Author Archives: Jessica

Pollution in Buenos Aires

by Jessica Byrd

Buenos Aires, Argentina has had increasing smog issues due to the pollution from unregulated vehicles and emissions from power stations.

The city’s pollution levels are not as high in the summer and fall months because of strong winds because of the city’s location on a flat plain next to the La Plata River system.

However, in the winter people are at a much higher risk of getting respiratory infections because of the high amounts of pollution that remain in the area.

“The pollution here is very bad,” said Buenos Aires resident, Celia Garcia, in an email. “It feels like it gets worse every year because of the extra traffic every year.”

The increase in pollution has lead many citizens to protest over the health risks posed by the poor air quality. In response, the government set up air quality monitoring stations in the two places with the worst air pollution concentrations.

“The hospitals here have carbon monoxide readers that the nurses use to read peoples’ poison levels,” said Uki Goni, an author and resident of Buenos Aires.

Another attributing factor to pollution being worse in the winter is during the coldest days of the year the thermal power plants burn a gas and oil mixture.

In 2008 Eagle Coating, an insulation company, was hired to coat the pipes at the thermal plant in order to diminish pollution.

The project was a success and the company has since been hired for a second insulating and surface corrosion plan. According to www.eaglecoatings.net, the combination of these two plans should significantly cut down on pollution from the thermal power plant.

One of the reasons vehicle pollution is so high is because there is no regulation requiring catalytic converters in cars.

In 2006 tests by Scielo, a Latin American applied research company determined that inhalation of the city’s air during the winter months can actually be detrimental residents’ and visitors’ health.

Through these efforts the Argentine government aims to reduce pollution within the province and improve public health.

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The Romance of Buenos Aires

by Jessica Byrd

There are many reasons for people to visit Buenos Aires. Some visit to experience the birthplace of tango, some go for the leather goods and some go for the shopping. However, it isn’t until people arrive that they truly see the romance that Buenos Aires has to offer.

Never worry again about being late for that business meeting. In Buenos Aires the taxi drivers will get you where you need to go in a flash, literally. You may break your neck in the process, but at least you won’t disappoint your boss by being late.

Want to take dancing lessons but don’t want to pay for them or fight the crowd? Problem solved! The streets of this wondrous city offer you every opportunity you need to get your toe-tapping skills to their maximum level. Broken and uneven sidewalk combined with strategically placed doggy landmines create the optimal dance course for any beginner.

If you’re looking for a long romantic dinner out with your significant other, then look no further. In Buenos Aires time is not of the essence when it comes to eating. Take as long as you like to look lovingly into your partner’s eyes because it’ll be at least two hours by the time you get through your meal. Keep in mind that this is at some of the faster places to eat.

Window shopping is a great way to pass the time away when you don’t have anything to do, but sometimes just looking through the window isn’t enough. However, then there is the concern of taking up the workers’ time when you aren’t really interested in buying anything.

Once again your problems are no more. Look around the shops all you want without concern. All the workers will do is stare you down to make sure you don’t steal anything. Other than that, expect no other annoyance from them and be able to browse at your leisure.

If you tend to have a problem with keeping things you don’t need anymore then Buenos Aires is the place for you. All you have to do is bring some of that old stuff out with you and some nice resident will be happy to lift it off your person. What could be easier than that?

The marvels of Buenos Aires are an endless adventure. Between the endless dance course, dinner conversations that are timeless and never having to worry about extra junk, it’s a wonder anyone ever leaves.

Polo Pony Party

Photo by Fernando Nieto

by Jessica Byrd

If you ever have a chance, there is one thing you must try: polo.

However, polo is not a game for the faint of heart. Imagine racing down a 300 yard field with seven other mounted players bearing down on you with large, wooden mallets in hand.

All the players are trying to smack a tiny ball into their respective goals and you never know when you or your horse are going to be bopped in the head by a stray mallet.

If you’ve never seen or played a game of polo you should understand that the rules were made only to keep people from playing the game. There seemed to be a lot of them and an infraction incurs a penalty.

As fun as it was to learn how to play and whack the ball down the field, I can’t tell you how many penalties I earned while playing. Although, the elation I felt when I finally hit that ellusive little ball through the goal posts was incredible.

It’s a small wonder I was able to make it up and down the field at all considering the state of my horse. Actually, it was more of a pony. A very thin pony that would barely trot to the ball unless I was “rude” to it by using the little whip the instructor had given out.

When the game first begins it is like an ultimate stand-off. Both teams line their horses up facing each other about three feet apart. The ball is then hit into the midst of players and it is every man for himself. Like I said, this game is not for the faint of heart.

You can get a penalty for everything, and I did. You can’t cross in front of another player’s horse when they have control of the ball. You can only hit the ball with your right hand. There are countless more rules than this.

I was in a group of seven and after our instructor gave us some basic instructions we split up into teams and had a match.

I am proud-and very surprised-to say that our team was awesome and would have made quick work of the game. The winner is the first team to score seven. However, when the score was six to one our instructor decided to join the other team. Needless to say, they quickly caught up.

In the end, it was close, but my team prevailed but it wasn’t without a lot of effort at the end. Our instructor was completely right when he said that the last goal is the most difficult and the other team had great defense.

I would highly recommend trying this game at least once to everyone.  However, if you aren’t accustomed to riding horses, you may want to make sure you won’t have to be doing anything strenuous for the next few days. I can tell you the recovery period for your behind is nearly as brutal as Ole Miss losing a football game, and that is something that no one enjoys.

National Museum Faces Jobloss

 

by Jessica Byrd

 

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA- Employees of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes , or MNBA, are worried that some jobloss may soon occur due to funding issues within the museum.

MNBA offers digital audio guides for the exhibits in both English and Spanish. Since 1870 the museum has had several locations. It’s original location wasd in Bon Marche on Florida street. Over time the museum’s collection grew and they can now boast works from well known artists such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Rembrandt.

Redevolopment began in August of 2005 and has yet to be completed. The construction had a predetermined completion date promised for March 2010. However, in November of 2009 the funding was reduced by museum director, Gustavo Lopez.

Since construction began, much of the museums works have been stored in its library and archives annex. Some of the offices have also been moved with the artwork, but other employees do not have access to their work areas.

“We are very worried about our jobs,” said employee Celia Garcia. “We cannot get to our desks or work areas and we do not know what is going to happen or what we should do.”

In protest of the construction hold, employees and locals protest in front of the building every other Tuesday when the museum opens at 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.

The protestors have picket signs and drummers that help them gain the attention of passersby. They then give informational handouts to them. These handouts serve two purposes, they spread the word of the current issues the museum is facing and they gain the aide of others who read about the problems and want to help.

Regardless of claims made by Hernan Lombardi, Minister of Culture, even if the museum manages to find the funding to complete it’s construction, there will still be no money to have an opening ceremony.

According to La Nacion, the second largest Argentine newspaper, Lombardi stated, “Before the end of 2009 Buenos Aires will be the museum of modern art that it deserves.”

Garcia said as of yet, it is unclear whether or not construction will be completed soon or is to remain postponed indeffinitely.

Local Outreach in the U.S. Embassy in Argentina

by Jessica Byrd

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA- The employees of the United States Embassy in Argentina have their work cut out for them in improving international relations between the two countries.

  John Finn, Cultural Affairs Officer, said the people of Argentina have one of the lowest approval ratings of the U.S. worldwide. A large portion of the embassy’s energy goes to trying to promote understanding and to increase good press about the United States. They hope by doing this they will change outside opinions of the U.S. 
 

   “There are two sides to it,” Susanne Rose, Press Secretary at the embassy, said. “We use offense, which is press releases and social media,…, and we use defense for negative stories about the U.S. and we try to correct them.”
 

   For example, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Argentine newspapers reported the U.S. presence there as a military invasion. U.S. presence in Haiti sparked much controversy, though Washington officials stressed that their occupancy was strictly humanitarian. Through public relations and communication the embassy was able to resist the negative effects of the reports. In addition to their efforts, the ambassador used many interviews to form a counter attack against the harmful press. Rose said within a few days the Argentine newspapers corrected their stories.

The press section of the embassy works with both foreign and local media, including a daily informational packet known as The Washington File. This file contains daily updates about U.S. government policies.   

    International affairs within the embassy are also aided by the Information Resource Center (IRC). They assist Argentines with the most recent information on U.S. law, government and policies affecting the bilateral relationship. It has a staff of three professional librarians and two assistants who are responsible for all requests for information from Argentines in the government, press, academia and organizations, according to the U.S. Embassy website http://argentina.usembassy.gov/res.html

      IRC is also responsible for maintaining all of the available information databases the embassy possesses in both Spanish and English. Recently these information centers have grown to include more popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Not only do these sites allow instant updates, but they also appeal to a younger crowd, something the embassy has been striving toward.