Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, June 2, 2016



It was a small gathering in Buenos Aires last week.. But a significant one nonetheless. Some 250 people gathered to mark the 100th anniversary of the Torre Monumental, a 60 meter tall bell tower downtown. Like the Statue of Liberty, it commemorates a century of independence. Also like Lady Liberty, it took a couple of extra years to construct, so while the rest of the nation celebrated the bicentennial in 2010, the Torre had to wait until 2016. However, what makes the event important is the benefactor of the monument: It was a gift from Great Britain, hence its familiar name: Torre de los Ingleses.

What? But those two nations hate each other! Everyone remembers the Falkland Islands War. A silly Argentine squadron temporarily occupied the remote island chain before being forcibly evicted by England's navy a month later. Headlines called it: Margaret Thatcher's Empire Strikes Back. Since then, the two nations have had frosty and turbulent diplomatic relations. Things reverted back to the negative during the Kirchner Presidencies. See, Peronists have the biggest grudge with England. In short, they use misplaced patriotism by creating an enemy.

Fortunately, a new president has occupied Casa Rosada since January. And Mauricio Marci is eager to shore up relations with Great Britain. He applauded (and perhaps organized) the birthday party for the Torre Monumental. Why? Because it makes good sense for the nation of Argentina to improve trade and commerce with a wealthy European nation. It also helps to work with the U.K. to fight the drug wars and improve security. But most importantly: President Marci knows that....although important to the Argentine psyche...the Falklands are not important for anything else. Three thousand sheepherders living on barren islands on the edges of the Antarctic Circle? Who cares?

Which brings us back to the Torre Monument. It reminds us of the time when the UK and Argentina were best buddies. In 1910, both nations were in the top ten global economies. England bought 40% of Argentina's beef and grain. Together, they built the Argentine railways...one of many joint endeavours. Just how close were the two nations? In 1914, the famed department store Harrod's opened its first ever overseas location in...you guessed it...Buenos Aires!

Buenos Aires circa 1910
We here at the DUNER BLOG applaud Argentina for taking a mature look at their strained relations with a once-close friend. The truth is both nations benefit from being friends and not enemies. We also like the resume of the new president Mauricio Marci. First, he oversaw the finances for Boca Juniors, Argentina's premier football club. Then, as Buenos Aires mayor, he overhauled public transport, adding the MetroBus lines that are so successful in Mexico City and Los Angeles. Now...four months into the presidency...he is applying this same forward thinking to foreign policy. Bravo!

No comments:

Post a Comment