22 November 2016
The other day, FISA published an article on its website about how the Argentinian national team rowers have set out to clean the Reconquista River, which is located in the province of Buenos Aires. A part of the 80,000-metre-long (49.7097-mile) river is the training waters for the national team but has a reputation for being the second most polluted waterway in the country – the dubious distiction of most polluted goes to the Matanza River (also called Riachuelo).
Now the rowers have had enough. ‘We decided that we had to take action and do something, since no politicians where getting involved, said Maria Abalo, national team rower who competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, according to the FISA article.
The rowers have started a campaign called “Limpiemos el Reconquista” (‘Let’s clean up the Reconquista’). FISA writes: ‘Abalo and fellow London Olympian, Ariel Suarez are the faces of this campaign and they have utilized their Olympic team connections to get other athletes to throw their support behind this initiative.’
Abalo and Suarez are not only aided by their team mates, but also by friends from other Olympic sports in Argentina, including sailing legend and Rio Olympic champion Santiago Lange, judo Olympic champion Paula Pareto and Olympic medallist in hockey, Delfina Merino.
The campaign kicked off with a video to raise awareness of the dire situation the river is in. After the video was shown on the major TV channels in Argentina, the rowers’ cause received support from social media that kept the momentum going with, among other things, the hashtag #limpiemoselreconquista.
The video was uploaded on YouTube in September:
‘The Reconquista needs us. And we athletes want to help and free the river to be able to row in clean waters, as it should be,’ Abalo told FISA. She continued: ‘We started to get a lot of interview requests, press enquiries and meetings with politicians and private industries that wanted to help. They all agreed that what we did was great because we gave visibility to a big problem that nobody so far had talked about.’
The “Limpiemos el Reconquista” is now keeping Abalo occupied, meeting politicians and people who are interested in helping the campaign.
‘In those meetings and interviews I also talk about the initiative of World Rowing and the Kafue, and about the importance for us rowers to take care of our water. The aim of our campaign is to put the themes of environmental care and clean water on the political and social agenda. And it is great to see that the politicians we are meeting are starting to get behind the concept of clean water,’ Abalo remarked in the article.
The campaign group is now working with the main garbage recycling industry in Argentina, including the recycling company CEAMSE in Buenos Aires to raise understanding among the people how to recycle their waste. The team has managed not only to open the eyes of the public, but also shown the politicians that it is possible to clean the Reconquista and other rivers in Argentina.
It is true as FISA’s website wrapped up the article: ‘There is no doubt that history is in the making in Argentina.’
If you too would like to show your support and follow the initiative go to: