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Argentina

Senores, Start Your Engines: Is Formula One Headed Back To Latin America?

Europe's economic woes are prompting the Formula One auto racing circuit to seek new markets, including in Latin America, whose export-driven economies are running on all cylinders. Argentina hopes to host a race in 2013, in the seaside resort city o

Argentina's fast and furious F1 legend, Juan Manuel Fangio (Beatrice Murch)
Argentina's fast and furious F1 legend, Juan Manuel Fangio (Beatrice Murch)

Latin America seems to have contracted a modern version of Opera House Syndrome, a 19th and 20th century pandemic that swept through the region causing every country with even an ounce of self-respect to build a place where overweight singers in gaudy costumes could belt out their arias and oratorios.

Only this time around, the delirium that s descending on countries like Mexico and Argentina isn t for the masterworks of Rossini or Wagner, but rather for the mighty machines of Ferrari and Mercedes. Both countries are hoping to host Formula 1 (F1) car races --and say they re willing to put the infrastructure in place to make it happen.

The economic crisis in Europe and the raw materials-driven boom in Latin America are combining to shift the balance of power in the multibillion-dollar F1 racing circuit. Bernie Ecclestone, the man at the top of the operation, has made it clear he s looking for new markets in general, and eyeing Latin America in particular.

Argentine President Cristina Fern ndez de Kirchner is ready to oblige. Formula 1 is coming back to Argentina. And the races will take place in Mar del Plata, she announced this past March. Argentina had its own F1 Grand Prix for decades, but stopped hosting the event after the 1999 version was canceled preseason.

Fern ndez de Kirchner acknowledged that for now, the plan to bring F1 racing back to the country after a 15-year hiatus is still in the negotiations stage. But she made it clear she expects to close the deal. I hope this ends up being signed, if not I swear I ll kill you, she jokingly told Argentine Tourism Minister Enrique Meyer.

Formula 1 will shake on the deal once the money s on the table. How much? Between $200 million and $300 million, of which the Argentine state will have to shell out somewhere in the $65 million range. All of that for just three events --one race per year from 2013 to 2015. Part of that money would go to upgrading the roads and avenues where the races would take place, in Mar del Plata, a coastal city and popular summer tourist destination.

Argentine authorities are hoping the event will bring in even more tourism dollars. Ecclestone is of course looking to profit as well, and thinks expansion into new countries is the way to do it. In 2014, Formula 1 will have a new race in Sochi, Russia. This year a race is slated for Austin, Texas. Spain hosts two races, but will lose one in 2013. Chile, Peru, Panama? Are you taking note?

Read the original story in Spanish

Photo - Beatrice Murch

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

A paper dove reads "Mariupol" at a shelter for displaced children in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine.

Paweł Smoleński

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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