20 June 2007

Flag Day

Phew! It's been mad since Sunday, when I started Flag Week by going to the former Rural Society (now a Municipal Fair Site) and then on Monday when I went with the Rosarigasinos photographers' group to check on what was happening prior to the celebrations. The whole city's been like crazy, and the photographers (press, private professionals, amateurs, me!) were buzzing around, grabbing picture after picture of the new Flag Memorial lighting, the crowds, the tenor José Cura (a Rosarino living abroad, who sang for everybody last night), the flags, Alta en el Cielo...

So today was Flag Day proper. I was truly wrecked yesterday when I came back from the wet cold night after listening to Cura and signing the Flag March along, but I woke up today at 8 AM, and together with my brother got a quick breakfast and headed for the Monumento. There weren't many people still.

There were, to be sure, many flag peddlers, and others; by noon the smell of chorizo and praliné mixed with the sight of white-and-blue flags and hats and the voice of people selling Coke and coffee in plastic glasses.

Contrary to my earlier post (my sources were wrong), President Kirchner did come. He came late, to be sure, though given his legendary tardiness at every meeting, it was almost OK. The civic-military parade started before he arrived, as scheduled. There were the usual speeches by the mayor and the governor, and then K came and spoke — again, it was a pleasant surprise not to hear him speak of magnificent macroeconomic numbers and denouncing dark conspiracies against the country we all want, etc. etc.

The only letdown, politically speaking, was the presence of professional bootlickers. It was these bootlickers, on behalf of governor candidate Agustín Rossi, who defiled a corner of Plaza 25 de Mayo by installing a crude campaign ad in the form of an inflatable penguin before the Cathedral. Others preferred to go with the traditional stuff and brought Argentine and Santa Fe flags superimposed with the faces of Juan and Eva Perón. These and others, with standards and banners proclaiming their loyalty to (whoever runs) Peronism, set themselves at the strategic spot right before the mast of the Memorial, in front of the authorities' stand, and brought uncalled-for drums (commonplace in Argentina's political demonstrations and protests) to "complement" the military bands.

I couldn't grab a good picture of the prez, since I couldn't get close to the stand, of course, and my puny camera only has 4 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom. Considering my shaking pulse and the fact I was lifting the camera in the air over rows and rows of other people, though, I got a nice result. You can see the Emperor Penguin clearly; to the picture's right (sitting) are vice president Daniel Scioli, and governor Jorge Obeid. The lady in pink/purple to the far right (!) is Senator and First Lady Cristina Fernández (quite possibly the first woman to be elected to the presidency in the history of Argentina), and if you know the guy, you'll recognize the dreaded Alberto Fernández by his moustache, to the left.

There were a lot of people, but not so many as last year. Maybe they were all exhausted, like me. Right at the end of the parade, when traditional associations were parading in horses and carriages, it started to rain, and many left. Yours truly took shelter under a tree, and then I noticed a crowd had climbed on the stand, that the powers that be had deserted. So I got to be right where K had given his speech.

There's a lot more to say. I'm going to post pictures during the following days, here and in Vista Rosario. Check my Flickr pictures and the Rosarigasinos group pool as well. I've taken over 700 pictures since Sunday and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Just one more, taken a bit later than the first:

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