There can be no turning two hundred without regrets. Even so, the element of wistfulness was bound to play an especially large role in the Argentine case. The surprise for me last month, as a yanqui spectator auto-marooned these past few years in Buenos Aires, while I strolled up and down the Avenida 9 de Julio—broadest street in the world, so they say—picking my way through the throngs of Argentines out celebrating the May Revolution of 1810, was that the experience of the bicentenario should look so joyous, as it was later reported to have been in polls of the huge numbers who took part, and that the official commemoration of two centuries of Argentine history should at the same time concentrate on several of the darkest passages in the country’s history. On the occasion of the big parade, fighter jets flew overhead and gauchos rode by on horseback, just as you might expect. But there were also actors depicting militant workers calling for a general strike, to evoke the hundreds cut down by paramilitary gangs in the semana trágica of 1919; a gigantic installation, suspended on guy-wires, of the constitution in flames; a float portraying the Mothers of the Disappeared who campaigned to know their children’s whereabouts during the ruling junta’s frenzy of state terrorism in the late ’70s; and another troupe of actors in business suits tossing funny money to the crowd in much the way—this was the idea—that the Argentina of the 90s had plunged into a delirium, soon punctured, of fictitious prosperity.
more from Benjamin Kunkel at n+1 here.