Artist Turns CIA Papers Into "Mosaic" Of U.S. Role In Latin America

Inside Buenos Aires's museum.
Inside Buenos Aires's museum.
Ivanna Soto

BUENOS AIRES â€" When Voluspa Jarpa got her hands on piles of court papers and declassified CIA documents linked to Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, she saw an opportunity to make art.

The Chilean artist decided she'd use the material to create a vast, albeit austere, visual display that doubles as a discrete historical indictment of a time when the United States meddled shamelessly in Latin American domestic affairs.

Visually, the exhibition Round Here In Our Little Region, which opened at the Latin American Art Museum in Buenos Aires, is consciously minimalist. It's in homage to the artistic movement in vogue at the time of the events concerned. Its installations, like the "curtain" of papers hanging over a doorway, consist of simple components like papers or plain pictures pertaining to dozens of regional politicians whose deaths under the various military regimes in many cases remain unresolved.

Art can, of course, give emotional power to otherwise humdrum objects like judicial reports. One paper shows the words "Get me out of here immediately, please," scrawled by the former Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva to his daughter, before he died in hospital in 1982. The Christian Democrat had by then become a critic of the military regime he initially supported, and investigations suggest he might have been murdered or at least "negligently" killed during treatment.

Jarpa uses documents from several countries because she wants viewers to use many documents to piece together the "bigger picture" or recurring regional patterns, like the leitmotivs that recur in minimalist art and music. And the simple visuals contrast with the complexity, or perhaps ambiguity, of their contents, which may not necessarily tell a clear story.

What does a written instruction, an inconclusive report or a cryptic embassy note really tell its reader about the region's history? Especially if it is in English?

The show closes with the installation "Translation Lessons", wherein five screens show Jarpa learning English so she could read CIA papers, and suggesting how the fates of nations were being decided elsewhere. In this context, English becomes an "alien" code Latin Americans must access to understand their own history.

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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

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.

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