21 December 2001
11.00 at night, there is a storm outside but not a drop of rain
has fallen on this hot December night.
sounds a lot like rain but its not. Its called a giant casserole,
people are outside on their balconies banging pots and anything
else that makes noise, its a protest against the government, a cry
for solidarity in the face of huge social and economic hardships,
and also a plea for help.
like an eerie rain that descends from the top of the apartment blocks
to the ground, accompanied by shouts, whistles, and car horns. It's
both hauntingly beautiful and tragic, a cry for help that only fellow
sufferers can hear.
hard not to be emotional about Argentina's problems, they are a
wonderful and expressive people with many virtues, right now they
are struggling to keep their heads above water. High unemployment,
unpaid wages for those that have jobs, restricted access to bank
accounts, social exclusion, and violence are the waters that are
things came to a head with many supermarkets ransacked and looted,
trucks were stopped on the motorway and contents stolen by armies
of homeless and poor. Television interviews showed images of normal
people forced into desperate measures to find food for their families.
Pleading not to be judged as criminals.
state of emergency has been declared restricting movements and public
gathering, shops have all shut early or put up metal doors.
noise continues, maybe its a panacea for the frustration inside,
a way to somehow express all those emotions that are inside, relieve
are all safe, there is no violence where we are, we are feeling
sad though, and are not sure just what the future holds. The radio
is playing Supertramp's "Its raining again"
29 December 2001
storm clouds over the city are oppressive, like a roof they keep
the heat in. They threaten to erupt and bring some relief from the
suffocating heat but at the moment its just noise, like the empty
promises of politicians.
air is dense, a suffocating stillness which forces movement to a
crawl. The tarmac so hot that it feels like hell is burning beneath
the city. A climatic metaphor for the social misery that Argentina
Thursday the political protests reached their nadir when thousands
upon thousands marched on Parliament, they demanded the resignations
of the Economy minister, and of the President. The majority of protesters
were peaceful, indignant at the conditions they were being forced
to live in. But then came the violence, battles in the streets made
Buenos Aires resemble a war zone and not the modern European capital
Argentines are so proud of. Shops were smashed, cars burnt, and
27 lives sacrificed up to the political gods.
President and Economy minister duly resigned to bring a temporary
pall over proceedings and Adolflo Rodriguez Saa from the opposition
Peronist party was appointed as caretaker President until elections
can be held in March.
new President's first measure was to announce that money will be
printed to pay state sector salaries and pensions, the new currency
"The Argentino" he said will be secured by Government
owned land and buildings. Exchange restrictions were put in place
and huge queues formed outside banks as people tried to withdraw
funds before they were frozen or lost value.
was a solemn affair. People tried to remain optimistic but it was
hard with such a weight hanging from the neck. The simple act of
sending a Christmas card seemed full of irony, how could you wish
someone a "Merry Christmas" with all this going on?.
in 35 degree heat pensioners were forced to line up outside banks
to collect their monthly allowance, stifling and hostile conditions
for those who should be enjoying the golden years of their lives.
Last night the pots started up again, and thousands marched again
on Parliament. Once there they tried to smash the buildings, the
very assets on which the new currency is supposedly secured.
three days 2002 will be here, what will it bring to this nation
of 36 million people?, a nation of enormous potential, many say
that it will remain so forever.
not a drop of rain has fallen.