Monday, 2 March 2015

Explosive Sunday

It is Sunday 1 March here in the centre of Buenos Aires. The clock crept past nine am with the first explosion.

Some appear near - perhaps Avenida 9 Julio - others more distant, high into the city. The force is such as to set car alarms ringing across the bario. The little court yard garden oasis below the apartment quakes, and palm leaves rattle with a sudden surge of air. Our humming birds have taken fright; their scarlet flowers nod and wait.

From deep in San Telmo, it is not possible to see the full context, but this is the day designated for the Presidential counter-demonstration. Whilst last month's silent walk for Nisman had been a massively popular and dignified affair, with Portenos taking spontaneously to the streets, this is altogether different. Here, none of the mature groups, the families and the old. In their place those, incentivised by expectation, brought to the capital federal in government-funded coaches. The contrived degree of organisation presents a political chimera. Where else, but Buenos Aires, would determined choreography of government-support, present anything but pathos?

The explosions continue, and do not seem to recede. Nearby, a baby cries and now more distant cracks and explosions make a previously sleeping city jerk into a political wakefulness.

Yesterday, Portenos on the street spoke of much resentment towards government policies, especially those of the President's initiative. Argentine Pope Francis is criticised as failing to speak out, suggesting that the current government stay its term. His words, no doubt wisely wishing to avoid the instability of political revolution, are seen by the people as an affirmative nod to current political interests.

Today, their views are confirmed, rather than dispelled. The huge firecrackers, the size of small buckets, like a circus elephant, cynically draw attention, but not real support.

On 9 de Julio, the tired and unemployed spill from hot buses into the bright sunshine. Some of them have been brought 300 kilometres from Rosario at dawn and are so exhausted that they rest against the concrete walls. Banners are unfurled, and thin burgers and slices of water melon are handed out to the hungry - the offer of free food having been used as a further incentive to many who have nothing.

Television footage in the nearby café shows the President speaking dramatically to Congress from the presidential chair. She denies complicity in the killing. She contends that support for her is rising, based on the value of bonds - for which it appears the English courts have jurisdiction.

A short flash of rain means retreat back to the safety of the apartment, leaving the political stage to others. What is clear, is that nothing is quite as clear as it seems.

Argentina Independent 3 March