“Let us be free, for the rest does not matter”: state-sponsored emancipatory cultural politics in Argentina.

Irina Feldman


The programming of the public television in Argentina over the last decade has been an admirable example of emancipatory cultural politics. The Kirschner government-sponsored channel Encuentro and Pakapaka have produced and array of programs geared towards the population of all ages, with a strongly anti-imperialist vision that cultivates historical memory and the awareness of the basic rights of the citizenry and of children in particular. This paper will focus on the children’s channel Pakapaka, and specifically on the historical series “La asombrosa excursion de Zamba”.
In this series, Zamba, a 21st century boy from Corrientes province, travels in time and participates in the key events of the Argentinean and world history, with his friends Jose de San Martin, Manuel Belgrano, Juana Azurduy, Simon Boliviar and Karl Marx, among others. The motto repeated throughout the series is the famous ditto attributed to San Martin: “¡Seamos libres, que lo demas no importa nada!” The national sovereignty is underlined as the main value for the young citizens, as the series portrays the struggle against the Spanish colonizers, against the British claims for the Malvinas islands, and in the 21st century through the right to launch the Argentinean telecommunication satellites.
One of the first actions executed by the newly-installed Macri government was to to logistically dissolve the Encuentro and Pakapaka channels, and to physically destroy Tecnopolis, the public theme park that featured the Zamba characters. Why such a vigorous deployment of censorship and even repressive state apparatus against cartoons? This repression shows the fear of the neoliberal government of the power of the mass media when it teaches the values of sovereignty and state responsibility. In the 19-20th centuries the Latin American intellectuals believed in the power of literature and its capacity to directly bring about social change (Rodo, Marti, Mariategui). Today, the repressive powers of the right recognize the capacity for real social change of mass media. Even though the economic measures of Macri government have been devastating, the effects of civic education carried through the public television will be hard to erase.

Argentina - Culture - Latin America - Sovereignty - Anti-colonialism