Buenos Aires: a Vanishing Identity

The avenues have not lost their peculiarity and melancholy scenes, yet there is a feeling that time is going under your feet… of Buenos Aires melting under the sun and draining down the gutters. It is as if the afternoon were too heavy to carry for the Latin American Paris. The same wind that rushes past the wooden corner cafés, accomplices of the youngest man as well as the eldest, of the finest lady and the scrounger at the door; also whirls past a Starbucks and a Le Pain Quotidien.  The arabesque decorations of the wooden tables of Café Tortoni, where oniric creatures lie expecting new attenders as the small man on the tile did in paradise, are deceived by tourists who open the ancient door and rush out to the next tango stop.

The intimate corners have been multiplied, reflected by the ignoble metallic windowpanes, abolishing the uniqueness of each chair, bend, underpath. Now it merges into the indistinguishable nature of a polished glass. The city that was once fervour, now stands wanly brittle. The signboards being the only flags noticeable among rooftops; the ignominious mirage of a city that exhibits both the stiltedness of a museum and the frivolity of a shopping mall.

Anybody walking down Avenida de Mayo would notice that the iconic newspaper vendors are in retreat. The old bookshops reservedly open their doors. A bookseller strokes the back of a timeworn ochre book that is perched on the edge of a wooden plank – as if about to commit suicide, while being supported by two grubby benches. The piles of books are stifled by two towering McDonald arches on one side, and a shimmering shop-front stuffed with J.K. Rowling best-sellers on the other. Plaza de Mayo, timeless yet unrecognisable, hides under the impenetrable morning mist, shamefully exposing the grazes of yesterday’s feminist protest. The Roman Catholic cathedral, older than the country itself, now seems but an excessive burden upon the trembling pillars that support it. A black graffiti on the outermost pillar reads: your God is a Fascist.

Hedonism has defeated national identity and morality. Admittedly, liberalism has also contributed its fair share towards effacing Buenos Aires’ identity. But while it might have substituted local coffee shops with Starbucks, it is social progressivism what has systematically weakened the foundations of Argentinian identity, by importing an alien one while thinking of themselves as revolutionaries against the establishment – to whom they merely serve as colonial means. Philosophical and moral consensus will destroy the nation.

Manuel Restaurador – Voice of the Right


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