On Tuesday I checked off one of the places I wanted to visit during my stay in Buenos Aires. I walked the 5km from my apartment to La Recoleta Cemetery.
Recoleta Cemetary is one of the most visited places by tourists in Buenos Aires. It is where many of the rich and famous have ended up. It is a unique place and well worth a visit if you are in Buenos Aires.
You need money to end your days here. It was a bit weird, walking around the grey tombs. Generals, politicians, business people and doctors seemed to be in the majority.
One former employee of the cemetery saved all his money over a lifetime is also buried here.
Most people who visit the Cemetary come to see one tomb in particular. The tomb of Eva Peron. Evita.
Eva Peron was the first lady of Argentina from 1946 until 1952 when she died at the age of thirty-three. Together with her husband, President Juan Peron, they created a political legacy that is still relevant today. The current government is Peronist.
Evita was very popular with the poor and working-class, but she is still a divides opinion in Argentina.
Her tomb is one of the smaller in the Cemetary, and I was surprised at how people were quite as they looked at where she was buried. It was like she had died yesterday.
It wasn’t easy for Evita to get, her space in Recoleta Cemetary. Not long after she died her husband, Juan Peron was disposed of by a military coup. In 1955 people working on behalf of the military took her remains from the HQ of the CGT union.
The location of her remains was unknown for a few years. In 1957 the remains were secretly taken to Milan Italy for burial. In the early 1970s, the remains were taken to Madrid where Juan Peron was exiled.
After democracy briefly returned to Argentina in 1973 Juan Peron became president once more. He died the following year, and his new wife Isabel took over as President. She made arrangements for Evitas remains to return to Argentina.
When she was put to her final resting place in Recoleta Cemetery in 1976, the military was back in power.
In 1970 some Peronists assassinated former President General Aramburu who they blamed for taking the remains in 1955.
Eva Peron was a remarkable lady. She managed to pack a lot into her thirty-three years. In my opinion, there were even more remarkable women in Argentinas recent history. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.
After a brief period of democracy, the military again overthrew an elected government in 1976. Then began what is know in Argentina as the dirty war. Although communism was never big in Argentina, the military feared it would take hold in the country in the 1970/80s.
Anyone of a leftwing ideology became a target for the military dictatorship. During the dirty war, it is estimated that over 30,000, mostly young people disappeared.
One Thursday in 1977 about a dozen Mothers went to the Presidental Palace in Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. They wanted information on their children who had disappeared. They wore white scarfs as a symbol of their children’s diapers.
At first, the mothers were mocked by the military who tried to portray the mothers as crazy women. Within a year there were hundreds of mothers in Plaza de Mayo.
In 1978 the soccer world cup was held in Argentina. T.V companies from outside Argentina began to film the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and tell their story.
The bravery of these Mothers was amazing. One of the original Mothers put a list of disappeared on a newspaper in 1977. Later that night, she was taken to a torture centre. She was then was put on what became known as death flights. People were thrown to their death from these flights.
The dictatorship fell in 1983 after the failed invasion of the Malvinas/Falklands. The Mothers kept marching until their demands were mostly met in 2005. In later years some of the culprits were sentenced to time in prison.
On Thursday I went along to Plaza de Mayo. The marches continue, and it was a very special moment for me to see some of the original Mothers still marching on a Thursday.
One of the most iconic pictures of the protests came in 1982. Policeman Carlos Gallone was pictured hugging one the Mothers.
The picture was never liked by the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. The always said it was a false picture. That day the police were particularly brutal. The Mothers said he pulled the woman towards him knowing photographers were nearby.
Last month Gallone was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the torture and rape of some of the disappeared during the dirty war.
I am very impressed with the metro in Buenos Aires. It is clean, efficient and cheap. Just fifteen cents for one trip to any place on the network.
I had mentioned before how bus travel in South America is like being on the shopping channel. People hop on and selling all sorts.
Buenos Aires Metro is much the same only add the Xfactor. People are lining up to sell socks, sunglasses and many other items. At the same time, there will be someone singing, dancing or maybe even performing a magic trick.
The numbers are in. Inflation in Argentia hit 53.8% in 2019. The highest in 28 years. The good news is it is forecast to only be 42.2% in 2020.
Argentinas inflation rate is the second-highest in South America. Venezuela’s inflation in 2019 is thought to be in the range of 10,000,000%.
I am only a few weeks in Argentina, but I feel I can even see prices going up. As a single man, you get to know prices when you shop for yourself. Some of the basics here are expensive. What I would call a decent quality sliced pan of bread can cost 3 euro. If a 42.2% inflation rate is reached in 2020 that bread goes over 4 euro.
The Irish in Argentina
As I was walking around Recoleta Cemetery, I found one stature type tomb in a prominent position. It was of one of Argentinas most respected national heroes William Brown.
William Brown was born in Foxford country Mayo in the west of Ireland in 1777. He emigrated to North America with his family. While there he took up a job as a cabin boy. He worked his way up to become a captain in the merchant navy.
He was press-ganged onto a British ship but later escaped. He emigrated to Argentina and made his fortune setting up a sailing-packet service between Uraguay and Argentina. The first such service in South America.
The Spanish saw Brown’s venture as a threat and destroyed his ship. Because of this event, Argentina made Brown commander in chief of the navy.
The Spanish had a blockade on the river plate. Brown broke up the blockade and defeated a superior Spanish fleet. During the battle, his leg was shattered by a cannon. He still directed the fight as he laid on the floor of the deck.
After the Spanish conflict, he took to farming. In 1825 Brazil blockaded Argentina. The country again came looking for Brown. Despite Brazil having 31 ships to Argentinas 11 Brown again broke the blockade and a peace treaty was signed.
In 1847 William Brown returned to Foxford for a visit with his daughter.
As I walk around Buenos Aires I keep seeing hotels offering short-term stays. They are called Telos here. In Japan, they are called love hotels.
You can book from 2 hours up to 5 if you have the stamina. If you want to impress you can buy a package that includes champagne.
As someone that has worked in hotels, I know the challenge of filling a hotel daily. Having to fill it 4 or 5 times a day must be interesting. I take my hat off to them. The guests I am sure are taking off more than their hats.
This weeks video is from the Mothers of Plaza Mayo.
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