Argentina: New 100 peso note to feature Evita

New 100 peso note to feature Evita; Córdoba interprets law to expel prostitutes; Argentina gets off to uneven Olympic start

New 100 peso note to feature Evita

On Thursday this week, the 60th anniversary of the death of Eva Perón, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced that a new edition of the country’s 100 peso note, featuring her face, would be issued.

The new bill will initially be a commemorative limited edition, but Fernández de Kirchner expressed a wish for the new notes to eventually fully replace the current version, which carries an image of 19th-century President Julio Argentino Roca.

Roca is a controversial figure, admired by some for his secularising influence on Argentine education, but reviled by many more for his ‘Conquest of the Desert’, a campaign to exert control over Patagonia which effectively wiped out the region’s indigenous populations.

Fernández de Kirchner also announced the creation of a new social housing project in Evita’s memory, stating that ‘she would have liked that’.

The figure of Eva Duarte de Perón, first wife of hugely influential President Juan Domingo Perón, has known a fair share of controversy.

Her ardour for social reform (she was important in achieving women’s voting rights) is contrasted by some with her reputation as a superficial social climber  – an image given global status by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.

Yet Evita ‘is a character much more accepted nationwide than 20 years ago’, historian Felipe Pigna told Associated Press. ‘Many people who don’t think like Evita, admire her’.

Soon after the presidential announcement, there were reports in opposition newspapers that the new banknotes lacked proper security controls and were incompatible with current ATMs.

However, sources from the Casa de Moneda (the organism responsible for the printing of money) called the reports ‘ill intentioned’ and solely aimed to ‘sully the figure of Eva Perón’. Official reports minimised the differences with existing currency and claimed that ATMs would be swiftly adapted to accept the new bills.

Córdoba implements law to expel prostitutes

A law against people trafficking in the province of Córdoba has been intrepreted in a polemical way by police, it emerged this week.

Since law enforcement officers started closing brothels and whisky bars in the province over a month ago, they have offered women working as prostitutes a choice: go to a state-run ‘refuge’, or return to where they arrived from.

Many of those working in prostitution in Córdoba send money back to their homes in the poorer northern provinces of Salta and Jujuy, though other come from as far afield as the Dominican Republic.

A majority of women are said to have accepted the offer, but human rights organisations said it would solve little if it did not include some effort to reintegrate those affected into other areas of society.

Other criticism has centred around the fact that the law makes no specific mention of such a measure.

María Amelia Chiofalo, Secretary for the Prevention of People Trafficking in Córdoba, accepted that the offer was being made, but emphasised that several other options, from lodging to alternative employment, were always made available first.

Argentina gets off to uneven Olympic start

The first two days of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games yielded mixed results for Argentina.

The women’s hockey team, ‘Las Leonas’ (The Lionesses), notched up an impressive 7-1 victory over South Africa, marking a good start for one of the country’s best medal hopes.

The men’s basketball team, Argentina’s other big chance of gold, had a comfortable lead in their first match against Lithuania at the time of going to press.

The country’s rowers were on track to qualify for the finals, and the men’s volleyball team recorded a 3-0 win over Australia.

However, news from other sports was less positive. The men’s handball team, competing in their first Olympic games, put in a strong showing against previous silver medal-winners Iceland, but lost 31-25.

Table tennis player Liu Song, born in China but naturalised Argentine, was eliminated on Sunday in the second round.