A New Party Trend From Argentina: Fake Weddings

In Buenos Aires, young adults buy tickets to bogus weddings, with hired bride and groom, the way others might pay to enter a disco. It's an odd concept ... ripe for export?

Pretend to say "I do"
Pretend to say "I do"

BUENOS AIRES â€" Weddings are a blast. So why wait for marriage to have one? That is precisely the logic behind a new party trend in Argentina, where young people are staging "fake" weddings with all the food, drink and music of the real thing, but without anyone being legally wed. The bride, groom and officiant are hired actors.

Anyone who buys a ticket can attend. The latest such event, on June 14 in the capital's trendy Palermo district, was sold out days in advance. The average guest is 29 years old. And they are required to respect some basic rules, such as donning formal attire and enjoying themselves.

The idea originated from a group of party-hungry locals frustrated by the dearth of weddings among their friends. "It's what we like to do here, and we think we do it well," says "wedding" organizer Martín Acerbi. "We decided to start our own, with freedom to include or exclude whatever we liked from a typical wedding, but without actually marrying."

These events share some of the most beautiful aspects of a real wedding, such as a bridal entrance and an open bar. They also have themes or story lines, usually in the form of a mishap. So far there have been five such parties in Buenos Aires.

In the first wedding, the bride abandoned the groom minutes before they would tie the knot, thus leading the groom to drown his sorrows! The second party was called "Witnesses of an Attack." "We did a live ceremony with a couple of dancers," Martin says. "The story is that the girl runs from the altar, like in the Julia Roberts film, but the witness declares his love and ends up taking the groom's place."

The last wedding was the most daring. The groom confessed at the altar that he was in fact in love with his podiatrist, so it turned into a gay wedding. Anything can happen at these events, though nothing is allowed to impede the fun.

The concept is now being exported to Russia. "The idea circulated by word of mouth, and the sister of one of us talked about it in Moscow, where she does performance events with tango," Martín says. The producer who heard about it decided to give it a try. "And so we went there to organize a fake wedding, which went very well," he adds.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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