Day of Death of Diverse Cultures

Today at school, we celebrated yet another anniversary of the beginning to what would lead to one of the bloodiest, cruelest, and senseless genocides known in our history: ‘The discovery of America’.

By Rudy and Paz

‘Who are these people?’. ‘I dont know, but they say we have mass destruction weapons’. ‘Oh no’.

When I was in primary school, this day was known to us as just that, ‘the day America was discovered’. We practised for months to put up a little performance for the whole school, when the moment usually portrayed was the moment when ‘Colon and the indigenes first met’. Sounds like the start of a love-at-first-sight movie, huh?; that is, if we count abuse, rape, mass murder of their children, and constant torture as part of a nice lovely relationship.

When I entered, say, fourth grade, teachers at school were pleased to announce how the commemorative day had been renamed to ‘Day of the Race‘. Now, I know this might sound a little wrong for some of you born-english speakers, but race isn’t such a strong word in our language as it is in yours -which does not by any means disregard the existent and beating racism even the latino community has.
So, now our little performances changed slightly; instead of portraying the ‘conquerors’ and ‘discoverers’ as awesome heroes, we were also starting to see the other side of this history -well, kinda. But it was still kind of an improvement. Indians weren’t just some dumb and ignorant bland characters anymore: we got to see a little of them.

But real change to the way we were used to see this day really happened when it was renamed ‘The Day of Clash of Cultures”. Now, that’s something. Now, instead of just remembering just that sole moment of contact, we got to see this cultures with more depth, and I actually got the chance to study about the people before Colon on this land for the first time -utterly boring at that time, but I really appreciate having had that opportunity now-a-days.

People still kind of thought it was a little unrespectful, or odd, so a few years ago this day got a new identity: ‘Day of Cultural Diversity’.
We now thoroughly study the past of this land, and try to come to terms with the fact that, hey, europeans weren’t the first ones to ever live here, which was kind of jerky from our part.

Although I do think this went through some improvements, I think we will never be able to say we’ve tackled this problem from the right angle until we’ve come to terms with another huge fact: what happened here was a TRAGEDY.
To say it in numbers, when Spain first got here, there were about 80 million aborigines living in all America. By the time of the next count, about a century later, we were left with 3 million. Three fucking million. From eighty. So about 77 million people died during that time, and I think we can all agree it wasn’t because of ‘unfortunate situations’, or ‘many many wars’ -though wars did take their nice number out of it.

Oh no, that’s not even the worst part. What really got these people dying  were things like slavery, forced work in very unhealthy situations, torturous lifes, sicknesses from the europeans, alcohol… All these people had to die and go through all that in order for the Kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, France, Holland, and England to prosper.

From the moment the new people set foot on the new land, they automatically assumed that was just there for them to take as much advantage of it as they could. EVERYTHING there was served for them, and therefore belonged to them. The land, the nature, and yes, even the people in it -men and women they didn’t even consider human at first.

They raped this land and stripped it away from its dignity and beauty for the sake of ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’ -really, if you just stopped to read about this amazing cultures for a second, then you’d even wonder WHO the real civilised person was, which is what I do.

I don’t know about you, people, but I have nothing to celebrate on this day. I do a lot of reflexing, remembering, and reading, to try to honour these past cultures -something which I never truly accomplish. It’s up to everyone to interpretate this date however they want. But, do bear in mind, I’ll feel sick every time I see someone acting as Colon the hero.

Thanks for reading.

-Mila.

Elections and reelections

We all saw it coming, and, quite frankly, I’m relieved such a time of tension and expectation  is over.

That’s right everybody, last week, Hugo Chavez was once more elected, to start his third consecutive presidential stay. This not only means the continuity of Venezuela’s policies regarding economics and politics, both inside the country, as well as with the rest of the Southamerican nations; it also means the people from Venezuela understand what this man means for their country.

For the last decade and a half, Venezuela’s economical standing in the world has been only growing, tackling problems like their many oil reserves, and taking advantage of them to grow even further. Yes, they still have problems; but these people haven’t been better.

There’s also the political half of Chavez’s government. Along the last years, he has been accused not only of totalitarisarism, but also of being a dictator, and a fascist. Quite funny how the people accusing him of such, were the same who agreed with most dictatorships throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in all Latin America -Argentina included.

But, truth be told, it’s quite contradictory that they accuse him of such, in the first page of the most important newspapers of their country- Not enough freedom of speech? What do you want? Chavez’s approval of your declarations for there to be ‘freedom of speech’?
This same situation developes here, as newspapers of the opposition accuse our government of not letting them speak… In the first page of every single edition. One has to wonder, do they not see this utter contradiction?

Last few months, a topic has been quite hot over here: the opposition fears that Fernandez’s government will try to call for a Constitutional Assembly, meant to change our rigid Constitution into making it possible for any president to be consecutively re-elected as many times as he/she wishes to present him/herself. The limit as of now is twice in a row -you guessed it, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has already been elected and reelected. She herself hasn’t confirmed this was going to happen, something understandable, taking next presidential elections will be held in 2015 (when I’ll be able to vote! :D).

This theory isn’t completely unfounded, as that is the same thing that happened in Venezuela in 2009. A referendum was held then, and the voting regarding the approval or dismissal of different Articles took place. It resulted on the end of the restrictions for anyone to apply continuously to any public charge, as many times as wanted.

But, the situation in Argentina is not the same as it was in Venezuela that time. To start with, we had one amazing phenomena starting the 40’s, called Juan Domingo Peron. People who don’t agree with him, now-a-days, and even then, called him a ‘dictator’. So these people regard the elective restrictions as a way not to let something like that happen again -you know, one can take only that many popular governments before having the urge for a dictatorship.

The other fact to take in account, is the lack of an actual, strong, unified opposition to the officialism here. Quite frankly, they’re a joke, no offense. They make alliances and break up again like eight-year-olds playing boyfriends and girlfriends in the breaks from school. Maybe they have a strong media fortress around them -meaning their ‘popularity’ isn’t even because of their political ideals-, but they have no plans for the country. They only know they hate Fernandez, and think that’s all they need to go up against her. Ah, naiveté.

I don’t know how will Argentina change untill 2015, but I’m not so sure a great political challenge will arise for Cristina.

Going back to Venezuela, though, there’s something else I’d like to comment about the last elections: the participation rate of votants grew up until reaching the 80%. That-is-HUGE, and SO important!

Well, my congratulations to Venezuela, for having held their elections, and having defended their democracy, which is always important for all Southamerica. And I once again express my satisfaction regarding Chavez’s victory in them.

Thanks for reading,

-Mila.

We won’t give in

Yes, yes, I know, I didn’t post last Friday. I’m not a responsible person, yet I made a promise. So I apologize. But gee, have things been crazy here!

So, remember my Staying Strong post? That one was more of a ‘keep it up’ post; in this one, though, I plan on expanding on what’s really going on.

Now, please take in mind, this whole thing may have been happening since this year, but, after all, I’m not in the middle of the conflict, and the information I get is a lot, different, and always confusing. So I’ll act as a filter for you guys, and try and pick from what I know not to make you as confused as some of us are.

To start with, most of us students know since last year about a curricular change in the whole country’s education. It’s a national program that will change the way we study and see school, as well as our preparation for when we finish it. It consists of many new things, but the part that concerns us is the ‘specialization’ of graduations, and their ‘equalization’.

Back in the 90’s, at the peak of neo-liberal policies here, education was seen as a ‘extra spent’ for the central state, for which reason the national government of that time decided it wouldn’t spend any more money on national schools, and would make the provinces take care of them. From there on, national schools ceased to exist, to be replaced by provincial schools. This was awful for education, as there wasn’t a unified curriculum anymore, and people from one province would end up knowing totally different things from people from another. It also meant lesser founds for schools.

This ‘equalization’ program plans to bring the ‘national’ idea of a school back, with the additive of different specializations from each school, that would bring up graduates prepared for specialized jobs.

There are many things right and wrong with this project; but it’s not my job to analyze the national bit of it any further.

You see, every province is meant to apply this to its schools as it sees fits. The Autonomic City of Buenos Aires counts as such too, so it is expected to oblige.

The thing is, the way they’re doing stuff here, isn’t precisely ‘the right way’.

The city’s government has already presented its action plan to apply this measures at the beginning of the year. Without any kind of consultation with the educational community in the least. This isn’t how things are supposed to/have been working all this time. Not only were we not consulted over how we thought they should proceed, but also, their plan of action makes the schools that were ALREADY specialized to lose part of their special education, leaving their graduates with a title that doesn’t let them work when they get out of school.

And yes, some types of specialized schools survived the 9o’s. Technic schools here are of much prestige, and VERY hard to finish. People who graduate from a technical school are ‘Technicians’, men and women prepared to lead a construction efficiently, and halfway-through becoming an engineer. They are pretty hardcore, yes.
There are also commercial schools here, with its students being prepared for basic tasks a public accountant can perform.

Now then, why would someone go through that kind of education? Isn’t it enough to just go to a basic secondary school and THEN go to university? They’d end up with a higher title anyways, right?

Well, yes, but there are many kids here who either come from a humble family, or have to start taking care of themselves, or simply don’t want to attend university, which is fine. These schools make sure that, if that’s their thing, they can at least get a well-remunered job doing specialized stuff. Also, in a country which is developing its industry and construction further, having good technical schools is important.

Well, Buenos Aires city’s government’s plan of action makes sure that kids that graduate from these schools no longer have the possibility to access such job positions, making it almost obligatory for them to go to university to get them again. Not cool, is it?

Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if the government just listened to our complaints once and said ‘oh, my bad, come here and I’ll explain what this is about’.
Their attitude, though, was more of a ‘lol, you wanna know? Well too bad! I’ll tell this to you, and this to you, and make you fight over the confusing information I’ve given you. Also, about the participation on the measures? Keep on dreaming, lololol’.

Yeah… Kinda like that.

Since the beginning of the year, technical schools’ students have been protesting in front of the city’s legislative building, and in front of its Ministry of Education, aside from the usual manifestations the students always do. They haven’t been answered- scratch that, they haven’t even been heard yet.

After many months of failed attempts to have a word with the government, of  manifestations and protests, they were pushed to take the most extreme measures: take the schools.

I’m sure I’ve already said so before, but taking a school isn’t pretty, nor fun. It’s exhausting, and very difficult to do properly. The mass media attacks you constantly, not to mention your health goes from bad to worse every passing day, between having to sleep on the cold and hard floors, the crappy food, the staying up arguing in assemblies, etc. Not a nice experience. But sometimes, it’s the only way to make these people listen.

This week, the taken schools counting reached 56. Fifty-six taken schools in all of Buenos Aires. That’s a lot, believe me.

And, as I saw coming, the option to take MY school came up too. These last three days there have been assemblies, discussions, and voting; at the end of the day, the ‘not-taking’ option won, but now, the whole school is movilized by the situation. Yesterday’s students’ centre reunion was quite exciting, honestly.

So yes, that’s pretty much what’s been happening. These last few days, full with fun and interesting debates -of which I clearly took part- and many ideas floating around, only made my decision on life clearer. I really love all this. Call me crazy, I know.

Yesterday, we cut a big avenue and made a music festival there to let people know about what’s going on. Right now, I’m about to leave for a massive march with people from every taken school, and many more, as well as people from universities. Wish us luck!

1- Bellas Artes (Rogelio Yrurtia)
2- Bellas Artes (Lola Mora)
3- Bellas Artes (Manuel Belgrano)
4- Cerámica 1 (Bulnes)

5- Cerámica (Fernando Arranz)
6- Danzas 1 (Nelly Ramicone)
7- Danzas 2 (jorge Donn)
8- Teatro 1
9- Música (Juan Pedro Esnaola)
10- Comercial 8 “Patricias Argentinas”
11- Comercial 11 (Peralta)
12- Comercial 16 (Gabriela Mistral)
13- Comercial 23 (Doctor Luis Agote)
14- Comercial 30 (Doctor Esteban Agustín Gascón)
15- Escuela de Comercio Nº 33 D.E. 18 “Maipú”
16- Liceo 4 (Remedios de Escalada)
17- Jardinería (Cristóbal María Hicken)
18- Lenguitas
19- Lenguas vivas
20- Larroque
21- Juan B Justo
22- Media 1 (Cortázar) D.E. 12 – Bogotá 2759
23- Media 2 (Che Guevara) D.E. 13 – Lacarra 1151
24- Media 2 (Rumania) D.E. 17 – Manuel Porcel de Peralta 1437
25- Media 3 (La Padilla) D.E. 7 – Padilla 1051 :)
26- Media 3 (Antonio Devoto)
27- Media 4 (Nicolás Avellaneda)
28- Media 7 (Falcone) D.E. 9 – Yerbal 25
29- Nacional 3 (Mariano Moreno)
30- Nacional 17 (Primera Junta)
31- Nacional 19 (Luis Pasteur – El Nacho)
32- Normal Superior 6 (Vicente López y Planes)
33- Normal Superior N° 7 “José María Torres
34- Normal Superior 8 (Julio Argentino Roca)
35- Normal Superior 10 (Juan Bautista Alberdi)
36- Normal 11
37- Normal Superior en Lenguas Vivas 2 (Mariano Acosta)
38- Normal Superior en Lenguas Vivas (Sofía Esther Broquen de Spangenberg)
39- Técnica 1 (Otto Krause)
40- Técnica 2 (Magnasco)
41- Técnica 6 (Fernando Fader)
42- Técnica 8 (Paula Albarracín de Sarmiento)
43- Técnica 9 (Ingeniero Luis Augusto Huergo)
44- Técnica 11 (Manuel Belgrano)
45- Técnica 13 (Ingeniero José Luis Delpini)
46- Técnica 17 (Brigadier General Cornelio Saavedra)
47- Técnica 27 (Yrigoyen)
48- Técnica 30 (Norberto Piñero)
49- Técnica 32 (San Martín)
50- Técnica 35 (Ingeniero Eduardo Latzina)
51- Técnica 37 (Hogar Naval Stella Maris)
These are 51 out of the 56 schools taken right now. Keep it up guys! Almost every student in the city supports your cause, and is fighting right beside you!
Thanks for reading.
-Mila.