05 March 2007

Rosario in the news

I peruse several local and national newspapers almost every day to get my news..., which of course would be useless to look for on TV (too much time lost waiting for pseudo-news to finish). The main local news source is La Capital, a venerable paper founded in 1867 that is Argentina's oldest of those still published. La Capital is objective enough not to pass op-ed for news, and its online version is fairly good. There's also El Ciudadano, but it's a "popular" paper so its quality is atrocious, and its website looks like something you could've designed using HTML 1.0. Then there's Rosario3.com, an online newspaper property of the same media group that owns Canal 3, Radio 2 (the main AM station in Rosario) and several major FM stations. Rosario3 is a recent addition and, though amateurish at times, it does cover certain items that the other neglect. Finally, there's Rosario/12, a short supplement to the Buenos Aires-based Página/12 written by a local staff.

I also read the "national" papers La Nación and Página/12 to get an ideologically broad coverage. I use scare quotes because Buenos Aires-based papers are invariably biased towards Buenos Aires coverage. They're distributed throughout the country but, quite logically, most of their public is concentrated in one hypertrophic metropolitan area that thinks of the country as one Important Place plus a vast, undiferentiated hinterland that provides the capital with food and football players. Página/12 does often take a look at important issues of "the interior", especially those related to social and political conflicts, which it attacks with undisguised ideological zeal; La Nación deals with national and local issues using the same pseudo-objective uptight treatment it employs with Buenos Aires news. I generally don't read Clarín, mainly because it's usually 75% sports non-news, though its supplements and journalist blogs are sometimes very interesting.

Rosario appears in Buenos Aires news almost only when something horrible or bizarre happens. Since we don't usually have floods or strange animal attacks or resonant small-town displays of misery, it's not often (there was these guys eating a cat in a villa miseria once in the 1990s... hence the epithet comegatos applied to rosarinos). However, reading Página/12's tourism supplement last Sunday, I was positively surprised by an article about Rosario.

The article speaks of Rosario as a passing weekend destination, which may be OK for people who only want to follow pre-set paths, but doesn't do justice to the city. Granted, most visitors wouldn't be caught dead outside certain areas (I myself would rather not) but the visitor may leave with the impression that Rosario is a medium-sized block of old houses plus a strip of river beaches and a few parks. The article does mention the amazing changes Rosario has had since the disastrous riots of 1989, where people looted supermarkets and stores, and the crisis of 2001–2002. Rosario was at one time the country's "capital of unemployment", and became at parts as dirty, desolate and unsafe as the poor parts of Greater Buenos Aires.

This same city, however, emerged from the last crisis with fewer permanent wounds and recovered fast. It earned a recognition for its advances in governance and development, leading to a better quality of life, by the UN Development Programme, and a recent study (which I covered) also placed it at the top of the quality of life ranking of Argentine metropolitan areas.

Página/12 humorously notes that Rosario views itself as "an independent city-state", so "if we take this seriously... a trip to Rosario is like going abroad". It and speaks of a "new Rosario" which has opened up public access to its river, something that Buenos Aires lost long ago, and notes that long-term urban planning has been at work. Despite two economic crises (with a full decade of neoliberal adjustment in the meantime), the local administrations have shared a common vision of Rosario and struggled to make it real. They've failed in many respects, or they've been forced to downsize certain promises, but an urban strategy exists.

The municipality is drafting the plan for the period 2007–2017 (I read about this in Rosario/12, by the way). It includes a project to build a multi-modal public transport node at the Cruce Alberdi, the place where the northeast of the city meets the border of the peripheric downtown area, now occupied by the Patio Parada, a railway node administered by the Nuevo Central Argentino. The project would have a small bus terminus, a stop of the BA–Rosario–Córdoba "bullet train" (which, by the way, nobody's heard of again), and (oh such delight!) a tramway station. The area will form an axis of communication within the city, with access to the airport and links with the metropolitan area.

At the same time, the municipality is presenting its urbanistic plans for this year. This will outline a number of large-scale changes to key areas of the city, design certain areas for residential use, preserve historical corridors with architectural homogeneity, prevent the disruption caused by tall towers popping out in certain areas (as is happening in Buenos Aires), and other more complicated goals. Such foresight is often marred by the harsh realities of negligence, corruption, bureaucratic delays and sheer lack of personnel... but anything is better than nothing.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous00:48

    Another great entry. I just posted a link to your blog in a post on BA Newcomers as it is the best blog in Argentina that i am aware of, for the reasons stated earlier.


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