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ARGENTINA TRAVEL NEWS

May 26th, 2008


CHILEAN CHAITEN VOLCANO ASHES AFFECT WILD LIFE IN ARGENTINA.

The native Patagonian deer species, the so called Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) is being affected by the ashes from the recent and ongoing eruptions of the Chilean Chaiten volcano. The ashes not only are covering up their grazing and water sources but has also started to turn up in their eyes and glands, producing conjunctivitis and inflammations. Other symptoms include allergic reactions in the ears and neck areas, coupled to hair loss, changes in their conduct and symptoms of general fatigue. Ashes have also been found in their faeces but as yet no animals seem to have died from the ingestion of ashes. The Argentinean and Chilean nature authorities have set up a joint study and monitoring group to follow the development of this beautiful endangered animal

THE CANADIAN BEAVER, AN INTRODUCED SPECIES IN ARGENTINA HAS STARTED TO IMPACT ON THE LOCAL ECO SYSTEM.

The Canadian beaver (Castor canadensis), which was introduced by the Argentinean authorities during the decade of the fifties has turned into an immeasurable threat to the local habitat in Patagonia. Since 2001 a Special Control Programme of the Beaver has been set up in the National Park of Tierra de Fuego. It was originally let loose on some of the islands in the Tierra de Fuego Archipelago but ahs lately shown signs of having made it to the mainland. This could spell the doom for the Park ecosystem in many ways. The forest dries out and dies off when its usual water resources are diverted or dammed up by the beavers. Behind the dams, huge areas are flooded and the beavers will alter the environment in many ways, even to the extent of affecting the nutrient cycle in the area. After the beavers have lived off an area and there is no more food available for them, they will just move on and leave behind their dams and altered eco system and migrate to start the cycle over again. It has also proven itself to be a very adaptive animal and it seems all it needs is access to running water or even a small pond and it will thrive, even if there is no forest for it to use as building materials for its dams. Thus Park authorities have found it has spread far beyond the areas where it was originally introduced and is found in small streams even on the Patagonian steppes. The only reasonable solution seems to be a severe culling of the displaced population and so do not be surprised if Davy Crocket beaver skin hats come back into fashion again.



May 21st, 2008


ONE OF THE WORLDS MAJOR FRESH WATER RESOURCES LOCATED IN ARGENTINA EYED AT BY CHILEAN COPPER MINING COMPANY

In the Argentinean Province of Salta, hidden under the Puna High Mountain Plateau, lies what apparently is one of the major fresh water resources on the planet. Argentinean geologists bore five test wells in the area and one of them gave a yield of 500 thousand metric tonnes of water per hour. However, the Canadian owned mining company Mines Argentina, which has acquired the rights to the water, treating it as a simple mineral resource, plans to export more than a thousand litres per second of the fresh water across the border into Chile to be used by the World's largest copper mine, "La Escondida" for their operations. The Chilean government has prohibited the copper mine from using further underground fresh water sources in Chile and thus the interest in importing water from Argentina. But the issue has reached the Argentinean government and it seems that no export licences will be given. With global warming steaming ahead, fresh water sources on the planet are becoming more and more valuable and scarce and the search for new sources is ongoing over the planet. Industry and agriculture are the main users but in some areas even drinking water is becoming a scarce commodity. A beer anyone?

MYTH OF ONLY GROWING GLACIER ON THE PLANET LAID TO REST BY SCIENTIFIC STUDIES.

The fact that the front of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia in Argentina has not moved either forwards or backwards during the last 90 years had given rise to the myth that it was the only glacier on the planet that was somehow not affected by global warming, as all the other known glaciers are, most of them rapidly retreating at an ever increasing rate. However, this myth was laid to rest by recent research that definitely shows that it is losing mass but in height and not in its length. Of the 53 existing important glaciers in Patagonia, 13 are to be found in the Los Glaciares National Park, and all of them are losing terrain. The loss of volume of the Perito Moreno Glacier is discernible at the edges but not at the front end, which is the part that most tourists visit. Ice water anyone?



May 20th, 2008


PATAGONIAN DISTRICT OF CHUBUT CUT OFF BY HEAVY SNOW STORMS

The main roads of the Patagonian district of Chubut were cut off due to heavy snow falls over the weekend. Rural route 3, which crosses Patagonia following the Atlantic Coast, was cut off North of the City of Comodoro Rivadavia by the inclement climate and the several accidents caused by this. Other routes that were cut off were the so called Ruta Nacional 26, which connects Comodoro Rivadavia with the City of Sarmiento in the extreme South of Patagonia. However, the Ruta Nacional 40 and also the 258, both trunk roads leading into the Chubut Cordillera Mountain Range were the worst hit, since the accumulation of snow was heavier there and the snow continued falling during several days. The local authorities are warning motorists to be careful and have sent heavy equipment into the area to help with the cleanup efforts. The Chubut area was recently in the news because of the ashes from the Chaiten Volcano, across the border in Chile that covered the City and its surroundings.

APPROVAL FOR THE INSTALLATION OF ARTIFICIAL SNOW CANNONS IN THE CHAPELCO WINTER SPORTS COMPLEX IN SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES HAS BEEN APPROVED.

After going through all the municipal instances and the approval of an environmental impact study and the permit of the local water shed authorities, the owners of the Chapelco Winter Sports Complex in the San Martin de Los Andes are now ready to start installing an artificial snow cannon system to ensure that their customers can count on being able to use their ski slopes during the whole of the Southern Winter season. The system will use an auxiliary tank of 500 m3 of water but will rely on natural water resources in the area and will use gravity as the main force to work its main 8 artificial snow cannons. The local aboriginal Mapuche indigenous group has been a deliberating part in the project, since the area falls into parts of their ancestral lands.



May 19th, 2008


STATUE OF CHE GUEVARA TO BE INAUGURATED IN HIS BIRTHTOWN OF ROSARIO

On June 14th, a statue of the former guerilla leader Che Guevara, who was born in Rosario, Argentina 80 years ago, will be inaugurated in his memory. Che Guevara, who wore the nickname of Che (because of the familiar Argentinean greeting) among his followers, accompanied Fidel Castro and other Cubans during their successful uprising against the Batista regime in Cuba. He later on became a minister in Fidel's government, but when Fidel Castro leaned more and more towards the then Russian Soviet model of socialism, he fell out and decided instead to go to Bolivia and support the guerilla movement there. He was eventually hunted down by the Bolivian armed forces and executed by orders from the CIA in the jungle area where he was captured. A charismatic leader, Che and the famous photo of him in his beret is probably one of the most well known icon images on the planet.

THE FAMOUS SO CALLED ABUELAS DE PLAZA DE MAYO TO BE PRESENTED AS CANDIDATES TO THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.

The so called Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, in down town Buenos Aires, will be officially presented as candidates to the Nobel Peace Prize by the Argentinean Senator Danile Filmus and the Vice President Julio Cobos in a ceremony to take place in the halls of the Argentinean Senate. Since 1977, the so called Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo have promoted and defended human rights issues in Argentina, with a special emphasis on the search for those children of parents that were systematically disappeared during the military dictatorial regime. Until today, 88 of these children have been located and their DNA corroborated through genetic testing of their grandmothers, in this case the famous Abuelas.





NATURAL PASTURE LANDS CAN ACCOMMODATE BOTH CONSERVATION AND CATTLE RANCHING
The Argentinean Foundation Vida Silvestre and the Birds of Argentina organization have come to the conclusion that the plentiful natural pasture lands in Argentina, under proper management techniques, can accommodate both conservation aspects and cattle ranching at the same time. The famous Pampas in Argentina and the parts occupied by natural pasture lands covering an area of over 900,000 hectares were found in a study carried out by the Vida Silvestre Foundation to be the home to more than 1600 vascular plant species, around 300 bird species of which 10 % were endemic and approximately 100 species of mammals. Most of these areas were also occupied by cattle ranching on an extended scale and the results showed that this last activity did not affect the bio diversity as other activities in the area such as aquiculture and reforestation programmes. The two organizations are preparing a booklet about good management practices for the cattle ranchers in order to help these to protect the bio diversity of the land they are using.

FOUR NATIONAL PARKS IN ARGENTINEAN PATAGONIA WILL BE 71 YEARS OLD THIS YEAR
The National Parks of Lanin, Los Alerces, Perito Moreno and Los Glaciares, all located in the Argentinean part of Patagonia, will turn 71 years this year. The four emblematic parks were all created by the National Government in 1937 when Roberto Ortiz was president.
The Lanin Park covers an extension of 312 thousand hectares and is dominated by tree species typical of the Northern Andean Mountains in Argentina. It is located in the Province of Neuquen and takes its name from the volcano by the same name. One of its characteristics is that it is co governed by the local government and the indigenous Mapuche people.
The Los Alerces National Park occupies a surface of 263 thousand hectares and is located in the Province of Chubut on the Chilean border where the ashes of the Chaiten Volcano eruption have caused havoc these last weeks.
The National Park Perito Moreno occupies 115 thousand hectares in the Province of Santa Cruz and is the only area where the endemic fish population has not been replaced by introduced exotic species.
The National Park Los Glaciares was declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1981 and occupies an area of 724 thousand hectares in the Province of Santa Cruz. It is justly famous for its impressive glaciers. Happy Birthday to the quadruplets!



May 12nd, 2008


ARGENTINA INCREASES ITS EXPORTS OF FOOD PRODUCTS TO EUROPE.

Argentinean exports of food products of animal and plant origin to the European Union increased by 58 % in value during the three first months of this year, in spite of repeated and ongoing conflicts between the government and food producers, which have led to the blocking of highways and port access areas. A total value of 1,415, 495,000 US dollars of soybean flour, anchovies, cod, shrimp, garlic, peanuts, sunflower oil, grapes and pears and other products were exported to the European Union, with the main buyer being Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium in that order. Other products include high quality beef, honey and barley.

ARGENTINEAN EXPORTS OF WHEAT THIS YEAR STILL BELOW EXPECTED LEVEL.

Argentina export contracts for its wheat harvested until January this year has yet to fulfil the expected results. Only 7,047 million metric tonnes had been compromised in export contracts, compared to last year’s exports of 8,805 million metric tonnes. The total harvest is estimated to have been around 15, 4 million metric tonnes during this same period, although all that volume is not exported since the domestic market in Argentina uses a large part of it for bread production and cattle feed within the country.



May 09th, 2008


AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR GUSENBERGER ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO ARGENTINA

The Austrian chancellor Gusenberger, on an official visit to Argentina pointed out the excellent relations between Austria and Argentina during a lunch at the official Presidential Palace the so called Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires. He also stated his satisfaction if the delegation of Austrian businessmen that accompanied him during his trip were able to go home with new and important contracts. The Argentinean President Christina Kirchner pointed to the economic growth that Argentina is experiencing and the presence of highly qualified workers and population in the country.

THE ARGENTINE RIOJA PROVINCE RECEIVES THE VISIT OF KOREAN BUSINESSMEN INTERESTED IN MAKING INVESTMENTS.

A group of Korean businessmen accompanied by functionaries from their embassy in Argentina recently visited the Argentine Province of Rioja. During a visit paid to the Local Governor of the Province they expressed their interest in investing in La Rioja in the fields of agriculture and food industries and also the mining industry and to improve the communications network by the installation of an optical fibre network. They expect to soon be able to come back with a formal commercial delegation and their ambassador to sign contracts with the local business community.



May 08th, 2008


THE NATIONAL PARK OF LIHUE CALEL – LAND OF THE AURACANOS INDIGENOUS TRIBE.
The inhospitable steppes of the Pampas Region in its Southern part undergo a violent change in it physiognomy where the mountain ranges of Lihue Calel jut up from the apparently unending plains. Although their height is only 590 metres, the contrast is overwhelming, making them seem taller than they really are. Here is the area where the Auracano Cura dynasty dominated the so called mountain pass of the "rastrilladas" where cattle was herded on its way to the High mountain passes in the region. The Cura dynasty, which takes its name from the Auracano word "cura" meaning stone, were first expulsed from the stronghold capital of their empire - Chihue. The Cacique Namancura tried to organize his troops but the Argentinean Army Division Puan, under the command of General Levalle, ambushed his troops and so the son of the great former Cacique Calcufura had to flee towards the Rio Colorado River, where the last remnants of his indigenous troops were definitely defeated. Today the area forms part of the National Park Lihue Calel, which was founded in 1976 encompassing 10,000 hectares of what seems like an optical illusion arising over the Pampas.

ARGENTINEAN NAVY PLANES PHOTOGRAPH WHALES IN THE VALDEZ PENINSULA FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES
An aircraft PC-6 Pilatus Porter from the Argentinean Aero Naval Anti Submarine Squad photographed over 700 whales in the waters off the Valdez Peninsula in Chubut this last April. This is part of an ongoing project since 1970 with the Institute for the Conservation of Whales - ICB by its Spanish acronym. The differences of the form of the heads with attached barnacles are a ways of recognizing individuals and also the pod they belong to. The results were encouraging since they showed an increase of 9% in the population over last year’s figures. The Valdez Peninsula is one of the world’s most appropriate places to sight Southern Right Whales.



May 07th, 2008


WALKING ON ICE IN ARGENTINEAN PATAGONIA ENDS WITH A DRINK OF WHISKY WITH AGE OLD ICE

The Patagonian Glacier Perito Moreno regularly feels the footsteps of visitors walking along one of the tours offered by the local concessionaire of this National Park. Called Ice and Adventure three different tours are offered: the Nautical Safari, sailing for an hour in the Lake in front of the Glacier, the Mini Trekking, which will take two hours on the ice, and the Big Ice, which will take up to four hours. Before starting out on the different tours offered, the visitors receive a talk on the geological history of the area and how it is being affected by global warming. However, for many of the visitors, the highlight of the experience comes at the very end of the walk when the guide will offer each participant a glass of aged whisky with thousand year old ice picked up at the same spot at that moment.

SURREALIST PAINTERS FROM ARGENTINA HOLD SHOW WITH MORE THAN 150 PAINTINGS ON DISPLAY.

The Pabellon de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires has just opened a show of more than 150 paintings of Argentinean surrealist painters. The exposition, which is called “Presences and Avatars” shows of works of artists such as José Planas Casas, Juan Batlle Planas, Ideal Sánchez, Luis Barragán, Vicente Forte, Orlando Pierri, Bruno Venier, Osvaldo Borda, Roberto Aizenberg, Jorge Tapia and Víctor Chab, all representing different epochs and the best of the Argentinean painters. The paintings are all from the private collection of Mauricio Neumann, who personally knew all the artists, some of them as patients of his psychiatry practice and many of them as personal friends in his role of art collector. In the words of the curator Cavanagh, the exhibit can justly be called didactic, in the sense that it not only shows works of the surrealist movement in Argentina but also what this movement left as an impression in the history of art in Argentina. The exposition is open until May 18th, from Tuesdays to Sundays, between 11 AM to 7 PM at the Pabellón de Bellas Arte of the UCA, in Alicia Moreau de Justo 1300, first floor.



May 06th, 2008


INTENTIONAL BURNING OF GRASSLANDS IN THE RIO DE LA PLATA DELTA CONSIDERED ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
The Argentine Federal Secretary of the Environment accused owners of cattle and sheep farms in the delta area of the Rio de la Plata of intentionally causing the huge fires that have devastated this unique wetlands area, second in size in South America. The area, which extension is 14 thousand square kilometres, with a total length of 320 km. is the home to a great biodiversity including 77 endemic plant species out of a total of 643. There are also recordings of 430 different species of animals, including 36 endemic species and another 40 endangered and of great environmental value such as the Swamp Deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), an animal included in the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. The Secretary has asked the Office of the Federal Prosecutor to make a preventive embargo for a value of more than 200 million Argentine pesos, while opening law suits against those that might result responsible for this environmental catastrophe.

THREE THOUSAND HECTARES OF WETLANDS IN THE RIVER PARANA BASIN TO BE INCLUDED IN THE RAMSAR LIST
The National Reserve of Otamendi, located on the Parana de las Palmas River close to the Argentine city of Campana has been declared as the sixteenth area in Argentina to be included in the RAMSAR Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands, taking its name from the Iranian City of Ramsar, where the Convention was signed in 1971. The site of an area of 3 thousand hectares protects important areas of wetlands, considered vital in the conservation of important eco systems, functioning as a barrier against floods and as an excellent carbon sink so important in these times when the effects of global warming are becoming more evident every year.



May 05th, 2008

OVER 60,000 PILGRIMS EXPECTED TO VISIT THE SANCTUARY OF THE LORD OF MIRACLES OF MAILIN, THE CAPITAL OF THE ARGENTINE PROVINCE OF SANTIAGO DE ESTERO

At only 170m km from the Argentine City of Santiago de Estero, capital of the Argentine Province by the same name, lies the small Hamlet of Villa Mailin of only 500 inhabitants. Over 60 thousand pilgrims are expected to visit the hamlet during the festivities, most of them from Argentina itself, but also may from neighbouring countries. After the mass and during what is locally known as the “Big Fiesta” a procession will take place that will end in the Mailin Parish and its sanctuary. The hamlet Mailin takes its name from a Vilela tribe quechua word, which meaning is “pond with a well”. It is first mentioned in documents going back to 1615. In the year 1882, the old man Juan Serrano started telling his neighbours about the shining light that he had seen at the foot of a tree, still standing a few metres away from the present day location of the Sanctuary of Mailin. Followed by a group of neighbours, he went back and they found to their astonishment that the shining light coming from the roots of the old “algarrobo” tree was in reality the reflection of a silver crucifix that was so firmly embedded in the trunk that not even their joint efforts over a number of days could budge it. Only in 1968 was it possible to retire the crucifix, through the intervention of the church member Laureano Verez, who verified in writing the version by the old man and which allowed the transfer of the crucifix to the humble cottage, which today holds hundreds of pilgrims looking for shelter and solace.
 


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