I was going to the weekly march of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo when I got off the subte at the Catedral stop on Thursday. Walking across the street, I noticed the ceremonial guards lined up at the entrance to the Palacio Municipal. It appeared that something was about to happen….someone important was either going to arrive or leave. So, standing on the steps of the Catedral, located diagonally across the street from the city hall, I waited. Fortunately, I had also brought along my new, tiny Sony videocam.

Soon, sirens roared, the street was blocked and a police escorted motorcade pulled up. I saw that he grey Mercedes sedan had an unusual flag flying from its front fender but I didn’t recognize it: red and black with a sickle and a star, very communist looking (and somewhat frightening). Out of the sedan stepped an older African man. He was greeted by the ceremonial guard and met by Sr. Ibarra, the mayor of Buenos Aires (whom I did recognize).

It turned out to be the President of Angola Eduardo Dos Santos, who was in town on a state visit and had met with the President of Argentina earlier that day. Interestingly, it was a day for state visits, as the President of Uruguay was across the square at the same time. I late also saw his motorcade cruising down the street.

The strangest aspect of the day was that the Angolan flag was flying from several points in the city: around light posts in the Plaza de Mayo and, more eerily from the Congreso where the Angolan flag was displayed prominently alongside the Argentinean flag not just once but several times along the facade of the Congreso.

Obviously Argentina was making a big welcome for the President of Angola, a country which always seemed rather circumspect but maybe that’s my US-biased and, admittedly, I am uninformed about current events in Angola. Checking Google news, I see that the top stories regarding Angola: an epidemic of Marburg fever that has killed 277 and that Argentina plans to open an embassy in Angola. And, ah, there’s the important part: Angola is the second-largest oil producer in sub-sahara Africa. Argentina and Angola yesterday signed an oil accord.

How safe is Angola? Google News pops up two items of interest: Angola had the second highest number of fatalities among NGO workers (behind Afghanistan) and a link to an article citing ‘Oil is a curse’. I’m becoming more and more interested in Africa, perhaps I’ll find the time to read more about Angola and what’s happening in that part of the world. But, for now, it’s back to Buenos Aires.

Note: I do have video footage of the Angolan president’s arrival and will post it soon as the first of my vlog postings about Buenos Aires. But that will have to wait a few days, I need to get a new firewire cable first.