Argentine Icons: Pope Francis Gets Signed Lionel Messi Jersey



VATICAN CITY - Argentina happens to be blessed right now with the world's greatest active soccer player and the current Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. On Wednesday, the two Argentine icons got a bit closer when Pope Francis was presented with the No. 10 Barcelona jersey of Argentine striker Lionel Messi.

Spain's news agency EFE writes that at Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Spanish-born Vatican official Miguel Delgado Galindo handed Francis a signed Messi jersey from his club team FC Barcelona.

Screengrab from CTV

Along with his Barcelona teammates, Messi has spoken of his wish to meet his compatriot Pope Francis. In a letter published by El Mundo Deportivo, and signed by Messi, the president of the team invited Pope Francis to come and watch a match at their Camp Nou stadium.

On Monday, Pope Francis met with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who presented the pontiff with the jersey of Spain's national team, winner of the both the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship.

According to Clarin, they discussed, among other things, the Clericus Cup -- the Vatican’s Soccer tournament.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave Pope Francis a signed Spain shirt on his trip to the Vatican…

— Football Gossip Man(@FootieGossMan) April 16, 2013

It’s a well known fact that humble Francis has been a long-time supporter of the long-struggling San Lorenzo de Almagro team in Buenos Aires, which honored him by placing his picture on a commemorative jersey for the team last month, writes Italian sports site Calcio Mercato.

San Lorenzo De Almagro

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

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

CAUCHARI — 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.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!