News & Upcoming Activities
Visit to Palacio de Justicia
By Elena Maza and Patricia Caviezel
On June 12th, members of the UWC visited the imposing Palacio de Justicia on Talcahuano and Tucumán, home to the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina and majestically surrounded by other buildings relating to the law courts. The Palacio has been undergoing a renovation process since 2007 to bring it back to its original state of excellence.
Our group of thirty members and guests was guided to a private session court room on the third floor and invited to be seated. Almost immediately, Deputy Chief Justice Dra. Elena Highton de Nolasco came to greet us personally. Despite her petite stature she gave us the impression of being very much in charge! She is now one of only three Supreme Court judges left on the bench. New members of the Supreme Court are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate.
Justice Highten was instrumental in setting up and is now is in charge of the recently formed Domestic Violence section, providing an adequate framework for professionals -doctors, lawyers, psychologists- to evaluate and deal with issues of domestic violence. At present, only 4 of Argentina’s 24 provinces have the funds to provide adequate services in this area.
Together with her colleagues, Deputy Chief Justice Highton is currently in the process of developing a program to address the problem of Human Trafficking in the country.
Addressing us in English and in order to learn more about her audience, Justice Highton first of all asked us which language we speak and where we come from. She then went on to explain that since the Argentine constitution is modeled on that of the United States of America, the judicial system is divided into Federal Courts and Provincial Courts (Federal Courts and State Courts in the United States). The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all federal and constitutional matters in the country.
Adhering to protocol throughout, Justice Highton nevertheless gave us a highly entertaining insight into the functions of the court and court procedures, allowing us to ask questions towards the end. She then presented our President, Phyllis Barrantes, with a beautifully illustrated Table Book on the Palacio de Justicia, clarifying in a humorous tone that it was a contribution to the UWC Library, not a personal gift. Upon closing the session, Justice Highton asked the house photographer to take several photos to be posted on the website of the Centro de Información Judicial (www.cij.gov.ar). In turn, we presented her with a bottle of wine and a personalized hand-written card, briefly thanking her for the privileged opportunity she had given us to meet her personally.
Continuing with the program after Justice Highton bid us farewell, two young ladies guided us through the rest of the Palace. It was a very well-conducted tour with ample explanations in English both on the building and on the many functions that take place in the different rooms of the 4th floor, which is for the exclusive use of the Supreme Court. We were shown around the imposing central hall, five stories high with court rooms, the ambassador’s meeting room, where ambassadors are officially welcomed as guests of the country, the Court Room for sessions open to the public and finally the room where the judges meet every Tuesday morning to decide what information related to court matters will be made public.
It was a very privileged visit, for which we owe our sincere thanks to Monica Plou for sharing her close contact with the Highton family. We learnt that Monica´s parents had met at the Highton´s home and a generation later the same had happened to Monica and her husband! Guided visits of the Palacio de Justicia are offered to the general public on Fridays at 14:30, with prior reservation by phone at the following number: (11) 4114 5791.
Eva Sebestyen R.I.P
Eva Sebestyen (1925-2016) was born in Budapest in the mid nineteen-twenties to a well-established Hungarian family. She had a polished formal education and at the young age of 18, at the brink of the Second World War, married a bright young engineer. Unfortunately, she and her husband were arrested and sent to Auschwitz, the concentration camp, soon after their wedding. Life in Auschwitz was a tough and extremely traumatic experience: always hungry and under the menace of death day after day. Fortunately, she survived and was rescued after the end of the war and sent to Paris. Her husband was not so fortunate. In 1945 he was hospitalized in Geneva where he was bedridden as a consequence of the mistreatment at the camp where he was forced to help with the manufacture of bombs and munition for the German forces. He passed away a year later. Eva never forgot his kindness, his highly intelligent mind and generous disposition towards her until the last moments of his life. Eva loved him dearly. She always remembered him with tenderness and had kind remarks to make about him.
Eva started her new life in Paris, where she studied biochemistry and cosmetology while working with a well-known French dermatologist. She learnt the latest medical advances of the time in skin care, as well as the formulas for the manufacture of creams and lotions for skin rejuvenation and maintenance. This training helped her years later after when she moved to Buenos Aires in the early 1950s, to open and direct the most successful skin care clinic in Buenos Aires which had its peak during the 1960s and 1970s: “Eva SEBESTYEN” on Marcelo T. De Alvear between Larrea and Azcuenaga streets- just across the street from the Instituto del Diagnóstico. The enterprise continued to work under Eva’s administration until 2007, when she retired and closed down the business.
Eva’s clinic counted among its clients Buenos Aires society figures, celebrities and actresses. In the 1960s it was usual to see Eva on television shows, invited by Pinky -the Argentine Ellen Degeneres of the time- to speak about her famous slimming treatments, skin care products, and make-up techniques. Her products would be advertised on television and the quality of her creams was as good as any of the equivalent French or American brands. It could be said that Eva was the Estée Lauder make-up tycoon of Argentina. Both ladies came from Jewish families from central European countries and founded successful cosmetic brands all by themselves, making them famous and successful. Eva was born in Budapest and Ms Lauder in Brooklyn, New York. Estée Lauder was luckier to have a larger market to sell to than Argentina and the advantage of a large family to hold the torch. Eva did not have children and never remarried.
Eva enjoyed traveling and visited Europe often to meet friends in Paris and New York or in Punta del Este and sometimes to attend cosmetic congresses around the world.
She loved classical music and art. Eva and I were good friends and would attend concerts at the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo and we loved to visit MALBA exhibitions regularly and have tea afterwards at the museum coffee shop. It was at these outings that she would tell me tales of her fascinating life. She was a fine woman with a curious, intelligent mind who spoke English, French, Spanish, Hungarian and German. She was grateful to life for the immense rewards she received in spite of the tough trials. She used to say that she was a fortunate person because she always encountered generous people along the way who would contain and help her just in the most trying moments.
It was true, she was always surrounded by loving, caring friends. She will be greatly missed and admired by her two nieces who live in Europe and by her loving friends in Buenos Aires including those from the UWC as she was a member for many years.
Isabel de la Torre