02 November 2007

Bloggers outside Buenos Aires

I've talked about the disproportionate representation of Buenos Aires in the media and its projection in the international image of Argentina. Prompted by a comment by Pieter, I'll revisit that topic and I'll add to it. Pieter says that from the point of view of the outside world, Argentina seems to consist of BA and nothing else, and specifically noted that Argentine English-language blogs are all porteños, with the exception of moi, and there seems to be not a single blog based in Córdoba.

Now Rosario has an active Spanish-language blogosphere, and I although I'm the only blogger here that writes his own blog in English, I know that others can and do contribute in English in other forums. On the other hand, I haven't really searched for Córdoba-based blogs, but I haven't run into any yet. Now Córdoba was a center of culture before Rosario even existed as a handful of mud houses, and is still a vibrant university town, a major touristic area, and an industrial power, with a population around 1.5 million, even larger than Rosario's. (We rosarinos consider ours to be Argentina's "second city" for other reasons besides mere population, but we have no quarrel with the cordobeses.) I don't see how there could be no bloggers there.

Not only that, but for the most part nothing from the "interior" of the country appears in the Argentine blogosphere (for an international audience, that is), again, with the exception of this blog (see e.g. the Argentine blogger section of Bloggers in Argentina). References to Rosario, Córdoba and other large cities are almost nonexistent, save for Mendoza — which in turn is pictured as merely a huge winery with some pretty snowy mountains in the background. No mendocino, that I know of, is blogging in English from/about Mendoza.

I have no idea if people in Córdoba and Mendoza have the sort of local pride that we have here in Rosario. I don't see why they wouldn't. If they don't make themselves known, if they don't advertise themselves, talk about themselves, and refuse to yield to the unfortunate circumstance that all major media are based in Buenos Aires and believe it to be the Axis Mundi, then they'll continue to be under- (or mis-) represented.

For ages we were told (we're still told) that we were pathetic countryfolk trying to mimic Buenos Aires' sophistication, but I don't think that's true anymore, if it ever was. The large cities of the so-called "interior" are sophisticated (enough, at least), prosperous, quieter, safer, and cheaper to live in than Buenos Aires. We need to make those things known, not just to attract expats and tourists, but to establish the principle that Argentina can be truly federal, and multicentric.

As an aside, all the people I know who've recently gone to BA for tourism, family or business tell me the capital is quickly becoming an unlivable place: prices are a rip-off, traffic's crazy, people seem always in a hurry, crimes are commonplace, and horrific poverty is always visible next to the consumerist fever of these days, in the midst of a thousand new luxury towers and the shiny shopping malls. I know what poverty looks like from up close, but on my last trip to BA, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the shanty town just beside Retiro, which is turning into something bigger than a mere villa miseria and more like a favela. My brother recently went to a town just outside BA, in the conurbano, and said that, for all the wealth of the capital, its suburbs reminded him of Africa: poor, rotten, rusty and crumbling. It's not that Rosario doesn't have that — it was the sheer scale of it that made such an impression on him. For all the faults of our local governments, they've never let things turn into such a nightmare.

I realize this is a very short explanation that veers off the main issue and I need to write a bit more about the causes and effects of Buenos Aires' dominion over the rest of the country, and its current problems. I don't know if I'm capable, but I'll try... when I have the time.

3 comments:

  1. Great Summary!

    Now, if you'll permit a little shout out to myself (read: spam...but in a good way), my blog Chileno is the only blog from the Southern Cone to make it as a finalist in the 2007 Weblog Awards.

    It's not Argentina, but I write about Argentina a lot and if I am "elected", I promise to do a major summary of Argentinean blogs and pump lotsa traffic your way.

    Vote for Chileno Now!

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  2. Usually I read your blog, just for the sake of a pleasing sensation that the blogonet isn't just blabling.

    I knew it because of your brother "rolero's" blog, and as I see it, you wrote and still write excellent observations. I really like this post, wich brings something that I haven't thinked from that perspective...

    So... cheers to you =)
    I'll keep reading, and eventualy, commenting things around here.

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  3. Just found your blog (from the United States) while looking for someplace to stay in Argentina other than Buenos Aires. I just added you to my blog reader -- I like what you write. Next March I expect I'll be visiting your home town for a couple of months to see how I like it and to add one more English language blog to la ciudad ...

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