A short video of but three minutes in length that was recorded by a 23-year-old woman in Argentina went viral among viewers in the South American republic. Young Antonella “Anto” recorded as she sprayed herself with water in a small pool in the patio of her humble home. Thanks to social media such as WhatsApp, viewers and even celebrities mimicked and ridiculed the young woman, who has a learning disability. Rather than bringing her any fame and fortune, the response to Anto’s video has made her life a nightmare.
 
Speaking in Argentine-inflected Spanish, Anto repeatedly said on the Facebook Live video, “Hi, I’m Anto. It’s warm here. The pool is nice, look. Cooling off, alone in the pool. How are my friend on Facebook? It’s hot. Is everything alright? Answer me. Here in the pool; it’s very warm. How are my friends? Hello, my beautiful people. Very warm. Okay, the pool is nice…”
 
 
Very quickly, Antonella’s video became viral on social networks. But some not only shared the video, others recorded their own videos in which they sought to subject Antonella to ridicule. According to Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, among them were soccer player Brian Sarmiento, actress Nazarena Vélez, model Noelia Marzol, and celebrity Tomás Süller. All of these are Argentines. In addition, a cumbia and a reggaetón band each wrote songs parodying the young woman.
 
The unwanted attention has put Antonella into a deep depression. Her father, Julio, told local media “Anto is mentally retarded. She and her siblings. I take care of them. My wife works in a family’s house and I am a hotel cook. This took us by surprise. Anto is in a bad way; she doesn’t want to leave the house. In one interview, Julio expressed how painful it has been to witness the bullying to which his daughter has been subjected.
 
“I’ve had to put up with jeering,” said Antonella’s father. “We have talked a lot about this to her, but it is a new world. Anto doesn’t have firm idea about social networks and it is something that hurts her. Aside from her disability, she has love. People don’t see the human part.” Julio said that he has spoken personally to Marzo, the offending model, and accepted her apology. As for actress Vélez, she has since erased the video parody she recorded and has published an apology on Instagram.
 

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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