Argentina's challenge

A note from the editor

Vanessa Baird

Are there lessons to be learned from Argentina?

It’s a journalist’s nightmare.

You’ve just spent weeks taking notes, recording interviews, shooting photos, gathering material for a series of articles.

And then you lose it.

As two muggers were trying to tear my bag – with most of the contents of this month’s main theme – from my back, that nightmare seemed to be coming true.

It happened a few hours after I’d arrived in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, across the River Plate from Buenos Aires. My attackers’ technique was rough, but as poor as my bag was tough. My body less so – as several fractures and a punctured lung were to testify.

But the content of this month’s special report on neighbouring Argentina remained resolutely intact and on my back.

Argentina has been in the news a fair bit recently – for its battle with financial speculators, politely described as ‘holdouts’, more graphically as ‘vulture funds’. And for its loud pot- and pan-banging protests, of which there have been many recently. Often the country is presented in the international media as a source of trouble. But, as this issue of the magazine shows, it should be seen as a source of solutions.

Which can hardly be said for Indonesia when it comes to responding to the world’s demand for cheap vegetable oil. It’s not just the orang-utans that have issues with the creation of massive palm oil plantations – as Ollie Milman’s feature on the subject explains. It’s a question of human rights too.

On a more positive note, Veronique Mistiaen meets the Iraqi environmentalist who is credited with having ‘breathed life into the Garden of Eden’. Curious? Read on.

Vanessa Baird for the New Internationalist co-operative.

Keynote article.

‘Welcome readers’ - Miriam at possibly the world’s most unusual book publisher, Eloisa Cartonera. Photo: Julio Etcharty

‘Welcome readers’ - Miriam at possibly the world’s most unusual book publisher, Eloisa Cartonera.

Argentina’s challenge

Stormy time ahead in the world’s largest country. Are there lessons to be learned? asks Vanessa Baird.

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A stylish couple dances the tango in front of the Recoleta Cemetery – the capital’s great baroque and over-the-top celebration of mortality. The pair’s moves are bold, provocative, challenging.

The same might be said of the style and policies being pursued by Argentina today, under the leadership of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Challenges have been issued on various fronts:

  • To the vulture funds that are threatening to tip Argentina into another almighty default on...


The production line today at IMPA – the recuperated factory that inspired hundreds of others.

Who needs a boss?

Vanessa Baird reports on how Argentinean workers took over failing and bankrupt enterprises – and have kept them going.

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Preparing lunch in the FPDS co-op in San Telmo – where everyone gets a say and ‘horizontalism’ prevails.

Speak truth

The government wants to fund popular co-ops that are meeting urgent social needs. What could be wrong with that? Vanessa Baird meets the people behind them.

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Rising food prices have been hitting the poorest hardest, leading to looting in some places.

Facing the vultures

Argentina is not in the habit of being cowed by international pressure and financial big-hitters – or by proponents of austerity. Vanessa Baird reports.

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Photo: Julio Etchart

‘Not one step backwards!’

Argentina has come a long way in dealing with its past. But what of the present? Vanessa Baird takes a look at the state of human rights.

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‘Feminism taught us that there are a thousand ways of being a woman,’ says trans activist Lohana Berkins

Trans revolutionary

Today Argentina leads the world in recognizing the rights of transgender people. But it hasn't always been that way, writes Vanessa Baird.

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Two flags – one national, and one Amerindian –  flying together as indigenous people and their supporters fight to save an ancient burial ground from property developers.

A clash of dreams

Indigenous Argentineans, disrespected and ignored for too long, are forging new alliances in their quest to safeguard the natural world.

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Bitter harvest: plantation labourers in Sumatra face appalling working conditions.

Ghosts on our own land

Gigantic palm oil plantations across Indonesia and Malaysia are having a devastating impact on local farms and workers, too. Ollie Milman reports from Sumatra.

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Housing, prostitution, violence and the pursuit of economic growth. Praise, blame and all the points in between? Give us your feedback.

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Letter from Botswana: Africans, too

The humanity of some of the country’s citizens is often denied by tongue-clucking moralists, finds Wama Molefhe.

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Azzam Alwash in the new flourishing marshlands.

Making waves: Azzam Alwash

Veronique Mistiaen meets the environmentalist who has breathed new life into Iraq’s Garden of Eden.

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Southern exposure

Highlighting the work of artists and photographers from the Majority World.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews.

Music reviews

Records from General Paolino featuring Mama Celina and Quercus.

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Film reviews

Stories We Tell, by Sarah Polley; Night of Silence (Lal Gece), by Reis Çelik; The Stoker, by Alexei Balabanov.

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Book reviews

Children of the Jacaranda Tree, Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea, What the River Washed Away and Paralysed With Fear: The Story of Polio.

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Also out there...

Also out there...

Books, music, web, film and DVD releases all worth a mention.

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An interview with Public Service Broadcasting

Using archive footage, propaganda material and public information films to accompany their music, J Willgoose and Wrigglesworth weave together past, present and future. Jo Lateu asks J Willgoose what it’s all about.

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