Who shows you what you see?

Ok, so I’ve been “accused” many times of being a kirchnerist by my friends. Now, this isn’t by any means a bad word. It just means you are in favor of the current government. Or, at least, it should mean that.
If that was its only definition, then I would probably say, “yes, I kind of am”. But that’s not what my friends mean when they say that to me. I deny it, and I’m going to explain to you just why I do so, and how this came to be.

Another of Clarín's first pages from those times.

“New Government” Referring to the three representatives of the military that took the power after kicking the democratically elected president.

I’ve talked about the media here, haven’t I? The general picture is: the little group of people that have all the money, also control all the mainstream media. I think some of you must be familiar with this concept, right?
Anyways, that’s how it works here, and how it’s been working since… Well, I’d say since the beginning of this country, but honestly, it only got this bad after the last dictatorship.
The Clarín Group, managed by the Noble family (yes, that’s their family name. I find it ironic), took a hold of Papel Prensa, the biggest producer of paper for the press. How? Oh, you know, by torturing its rightful owners into signing the selling papers.
They are currently on trial for this.
Now, for this to happen, they needed the brute force of the army, which was in the power at that moment. They got to their good side by siding up with them.

Clarin's first page right when the coup d'était started.

“The Militay Council is the State’s supreme organ”

By tricking the population into thinking nothing was going on, and that this was only a peaceful and transitory government, and convincing them that they wanted the military on the power because of the “terrorist threat”, they managed to make a lot of people oblivious of what was going on.
Sounds familiar, whatever US citizen reading this? Well, it shouldn’t surprise you. After all, the US military had a lot to do with the military getting a hold of the government, and of their violent methods once there; but I’ll talk about that some other day.

Anyways, by seemingly becoming one of these people’s tools, they were able to use them to their advantage. After all, one of the people in charge of making the paper producer’s owners to sign, was one of the most important functionaries of the military council (who is now in trial, yes).

Not much later…

And yet another of Clarín's front pages.

“Videla (illegitimate president) inaugurated the Papel Prensa plant”. There, you see Videla, with the Noble couple, re-opening the plant after they ‘bought it’.

Wait, I had a point here…
Ah, yes of course!

After buying the plant which produced the paper for each and every one of the newspapers and magazines of the country, they were legally able to set prices at will. So, for their own newspaper, Clarín, its cousin, La Nación, and to every other newspaper or magazine they liked, the prices were minimal.
But, for newspapers which didn’t share their views, the price was… Slightly… Definitely higher. This meant that Clarín was much cheaper, making it more accessible for the common man.
And that, kids, is how Clarín got so popular, and grew SO big in such little time.

They got so good at what they did, and so close to the government, their lies started becoming more and more reckless.
During the Malvinas War, they actually helped convince the general populi that our country was actually winning! Our country. Extremely unprepared for war. Sending teenage boys with no training over there. With lack of food. Against England. It didn’t take a mastermind to figure out that was pretty fucking impossible.

Guess what?

“Imminent recuperation of the Malvina Islands”. No doubt there.

I’m losing my track of thoughts again…
Oh, righ.

Ok, back to present day. Now that you have a general, very subjective, and extremely opinionated idea of where this group comes from, you can slightly understand what they do, why, and how.
(Seriously, guys, I only know this part of the story. I do encourage you to investigate and let me know what comes across your path).

So, yeah, as you can imagine, they’ve been manipulating the population the same way ever since. They helped to economically overthrow the first democratic government after the process; pushed candidates like Menem into the government; pushed Ministers of Economy like Cavallo into the Ministry (ask Ecuador how much good HE did over there); they were the ideological responsible for the neo-liberal policies applied in my country, and for the epic economical crash of 2001. You might have heard about it.

The minute they saw what ideologies Nestor Kirchner, who assumed as president right after that, held high in sight, they understood he meant trouble for their wallet, and empire.
I don’t think there has been a single day passing without the Clarín newspaper, or any of its branches, badmouthing, criticizing, and aggravating him and his wife, our current president. Sometimes the critics were spot-on. And sometimes it was just someone throwing shit at them for no good reason, other than the rage they felt.
And, being this the most popular newspaper, news channels, and celebrities magazines in the country, their ideas spread fast.

“Is she under psychiatric treatment?”. Noticias magazine, under the Clarín Group’s management, accusing Cristina Kirchner, then first lady, of having a bipolar disorder, without proofs, without consulting any of her doctors, without her consent, without anything. Obviously, it was a lie. But the idea was installed in society ever since. This is the power and impunity of the media.

Now, let me make this very very clear. There is nothing I find better than someone making a thoughtful critic about a certain government, policy or ideal, and discussing it with other people. But, and I’m not just talking, this is serious, most people who right-out HATE the Kirchner couple, have memorized this speech, repeated it all over the place, and to themselves, until they believed it, and couldn’t think in any other way. Sometimes this is applied literally. I am not joking.
Most people don’t even realize how deep in their brains some concepts have been carved.

Repetition, impunity, power. These are the elements they have to make people think what they want them to think. They give new concepts to every word they use, and make it so that it’s actually used in a daily basis.

They’ve made words like ‘officialism’, ‘kirchnerist’, and ‘officialist’ into insults. And what I mean by that is that people have actually tried to insult me by calling me all that in debates and forums.
They have divided this country into “K” and “Anti-K”, and then accused the actual government of being responsible for this bipolarity (though they haven’t done much to fight that, really).

By calling yourself a ‘kirchnerist’, some people around you automatically think you are a poor brainwashed person who blindly follows the current government. By calling yourself an ‘oppositor’, some people around you think you are a hateful human being who blindly follows the commands of the Clarín Group.

But, of course, the world isn’t black and white; it’s full of greys, and, quite frankly, that’s probably the only thing that makes it bearable.

I like greys. I enjoy watching them, and I enjoy belonging to them. My thoughts belong to the grey zone. My ideologies aren’t just that or what, they are a combination of ideas, concepts, and knowledge. My way of thinking is unique, and so is everyone else’s.
What bothers me the most about these people, is not only that they claim to be the voice of the whole population, nor really their bloody past, though these things do bug me. What bothers me the most is the fact that they imply you can either be on one side or the other. They deny the greys. And that is not healthy for society, not in the least.

And not only is it unhealthy, it’s proven to be fatal. This is not the first time people like this have tried to divide the society of my country. They have tried, and succeeded before. And every time they did, guess what happened in the end? War. And, in the worst cases, civil war.
Realists vs Autonomists, Federalist vs Unitarians, Conservatives vs Radicals, Peronists vs Gorillas, K vs Anti-K. Our history is marked by the rivalry between two completely opposite groups. And, most of the times, things heated up enough to escalate to wars.
Divide and conquer, you know. As we are too distracted fighting between each other for no real reason, the people who orchestrated all that, swim in their impunity. And money.

By labeling themselves, they usually give up to the possibility of looking at the good attributes of the other side, and actually constructing. Together. Like people who live in the same country. Together.

Taking on definitions like those means not wanting to accept the rest.

Labeling is… Well, I’m short for words. Labeling is stupid. Specially when it refers to political ideologies. It blinds us from our real problems, and from the people we should be looking at with special care.

And that’s why I don’t do that. There.

Well, thanks for putting up with my ranting again.
Take care of yourselves, and remember to pay attention to what you read, what you think, who you side up with, and who you’re really against. What are you not seeing from the general picture? And, who is blocking your sight?

-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.

Staying strong

Ok, I have an hour and twenty seconds left to post something while it’s still Friday. I gotta hurry.

(It’s Sunday now. I’m disappointed at myself)

Usually, I do this while at school, because my philosophy teacher always misses her 80 mins long class on Fridays, thus leaving us with a free hour with nothing to do. So, as my inspiration usually rises at school, I take the chance to go to the library, and ask for a computer to write something quickly.

But, today this friday, I didn’t have any school. Today This Friday was a free day for secondary and university students, as it is was ‘Students’ Day’ -yes, the same day when Spring starts over here.
It’s a pretty big deal for us students of Argentina.

We usually meet up and go to a park, as it’s generally a beautiful day, and spend the day there. We have a little picnic, and then spend the afternoon eating sweets, drinking mate, chatting about whatever, and playing voleyball, or football (what some of you, northamerican readers, sometimes call ‘soccer’. I’m not calling it like that, though, cause it’s football here. Well, actually, it’s futbol, but let’s leave it at that). Almost every group of students in Buenos Aires, and I think in the rest of Argentina happens the same, takes the opportunity to have a nice day out.

This Friday, though, some students couldn’t spend the day outside, in a park. Some students had to spend their students’ day indoors, at school; because, since the beginning of the week, around 20 schools in Buenos Aires have been ‘taken’ by their students, as a protest against this city’s government’s decitions in education.

‘Taking’ one’s school isn’t something pretty, nor funny. It’s a forcefull action full with sacrifice and times of true sorrow. Sleeping on the cold floor, eating crappy food bought with some money from every student there, making sure trouble or disturbs don’t rise up between the students, or the outsiders, taking on the attacks from the media… That’s not something a teen should be going through.
And yet, these students are brave enough to step up, after months of indiference from the city’s government, to take responsability for their own public, free, and dignifying education.

This isn’t a post to talk about what the problem is, but to honour these guys. I’ve been through all that, and I know how much it can hurt. Stay strong. Last time, this was the only way to make people actually listen to us. It’s sad that we had to come to this again, but worry not, as now the city will know.

Fuerza, y no abandonen, que la cosa sigue.

Thanks for reading.

-Mila.

 

My Political Reality (II)

After my little introduction to my country’s recent history in the last post, I want to continue on the topic that actually brought me to write all that. Im sorry about expanding so much, but I just felt most people wouldn’t get what I was talking about if I didn’t first clarify some things.

Well, from 2003 onwards, Argentina entered a time of growth of it’s economy, as well of it’s cultural and political activity. This mainly means, politics were no longer taken so lightly, as a question of mockery, but more as what it really means: the events, people, and decisions that actually lead a country. The relationship between the state, and the people.

But, what happens when this applies to the young ones as well? I’m seventeen years old, yet I’ve been aware of politics in my surroundings since years ago, and been discussing, and performing it ever since I entered secondary school.

And, when the adults seem to be bothered by this? Well, this is my question.

What do you think of political activity in young people?

Personally, being active in politic debates, knowing about my country’s actuality, fighting for my rights and for what I wanted, were all things that helped me grow up, get to know and express myself better, as well as to know other interesting people. But, in my experience, I’ve also bumped into people who could even be labelled as ‘fanatics’ of a particular party, and that were blinded by the message they were fooled with, only to loose sight of their reality and surroundings. I’m clarifying it wasn’t usually like that, but this is what most grown ups seem to think when they see militancy from our part.

In 2010, the youth’s political movement in Buenos Aires began to grow anew, as the governor of this, the country’s capital city, started neglecting all the public institutions in it -and keeps on doing so to the day, but that’s another topic. Public schools, hospitals, and institutions here are usually the most prestigious and well known, but also the less attended by the state; specially when it represents neo-liberal ideologies, like with the actual governor.
So, when the conditions in the public schools of the city became critical, to the point where the lack of structural care endangered our very lifes, we decided to take action. And man, did we rock that ‘taking action’ part, or what?

More than 300 schools in the whole city were ‘taken’ by their students, wich meant not leaving the school under any circumstances, sleeping, eating, living there, and also interrupting classes, until the state agreeded to listen to our demands. Some ‘takes’ lasted over a month! In my school, we maintained it for more than two weeks. It was really an exhausting task to accomplish, as there wasn’t any gas for the building’s heating (one of our many demands), among other very uncomfortable situations.

At some point, the city’s government had to listen to us. I dont think you can imagine how we felt, honestly. It was a mix of satisfaction, group accomplishment… Know that feeling after you finish a raid in your favorite MMORPG? Well, multiply it by ten thousand, and there you have it, more or less.
It was really awesome.

After that happened, our student’s center (the organization of students for their representation in and outside the school, covering their demands, their political point) grew a lot, and a lot of people started frequenting it more and more.
I was already my class’ representative at the center, but my participation became more evident.

An year after, I was being elected president of the center. And so I was, until May this year, when new elections were held, and the boy from two years under me that accompanied my time as president, and that learned with my party, was elected president himself.

Now a days, I’m seriously considering following my path as a politician in my country, to become maybe a legislator, maybe something else, and representative the people there.

As you can see, in my experience, politics were the door to get to know another part of myself (I was the friggin’ president), and to understand the world and my country better as well. And I’m sure it was like that for many people my age who went through similar experiences.

So, why is it that I hear adults everywhere talk about how a person my age’s only obligation is to study, and that political activity is a way for the system to use us, and that I will most likely, and for my own sake, forget about all this when I grow up?

Seriously? Is that what they really think?

I most certainly HOPE I’m still fighting and debating for what I think it’s right when I’m their age, and haven’t became someone with no dreams nor aspirations like them.
The people I and many other admire, were people who believed they were doing the right thing, and defended their ideals against everything, until the very end. I want to become someone like that.

Political activity is what keeps the people of the world moving. Every person who ever attended a manifestation to defend their rights or demands, did politics. Every person who ever debated about what they thought was right or wrong, did politics. Every person who ever read the newspaper to keep actualized about their reality, did politics.

I did politics. And keep on doing so. And I’m proud of that aspect of myself.

So, what do you think? Do you agree, or do you disagree with me? Why? Do you think politics aren’t a subject suited for young people like me? Or do you approve and encourage this activity? Or maybe you have another point of view?
I’d love to read about it in the comments -seriously though, comment darn it!

Well, thank your for reading, and mostly, for your patience.

-Mila.