Tag Archives: Argentina

Latin Americans celebrate their golden years in London

5 May

Amada Silva, 69, is the founder and co-ordinator of the Latin American Golden Years Day Centre in Lambeth, south London. Having fled Pinochet’s Chile in 1976 before coming to the UK and eventually setting up the centre, Amada’s life story is fascinating.

Amada at the day centre

In Chile, she worked as an MP for the Communist Party, and her husband, Fernando Vergara, was a bodyguard for Salvador Allende’s opposition to Pinochet before Allende was assassinated in 1973; both were dangerous careers under Pinochet’s military dictatorship. But just how dangerous was proved to Amada one morning in 1976, when her family received a tip that the military was coming for them that afternoon. “We had been worried for some months that the military would come but I didn’t believe it at first. I kept saying ‘no, I will stay where my people are’ but then someone more senior approached me saying it was true, and we had no choice. We didn’t have time to get many of our belongings. We had to just jump in the car and go. It was a close get away; I saw the military arrive at the house. It was a horrible moment but we got out of it.Continue reading

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London’s burning: Flames of Desire from Tango Fire

19 Mar

For those who haven’t visited Buenos Aires’ famous dance halls nor seen the likes of Vincent Simone or Flavia Cacace strut their staff on the dance floor in Strictly Come Dancing, tango might seem a stompy, stroppy dance characteristic of a military march.

But when Tango Fire, hailed as Argentina’s hottest dance company, brings their new show Flames of Desire to London in April, you’re promised a taste of the energy and passion for which the Argentine tango is famous.

Described by the Evening Standard as “each duet a mini drama, sexual electricity at the twitch of a hip”, Flames of Desire will showcase the speediest kicks, hooks (known as ganchos) and flicks in the business. As implied by its name, Flames of Desire will show how far removed the twirling moves of the Argentine tango are from the rigidity of its predecessor. Continue reading

Argentine director Teresa Costantini on her latest film, Felicitas

22 Nov

Teresa Costantini

As the director and actress Teresa Costantini leans towards me, asking my opinion of her latest film Felicitas, which received its European debut in the London Latin American Film Festival last week, I almost feel like I’ve become the interviewee. Her warmth, the type you find in so many Latin American people, makes her friendly and inquisitive and when we part I’m quickly aware that a good old British handshake does not suffice.

Brought up in Buenos Aires, Costantini has appeared in numerous popular Latin American films since her career took off in the early 1970s. Among the films she has directed, she won an Argentinean Film Critics Association Award for El Amor y La Ciudad in 2006.

Felicitas is an exquisite, emotionally harrowing film which portrays the story of Felicitas Guerrero de Álzaga who lived among the land-owning classes of Buenos Aires in the mid nineteenth century. The pattern of tragic events in her short life tells us a great deal about women’s position in the early Argentine Republic. Continue reading

European premiere for Teresa Costantini’s Felicitas

21 Nov

The European premiere of Teresa Costantini’s latest film Felicitas lent an explosive start to the twentieth London Latin American Film Festival. It is a harrowing, emotional roller-coaster of a film that tells the story of Felicitas Guerrero de Álzaga who lived among the affluent, land-owning class of Buenos Aires in the nineteenth century.

Costantini’s portrayal of the time period is flawless; the colonial architecture, period dress, contrast of country and city and presentation of women’s role in society combine to transport the audience to the birth of the Argentine Republic. Many indications highlight women’s lack of independence as Felicitas’ father warns ‘ya tiene dueño’ (she already has a master) and her cousin’s progressive thesis on women’s rights is met with fierce opposition.

The film opens with a portrayal of blissful young love as Felicitas and her adoring boyfriend, Enrique Ocampo, laughingly chase one another through a pastoral scene. But, true to the biographical details of her life, it is not long before Felicitas’ childish ignorance is dashed by one tragedy after another.

At 15 years old she is betrothed to a wealthy landowner, Don Martín de Álzaga, who is 40 years her senior, and she is forbidden from ever speaking to Enrique again. Queue a series of uncomfortable wedding scenes in which the two barely speak, accompanied by the preamble to the couple’s first night together in which the sight of Álzaga undressing a tearful Felicitas makes one’s skin crawl. Continue reading

How will Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner fare without her political mentor?

1 Nov

As hundreds of mourners took to the streets of Buenos Aires last week to commemorate former Argentine President Néstor Kirchner, the future of Argentine politics lay in the balance. Kirchner’s death amounts to a political vacuum in a country that has been governed since 2001 by a power-sharing couple, criticised in the past for using their alliance to abuse presidential term limits.

Despite undergoing two major operations this year, Kirchner’s death shocked the public as the 60-year-old was widely expected to stand for office again in 2011. With only a weak and fragmented opposition to the Kirchner duo, it was likely they could have alternated the presidency for the foreseeable future.

But not only does the loss of Kirchner highlight the lack of organised opposition; it throws an unwelcome light on the government of his widow and current President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Fernández de Kirchner succeeded her husband as President in 2007 in a campaign that many believe he manufactured in order to resume the presidential role the following term. Despite strong economic growth and social progress under her leadership, Fernández de Kirchner has come under criticism from observers who perceive her as nothing more than her husband’s puppet. Continue reading