After adopting a new law banning trans fats in industrially processed foods, Argentina is starting out the new year with an improved public health outlook. The challenge now is for the food industry to incorporate the new rules, in an adaptation process that started four years ago.
Summers in northeast Argentina are hot and humid. At siesta time, the people of this rural municipality like to drink “tereré” (cold yerba mate), which until now they had problems preparing because of lack of clean water or electricity. But sometimes small donations can make a big dent in inequality.
The eternally young Latin America is also ageing, due to the rise in life expectancy and the drop in birth rates - a demographic revolution that poses new challenges in a region that has begun to move slowly away from its status as the most unequal part of the world.
The construction of gated communities on wetlands and floodplains in Greater Buenos Aires has modified fragile ecosystems and water cycles and has aggravated flooding, especially in poor surrounding neighourhoods.
The boom in unconventional fossil fuels has revived indigenous conflicts in southwest Argentina. Twenty-two Mapuche communities who live on top of Vaca Muerta, the geological formation where the reserves are located, complain that they were not consulted about the use of their ancestral lands, both “above and below ground.”
In Argentina there are more and more women in management-level positions in the public and private sectors, although they still have to forge their way amidst gender stereotypes, while shouldering the double burden of home and work responsibilities.
In Argentina they call it “yeil”, the hispanicised version of “shale”. But while these unconventional gas and oil reserves are seen by many as offering a means to development and a route towards energy self-sufficiency, others believe the term should fall into disuse because the global trend is towards clean, renewable sources of energy.
This small town in southern Argentina is nearly a century old, but the unconventional fossil fuel boom is forcing it to basically start over, from scratch. The wave of outsiders drawn by the shale fuel fever has pushed the town to its limits, while the plan to turn it into a “sustainable city of the future” is still only on paper.
Unconventional oil and gas reserves in Vaca Muerta in southwest Argentina hold out the promise of energy self-sufficiency and development for the country. But the fracking technique used to extract this treasure from underground rocks could be used at a huge cost.
Production here has skyrocketed so fast that for now the installations of the YPF oil company at the Loma Campana deposit in southwest Argentina are a jumble of interconnected shipping containers.
In most Latin American countries schools now provide sex education, but with a focus that is generally restricted to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases – an approach that has not brought about significant modifications in the behaviour of adolescents, especially among the poor.
Immortalised by a famous tango, the “Niebla del riachuelo” (Mist over the Riachuelo river) has begun to dissipate over Argentina’s most polluted river, much of which is lined by factories and slums. But two centuries of neglect and a complex web of political and economic interests are hindering a clean-up plan that requires a broad, concerted effort.
The recovery of “grandchild number 114” – one of the sons and daughters of those who were “disappeared” during the Argentine dictatorship – caused a commotion that many compared to the excitement of making it to the final match of the World Cup a month ago.
Argentina’s supposed “default”, an unprecedented case in the history of world capitalism, sets a legal, political and financial precedent that indicates the need for concrete measures regarding the fine line between legal, ethical business activities and criminal usury.
As Argentina starts to mend fences with the international financial markets, the emerging powers that make up the BRICS bloc invited it to their next summit. This could be a step towards this country’s reinsertion in the global map, after its ostracism from the credit markets since the late 2001 debt default.