the kitties know when it’s time to take a break and seek refuge in the garden!

Kitten H(e)aven

Kitten H(e)aven

The botanical garden is adjacent to the Zoo, near Plaza Italia, on the edge of the Palermo neighborhood.

Plaza Italia

Plaza Italia

Palermo is home to one of several weekend fair and craft markets, but is better known for its fashion boutiques shopping and as one of the centers of nightlife in Buenos Aires.

Palermo by day

Palermo by day

While I don’t have photos of inside the boliches, let’s just say that the night life in BA is vibrant! Porteños are late eaters and night riders with some clubs opening at 3am and another round at 6am with so-called “after hours” locales keeping the party running through midday the next.

Palermo by night

Palermo by night!

The dance culture in BA could be divided into club dancing – anything and everything you might see in a club in any major city in the world plus a bunch of salsa – and TANG-GO…

BA Tango Shirt

“Real Tango” is almost like a hidden gem in Buenos Aires, you have to be “in the know” before walking into a Milonga, or dance parlor, where the real dancers show their moves.

Tango for Tourists

Tango for Tourists

For those not interested in taking a Tango lesson or just staying in BA on a shorter time frame, a trip to San Telmo and La Boca on a Sunday afternoon will likely satisfy your taste for a view into this sexy and sultry music and dance.

La Boca

La Boca

You’ll also likely want to checkout the San Telmo Sunday crafts fair and antiques market before heading home to share your favorite photos, facts, and folklore about the great city of Buenos Aires.

Closing of the flor at dusk

Closing of the flor at dusk

With only one week left in Buenos Aires I am vigorously blogging away on my Advocacy Project Fellowship blog about working as an AP Fellow for Asociacion Para Politicas Publicas in Argentina, and their involvement in the international Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign.  Below are two posts from the last week regarding the gathering and reporting on statistics related to violence against women, and more specifically armed violence against women in Argentina. These posts originally appeared on my Advocacy Project Fellowship Blog.

“At least 82 women were killed by gender-based violence in the first half of this year in Argentina”

“At least 82 women were killed by gender-based violence in the first half of this year in Argentina.”

This is the title of the news story that came out last week covering the release of a report on the number of women killed by their “husbands, partners, lovers, boyfriends, former partners, neighbors, relatives, or unknown assailant committing an act of sexual violence against them” in Argentina between January 1st and June 30th, 2009.  Another nine cases are still under investigation. In 2008 a total of 208 women were murdered in Argentina by their “husbands, partners, lovers, boyfriends, former partners, neighbors, relatives, or unknown assailant committing an act of sexual violence against them” putting Argentina just behind Mexico and Guatemala, although it is noted that no mention of Colombia or Brazil’s standings are included in the report.

The report on femicides in Argentina during the first half of 2009 was conducted by “La Casa del Encuentro“, an Argentine civil society association. It is revealing in many regards. Not only does it bring to light to the magnitude of violence against women in Argentina, it also confirms that the problem is not one of isolated criminal cases, but “a social, political, and human rights” issue. This is a crucial point to make as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my experience is that there is little awareness about the prevalence of domestic violence in Argentina, and when confronted with the topic, the tendency is to downplay the gravity of the problem, or to push it onto “the other”.  Perhaps this is because there is little news generated on the issue, scarce statistical data to date, and no citywide or countrywide awareness campaign on the issue.

The lack of statistics is noted by Fabiana Tunisia, General Coordinator of La Casa del Encuentro. In several news articles covering the report she is quoted as saying the initial 2008 investigative report came about as a result of the fact that those working in the field of gender-based violence realized that no such report existed in Argentina. After spending time learning about and meeting with some of the numerous governmental and nongovernmental agencies working on women’s issues and gender-based violence in Argentina, it is quite alarming that so few statistics exist.  Those of us working at APP on the Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign in Argentina welcome and applaud the release of a report that include such statistics, and pledge to continue working towards the development of additional statistics, including those that differentiate between methods of violence.  While the articles covering the report refer to several examples of armed domestic violence cases, the report makes no direct links between arms and the deaths of these 82 women.

Having already mentioned some of the real problems associated with statistical collection and analysis in Argentina, it is perhaps less surprising, though no less discouraging, to find that the same articles covering one of the best reports of late are also culpable of perpetuating statistical errors on the topic. No less than four sources in two different languages included the following information:  ”Reality also shows that so far in July there were 21 cases of femicide, which gives an average of two women per day are murdered in Argentina”.  These articles were published on the 19th of July, 2009.  After a long attempt to understand how this figure could have come about, I determined it must have been an error in reporting.  If there were 21 cases of femicide (female homicide) over a 19-day period in July, there is just no way that you can conclude that an average of 2 women per day are murdered in Argentina.  It is important to mention this because as we recognize the power that statistics can play calling attention to the severity of domestic violence in Argentina, and in turn, the role that they can play in affecting policy and legal changes in the country, we also realize that we must first establish a history of statistical integrity in the field.  This will be difficult to accomplish when careless computations are made, quoted, and then repeated throughout the media.

Despite the statistical error quoted in these news stories, the report itself is free of such errors and contains several positive implications for the Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign.  For one, it calls for the immediate reform of domestic violence laws in Argentina, as a means to “making clear that society does not endorse such behavior”.  It also demands the immediate loss of parental rights for anyone who kills, or attempts the life of the mother of their children, along with the unequivocal protection of women victims of violence under law.

In its conclusion, the report highlights some of the important challenges which the DDV campaign hopes to overcome: a lack of official statistics on femicides in Argentina and a lack of sufficient public policies (and laws) to influence the social and cultural behaviors that cause the death of hundreds of women each year. And most importantly, it reinforces that combating violence against women and children is not something that social organizations or the state government can accomplish alone, it is everyone’s responsibility. We hope that through the implementation of the DDV campaign in Argentina, along with the important work of associations like La Casa del Encuentro, positive and necessary change to end violence against women in Argentina can be acheived.

Statistical Significance: Meeting with the Women’s Directorate of Buenos Aires

Momentum around the Disarming Domestic Violence campaign has really been building here in Argentina and the Asociacion Para Politicas Publicas (APP) office was abuzz this week with new developments.

First a little background. The first two weeks of my fellowship with APP were dedicated to launching the DDV campaign during the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence. Hitting the ground running never felt so good! But these intense first 10 days were followed by a few weeks of disruptions from office illnesses, pre-election fixation on politics in Argentina (more to come on this topic), and the post-election swine flu mania, and a state of health emergency declared by the government. Having just gotten back from a conference in Rio last week and itching to make the most of my last two weeks in Buenos Aires, I was delighted that the momentum we’ve been building around the campaign is really taking off and that despite the various set-backs, our hard work is coming to fruition in some truly visible ways. The following few posts will focus on some of these new developments, discoveries, and outcomes.

Me, Pia, and Paula in the APP Office
Me, Pia, and Paula in the APP Office

Direccion General de la Mujer del Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires

Earlier this week I accompanied APP staff members Maria Pia Devoto and Maria Paula Cellone to a meeting with the Magdalena Acuña of la Dirección General de la Mujer del Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires or the General Directorate of Women, Government of Buenos Aires. The Direccion General de la Mujer works in two parts: direct assistance to victims of domestic or sexual violence, and programs, which include public policy advocacy and data collection.

The Directorate’s direct assistance activities include: taking formal legal complaints known as denuncias from (mostly) women who want to report abuse, providing a call center for cases of emergency, managing shelters equipped with lawyers, psychologists, and doctors for women and children victims, and providing individual and group therapy and workshops for victims. They have a total of 6 decentralized offices across the city of Buenos Aires offering these services.

Their programmatic division works in the public policy arena strengthening state support for these services and the laws that govern them. They also work to collect and systematize information (including statistical data from the 6 offices) and funds for the directorate. It is within this programmatic division that a new “Observatory” is being created for the sole purpose of focusing on the collection and synthesizing of information and data.

It is difficult to find statistical information on the prevalence of domestic violence, or women’s deaths due to armed violence in Argentina. Although the denuncias are recorded and quantifiable, they only represent the reported incidents or cases of domestic and sexual violence, and it is unknown how many additional cases are out there. In addition, I have been told that it is commonly known that statistics are often invented in Argentina. And not just in the field of disarmament, domestic and armed violence. Maybe it is a way of getting around the fact that there is simply an overall lack of statistics in the country, and an expression of a need for credible ones. Maybe it is due to a lack of statisticians to crunch the numbers. Whatever the reason that reliable statistics are hard to come by in Argentina, this is one of the challenges APP is trying to overcome in order to produce useful information about the incidence of armed domestic violence in the country.

During our meeting, Magdalena mentioned some of these common frustrations shared amongst advocates working for women’s rights in Argentina. The national and city women’s directorates are the main, if not only sources of data collection on domestic and sexual violence in the country. Researchers and public policy officials often call them to request access to the information they have or should be collecting, but due to a lack of proper data collection, and a lack of communication and coordination across the city offices, they are typically unable to hand the information over. Sometimes the information is so dispersed or incoherent that one cannot aggregate and deduce legitimate or statistically significant results.

The Observatory will not only help to systematize this data collection, it will also be a center from which research and analysis will take place and be produced. It is really an exciting development here as hopes are the Observatory will be able to correct what most working in this field (regrettably) already know – these kinds of credible statistics just don’t exist at thsi time.

And APP could not have met with the Buenos Aires Women’s Directorate at a better time. Within the Observatory, they are still in the process of shaping the protocols and questionnaires involved in making a formal complaint, a denuncia, and for registering women and their children at shelters across the country. As a result of our meeting with the BA Women’s Directorate APP plans to work with the observatory on incorporating important questions about the presence or use of arms in incidences of sexual and domestic violence. The observatory will be a natural place for APP to concentrate DDV campaign efforts and collect solid data over time about the use of arms in cases of domestic violence.

Before public policies can be shaped and women’s advocates can do their work to improve women’s security in Argentina, they must first know more about the problem and the women affected by it. The establishment of an observatory dedicated to proper information and data collection gathering is a promising step in the right direction for producing valuable statistics on the incidence gender-based violence in Argentina. As a result of meeting with Magdalena, APP has not only established a great connection and partnership that will help produce this essential information, we may have even recruited another member of the IANSA International Women’s Network in the process!

This post first appeared on my Advocacy Project Blog

Asociación Para Políticas Publicas (the Association for Public Politics or APP) is an organization that focuses on working through public policy channels to affect positive change in the realm of disarmament and ending gun violence in Argentina and in the region. By signing onto the Disarming Domestic Violence (DDV) campaign, they have expressed their commitment to working towards raising awareness about the ways in which gun violence negatively (and disproportionately) affects women (especially within their homes) and to reducing the number of women affected by gun violence within the home.

Over the past six weeks of working with APP on the DDV Campaign in Argentina, I have been struck by the enormity of the task that IANSA and their partner organizations have set out to accomplish: ending gender-based gun-violence within the home in their countries and worldwide. How necessary and yet how enormous.  With a goal so large I have begun to ask myself and others, what are the causes of gender-based gun violence?  And with causes so numerous and complex, how do we know where to begin? How do we decide where to focus our energies and work? Surely they can’t possibly be tackled through just one or two single angles. Which are the angles that are necessary to tackle such a vast issue?  Which will have the highest impact on reducing domestic armed violence?

Two of the primary focuses of my work as an Advocacy Project Fellow on the DDV campaign include working towards harmonizing gun laws with domestic violence laws in Argentina, and the collection of statistics on the link between gun violence and domestic violence. Because APP is an organization that has tended towards working within the public policy realm, they have a strategic, comparative advantage in accomplishing the legal aims of the campaign.  APP maintains strong relationships with members of the Argentine government and continues to build on and leverage those relationships to improve domestic gun laws and disarmament.

Although the expertise amongst the small, hard-working staff at APP is not in the area of social work or data collection, they recognize that working solely on the level of public policy (changing national gun and domestic violence laws through talking with members of parliament and government) is not enough.  While working to prevent arms from getting in the hands of someone with a history of domestic violence, we cannot forget to address the socio-political, cultural, economic, and historical factors, amongst others, that contribute to a home, neighborhood, city, province, country, and world in which domestic armed violence continues to occur. That is why one of the first steps APP has taken in launching the DDV campaign in Argentina has been to develop a network of individuals, organizations, women’s groups, civil society members, government officials, academics, journalists, and others who are committed to ending gender-based gun violence.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been focused on helping APP develop this network, in an effort to build a bridge and foster collaboration between the individuals and groups already working on issues related to the campaign.  Oftentimes these members are working in isolation from one another, making their work more difficult, less efficient, and therefore sometimes also low impact.  Building a network will hopefully improve efficiency, help to expand the campaign’s support base, and expand the locations (family homes, community, nations) and angles from which this enormous problem can be tackled.

One of the many principles of strategic nonviolent movements and campaigns is the importance of building a broad base of support. The phase of building support for a movement or campaign can be seen as both a strategic and tactical move as doing so upfront will benefit future campaign actions. This is certainly the case for APP, who launched the DDV campaign in Argentina back in of June prior to developing an extensive network.  Future DDV campaign actions will greatly benefit from the strength of a diverse base of supporters that can put collective pressure on the media to cover these issues and draw attention to the campaign, pressure on the government to change domestic violence and gun laws, and apply forms of social pressure to begin changing behaviors. While building this base of support may not be easy, it does indeed seem necessary.

As the quote by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo goes, “The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better”.  I look forward to seeing the impact of the work we are doing to build this “power of many” for the Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign in Argentina.

Additional resource related to nonviolent conflict can be found on the following websites:
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Albert Einstein Institution
Center for Victims of Torture’s New Tactics in Human Rights – Nonviolent Action
War Resisters International
Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies

//

After writing about the lead-up to the midterm parliamentary elections in Argentina, I thought I had reached the height of political pantomime for the duration of my stay in Buenos Aires.  But, the very morning after the elections took place, Argentineans woke to hear the news that their country had climbed into 3rd place just behind the US and Mexico as one of the worst affected by the recent swine flu outbreak .  It was then that ‘the buzz’ in Buenos Aires really got turned up a notch.

Most porteños were not completely surprised when the Argentine government finally decided the political coast was clear and declared a state of (health) emergency due to the burgeoning cases of H1N1 being reported. In fact, many of them were already very concerned about ‘the gripe’ and were taking precautions to avoid contracting it: walking through the subte and streets of BA with surgical masks, diligently applying dollops of “alcohol” with regular frequency, and vigorously washing their hands after every public encounter.  That’s quite a lot for a country where kisses on the cheek are the everyday greeting for everyone from your mom, to your boss, and even the doorman.

IMG_1369

But it was in was true Argentine political form that the government waited until literally just after the election to declare the state of emergency.  Rumors quickly emerged that the post-election resignation of Health Minister Graciela Ocaña was due to her disgust with the Argentine government’s handling of the epidemic.  Apparently Ocaña had advised the government to raise an alert and inform the public about the true severity of the swine flu outbreak but they refrained from doing so, suppressing the release of additional information in order to carry out the early elections. They were afraid that, despite the obligatory voting laws, people wouldn’t go to the polls to vote.

It seems good information can be hard to come by in Argentina.  Some of my colleagues have told me they cannot trust statistics that are quoted by Argentineans because they are often fabricated or just plain made-up. It becomes difficult to live and work in an environment where statistical data cannot be trusted.  After the state of emergency was declared, I heard statistics about the number of people infected with H1N1 in Argentina ranging from 20,000 – 100,000.  It’s winter here in Buenos Aires, which means it’s the height of flu season and as it turns out, some of these reports were failing to distinguish between the various forms of the flu.  That is, they were not reporting just on the number of H1N1 cases but on the number of people infected with all strains of flu virus in Argentina. Needless to say, in a country where paranoia about swine flu was already running wild, and a political-social climate that thrives on drama, reporting such (outrageously large) statistics did not help the hysteria.  And failure to provide clear information including accurate statistics in a timely fashion (i.e. when it becomes available) is not what we’d call the best in Argentine government public relations.

After selling out, alcohol gel has returned

After selling out, alcohol gel returns

Although I made fun of the precautions taken at the airport to prevent the spread of swine flu in Argentina (after a 7-hour plane ride, put the mask on for 10 minutes, take it off once you’ve cleared customs), the number of cases and deaths from swine flu is no joking matter. Because of the delay in declaring a state of emergency, hospitals are now inundated with potentially ill patients and are not able to keep up with the influx or treat those who are actually infected. Some people believe that some of these cases  might have even been prevented.

The social and economic impact of the flu is also very real.  All primary, secondary, high school, and university level classes have been suspended, sending students on winter holiday two weeks earlier than scheduled.  Last week, theaters, museums, stadiums, and other densely populated public venues, and even some of the regular shops have closed their doors indefinitely due to the health risk. On Friday the government declared a swine flu holiday and the microcentro of Buenos Aires felt almost like a ghost town.

Nevertheless, despite the growing level of concern amongst the population (every cough and sneeze is scrutinized), on Monday you could see us pushing and shoving and packing-in like sardines to fill every last inch of available space on the subway and bus lines while gossiping about ‘the latest’.  And now that the gripe has truly captivated the latest in Argentina’s telenovela-style social-political drama, it will be a lot easier to sweep those piles of debris under the half-completed street and sidewalk projects until the next political season.  Luckily for those with weak ankles or a penchant for taking in views while walking through this wonderful city, that season is right around the corner.  Until then, Watch your step!

My mom, aunt, and uncle are in beautiful Buenos Aires visiting for the week/10 days, and along with a brand new month-long intensive work plan with Asociacion Para Politicas Publicas, I expect to be a busy daughter/niece/peace fellow in between cafe con leches and monumental desires.
I heart Obelisko, BA

I heart Obelisko, BA

I hope to keep all of my new and recent subscribers, regulars, and semis interested with some new photo tours.  This one will highlight  one of the things I love that Buenos Aires is well-known for — street art!
Beleza
BA Beleza
BA Street Art - Beleza2
Buenos Aires is by any measure a creative, arts-inviting, arts-producing, imaginative city.  The people who live and breathe this city each day, year after year, emulate creativity and express it through visual arts, crafts, fashion, music, dance, hairstyles, piercings, you name it.
The model is not (cannot be?) touched

The model is not (cannot be?) touched

Street art, murals, stencils, graffitti, tags, political and personal writings, are just some of the examples of the public forms of artistic expression one can expect to see while strolling through this remarkable city.
Reflection, on...

Reflection, on...

Working on a piece on Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon

In the U.S. there seems to be more of a divide between street artists (and aficionados) and those who consider it vandalism.  In B.s.A.s. there seems to be a much higher level of appreciation, if not tolerance, for this form of expression.  And not just because, as some in the States would say, the police don’t  choose to enforce it.

Public space is for everyone

Public space is for everyone

Stencil arts, a much smaller niche and sometimes even separate form of street art in the U.S., are particularly prevalent in BA, to the point where some double as actual commercial advertisements.

Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood every Wednesday

Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood every Wednesday

While studying in Quito, Ecuador in 2003 I grew especially fond of the political and personal literary phrases.  One of my favorite quotes was from la calle Mañosca and read “submergido en un sueño profundo, me levanto sin tu amor”.

There is less overtly political and personal writings here in BA, although just this morning I saw on the street pavement outside my my door, written in huge, permanent letters, “Gordi, te quiero mucho! y no me alcanza”.  Awwww! Nevertheless, there is plenty of street, sidewalk, and building space for lots of beautiful, funny, creative, and occasionally very strange bits of Buenos Aires street art as asi es la vida artistica desde Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Mural, signed "Kuwait"

Mural, signed "Kuwait"

Juice cows!

Juice cows!

Look a little bit closer
Uncaptionable Laughter

This post originally appeared on my Advocacy Project Blogroll

The week started with a holiday, Flag Day, here in Argentina, but that didn’t hold us back from making the week a hit.  On Tuesday I accompanied my colleagues, Maria Pia Devoto and Maria Paula Cellone to a series of meetings with organizations that were identified as potentially important allies in the campaign.  One of the goals of the disarming domestic violence campaign is to raise awareness about armed domestic violence, and to draw the link between organizations working on so-called “women’s issues” and those working on disarmament in the country Argentina. 

Argentine Flag, Bike Stunts in the plaza

One of the ways that Asociacion Para Politicas Publicas approaches building these bridges is by meeting face to face with representatives from those organizations, talking with them about the campaign, and encouraging them to see the importance in drawing a link between small arms and domestic violence.  Meetings also provide an opportunity to involve these organizations in supporting the DDV campaign in future meetings, actions, and/or government lobbying, thereby developing a network of individuals and organizations committed to taking action on behalf of the campaign and strengthening the overall impact of the campaign.

Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign Poster

Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign Poster

The first meeting we took part in was with Andrea Moriño, Project Coordinator at Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (Foundation for the Study and Research of Women, or FEIM).  FEIM was founded in 1989 to defend and advocate for women’s rights, and to improve the social, legal, political, economic, and health conditions of women across Argentina. While FEIM’s current work is mostly focused on women’s sexual and reproductive health, we were able to connect with their mission by speaking about armed domestic violence from the perspective of a women’s health framework.  By the end of our meeting, we had received a commitment from FEIM to further support the campaign by taking part in future meetings and actions, and APP feels confident that they can rely on FEIM to represent the campaign from the perspective of women’s health in the future.

Later that day we met with Maria Fabiana Loguzzo, Director of the Women’s Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Argentina, to share information about the DDV Campaign. They understood the need to link the issues of arms and domestic violence in a formal campaign and pledged their full support including participating in and promoting future campaign initiatives.  This includes gaining access to their vast network, where they will distribute information and encourage people to join in on future activities.
On Wednesday and Thursday, APP disseminated information about the “Disarming Domestic Violence” campaign to parliamentarians, journalists, university professors, and civil society organizations around Buenos Aires and Paula continued working hard on finalizing a 4-page campaign newsletter, which we planned to use and distribute in subsequent meetings and during the “Public Day of Distribution” later that week.

Meanwhile, National Deputy (equivalent to a member of the House of Representatives in the US) Luciano Fabris introduced a bill about the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence and the DDV campaign launch to raise awareness about the DDV campaign launch amongst parliamentarians and through the congress website. It was really wonderful to receive this level of visibility within the Argentine government, as one of the principle targets of the campaign is to affect change within both domestic violence and gun laws in Argentina and the region. Having this point of entry into the legislature, and public support from one member of congress will enable APP and the growing DDV campaign network to continue building upon this initial support.

DDV Campaign Materials

DDV Campaign Materials

On Friday Paula and I headed to the Callao subway stop in downtown Buenos Aires and set-up a table with all of the campaign materials. The materials included the DDV campaign “goodies” from IANSA (key chains, stickers, wristbands), and copies of the bright and shiny, newly color-printed 4-page newsletter which was filled with information about the campaign objectives, the link between armed and domestic violence, current laws in Argentina, and resources for victims and families of victims. This “Day of Distribution” was quite popular, and we spent the lunch hours sharing information and talking with people passing about the Week of Action and DDV campaign launch, in one of the busiest areas of downtown Buenos Aires.

Maria Paula shares campaign information with a Porteño

Maria Paula shares campaign information with a Porteño

Attempting to explain the campaign in my best Castellano

Attempting my best Castellano

We finished the day by meeting with experts at the National Council of Women, an Argentine governmental agency. We spent time discussing the launch of the campaign, sharing materials, and talking about future collaboration.  Susana Orcino, Norma Garbarini and Josephina Guerra, a specialist in Gender-based violence, were all very interested in the campaign and future collaboration. They agreed to promote the campaign on their website, share contacts, help to plan and participate in future campaign events.

"9 x Dia" 9 people are killed everyday in Argentina due to gun violence

"9 x Dia" Killed in Argentina due to gun violence

The Week of Action Against Gun Violence in Argentina culminated on Saturday, June 20, 2009 with a candle light vigil at the main plaza in La Plata, Buenos Aires.  The vigil was organized by representatives from all of the major groups and organizations that constitute the Argentinean disarmament network (Red Argentina para el Desarme) including APP. Representatives from Amnesty International were also in attendance. The vigil highlighted the statistic “9 per day” which is the number of people killed by gun violence in Argentina each day.  Vigil organizers used candles to spell out “9 x dia” across the plaza.  We also continued to distribute leaflets with information about the campaign and the week of action, took lots of photos, and will soon be sharing video footage from the event as well.

Vigil Poster: Melting Gun Candle

Vigil Poster: Light a flame, put out gunfire

For me, the vigil was a bittersweet ending to the successful week of action as there were several individuals taking part in the vigil who had been personally affected by deaths brought about by gun violence. It was a sobering and important reminder of the significance of these campaign efforts, as well as the consequences for not taking measures to prevent senseless violence. One man who is particularly active, is the father of a young man who was randomly shot and killed while walking down the street in a busy area of Buenos Aires. Another woman, the sister of another gun violence victim, was also in attendance, and the mood was solemn as they represented their grievances through this public action.

Mom, this candle went out

Burning Candle

Next Page »