February 2009

Carnaval, Buenos Aires

Argentina on priority watch list for copyright piracy

Argentina is on the 2009 priority watch list of the International Intellectual Property Alliance. Sounds ominous sharing the list with China, Pakistan, and Russia. But, oh, wait, there’s also Canada….Canada?!

The Alliance produced a 7-page report on the woes of intellectual property protection in Argentina (PDF).

Of course, if you live in Buenos Aires then it comes as no surprise. We’ve all seen the guys hawking music compilations on the bus. (And I’ve been tempted to buy the best of Sandro.) And there’s all sorts of software and movies for sale on the streets.

As a former academic librarian I was astounded when I first saw the flagrant copyright violations in the copyshops surrounding universities. But, then again, educators here don’t seem to have much choice with the inefficient libraries and the mere lack of most scholarly publications for purchase (or even in print) in Argentina.

The country report on Argentina’s copyright violations indicate that around 600 million songs per year are illegally downloaded within Argentina in comparison to an estimated 150 million songs legally purchased.

The report cites Feria La Salada as “the most notorious street location” with its 50,000 visitors a day. And, wouldn’t you know it, like any good retail operation theses days La Salada even has its own web site (which oddly is not cited in the report).

The report calls for many more regulations and stiffer penalties, stating “the average criminal piracy case takes two to fours years to reach a verdict in the first instance, and that
usually results in no jail time or jail time is suspended because the judges do not consider intellectual property crimes as serious offenses.” That’s probably true. But when I see people marching around about inseguridad I’m sure a lot more is on their mind than intellectual property theft.

Buenos Aires photos, 1870-1880

Till the end of the month (March 1, 2009) there’s a little photo exhibition at Centro Cultural Recoleta that is worth viewing. Featured are photos of the city between 1870-1880.

Many of the photos were taken by Christiano Junior. You can view some of his works in the Wikimedia Commons, which includes some of the photos in the current exhibition.

Not included in this exhibition, but typical of Christiano Junior’s works is this studio photo of a paperboy in Buenos Aires:

Another flood photo for a rainy day

A companion to last week’s photo.

Bringing Borges back from the dead

A proposal before the Argentine congress aims to bring the remains of Jorge Luis Borges from his burial place in Geneva to Argentina where the writer would be interred in the family vault in Recoleta Cemetery. It sounds crazy to me, but the proposal is backed by the head of the Argentine Society of Writers.

An irony behind the proposed law to repatriate the body of Borges is that the legislation is presented by a Peronist lawmaker. Borges was intensely anti-Peronist. And the proposal seems to defy the wishes of Borges.

It’s well documented that Borges chose to die in Geneva, a city that held significance to him from his stay there during his childhood. While as a young man Borges did write a famously romanticized poem about Recoleta Cemetery and is the quintessential Argentine writer, as a dying man in his old age he did not want his burial to be part of the circus that is Buenos Aires media.

If Borges is brought back to Argentina, then it will be the biggest reburial here since Juan Perón’s coffin traipsed through the streets of Buenos Aires in 2006 during a reburial that ended in a fiasco.

The newspaper Perfil which reported on the story (in Spanish) simply indicated that Maria Kodama, the widow of Borges, could not be located for comment.

Repatriating the remains of iconic figures in Argentine history is not uncommon, and it’s also not that uncommon in Argentina for bodies to be reburied and shifted about from one grave to another. I guess one could argue that Borges had his 20 years in Geneva, now it’s time for him to come home.

Yet, I’m also wondering if these Peronist lawmakers who presented this idea don’t have better things to do in congress, like trying to address the problems facing this country?

And here’s a photo of the family mausoleum where Borges would rest in Recoleta Cemetery. He would be not too far from the tomb of Evita Perón….a woman with the most amazing story of the traveling dead.

A flood in Buenos Aires

Okay, yesterday’s little rain shower wasn’t a flood but I’m sure all of us in Buenos Aires enjoyed the cooler weather. Reminded me of this wonderful old photo, which I think was taken in La Boca in the spring of 1910.

Ghosts may be easier to find in the U.S. than in Buenos Aires

Ever since hearing that New Directions Publishing was releasing an English translation of César Aira’s Los Fantasmas (Ghosts) in 2009, I’ve been searching Buenos Aires bookstores for a version of the Spanish edition.

As with some of my previous attempts in searching for a specific book in Spanish by a well-known author in Buenos Aires, I have been without luck. No Los Fantasmas by Aira to be found anywhere that I’ve seen. Well, fortunately, there’s plenty more Aira to keep me busy.

At least those of you in the U.S. are in luck and can look forward to encountering Ghosts soon. Here’s a review by the folks at Complete Review.

(via Conversational Reading)

More Argentine authors out in the world

In preparation for Argentina as the guest of honor country at the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair, the government of Argentina is announcing a new program to subsidize the translation of 100 books by Argentine authors.

The amount of 250,000 euros is designated to support foreign publishing houses in publishing Argentine authors (fiction and non-fiction) into other languages. English and German are the languages most emphasized, though the program is opened to all languages….read more (Spanish).

Let’s hope this is an opportunity for many young Argentine writers to gain further notice in the world.