The arena was thick with imagery and anyone that even glanced in the direction couldn’t help but see the irony of the time, the place and the situation.
On one end of the street stands The Pink House. Argentina’s version of The White House. The facade was covered with flashing lights, dancers and singers, and a big screen display on a makeshift stage.
Crooners and musicians pushed their fluttery notes out across Plaza de Mayo, the only five acres in Buenos Aires that seemed virtually void of spectators.
What was meant to be a last gasp of honor and celebration for President Cristina Kirchner turned into a giant thumbs-down and repudiation of the government as the aggregate of spectators almost outnumbered the vendors selling maze for the pigeons and cotton candy for the kiddies.
If the celebration was meant to show Kirchner’s greatness, it failed. The fiasco though did succeed in showing the death throes of a failed administration
What was meant by the government to be a gala ended up being a wake as the administration continues to ignore basic human rights.
The dazzle to emptiness graphically showed how tired this South America country is becoming of the “Kirchnerites” twelve-years of heavy handed politics and business as usual. Kirchner’s own eight-years in office have been pockmarked with corruption, incestuous politics and blatant disregard for any sense of justice and order.
If the general opinion in the country is correct, then the gunshot killing of Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January would add murder to the list of thuggery carried out by CFK’s henchmen.
On the other side of the plaza stands The Cabilldo. Kind of like America’s Independence Hall in Philadelphia, The Cabilldo is the spot where, on May 25, 1810, Spanish immigrants gathered to throw out the last of the Spanish Viceroys.
Tired of one dictator, three-thousand miles away, the settlers felt it was better to live under 3000 dictators, one mile away.
May 25 marked the start of the Argentine War for Independence and for the next six years, it was game on.
Between The Cabilldo and The Pink House another story in symbols was being played out.
Roughly two-hundred “Policia Federale” faced off against approximately 25 Malvinas War veterans.
The standoff might be a symbol of another failed Argentine experiment. One that cost over 600 lives and left the military junta hiding and embarrassed.
Ever since 1982, when the Dirty War ended, each successive administration has hid their face in shame over the thumping that the country took at the hands of the British. Like America’s Vietnam War which lasted from 1955 to 1975, the Falklands — or Malvinas — as the islands are known here, the war was ill-conceived, ill planned and ill executed.
The blame doesn’t rest on the dog face, the soldier who stood ready to go fight when his country called.
The failure weighs heavy on the ineptness and corruption of the military junta that sent the young country boys on their way. And yes, it was mainly country boys who were sent to fight. The junta didn’t want to send the sons of the elite to die on windswept islands.
Argentina has continued that tradition of hiding when it comes to its veterans.
Each succeeding president has mouthed support to Malvinas War veterans, but their hearts were far from their lips and messages of help and benefits have never been made incarnate.
That’s what took the veterans back into the street during the 205th celebration of the Argentine War for Independence.
The embarrassment that is Argentina’s, was thick and on display. The scattering of people who came out to mark an important national holiday and the government sent 200 people to face a handful of veterans who just want to be treated fairly. It’s a shame that Argentina can’t honor their commitments to the very veterans whom it sent to fight — and die — for the freedom which May 25 represents.
It was a night thick with symbols.
Jerry Nelson is an American freelance photojournalist now based in South America. His work covering social justice issues has been featured on CNN, USAToday, United Press International and more in the world’s media. Busy on assignment, Jerry is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Contact him today at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter.