Thursday, July 10, 2008

Opportunity on Ice?

Yesterday at 11:20 a.m., Argentine time, the last remnants of the ice bridge connecting the Perito Moreno glacier to the mainland collapsed, and a torrent of ice and water streamed into Lago Argentino. Unfortunately, the website that was to bring the live event to the world seems to have dropped the ball or, worse, taken the ball home and hidden it. For much of yesterday and the day before, a site message said that bad weather prevented live feeds, despite reports of clear skies; since the rupture occurred, the site only links to poor-quality videos of an uncertain age, and they are obviously not of yesterday's event. I've contacted a friend in the provincial tourism office for an explanation, but haven't heard anything back yet.

This sort of situation brings out the cynicism and paranoia in Argentines. On the website of the Buenos Aires daily La Nación, reader comments included speculation that the footage was given exclusively to national government cronies. Admittedly, the right-of-center La Nación is no friend of the government, especially in the current confrontation with farmers over export taxes, but its webmaster deleted so many comments that one can only imagine how intemperate those might have been. One sarcastic commentator said that "The glacier's collapse left the president without any excuse to fly to Calafate - which is what she'd rather do when there are clouds on the horizon." The deleted comments were presumably far harsher, and probably even more personal, than that.

The Santa Cruz province tourism website does post several articles on the glacier's rupture, but does not translate them into English or any other language (though the rest of the site has English, German, Italian and French options). The Secretaría Nacional de Turismo, in charge of promoting Argentina around the world, makes no mention of the event.

This was a spectacular opportunity to promote the Moreno Glacier and Argentina to the world at large. Unfortunately, with everyone seemingly making the worst of a good situation, that opportunity may have been lost.

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