The economic crisis and looting riots in 2001 in Argentina had caught our attention, regarding the general state of world economy and growing tension in the countries of Latin America. Such riots are not a novelty in such countries. There were riots in Brazil, Venezuela and other countries of Latin America. It seems that such riots are used to reach political and economical goals of certain political parties. The high degree of politicization of everyday life is a characteristic feature of the way of life in these countries, similar to some states in Eastern Europe. The ties between everyday life, politics and collective violence are the topic of the blog and are more closely investigated in J. Auyero’s book “Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina”ť.
The looting riots in Argentina in December 2001 were a result of multiple reasons. First of all, the people were driven by hunger, they were practically “starved to death”ť ”“ all this happened in a country, which is considered a civilized one. Second reason is lack of jobs and the resulting high rate of unemployment. The third reason was an economical and political crisis. When in March 2001 Fernando De La Rua’s Economy Minister resigned the office, he was replaced by Lopez Murphy, a former Defense Minister. But this replacement was unsuccessful. The new minister, Domingo Cavallo introduced restrictions to the withdrawal of deposits from banks to prevent their collapse. These measures caused problems and delays with money transfers. The business suffered and this only added up to the situation, which was already tense enough. As a result of the December riots, President Fernando De La Rua was forced to quit his office. Besides, to placate the riots, a largest in Argentina’s history unemployment subsidy was lunched.
Flyers with the offers to come and “destroy”ť the supermarkets and grocery stores were distributed among the poor quarters of the city of Buenos Aires by the members of Peronist Party. This is not surprising, because this party holds great authority among workers and descamisados (“shirtless”ť, poor people) for their labor reforms (Winn). Besides, Peronists practice clientelism ”“ Javier Auyero states evidence that they are just buying votes and support for their party. The people were not afraid, calmly entering the stores and taking what they needed out of them. This “angry and hungry crowd”ť however, spared the biggest chain-supermarkets, which are owned by foreign companies. The police too dedicated special attention to protecting these supermarkets (Auyero).
To summarize Archetti’s arguments about the masculinity of the tango in Argentina, we should repeat some of the ideas of the article. First of all, Argentina is a young state, which has no ancient traditions, like European countries. It’s formation took place between the middle of XIX and XX centuries. Two largest ethnic groups are descendants of Italian and Spanish immigrants. Since the beginning of XX century Argentina had underwent a wawe of massive immigration, which, on the point of view of Argentinian nationalists, threatened national identity of argentinians. In the nationalistic circles was invented an image of gaucho ”“ a freeman, a cowboy, who is striving to retain his freedom with the unjust government. This image had deep roots in so called “literature gauchesca”ť (gauchesque literature) which acquired a status of national literature. On the other hand, tango, which originated in the suburbs of the city, very soon was connected to the image of gaucho and rural life. In Europe and all the world tango was seen as a “dance of famous gauchos, cattle-herders in South America, rough men”¦their temperament goes from brutal courtship to a body-to-body that resembles a fight ”“ a tango”¦”ť (Archetti, p. 221). Due to this, tango was also regarded as a “primitive dance”ť (in a sense that it showed genuine feelings of the dancers). Tango became a symbol of Argentina throughout the world. In general, the history of tango and gauchos are very intermingled and difficult to separate due to the influence of this popular image of tango.
Auyero, Javier. Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina. The Gray Zone of State Power. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 2007.
Archetti, Eduardo. Masculinity, Primitivism and Power: Gaucho, Tango and Shaping Argentine National Identity. Web. 6 July 2011.
Winn, Peter. Peron! Peron! Americas: The Changing Face of Latin America and the Carribean. University of California Press, p. 133-160.