Political situation in Argentina (past and present)
In 1976, there was a coup d’état, which resulted in a military government. The new government applied military law to a civil society.
As a result, everybody became suspect. In addition, our constitutional rights were suspended. The government kidnaps you and there is no justice system that can save you.
Many things happened during the dirty war. We heard things but we weren’t sure what was actually going on. I was a teenager and many of us didn’t know the extent of the war. There was no social media or Internet. It was kept secret in a very good way. That was a dangerous time. I think the Catholic Church saved me because I was so involved as a youth counselor. If I had been the person that I am today, I think I would be missing.
Upon leaving, Argentina was corrupt and had economic problems but the country was moving forward. I believe Argentina was on its way to becoming a developed country. Now, forget it. Argentina has regressed and the fact that everyone is migrating due to a lack of jobs worsens the situation. There are a lot of young professionals moving to Miami because they cannot find jobs in Argentina. Lawyers, engineers, and architects are actually working as wage laborers in the United States because it is the best option for them. In the past few years, more Argentinians have come to Chicago but, because of the weather, they tend to go to Miami.
When your constitutional rights are suspended it is very dangerous for a society. This is actually happening in Argentina right now, except the other way. By that I mean, the people who were chased by the military government in the 70’s are now in power and they want to pass a judicial reform, which basically does what the military government did. Basically the government is extremely corrupt, like any other government before. They want to control everything: they will dictate justice and law. They also want to change the constitution so the president, Christina Kirchner, can be reelected. Either way, from the left or the right, that’s dangerous. When a government tries to suppress constitutional guarantees we are all in trouble. It’s really bad… it’s awful. They are not respecting the constitution. In addition, there is huge inflation.
I received two degrees, a Bachelor in Political Science and Bachelor in International Relations. I then taught Public International Law from 1983- 86. I left Argentina because, while I was teaching, I won a scholarship for journalists from Rotary International. At that point in my life, I was very much in-love with the media already and I was assistant producer for the number one TV show. I was often on radio and I had my own show already. I was also collaborating with other radio shows. I was doing advertising and I developed a small advertising agency with two of my friends. Everything was going well for me. The professor that I was working with at the university, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, and who was also a Rotarian, knew about my work in the media and he said, “There is a scholarship for journalists. Why don’t you apply?”. I said, “Okay fine”. I was married at that time, recently married. Well, actually not that recently… we were married four years but you know what I mean! So I applied for the scholarship and I ended up winning. They were going to send me to Navarra, Spain to La Universidad de Pamplona. For some reason when they reviewed my background, they changed their minds about my location and said “no, no, no, you need to go to the United States”. They changed my destination last minute and I said “fine”.
I didn’t have time to prepare for it. That’s the story of my life! I just face whatever happens. I think everyone has the power to adjust to any situation, because life happens. You don’t get a memo the day before saying “Hey, tomorrow this is what’s going to happen”. Things happen. It’s up to us to keep up with the situation. That’s why I’m very good at doing crisis management, what I’m doing right now. I’m very good at dealing with unknown situations and I’m not afraid. I work very well under a lot of pressure and under critical situations.
In order to come to the United States under the scholarship, I had to take a few tests, one of which was the English proficiency test. I arrived in Des Moines, Iowa and studied for my masters at Drake University. After I completed my masters, I applied for an internship because I wanted to see American media from the inside. I accepted an internship with ABC (TV and radio) here in Chicago. I was also admitted to CNN but I decided to stay in Chicago with ABC. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had accepted the internship with CNN because there are many Argentineans that work for CNN.
I enjoyed my work with ABC but I left ABC after 6 months because they offered me a boring job. I had made a lot of friends in the Latino media because my position at ABC took me to many functions. Drawing on those connections, I began working for La Raza
newspaper in Chicago as a news reporter. In only three months I was the entertainment editor and the tourism editor. This job gave me the opportunity to travel all over the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. However, not even two years into it I got bored because there was nothing else to learn. From there I went to what is known today as Univision radio. I spent almost five and a half years at Univision radio. I spent almost five and a half years at WOJO FM and WIND AM radio (Tichernor Media Systems, known today as Univision radio). I worked as an Accountant Manager selling advertising. I really wanted to be an on air personality, but because the Argentinean accent was not very popular back then and since the majority of the Latino population was Mexican, I ended up in ad sales, which I enjoyed and excelled at. Argentinians, apart from having a different accent in Spanish, have the reputation of considering themselves more European, which other Latin-Americans resent, although today things have changed a bit! Nowadays we are enjoying more popularity because the new Pope and the Queen of the Netherlands are both Argentinean- both classy and humble. Now we’re cool! We were not that cool back then. Anyways, I worked in advertising and I did very, very well. There was a news department in the station (the only professional radio station in Spanish back then) and the news director, a good friend of mine, knew I was a journalist so he allowed me to use my journalistic skills there and do interviews.
I opened my Advertising shop in 1996 after leaving the radio station. I implemented many successful advertising and promotional campaigns, assisting clients to tap into the Hispanic market. After September 11, 2001 I introduced Public Relations, Media, and Community relations services and started serving politicians, corporations and public entities. I served as a Latino media Consultant to the Illinois State Senate for 11 years and worked in high profile political campaigns such as David Hoffman, former Chicago Inspector General who ran for Obama Senate seat and Former State Senator Miguel del Valle who ran for Chicago City Clerk and won the election in 2007.
Reaction of Family and Friends
My family and friends reacted really strongly- in a bad way. Everyone knew how I was and understood there was a large possibility that I would stay here in the United States. Being the only child (although I was always very independent), my parents were of course very worried. Despite their fears, everyone was happy and thought it was a great achievement. They weren’t surprised because I was always moving, doing new things, and taking new challenges. They knew my personality, which is why they knew I might decide to stay, which ended up happening.
I didn’t plan on staying from the beginning because I believe it was important to go back, because the Rotary Foundation also asks their scholars to go back to their countries to apply what they learned abroad. But it’s not unusual to end up staying in the United States or the country where an international student is sent!