18 May 2007

Today's highlights

Nice morning, today's morning. I was sitting all the time typing numbers that don't matter to anyone and trying to explain that to my boss without actually saying those words. But that wasn't important. Small things can brighten your day.

Well, first of all, it's Friday. Whatever it brings, weekend means no work.

Then the radio, which we keep on at the office, started receiving calls from people around the city, reporting they'd seen a bright light and a solid white trail of smoke in the sky at around 7:05 AM. Some said it was blue light; one claimed it had lit up the sky briefly. The radio news and variety programme on Radio 2 has a funny staff. As they read out the ridiculous calls and messages left by the audience, others, even more bizarre, came in. Was it a giant firecracker? Some sort of UFO? "Could it be one of Menem's rockets that got stuck in the stratosphere?", said one, bringing back a memorable speech of Carlos (may he never find peace) Menem where he promised to build a platform for some kind of super-airplanes before an audience composed of school kids in the poorest part of the country. It was a meteor, and as it turned out later, it was seen in several provinces. A guy from the Ibero-American Astronomy Guild (LIADA) was consulted, and explained that it must have been a space rock about the size of a fist or a potato that passed through the atmosphere at high altitude at a speed of at least 100,000 km/h (28 km per second!), since that's the speed of Earth moving in its orbit.

I was already at work when it happened, so I couldn't see anything, but it was kind of magical. We don't get to see many astronomical displays like that — in the big city you barely get to see the stars.

As this funny story unfurled, a picket was blocking one of the main accesses to the city in the northwest, near the municipal limit. The picket had been there for days, and it was organized by neighbours of some of the poorest areas of Rosario, affected by the Great Rains, who demanded assistance from the government. As usual, the picket was not dispersed by the police. The road in question is needed for trucks that bring goods and cargo to the city and its port; there are only a few alternatives, and they're not well maintained or prepared to receive more heavy traffic. The result was chaos, a lot of tension and road rage. A truck driver who arrived in Rosario at night, unaware of the blockade, tried to find another route and ended up in the middle of nowhere; his truck was assaulted and robbed, and he was killed. Many citizens called out to the government, demanding that the picket be dissolved by police force. Unlike Buenos Aires, it's only recently that Rosario has had recurring road blocks disrupting traffic; the city is smaller and the people's patience is thin.

During the morning, the provincial government announced that they were waiting for a judge's authorization/command to send the police in. (That sounds a bit awkward, but the K policy is that anything short of shooting people in the street is allowed in a protest, and this is an election year, so the government first asks a judge to evaluate whether the general interests of the public are being hurt by the protest, before moving to suffocate it. This way, they're also covered if a policeman kills someone — the judge ordered it, not them. It's cowardly and unpopular, but then the police are not angels and they tend to overdo things a bit — loading lead instead of rubber bullets "by accident", for example.)

After negotiations and promises, fortunately, officials of the municipal government got the picket to free up one lane of the road, and an agreement was reached — the municipality and the province will work together with the neighbours to assess their needs, see what they lost in the flood, and replace it. They won't hand out cash, which is what the neighbours wanted. But that's OK with them, they say.

Finally, as I left work with a tired look of satisfaction ("it's Friday after work!") into a squeaky-clean-skied sunny afternoon, I caught a new prey for my collection. I swear I wasn't looking for it, but it was so glaringly, so unspeakably wrong that I had to snap a couple of pictures (front and back). I give you license plate UVJ641 (one traffic ticket on record), "parked" in the middle of 9 de Julio St.

1 comment:

  1. Ouch! Another pin in the Menem voodoo doll.
    Pablo, are you perhaps a John Fowles aficionado?



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