Patricia Merkin, founder of Argentinian street paper Hecho en Bs. As., has died

INSP is devastated to hear that Patricia Merkin, the founder, director and editor of Argentinian street paper Hecho en Bs. As., has died.

Patricia, a two decade veteran of the street paper movement after establishing the Buenos Aires based magazine in 2000, was much loved and respected by her peers who shared the street paper mission, and a determined advocate and fighter for the vulnerable and marginalised up until her death.

Staff at Hecho en Bs. As. shared the news publicly via social media, writing: “Patricia was a warrior like few others, with a vision for unique projects of love and inclusion. We will miss you so much. All the stars are with you.”

Reacting to the news, INSP chief executive Maree Aldam said: “We’re so sad to hear of Patricia’s death. Patricia was an inspiration to so many of us and we will always be grateful to her – for running Hecho en Bs. As. for 20 years as a passionate advocate for vulnerable people in Buenos Aires, for inspiring and supporting others to start street papers, and for her support and expertise to INSP over many years.

“Since learning of her death, I have heard from so many people in the street paper family who remember her as I do – passionate, tireless, committed, inspiring, honest, energetic and funny. She will be missed by all of us and our thoughts are with her family and friends, and our dear friends and colleagues at Hecho en Bs. As.

After the news broke, tributes poured in from street papers and their staff across the world.

Thiago Massagardi, director of São Paulo based Brazilian street paper Ocas” and the Latin American representative on INSP’s board, said: “Patricia was a person full of energy, good humour and ideas, a typical Argentine with a passionate sense of communicating and expressing herself.

“We are in shock and very sad. Patricia was always concerned with the growth and welfare of street papers in Latin America and across the world. Both her and Hecho en Bs. As. were extremely important in the birth of Ocas” – without her, we wouldn’t exist. She was really special and we will miss her.”

Paul McNamee, editor of The Big Issue, added: “Terrible news about the death of Patricia. She was a brilliant woman. A righteous legend from Buenos Aires. She had the spirit of Argentina in her. Totally fearless. One of the real global figureheads for street papers. An incredible life-force, great company, funny and fierce.

“A bit of joy has been extinguished. She will be missed by so many, not least the poorest in Argentina.”

The thoughts of the entire street paper network are with Patricia and her family.