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Buenos Aires Hours | Protests in Cuba fueled by worst economic crisis since the fall of the USSR

Cuba has seen its biggest street protests in decades as thousands demonstrate to demand freedom and food. The deepest economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a spike in Covid-19 infections, blackouts and increased use of social media have all contributed to fan dissatisfaction with the Communist regime in 62 years old.

Economic downfall
The pandemic devastated the island’s economy. As tourism dried up, the economy shrank by 11% in 2020, according to Economy Minister Alejandro Gil, its deepest collapse since the early 1990s, when the collapse of communism in Europe. the East had deprived the nation of allies and trading partners. In response, the government this year ended many subsidies and eliminated the decades-old dual currency system. The changes were necessary but also triggered an “inflationary spiral”, according to the Cuban Ministry of Finance and Prices. Some economists estimate that inflation could exceed 400% this year.

Covid-19 epidemic
Cuba kept a lid on Covid-19 infections at the start of the pandemic and created two local vaccines. But the infection rate is now skyrocketing, even though the island of 11 million people administered 7.5 million doses. As of Sunday, the country reported 6,923 new cases of coronavirus and 47 deaths from Covid-19 – two daily records. President Miguel Díaz-Canel said on Monday that having so many people infected and isolated was hurting the economy by forcing the island to devote its limited electrical resources to hospitals and recovery centers.

Hungry walkers
Cuba imports many of its staples, and the cash-strapped administration struggles to keep shelves fully stocked. He recently limited the ability of people to exchange their Cuban pesos for dollars, one of the key pieces of January’s reform package, because the government needed money to finance imports. These problems, combined with the general economic slowdown and skyrocketing inflation, mean that many Cubans are not eating enough. Besides the chants of “Freedom” and “Down with Communism” that were heard over the weekend, one of the key messages was “We are hungry”.

The economic slowdown is also accelerating emigration. As of May of FY2021, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said they had arrested 23,066 Cubans – many more than the 14,015 they arrested in the previous fiscal year.

Power outages = blackout
Cubans are also enraged by the continued power cuts. Mines and Energy Minister Livan Arronte said on Monday that a combination of power plant outages, increased energy demand and fuel import issues due to US sanctions had leads to energy rationing. Venezuela, once a reliable Cuba ally with crude oil, has also not been able to provide much aid as it grapples with its own economic crisis.

Embargo and Twitter
For Cuban authorities, the protests have two main drivers: the 59-year-old US trade embargo and social media. The embargo was tightened in 2017, further compressing the Cuban economy and reducing the number of countries willing to do business with the island. The regime also claims that the United States has manipulated Cubans through social media into joining the protests. The number of Cubans with access to social media has increased in recent years. On Monday, the government appeared to restrict access to some sites, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

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by Jim Wyss, Bloomberg

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Argentina records 100,000 virus deaths as Delta variant looms

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Argentina on Wednesday reported more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, a blow to a country that has intermittently imposed some of the world’s toughest lockdowns , only to see a lot of erratic compliance.

Some 614 people have died of the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 100,250, the health ministry said.

“I feel bad, it’s not what we thought would happen. … This is a difficult statistic, very difficult, ”said Luis Cámera, a doctor specializing in gerontology and advisor on the pandemic to the government of President Alberto Fernández.

Cámera attributed the heavy toll to “some errors” in the periodic lockdowns as well as the damage inflicted by the virus variants that swept through the region.

“The Argentine quarantine was extended on paper but not on the way people behaved,” Cámera said.

He was referring to large gatherings of people who defied social distancing guidelines and may have helped spread the virus in late 2020. There have been protests against the death of football star Diego Maradona and approval. by Congress of a law allowing abortion in most cases.

Cámera added that a second wave of coronavirus in late March “came sooner than it should have,” in part “due to people’s misconduct and with new, very aggressive variants.”

In addition, Argentina was in economic difficulty even before the pandemic and many citizens were ignoring quarantine rules in order to be able to earn a living and provide for their families.

Then, restrictions on gatherings were relaxed during Argentina’s southern hemisphere Christmas and summer holidays, encouraging people to let their guard down and spend time together. The vaccination effort has also fallen behind schedule.

The United States has confirmed the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 with around 608,000, followed by Brazil (536,000), India (411,000), Mexico (235,000) and Peru (195 000). France, Russia, Britain, Italy and Colombia have each reported well over 100,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The center said about 4,052,000 people worldwide have died from COVID-19. The death toll is believed to be much higher in many countries due to misdiagnoses, inadequate testing and other factors.

Argentina has reported more than 4.6 million coronavirus infections. Doctors say many of those who die are between 40 and 60 years old and were infected about two months ago, before they had a chance to get the vaccine. The longer the hospital stay, the greater the risk of health complications and death.

Edgardo Alvites Guerrero, head of intensive therapy at Llavallol Hospital in Buenos Aires, said the pace of the first doses of various vaccines has advanced well lately.

But, he said, “this is far from ideal” because it would be better if most people received two doses of the vaccine before the expected spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

So far, 15 cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus have been identified in Argentina and have been linked to “international travelers” or people related to them, according to the health ministry. Nine cases were detected last week and originated from the United States, Mexico and Paraguay.

Argentina has about 45 million inhabitants. Some 20.6 million people received a first dose of the three types of vaccines available – Sputnik, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm – and about 5.1 million received two doses, according to official figures.

“Expect a new wave to come … we are calm before the storm,” said therapist Gubby Auza while monitoring several COVID-19 patients in an intensive care room in Llavallol. They were all under 60 years old.

Argentina’s Paola Almirón was hospitalized last year with COVID-19 and survived. Her mother, sister, aunt and brother-in-law died from the disease. On Tuesday, she cried as she visited a cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of her missing family members, a year after their funerals.

“My mother died first, two days later my sister and three days later my aunt. It was terrible going to the cemetery with my brother three times in a week, ”said Almirón, 38, nurse supervisor at the Luisa Cravenna Interzonal General Hospital in Gandulfo in the town of Lomas de Zamora, south of Buenos Aires. Areas.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Almirón said she feels some satisfaction every time she vaccinates someone against COVID-19 and hopes people will observe the masking and social distancing until the pandemic. calms down.

“We’ve waited so long,” she says. “We locked ourselves in, we went out, we locked ourselves in again; let’s wait a little longer, in a few months we should all be vaccinated and be fine. ″

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Buenos Aires Hours | Opposition unites as Vidal launches congressional race

María Eugenia Vidal has officially declared her candidacy for the post of deputy in the city of Buenos Aires, saying she wants to “defend the Argentines from the abuse of power”.

Speaking at an event in Palermo last weekend, the governor of the province of Buenos Aires confirmed that she would run for Congress in the capital, formalizing her stint from the district she ruled between 2015 and 2019.

Presenting her case, the 47-year-old accused Kirchnerism of offering “more storytelling than answers” to the problems.

Accepting and launching her candidacy, Vidal said that in addition to “defending Argentines from abuse of power and improvisation”, she also wanted to go to Congress for the opposition coalition to “build again. the word future “.

“Juntos por el Cambio can be broad and diverse but we are all united behind the same values ​​that have brought us here and the same convictions to continue to defend the people but also to have learned new lessons”, declared the person in charge of the party PRO.

Although identified with a moderate wing at odds with the more hawkish line represented by Mauricio Macri, Vidal went out of his way to congratulate the former president in his speech, declaring: “He started this path as a statesman who is today [mainly] in the city and this is the state we want for all of Argentina. “

“In this election, the future of Argentines is at stake. I want to be a deputy to raise my voice when they advance against our freedoms, our democracy, our Constitution and our values”, commented the ex-governor, adding: “I never speculated or researched further.
The PRO executive also sought to explain her decision to run in the City, rather than her old district.

“I am not competing in the province of Buenos Aires because I want others to grow there. My commitment and respect for this province will never change. When this election is over, it will be championed by many other leaders, except me.”

United front?

Vidal was accompanied at the rally by Patricia Bullrich, who chairs the PRO party, city mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, senator Martín Lousteau and Coalición Cívica-ARI leader Maximiliano Ferraro, among other prominent figures from Juntos por el Cambio based in the federal capital.

For some analysts, the rally was seen as a photo op to show a united Juntos por el Cambio in the city, after sparks forced Bullrich to step down from his mid-term candidacy.

“It reflects the unity that we have in this City. We do not all think in the same way but we have values ​​that unite us. We discuss public policy and that enriches it”, said Rodríguez Larreta, stressing that the opposition coalition has “the vocation to keep adding other perspectives.”

The mayor of the city also paid tribute to Bullrich’s “grand gesture” by abandoning the electoral race in the city.

“There is something that should not be overlooked – this is the first time since 1983 that we have managed to maintain opposition to a united Peronist government while defending the institutions,” Rodríguez Larreta stressed, adding. “The grita The breakup was good business for the politicians but unnecessary for the people. I am convinced that we will have a great national election with these values. “

For his part, Bullrich placed the country “at a turning point between a decadent past and a thirst for progress”, adding: “This turning point imposes a huge responsibility on us because we have been chosen as an alternative”.

“This list of [candidates for] national deputy has two fundamental elements: the republican resistance, like our [Congress] the caucus showed and pressed the accelerator towards hope and protection of a country with more private than public employment where the law prevails and which is tough on endemic crime, and which turns into social plans to give families a life project and progress instead, “she said, predicting:” We will have a great election because the people hope to return to progress.

Finally, Lousteau called for building “a larger and better Juntos por el Cambio with new voices and more management capabilities. We are working to provide the best electoral options everywhere.”


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Buenos Aires Hours | Tears and cheers: Argentina erupts as 28-year wait comes to an end

Tears, cheers, screams of joy to the skies – Argentina celebrated in style on Saturday night as the country’s grieving supporters celebrated the end of a 28-year drought.

All eyes were on the television screens as the Albiceleste emerged victorious from the Maracanã, taking a 1-0 victory over rivals Brazil to claim the Copa América title.

As Uruguayan referee Esteban Ostojich whistled to mark the end of the match – and captain Lionel Messi fell to his knees to celebrate on the grass in Rio de Janeiro, Argentina erupted. In scenes recreated in villages, towns and cities across the country, supporters dressed in light blue and white flocked to the streets, cheering, jumping, singing and celebrating.

This is Argentina’s first major title since 1993 and not just, it’s Messi’s first trophy with the national team. For the first time, fans got to see the world’s best player celebrating with his compatriots – doubling down on the cause of the celebration.

‘To finish!’

“Finally, finally!” Shouted Argentinian commentator Juan Pablo Varsky as victory was confirmed, the sign for thousands of people to flood the streets and make their way to the city center.

As usual, huge crowds gathered around the iconic Obelisk monument in the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires‘ famous stage for mass celebrations. With Covid-19 fears temporarily all but forgotten, fans had stepped out to celebrate in style. As the mass of supporters grew larger, cars soon began to flood Avenida 9 de Julio, honking their horns with joy.

The last time such a large crowd was seen in Buenos Aires was another football-related event: the sad loss of perhaps the country’s greatest player, Diego Maradona, last November.

Large crowds were also reported at various locations across the country, particularly in Rosario, the hometown of Messi and flying winger Ángel Di María, who scored the winner on Saturday night which helped Argentina to win the title.

Joy – in times of pain

Social media was another place where the euphoria was channeled. A few seconds after the final whistle, #Estoyllorando was a trending topic, as was #Maradona, with thousands of messages posted saying the late star must have been part of it.

“I would like to congratulate and embrace our huge team for bringing the country to the top,” President Alberto Fernández said in a message on Twitter.

“The Argentine people will always remember that in times of pain, they sowed hope and brought us immense joy. VAMOS ARGENTINA! ” he wrote.

Politicians across the aisle quickly posted messages, with the grieta – Argentina’s strong political polarization – briefly forgotten in a moment of national euphoria.

A TV clip that went viral showed a fan shouting that the country was finally united, if only for a moment.

“Today there is no inflation, no parallel exchange rate, today there is only Argentina and we are together!” the unidentified fan shouted into a microphone on the C5N news channel.

Back in the bars, many were still in disbelief.

“I loved it, I saw us pressuring (…) and I loved seeing [Ángel] Di María scored the goal, he deserved it, “said Facundo Martínez, 22, at Patio de los Lecheros, a food market in Caballito which projected the match on a giant screen.

Fans had watched the game there and at various bars and restaurants across the country while following Covid protocols, but Saturday night’s street celebrations fell far short of the rules.

Some were already expressing concerns about the potential impact on infections and deaths the scenes could be responsible for.

Most of the fans, however, were still in seventh heaven on Sunday morning. The long wait is over – and it’s certainly worth celebrating.


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Buenos Aires Hours | City Hall eases Covid restrictions on outdoor gatherings and events

The Buenos Aires city government on Thursday announced changes to its coronavirus protocols and restrictions for citizens, attributing the news to a decrease in infections and average daily deaths.

Health ministry officials on Thursday reported 19,256 new cases and 466 deaths in the past 24 hours, including 954 in the nation’s capital. The bed occupancy rate in intensive care units (ICU) fell to 64.3% nationally and to 62.2% in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA).

Speaking at a press conference at Parque Patricios, the city’s mayor, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, said the recent decline in cases had continued, with the seven-day average of cases dropping from 2,500 to 1 He said that the intensive care units were at an occupancy rate of 43% in the capital.

He also reminded the porteños that vaccination was now open to all citizens over 30 for a first dose.

The new measures entered into force on Friday July 9, although some transport-related will be gradually rolled out.


– From July 9, social gatherings in public outdoor spaces will be allowed, up to a maximum of 20 people.

– Meetings of up to 10 people are also authorized in the outdoor spaces of houses and apartments, as well as in the common areas of buildings and buildings.

– Professional activities in person may return, with offices at 30% of their maximum occupancy.

– The use of common areas in hotels will be authorized, once again capped at 30% of its capacity.

– From August, outdoor cultural events are authorized, up to a limit of 1,000 people.


– 15 Subte metro stations to reopen: 10 on Monday 12 July (Línea A – Plaza de Mayo, Acoyte; Línea B – Callao, Dorrego, Carlos Gardel; Línea C – Lavalle; Línea D – Callao, Palermo; Línea E – Boedo , Medalla Milagrosa) and the other five on Thursday July 15 (Línea A – Carabobo, Loria; Línea C – San Martín; Línea E – José María Moreno; Línea H – Venezuela)


– In the second semester, the Segundo Boletín program will be implemented, said the mayor, who described it as a “personalized plan tailored to the needs of each high school student”. Rodríguez Larreta said he would “set specific learning goals and plans involving children, teachers and families”, providing extra support and help outside of school hours.


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Buenos Aires Hours | Glitch-ridden Mercosur summit highlights trade divide

The deep divisions in Mercosur’s trade policy were exposed at a South American customs union summit on Thursday, when Uruguay insisted on a plan to pursue its own trade deals, in defiance of the negotiating strategy of the bloc advocated by Argentina and Paraguay.

“We believe that the way is to respect the Treaty of Asunción: to negotiate with third countries or blocks and to respect the figure of consensus as a basis for decision,” reacted President Alberto Fernández at the summit on Thursday. “In our integration process, no one is saved alone”.

Uruguay will remain in Mercosur and its decision to sign bilateral trade agreements is in line with bloc rules, said President Luis Lacalle Pou, whose father was one of the founding leaders of the customs union in 1991.

“It does not mean breaking or breaking the rule of consensus,” he said. “Uruguay wants to move forward with Mercosur. Together, we have more strength, more dimension and power to negotiate with the world. “

Technical failures clouded the summit which moved away from the traditional format in which the host country broadcasts all presidential speeches, leaving each country to find its own solution. As a result, Lacalle Pou’s speech lacked audio and that of President Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay was not even broadcast live to the public.

New strategy

Lacalle Pou’s new trade strategy upset three decades of Mercosur consensus after Uruguay’s proposal to allow members to negotiate deals, individually or as a group, did not garner broad support. A parallel move backed by Brazil and Uruguay to cut Mercosur’s common external tariff also failed at this week’s summit in which Argentina ceded the bloc’s six-month pro-tempore presidency to Brazil.

“We cannot let Mercosur continue to be seen as synonymous with inefficiency, wasted opportunities and trade restrictions,” said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who did not endorse Lacalle Pou’s plan.

Fernández is resisting exposing Argentina’s fragile economy, hit by three years of recession and double-digit inflation, to increased foreign competition. Tensions between Mercosur reformers and defenders of the status quo sparked an awkward moment in March when the Peronist leader suggested Uruguay should leave Mercosur if he was not happy.

Moreover, it is the lax protection of the Amazon rainforest by Brazil, and not the protectionist instincts of Buenos Aires, that is holding back the historic free trade agreement that Mercosur and the European Union concluded two years ago. years. The EU refuses to sign, let alone ratify, the deal until Mercosur addresses its environmental concerns.

Uruguay, for its part, is keen to conquer new markets for commodities such as soybeans, beef, dairy products and forest products which constitute the bulk of its exports. Local journal Busqueda reported Thursday, citing unidentified government sources, that the administration was seeking a free trade deal with China.

“We are going to have trade relations with China as much as possible,” Lacalle Pou said at the Latin America Freedom Forum last month.

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by Ken Parks, Jorgelina do Rosario & Simone Preissler Iglesias, Bloomberg

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L-Gante announced its first public show in Buenos Aires

“Look at mom, look at Claudia!”. With these words L-Gante confirmed his first concert with an audience in the city of Buenos Aires. The artist – who has become one of the most resonant figures in contemporary music – will take his songs to Villa Crespo September 25th.

A publication on Instagram was enough to arouse the enthusiasm of all his fans who – only in the social network of photos – total more than two million. The artist promised a show with many surprises without adding too many details about your arrival at the Arena Buenos Aires stadium.

“Thank you for allowing me to make a dream come true”, wrote Elián Valenzuela, 21. The young man of General Rodríguez who, in a few months, went from the status of a rising singer in search of an opportunity to that of a representative of the movement which accumulates more 180 million streams.

The output of “Villarap” -the Bizarrap Music Session- was the starting point of his songs to cross borders, with this impulse Ghent quickly became an export phenomenon. His themes began to revolve around Europe, United States and Mexico, to the point that he began his first international tour a few weeks ago.

The collaboration of the young artist broke several reproduction records. Photo: Press

Cumbia 420 in the hands of the producer of the moment, exceeded in 10 days the 30 million views and nine million in the rest of the platforms, in addition, it remained for weeks in the first place on Spotify Argentina. Today, it has more than 180 million views.

The speed at which the artist became popular was astonishing. In March, the song was released, which was also the first time Bizarrap included cumbia in one of his featurings. From then on, all were parties, records, trips and neighbors waiting at the door of their house so he can take a picture with his new idol.

Although he swept Villarap, he rose to prominence in 2018 with “L-Gante RKT ”-which now has 196 million views on YouTube-, with this theme He rose to fame in the country and got Vice President Cristina Fernández De Kirchner to name him in a speech. And, was the song recorded with Conectar Igualdad’s computer. This is why he was cited as an example of the achievements made with the program that the government launched in 2010 and which allows students to access technology. L-Ghent later clarified that he was actually no longer in school and had bought it from another boy.

Immediately, the artist became a trend on the networks. Photo: Instagram @lgante_keloque

The singer was in Spain where he gave a series of concerts and then traveled to Mexico. He recently shared a video celebrating the success of “Malianteo 420” and eat with Patón Guzmán, the goalkeeper of Los Tigres. The Argentinian player invited him to his home and took him to visit the Nuevo León stadium.

Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and is not edited by our team.

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Argentinian builders break down barriers

Published on: Amended:

Buenos Aires (AFP)

Dressed in blue overalls, Barbara Burruchaga pulls a rope to lift buckets of sand to the roof.

Alongside other Argentinian women, she breaks stone, mixes concrete and builds walls – they don’t just build houses, they break down barriers.

“Being a mason makes me happy, we were told ‘no’ for a long time,” Burruchaga told AFP.

“I love to tell my dad, who is the most surprised and least confident person,” added the 21-year-old as she carried equipment to renovate an old cultural center on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

Change is happening quickly in the industry.

According to the Argentine Construction Workers’ Union, the number of women in the industry increased by 131 percent from 2003 to 2010 and they now represent five percent of the workforce.

It may not seem like much, but compared to other Latin American countries like Mexico (0.4%), it is significant.

Burruchaga is one of eight members of “Dissident Deconstruction”, a collective of women and minority genders dedicated to construction work.

One knocks down a wall while others mix concrete while listening to music and drinking the local traditional mate infusion.

The patriarchal system “says we don’t have the strength for these tasks,” said Eva Iglesias, 36.

But “not all builders are big and muscular, there are a lot of shorties with bellies,” added little Iglesias.

Most of them have back pain, but “they don’t say it because they can’t look weak.”

– ‘Go make the dishes’ –

There are a growing number of women’s construction groups operating in Argentina.

# photo1

‘We Fix It’ is a feminist collective that posts construction workshops on Instagram and functions as a professional network.

‘Dissident Deconstruction Network’ is a WhatsApp group with 90 members working in architecture, construction, plumbing, electrical and carpentry.

Some bands, however, are designed for women who need help with their crafts.

Hairstylist Valeria Salguero, 34, couldn’t afford to hire a contractor to build an extra bedroom for her daughter.

She created a Facebook group called ‘Building, a woman’s thing’, to seek advice.

The result was “crazy”.

In just one month, she had amassed 6,000 followers – mostly single mothers – including from Uruguay and Costa Rica, all eager to fix their own homes.

While some of the comments were negative – “go do the dishes” or “feminazi” – she was recently contacted by an international construction company who offered to train and employ an “all-female” team.

– Government support –

Carolina Gutierrez, architect and builder, says women-only construction sites are necessary.

# photo2

“When there are men and women, (women) are automatically given cleaning tasks,” she said.

They also suffer from harassment and pay inequalities.

“We’re a long way” from equality in mixed sites, she said.

But even the government is getting involved in encouraging women to take up the building profession.

In April, President Alberto Fernandez inaugurated 48 houses for vulnerable people built by mixed teams in the suburb of Avellaneda, south of the capital Buenos Aires.

Fernandez was all the rage by specifically thanking women builders.

Twenty women between the ages of 29 and 59 have been trained by the government and employed in the construction of houses, with pay equal to that of their male colleagues.

Andrea Figueras managed the female crew members who were “more perfectionists”, kept the site and materials “cleaner” and never lost any tools.

However, she says, there is still a lot of work to be done.

“We come home and there are the children, the food, the dishes. They (the men) go home and receive the food. We have to create equal rights at home,” Figueras said.

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Buenos Aires Hours | England set to lift mask, distancing rules as cases soar

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday revealed his intention to lift most legal restrictions on coronaviruses in England, including face masks and social distancing from July 19, urging personal responsibility rather than government edict.

Johnson had initially aimed for a full reopening on June 21, but was forced to push the date back due to an increase in the highly contagious Delta variant.

This variant now represents almost all new cases of Covid-19 in Britain, and infection rates have skyrocketed, raising concerns.

But mass vaccinations have halted a significant increase in hospitalizations or deaths.

“This pandemic is far from over, it certainly will not be by the 19th,” Johnson warned. “We have to come to terms, unfortunately, with more deaths from Covid.

“There is only one reason we can consider moving forward… in circumstances where we would normally be locked in more is because of the continued effectiveness of the vaccine rollout. we will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions, ”he said.

About 86% of UK adults received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 63% their second dose.

But the government’s focus on personal judgment has raised concerns among scientists, who fear hospitals and doctors will be further stretched if the Delta variant goes insane or if new strains emerge.

“Allowing people to make their own choices about it is, in effect, ceding control of the security of these spaces to the less informed, less caring and even the most unresponsive members of society,” said Peter English, former chairman of the Association’s British Medical Public Health Medicine Committee.

England Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said he would always wear a mask “in all indoor and crowded situations” or “if someone else is uncomfortable out of courtesy “.

And he hinted at possible tensions between scientists and ministers, saying at a press conference: “Ministers decide, advisers advise.”

An instant YouGov poll suggested 71% of Britons believe face masks should continue to be mandatory on public transport.

Still travel in doubt

After Russia, Britain has the highest coronavirus death toll of any European country, at more than 128,000, but has gradually emerged from its third imposed lockdown in January.

The remaining restrictions in England include requirements for social distancing and wearing masks indoors in public, bans on most large outdoor events and advice for people to work from home.

The government has already relaxed the ban on major events to allow 60,000 football fans to attend the European Championship semi-finals and final at London’s Wembley Stadium – to two-thirds of its capacity.

The first semi-final is on Tuesday and the England team will play in the second on Wednesday – although German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Johnson last week he was risking too much by allowing so many fans.

The UK government is set to make plans later this week for fully vaccinated Britons to travel to ‘amber’ countries, which include most of Europe, without having to quarantine themselves for 10 years. days upon their return.

But Germany and other countries in Europe are showing no signs of easing their own rules to allow unlimited UK holidaymakers this summer.

As a result, most Britons will have to be content with home vacations, but will have the allure of summer music festivals as part of the planned easing.

They can also anticipate the end of social distancing in pubs, the reopening of nightclubs and the removal of the requirement to record their personal data every time they enter a pub or restaurant.

But companies can still impose their own rules, and it remains to be seen whether public transport operators, including Transport for London, ditch the wearing of masks on trains and buses.

The other nations of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – set their own health policies and move more slowly.

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by Jitendra Joshi, AFP

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Cheek to cheek: keep the tango alive during the Covid in Buenos Aires | photographic essay | Dance

In a cute little square next to a railroad tracks, it’s proven that not even a pandemic can keep us apart.

Five couples lean forward, cheek to cheek, marking milestones that reflect life’s roundabout path. If there is a card, it emerges from a portable speaker, and the melancholy poetry of a tango.

  • Nadia Spencer and her boyfriend, with musician Emi Faryna and singer Luisina Mathieu, during a recording of the online show Vinilo Tinto at the Luzarriaga social club in the Parque Patricios neighborhood. The show went virtual during the pandemic but was previously a neighborhood meeting point for tango enthusiasts on Fridays.

Dancers Sheila Loy and Nadia Spencer with Luisina Mathieu before the recording of the Vinilo Tinto online show at the Luzarriaga social club in the Parque Patricios neighborhood.

“The saying goes that no one wrote a tango while eating yogurt,” said Juan Carlos González, 64, to himself. “To write a tango, you have to have suffered, to have experienced a lot of very hard things.

And it has been a very difficult pandemic year for Argentina. With 4.4 million cases and a death toll approaching 100,000, the country of 45 million people is struggling with some of the worst levels of contagion in the world. Its healthcare system is hanging by a thread, overwhelmed by an average number of daily deaths per million which is the third in the world for seven days.

In this context of devastation, there are also less tangible losses to be deplored. The age of social distancing has made tango an embodiment of all that is forbidden – the warmth of the other, the closeness between strangers, the touch. Those who find vitality and sustenance in Argentinian dance now experience that feeling of nostalgia that is captured in the song.

Demonstration of the tango community and the directors of milonga after a year of closure.

The halls that attracted crowds to the weekly dances – called milongas – are still closed. Dancers teach online or reinvent themselves to survive. Others, like the couples gathered in the small square of Buenos Aires, attend clandestine milongas in the parks. They also mourned one of their own, Juan Carlos Copes, legend of dance and choreography who died at the age of 89 from complications related to Covid.

Nicolas Ponce and his girlfriend in their new boutique in the name of Flores Negras on the theme of tango.
  • Nicolás Ponce and his girlfriend in their new tango themed boutique named Flores Negras. Nicolás is a tango DJ and bandonist. When his tango activities ceased during the pandemic, he began selling plants from his girlfriend’s house and on Instagram, under the name Flores Negras. In November, they opened their first official store in Villa Urquiza.

“For us, it was like they were cutting off our wings, our feet, everything,” said Valeria Buono, violinist and one of the organizers of the outdoor milonga Villa Lugano.

“Not being able to get together with our friends, sit with them and talk, listen to music. All that. It’s so Argentinian. We have this affection which is an integral part of our culture, ”said Buono, 46. “The punch as a way to say hello is kind of ridiculous for us. I still can’t do it. I need to kiss, to kiss, to touch.

Mario Bulacio, one of the directors of The Catedral club.
  • Mario Bulacio is one of the directors of the Catedral club, where he also lives, which stages one of the emblematic milonga in the Almagro district, in Buenos Aires. It started 22 years ago, bringing together tourists, local dancers and people who just want to enjoy the atmosphere and have a drink. Since the start of confinement, it has remained closed. About 50 workers – including waiters, teachers and DJs – have not been able to work since March 20.

Diego Benbassat, bandéonist of the Misteriosa Orquesta.
  • Diego Benbassat is a bandonist of the Misteriosa Orquesta, a famous orchestra that presents a tango show for tourists which is his main and regular income. Since March, he was unable to work and had no income for two months. In June he decided to do something and started working as a delivery guy for online sales platforms until he could play again.

Now popular around the world, tango originated along the Río de la Plata basin, in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, where European immigrants, African slave descendants, and natives have mingled in a cauldron of diversity that has created a unique cultural identity. It is now a huge industry in Argentina which includes dancers, musicians, choreographers and composers, and has a place on Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. But the vast majority of its workers in Argentina are informal, with no safety net to fall back on. As it has done in countless other spheres around the world, the pandemic quickly exposed the precarious conditions in which tango workers live.

For many, a single month without work puts them in a difficult financial situation, said Gaby Mataloni, dancer and teacher. She is part of the Trabajadores del Tango Danza (Tango Dance Workers) association, or TTD, which since May 2020 has been distributing bags of food to people working on the tango circuit, thanks to local and international donations.

Gaby Mataloni and Andrea Uchitel organize the distribution of food bags to members of the tango community in need.
  • Gaby Mataloni and Andrea Uchitel are part of the TTD and organize the distribution of food bags to members of the tango community in need. This week, they use the house of a German archaeologist, friend of Andrea Uchitel, dancer and tango teacher. The house is empty and it’s a great place to organize the bags, which fill up with donations of goods and money.

Andrea Uchitel packing bags of food organized by the TTD to be delivered to tango workers in need.

During all these months of pandemic, the city government of Buenos Aires “has not given a single peso to support culture workers,” said Mataloni, who helped form the TTD four years ago. that a famous tango dancer from Buenos Aires made public his informal working conditions.

“People have started to understand that if we don’t find ourselves making these requests, the conditions are not going to improve,” says Mataloni, who was a pharmacist before becoming a tango dancer who tours the world. Forced abstinence was not easy for her. She was able to teach online, but had to return home with her parents due to financial difficulties.

Inès Muzzopappa.
Ines Muzzopappa
  • Ines Muzzopappa is a dancer, teacher and active member of TTD. A few weeks after the pandemic, she started teaching online. Most of her existing students did not continue with her, but many new ones began to appear, especially from abroad. She gives this course with Corina, her partner, from her living room with a special set, mixing Spanish, English and Italian at the same time.

“I had never been out of work,” said Inés Muzzopappa, her friend and another tango dancer who has migrated online. “I never imagined tango in the virtual world,” she said. But Muzzopappa realized that people craved at least some sort of connection during the loneliest times of the pandemic.

The tango community recognized early on the risk inherent in their proximity and closed venues before the government shutdown in 2020. But over the months a split has emerged, with some pushing to hold events, while others preferred to wait. At the same time, the TTD organized new methods to showcase local talent, such as an online showcase and virtual courses.

Zunilda in her apartment taking a tango lesson with Sheila Loy.
Zunilda in her apartment taking a tango lesson with Sheila Loy.
Sheila Loy teaches tango on Zoom

Like any form of art, tango is a living being that evolves with the times. And just as feminist and queer artists have reinvented its patriarchal foundations, Mataloni believes dance will continue to transform, regardless of post-pandemic reality.

“What we discovered is the need for people to continue enjoying life, despite what is happening to us,” said Buono, scrolling through his tango playlist at Villa Lugano. “The embrace is therapeutic for us. It is healing. He maintains the desire to live. Indeed, romances were formed in these park encounters. “Things have happened,” she says with a smile.

La Milonuita del Parque Chacabuco, an underground milonga in Parque Chacabuco.
  • La Milonuita del Parque Chacabuco is a clandestine milonga that appeared in early November in Parque Chacabuco, a garden crossed by a highway. The idea started with Valeria Buono and Juan Carlos González. For many people, especially retirees for whom tango is a hobby and an art of living, it is an essential space. Officially, it is not yet allowed, but the police do not bother them.

She recalled the first pandemic milonga she organized in September with González, in a large park in the south of the city. It was just the two of them. The worst that could happen, they thought, was for the police to tell them to leave. They did not do it. Since then, they have organized outdoor milongas every week, mainly between couples who know each other. They only had problems about a month ago, when police arrived to enforce social distancing rules and separate the older couples who were dancing.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez is the founder of La Milonuita del Parque Chacabuco

But they are back, and will not go anywhere if René Serrudo has his say. The 65-year-old mechanic traveled nearly two hours from his home in Berazategui to the milonga in Villa Lugano.

“In the capital, you can dance,” he said. “In the province, they closed it.

He chose tango 14 years ago, but in a sense, tango chose it: at the time, he was struggling with the grief of a separation and would go dancing to cheer him up. A woman said to him one day: “You dance very well, but the tango is waiting for you.

He took lessons and found his salvation. “I used to go to church, and stuff, but once I found that, I never gave up on it,” he said.

La Milonuita del Parque Chacabuco
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