The celebrations for Argentina’s Bicentennial have finished now, though the stands and framework in the center will probably take days—maybe even a week—to tear down. Last night was the grand finale and the news said that over 2 million people crammed into the center to watch the events. I was down there earlier in the afternoon but was by myself and didn’t feel like sticking around solo, so I headed home and watched the rest on TV.
It was pretty impressive to see all of Avenida 9 de Julio filled with spectators, illuminated by the lights from the side stalls and the jumbo screens by the Obelisk. A little after 7 pm, the president began a speech at the Casa Rosada with the leaders of 7 South American nations, including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Rafael Correa of Ecuador. Once the speech was over the leaders made a symbolic march to the Cabildo, or old town hall, where they watched a 3D show on 200 years of history displayed on the bleach white building. I was impressed that they actually took note of the fact that the country had growth problems after the 1930s and the military dictatorship of the 1980s.
Once that show was finished the celebrations moved to Avenida 9 de Julio, just a few blocks to the west. 19 different ‘scenes’ were played out, varying from the murga (carnaval like dancing and music), memorials to the fallen soldiers from the Falklands War, and tributes to tango and folklore. After a while the celebrations got to be pretty boring, but ended before 11 pm.
So now the party is over and it’s back to work. I have to imagine that flag sales in Argentina went up by, oh let’s say, 1000% in the last week, and probably fell down to 0% today. And unless Argentina wins the World Cup, that’s the last time you’ll see such national pride for a while.