18 April 2007

Men at work

The Municipality is already re-paving the streets, including some that look like they've been in need of re-paving since the time of horse-pulled carriages (cobblestones and all). Fast as it goes, it may be ready just in time for the next freak rainstorm... which was announced for today, hail included, but was cancelled later. Buenos Aires caught the tail of it and, if we were to believe the media, it was barely short of a humanitarian catastrophe.

In the meantime, this must be the hottest April in years. Everything and everyone is sticky. Yesterday it was over 31° C and it looks like the same for today. (Just checked the newspaper: yesterday it was 31.5; the historical record was 33.7.) The provincial power company EPE (a curse unto its board of directors) announced that yesterday also marked the record of electrical consumption — as hundreds of thousands of nearly-suffocating santafesinos turned on their ACs all at once. We also learned that EPE lost between 9 and 11 million pesos in infrastructure and equipment during the Great Rains, which will have to be replaced, and, according to its head (the governor's cousin Luis El Halli Obeid) "the only way to face such expenditure would be to raise the power fees". And maybe your salary as well, Luis, wouldn't you like that as well, you useless parasite?

So the municipality is working already with the money promised by the province; machines are clearing dumpsters, spreading fresh asphalt on our battered streets here and there, and planning how to sanitize or relocate irregular settlements... This year is the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the National Flag Memorial, and there are multiple celebrations planned for the whole year, centered around Flag Day (20 June), so the local authorities want the city (or the visible part of the city) to be as beautiful as possible.

Most of this should've been done ages ago, but this is a provincial state that takes and doesn't give (except as grants of good will or in emergencies such as this one — and remember this is an electoral year). Then the same repeats on the federal level, especially since the retenciones (export taxes) are in place. Other taxes are partly redistributed to the provinces, but the retenciones are not. If Rosario were an autonomous city, it could collect its own taxes, instead of sending its wealth north to support the useless bureaucracy of Santa Fe. (I'm thinking of starting a campaign about that.)

Besides the renewal of the city (which should've included the refurbishment of Peatonal Córdoba, now delayed until 2008), we're having our Feria del Humor (Fair of Humour). This is one of those light cultural things that I mentioned in an earlier post; the Socialist administrations of Rosario have always loved to have them. This one is a bit special because it will last more than a week and it's not just a couple of comedians in a culture center downtown, but many humour-related activities for children and grownups in every district of the city, even the poor neighbourhoods of the northwest that got flooded only weeks ago. Decentralization started more than a decade ago and it's been slow, but it's wonderful when you see it at work.

Last Saturday, for example, I went to see an exposition of the magazine Barcelona (remember the cover about Argentine middle-class fascism?). Magnified covers were pasted on the walls. Two guys and a girl from the editorial team presented a dictionary of insults called Puto el que lee. Now that's the kind of thing you wouldn't take your child to hear... Though I'm fortunately way past the time when mere bad taste or obscenity sufficed to make me laugh (therefore rendering immune to the temptation of watching Bailando por un sueño, Gran Hermano, or most of Argentine prime-time TV for that matter), you can't but giggle a bit at the spectacle of three 30-somethings reading out loud perfectly serious definitions of such useful terms as tragasable, careta and comegatos.


  1. Anonymous19:38

    I noticed in the international press that someone, I forget his actual position, but within the national government while visiting Spain deplored Gran Hermano calling it nasty (and other names). I'm so ashamed. . . but it's only 2 more weeks (tee jee). Roberto desde Miami - sin cultura por un momentito)

  2. Bueno, tenes mi apoyo para la campaña de autonomia de Rosario.


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