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Mobbing by Argentine officials forces BBC Top Gear team to flee to Chile

Saturday, October 4th 2014 - 05:39 UTC
Full article 492 comments
The stoned vehicles of the BBC Top Gear team which was forced to flee to Chile after being attacked and stoned The stoned vehicles of the BBC Top Gear team which was forced to flee to Chile after being attacked and stoned
Romero proud of the way the people of Tierra del Fuego reacted to the 'provocative plates' from the BBC crew Romero proud of the way the people of Tierra del Fuego reacted to the 'provocative plates' from the BBC crew
Domingo Cavallo, a controversial figure, was heckled before a conference following on twitter messages from a member of the Central bank board Domingo Cavallo, a controversial figure, was heckled before a conference following on twitter messages from a member of the Central bank board
Pedro Martin Biscay is a protegé of the strongman of Argentine economic policies Axel Kicilloff Pedro Martin Biscay is a protegé of the strongman of Argentine economic policies Axel Kicilloff

Hooliganism and mobbing by government officials seem to be the norm in Argentina following on the experience of two incidents, one involving a BBC crew forced out of the country for their alleged 'disrespectful attitude' towards the Falklands/Malvinas conflict memory, and a second calling on hecklers to impede a conference in Buenos Aires of a former minister.

 In the first case the BBC Top Gear crew that was filming in Patagonia and was planning to reach Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, were forced to abandon their intention since they were considered 'persona non grata' and had their vehicles stoned and damaged by a mob of alleged Malvinas veterans and other political militants responding to the call from local official Juan Manuel Romero, responsible for the Social Development and Human Rights Office.

The alleged sin and 'disrespect' was that the touring vehicles including a Porsche had 'offensive plates' with the intention of 'mocking' Argentines. Apparently one of the UK plates identification was 982 FKL which 'referred' to the 1982 conflict following the Argentine invasion of the Falklands.

“The truth is that these guys got it all wrong” said the provincial government official Romero who justified the violent reaction of Tierra del Fuego residents who stoned the members of the Top Gear program and their vehicles besides denying them hotel rooms to spend the night.

”If there is something that identifies us, is the very strong feeling in this province (Tierra del Fuego) for our (Malvinas) islands and I have no doubts at all that these guys simply came to scorn and belittle us“, underlined Romero, who apparently was acting on instructions from governor Fabiana Rios.

”We told them we were not going to aid them in any way, and if possible, recommended them not to circulate in the city with those offensive plates“ indicated the officer who said he ”was proud of the way the people of our province, reacted, peacefully against these guys”.

Romero said the BBC Top Gear team travelled all along Patagonia but never made it to Ushuaia since before they reached the island in the extreme south of Argentina, they had been declared 'non grata' by the local government of Rio Grande (Tierra del Fuego) and were ambushed and stoned in the small town of Tolhui.

Faced with this situation the BBC team with the Porsche, a Lotus and a Mustang plus support vehicles and forty crew members, headed for Chile where they made it across the Radman pass.

The presence of the Top Gear team and their alleged 'offensive plates' had been targeted by the Argentine media, both by the pro-government press and the independents.

A second incident, almost a month ago, refers to a conference by former Economy minister Domingo Cavallo at the Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires, with details only surfacing this week.

At the time as soon as the speaker was announced some hecklers broke into the conference room and started throwing eggs against Cavallo and distributing leaflets that read: “Motherland or vultures” in direct reference to the ongoing litigation of the president Cristina Fernandez administration with speculative funds.

They were quickly controlled by security guards and the action was attributed to the extremist group Quebracho, which has also been involved in burning British flags, attacking the UK embassy in Buenos Aires and torching tourism offices selling cruise tickets that included calls in the Falkland Islands. On occasions they have occupied cruise vessels for hours before being removed.

However two of the protestors detained were identified as government employees and involved in the action during working hours. The Argentine government at the time apologized for the incident at the Catholic university which has Pope Francis as one of its sponsors.

“I have no doubts that it was all organized by the government” claimed the former minister Cavallo at the time. “This sort of action comes from the first decade of the last century and was extensively used by Nazis and fascists to take over governments in Germany and Italy”.

And in effect it has now emerged that the instigator of the incident was a member of the Argentine central bank board, Pedro Martin Biscay. The protegé of Economy minister Axel Kicillof twitted calling on militants and economy students to the heckling incident to impede Cavallo from speaking.

Cavallo a controversial figure in Argentine politics was Economy minister with presidents Carlos Menem and later Fernando de la Rua and the architect of the so called 'convertibility' system, one dollar equivalent to one Argentine Peso. The system worked while there was a budget surplus, but then if collapsed and sowed the seeds of the 2001 melting of the Argentine economy and the historic default.

Since then the Kirchner couple have blamed his 'neo-liberal' policies for all the economic and financial evils of Argentina.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

Top Comments

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  • Marcos Alejandro

    He said: “I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan, but this was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been involved in.

    Wrong People To Mess With.

    Jeremy, don't forget to thank Fabiana Ríos, Governor of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur, for the police escort :-))

    Oct 04th, 2014 - 06:32 am 0
  • reality check

    Responsible for human right, proud of the peaceful way they dealt with it, orders from the governor.

    PMSL at those words.

    These idiots forget that people other than fascists read those words.

    This was obviously orchestrated by the Argentine Government.

    The same Argentine Government who want to come hear next week.

    Time to declare them persona non grata and tell them not to bother.

    Oct 04th, 2014 - 06:34 am 0
  • Anglotino

    I always through that Argentina was far from becoming a fascist stage. However it is easy to see that any deviation from official policy or opinion is ruthlessly pounced upon.

    While Marcos thinks this makes Argentina look strong, I can tell you it is the opposition.

    What is has done is reinforce that the Falkland Islanders would have no place in Argentina. All the claims by CFK and her government that minority rights and culture would be protected within Argentina have been shown to be false.

    If this is the response to a simple number plate, imagine what would happen if the Islanders would be treated like.

    Argentina keeps pushing the Falkland Islanders further and further away. It is no use talking about talks that occurred before 1982 when incidents like this are reflective of the Argentina of today.

    Great own goal. Bloody awesome.

    Oct 04th, 2014 - 06:42 am 0
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