On The Street: Art & Protest in Ushuaia, Argentina

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Ushuaia, Argentina sits perched at the end of the world - el fin del mundo - the southernmost tip of South America. This is the major shipping port for Tierra del Fuego on the Beagle Channel near the infamous Cape Horn.

 

It's home to the kinds of businesses you'd expect to cater to the adventure travelers and other intrepid types heading to Antarctica.

The colorful streets are filled with tour operators, local markets, and restaurants selling mouth-watering centolla, or king crab, caught off the nearby antarctic waters. There's also graffiti, urban street art, and the occasional protest or strike that reflect life in Argentina, and the past and present hardships suffered by many who live here.

 

Much of the urban art reflects the indigenous people and their heritage.

 

This image makes me sad, for several reasons. I tried to tell this woman earlier in the day - in my best worst Spanish - how beautiful I thought she was and how lovely her long hair was. But when I passed her again later on, all she did was give me the finger. I can't really blame her.

 

 

A chairlift takes visitors from the edge of town in Ushuaia up to Glacier Martial.

 

 

Though it's 3,000 kilometers from Buenos Aires, the tango heart beats loudly in Ushuaia.

 

 

"Children are the miracle". The "V" in the lower right corner refers to "the Vanished" or the Desaparecidos, so this might possibly refer to the children of the vanished?

 

 

Anti-government protest art adorns the streets. I always wonder how much teenagers appreciate, or remember, the meaning behind this art they're sitting under.

 

This mural is a chilling depiction of the Desaparecidos, the Spanish word for "the Disappeared."

 

For thousands of Argentine families, this word and the symbol "V" for vanished - has become a symbol of a long harrowing nightmare. Following a coup in 1976, a military junta seized power in Argentina and went on a campaign to wipe out alleged left-wing terrorism. For eight years - under military rule - thousands of people, most of them dissidents and innocent civilians unconnected with terrorism, were arrested and then vanished without a trace. 

 

In 1983, after democracy was restored, a national commission was appointed to investigate the fate of the disappeared. Its report revealed the systematic abductions of men, women and children, the existence of about 340 well organized secret detention centers, and the methodic use of torture and murder. The Desaparecidos have not been heard from to this day.

 

An anti-government strike on the street directly in front of the government office building lasted several days, and we saw the fires and heard the drumbeats through the night.

 

 

The depiction of the local government administrator was not so favorable.

 

 

Protestors are fed and supported by their unions throughout the strike.

 

 

"Where there is a need, create a right" - Eva (Evita) Duarte Peron

 

 

The universal language of music is well-spoken in Ushuaia, and international artists like Bruce Springsteen are portrayed in murals throughout the city.

 

Colorful mural found in a shelter for women - "Original women imitate no one, and no one can imitate them". 

 

Street art, Ushuaia, Argentina

What do you think of urban street art?

 

Is it art/graffiti?

 

Or graffiti/vandalism?