Argentina is an eye-opening place. With permanent financial ups and downs, openly corrupt public figures, incredible food and a capitol city the size of Los Angeles or New York, my first visit there in 1997 introduced me to a new world. It was a memorable weekend not just for the experience, but also because it was the weekend that Lady Di perished in the car crash. So I remember the date and weekend well.
I shot the above photo in the Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires during a city tour. The graffiti artwork reads in Spanish "Argentina Hay gente que te quiere y gente que te usa."
The translation is "There are people that love you and people that use you." You will notice that all the letters are in blue and white, the national colors of Argentina. Except for the last word "usa." These three letters are painted in red, white and blue in the style of the flag of United States of America (USA).
The obvious message is that the US uses Argentina.
When I first saw the wall, I loved it. What a strong visual message. Sure, as an American the message stings a bit, but at the same time, I am sure it is true from the point of view of some Argentinians. And I too have a laundry list of items that I believe the US government has screwed up and continues to make a mess of. Here I have more insight than most people, having worked for the US government myself, both my parents were career federal government employees and my brother has also worked with several federal government entities. I can attest to some things working well, but many being a shameful disaster.
I have my own opinions of what's wrong in Argentina and US involvement there is not high on the list. Nor is the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) influence there (I should share that I worked at the IMF for several years so know it too better than most people), another scapegoat high on Argentina politicians' list of people to blame other than themselves. And yet, the above graffiti is a beautiful political statement.
I went back years later to see the same wall. Unfortunately it had been painted over although you could still make out the outline of the original message if you knew what to look for.
In your travels have you run across blatant political statements against your country? How did you feel? Or has someone accused you of being at fault for your government's decisions?
Check out these other Argentina Spanish Slang Expressions articles.