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Montevideo, September 25th 2018 - 23:30 UTC

UK-Argentina: a new start for an old relationship, according to The Economist

Saturday, May 28th 2016 - 06:08 UTC
Full article 6 comments
 The 60-metre Palladian clock tower was a gift from the city’s British community to mark the centenary of Argentina’s 1810 revolution The 60-metre Palladian clock tower was a gift from the city’s British community to mark the centenary of Argentina’s 1810 revolution
Macri has reasserted the Falklands/Malvinas claim but unlike Cristina Fernández, he wants to co-operate with UK on areas as trade and fighting drug-trafficking. Macri has reasserted the Falklands/Malvinas claim but unlike Cristina Fernández, he wants to co-operate with UK on areas as trade and fighting drug-trafficking.
Argentina’s foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, met her counterpart in London on May 12th, the first such meeting since 2002. Argentina’s foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, met her counterpart in London on May 12th, the first such meeting since 2002.

With its green bell tower and royal coat of arms, the Torre Monumental in Buenos Aires would not look out of place in a British market town. The 60-metre Palladian clock tower was a gift from the city’s British community to mark the centenary of Argentina’s 1810 revolution (though it was completed in 1916). On May 24th this year around 200 people gathered to commemorate its centenary.

 The celebration comes at a rare moment of warmth in Anglo-Argentine relations. Argentina’s newish president, Mauricio Macri, has reasserted his country’s claim to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas for Argentina), which belong to Britain. But, unlike his pugilistic predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, he wants to co-operate with Britain on such areas as trade and fighting drug-trafficking. Argentina’s foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, met her counterpart in London on May 12th, the first such meeting since 2002. Flights to the Falklands may resume after a 13-year interruption.

A hundred years ago Britain and Argentina were complementary economic superpowers. Britain built Argentina’s railway, which helped make Argentina one of the world’s ten richest countries, and bought 40% of its exports, mainly beef and grain. In 1914 Harrods, a fancy department store, opened its first overseas branch in Buenos Aires.

Signs of this former commercial camaraderie are everywhere. Red post boxes appear on street corners. Football, the national sport, is an English invention, as are some Argentine teams. The original Newell’s Old Boys, Lionel Messi’s first club, were the pupils of a Kent-born teacher. Posh 'porteños' (Buenos Aires residents) play cricket at the Hurlingham Club.

The Falklands war, triggered by Argentina’s invasion of the Islands in 1982, ended the bonhomie. Signs of Britishness were expunged. Bar Britanico, once frequented by British railway workers, changed its sign to read Bar El tanico. The Torre de los Ingleses became the Torre Monumental.

Diplomatic relations were restored in 1989 but Ms Fernández and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, who was president before her, interrupted the rapprochement. In 2012 Argentine veterans broke into the tower. Now the city government wants to repair the damage. Mr. Macri hopes to do the same for Argentina’s battered relationship with Britain.

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  • ChrisR

    I used to have a subscription to The Econo,ist back in the pre-internet days.

    I cancelled it after three years because I was fed up with them always getting facts wrong.

    I see they are still doing it.

    May 28th, 2016 - 11:14 am 0
  • Marti Llazo

    “ On May 24th this year around 200 people gathered to commemorate its centenary.”

    Do you mean that someone actually cleaned up enough of the dog-shite and the catatonic drug-addicts around the tower so that someone could get close to it without fouling their clothes?

    The tower is in terrible shape, a magnet for filth and graffiti, and its decay and damage are the handiwork of the locals. In that respect it is another symbol of contemporary Argentistan. Some of the local hooligans have planted bombs at the tower and the effects are evident. One of those bombs destroyed the elevator. Subsequent failed attempts to install a new elevator reflect the competence of the city, and have come to naught.

    The Economist article unsurprisingly failed to faithfully report the predictable abuse from the cave-dwelling populacho that was received by those celebrating the centennial.

    May 28th, 2016 - 03:06 pm 0
  • CapiTrollism_is_back!!

    Actually I agree with the loon above, the Economist has failed to report the most important reality.

    Argentina is still there with the wealth and the like. Britain however is a third rate power retreating on all fronts around the globe, a small and xenophobic damp island in the south corner of the northwestern part of the western peninsula of the Eurasian landmass, utterly insignificant in geographic terms. And in real politik it is withdrawing like a scared gazelle from all engagement with the world back to the small corner, disrespected and made fun of. Economically, it has nothing to offer. Argentina will to to China, Russia, India, Japan, United States, Brazil, SF, Germany, France, EU, before it even needs to consider UK. It's not 1914, they are right. The UK is a dusty crusty shell.

    May 29th, 2016 - 01:47 am 0
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