Argentinian Diary – The Cost of the Buenos Aires G-20

G-20 preparations
G-20 preparations

The Cost of the Buenos Aires G-20

I’m not going to really discuss any of the issues that might, or might not, have resolved at this day and a half get-together of the world’s top gangsters but more about the effects that unnecessary meeting had on the city of Buenos Aires and the country of Argentina in general.

The Argentine government, police and military have probably been clapping each other on the backs since the return to ‘normality’ last Sunday. As a security exercise it was definitely a success. They avoided confrontations (although many in the riot police would have loved to have got their hands dirty – they have shown little reluctance to do so when confronted with peaceful gatherings in the past) and any march of many thousands of working people of Buenos Aires was kept far enough away from their foreign visitors that it wouldn’t have effected their appreciation of the champagne.

But at what cost, in both financial and social repercussions.

20,000 police, hundreds of the high, black barricades – known locally as ‘vallas’ – which closed off streets and surrounded ‘sensitive’ buildings, the lost wages of those who couldn’t get to work due to the cancellation of public transport (buses, local trains and the underground), the loss to businesses in the centre of town (shops, restaurants, etc.) who found that the normally busy streets were more like those after some apocalyptic disaster.

There were security rings within security rings within security rings.

The police presence was there not to provide security to the civil society but for a self selected group of VIPs, whose decisions affect the lives of all those on the planet but of whose lives they know little and care even less.

Minutes after thousands of people, less than half a kilometre away, were rejecting the political decisions that cause unemployment, homelessness and real hunger these same ‘leaders’ of the free (capitalist) world were enjoying a banquet where cost was the last of anyone attending’s concern.

I wondered what these people, who are not entirely stupid but totally heartless, thought about a huge part of a major capital city being in lock down just so they could go the Teatro Colon and ‘enjoy’ a lack lustre dance performance and then a slap up meal. What is behind their thinking when the decisions they make have an effect upon millions of people but they seem to have no concern what those very same people have to say about their policies? Are they in such a protective bubble that they can just compartmentalise such opposition as the work of self-interested and professional agitators? Do they not see the conditions in which so many throughout the world live and struggle to exist?

But them I remembered that they live in a world apart. A world where the maintenance of their decrepit and moribund system is all that matters. At times that system is, more or less, tolerable for a sizeable proportion of people on the planet, even at times a majority, but their periodic crises means that – as it was generations ago – the vast majority of even those chosen few are only a wage packet away from penury and real suffering. Those who live such a life all the time are used to it so why should they complain.

Which city will be welcoming the G-20 next year? Buenos Aires has shown that ‘trouble’ can be averted – but at a price. How many cities would be prepared to accept such disruption and loss for a meeting that barely lasts two days? One thing for sure is that Paris won’t be chosen for that ‘honour’, the people there having shown (as they did in the 19th and 20th centuries) that they don’t suffer such fools gladly.

Conspiracy Theory or not

Not being a devout conspiracy theorist doesn’t mean that sometimes I think some things are too pat to be true.

I read two articles in the local newspapers in the lead up and start if the G-20 conference and don’t know how they might have been reported outside of the country.

One was related to a number of supposed ‘bomb alerts’ that occurred in the city in the days leading up to the summit. I don’t know where these alerts occurred as there was no definite information that could pinpoint a particular location. Also I was in the centre at the time of these so-called ‘alerts’ and wasn’t aware of any additional activity that I would have thought would have accompanied such a response in a situation of high alert.

And the pictures of the supposed bombs were like a five year old’s impression of an explosive device. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the image in the newspaper wasn’t of a black, round object with the world ‘bomb’ written in white on the side and a fuse sticking out the top.

I don’t totally reject the idea that someone might have made a telephone call with a false bomb alert to cause disruption but the other example is even more food for a conspiracy theory.

It seems that a taxi was stopped on the Thursday and a number of ‘Molotov’ cocktails were found, together with a rather large bag of walkie-talkies. As a result of this a number of people were detained. But something was wrong from the beginning when the story was being related on the TV news.

All the bottles looked as if they had just come out of the supermarket, the liquor thrown away and petrol put in its place. All the bottle were of a different size and mark and the labels were pristine, with not a mark of petrol to spoil the image. It was if they were being put on show to advertise their involvement in the heinous attempt to subvert democracy.

But if that wasn’t bad enough the report continued by saying that all those detained had been released on the orders of someone high up in the Argentinian judiciary. Are they kidding?

To the best of my knowledge there wasn’t a general and random ‘stop and search’ operation in force. If that was the case then any reason for stopping a vehicle would have been based on ‘intelligence’. If that was the case how could the security forces then let whoever was implicated in this act of violence go free? Are they pulling someone’s plonker? I doubt whether this issue will ever go through the courts.

As far as I’m concerned, with my ‘conspiracy theorist’ hat on is that theses two reports were all conceived to make the overwhelming security presence(and cost) more acceptable to impressionable Bonaerenses.

But there were positives from the summit.

Trump showed himself not just to be a bully but so arrogant that even though he might get his way in the short term he is only leaving himself with almost insurmountable problems in the future. He spurned those who he might need in the future. He treated his host (an equally cretinous individual) with contempt, even though the lapdog would have done anything to ingratiate himself with the occupant of the White House.

The American considers that he is so settled in his homeland that he doesn’t need the support of other nations. But his knowledge of world history is as dire as his interpersonal skills. He seems to totally ignore the de-dollarisation that is taking place under his nose. He doesn’t seem to be concerned that alliances are being made between those who were previously ‘enemies’. He doesn’t realise that he is the one who will wake up one morning to a different world. A world where competing powers are in an anti-American political and economic alliance.

If American was the loser in this meeting then so was the old world, the European powers such a Britain, France, Spain and Italy – who were barely mentioned in any analysis of what was happening in Buenos Aires.

Whether this will affect the incumbent in the Casa Rosada is another matter.Argentinian politics are complicated (not that the situations in other countries are not equally complex) and although the life of so many was effected over these three days and with the majority of the population living in the general Buenos Aires conurbation, nothing is secure in the future.

Corruption and distrust of politicians is deep within the Argentinian population but the people seem to have a memory lapse when it comes to the future. Corruption claims are made against everyone with a public profile. Even the Co-ordinator of the ‘Madres of the Plaza de Mayo’ has a corruption charge pending.

Some will argue that this is just a result of the ability of one section of the society to manipulate the media and the judiciary. And there’s probably a lot of truth in that. The problem is that when corruption has existed for such a long time, has been embedded in the body politic, many aren’t even aware of what they are doing and make themselves targets.

An Argentinian told me that the problem with his people is that they think with their sentiments rather than their minds. This, in some ways, accounts for the still deeply embedded approach (and appreciation by some) towards Eva (Evita) Peron.

But this is starting to go away from the matter of the G-20.

(I stated at the beginning of my series of posts in relation to my trip to Argentina that I would aim to post virtually every day. I realise that I have already fallen down on that commitment – but will try to redeem my self in subsequent days.

My failure is a down to a mixture or reasons and excuses.

It’s difficult to do someone every day and then still have the energy to write about it in the evening. This is helped by the fact that much of the travelling in this country involves a lot of hours in a bus – the way I’ve chosen to get around the country – and that takes its own toll. After being on a bus journey that was due to take 19 hours but came closer to taking a whole day due to a number of reasons (controllable and not) the last thing the body wants to do is to sit down at a table and type.

The whole body screams out as in the metamorphosis that Jeff Goldblum went through in Cronenberg’s film ‘The Fly’ – but without providing the increased sexual vitality that his character went through.

Added to that the self-imposed requirement to keep the blood/alcohol level at a reading that puts a person into the category of a chronic alcoholic presents certain difficulties when it comes to typing.

But I’ll try to get on track – if the new ‘improved’ WordPress posting tool doesn’t become too much of a nuisance. Do these tech geeks actually use the environments they ‘improve’? )

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Argentinian Diary – Locking Buenos Aires down for the G-20, 2018

The no-go area

The no-go area

Argentinian Diary – Locking Buenos Aires down for the G-20, 2018

The work to exclude the vast majority of the population of Buenos Aires from a sizeable chunk of the city centre began during the night, with the barriers being partially installed along the whole length of the perimeter. A certain amount of movement was being allowed on the Thursday but in such a way that people would soon get the message that it wasn’t worth the effort. This first tranche of lock-down has made ‘my bar’ out of bounds for at least the next three evenings – things will start to be relaxed as Sunday wears on.

Many shops and businesses were closed as the sheer effort of getting into town and then back out later in the day wasn’t worth it. Those who could choose decided to have a longer than normal weekend. The fact that the buses, on those lines that were still running on Thursday, were also going to finish early meant that by mid-afternoon the city was quieter than it was on a Sunday.

Preparation for the G-20, 2018, in Buenos Aires

Preparation for the G-20, 2018, in Buenos Aires

As shops and restaurants start to close the definition of the no-go area will be complete and riot police will be in attendance every second of the day and night until some time on Sunday morning, when all those who have caused such disruption are long out of the country.

How long it will take for the city to get back to normal will depend upon the willingness of the authorities to take down the barriers as quickly as they were installed. They won’t be going into storage and they will be ready for any disturbances in the future. Hard times are definitely in store for many Argentinians and, hopefully, they will start to stand up against he ‘adjust brutal’ demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

I’ll be going to look at the results in the morning. There are two barriers within about 5 blocks both to the east and the west from where I’m writing this. Transport difficulties (which on Friday and Saturday will be compounded by the fact that the underground system will also be out of action) means the streets will be very quiet.

There’s a demonstration planned to start at 15.00 on Friday and will be meeting up a long way from where anything will be happening during the day so don’t have a clue how matters will pan out. If people plan to try to break through the cordon it means they will only really have managed to get a block or two closer to any goal as there are cordons within cordons and then any buildings will have their own, immediate ‘protection’.

The cost of this must be huge but haven’t seen any figures of how much and who will be paying, the city or the national coffers. As things are so bad economically perhaps the Argentinian President will be passing the hat around at the gala planed for Saturday night.

 

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Argentinian Diary – The G-20 effect on Buenos Aires

Designed to keep the people out

Designed to keep the people out

Argentinian Diary – Day 4

After four days all plans thrown up in the air

The last thing I though I would be doing, within a week of landing in Argentina, would be sharing the air with 20 of the most duplicitous, cheating, thieving and corrupt creatures on the planet. But that’s what I’ll be doing from Thursday night and for the next three days. For on Friday the 2018 G-20 summit officially begins here in Buenos Aires.

If I had known the summit was to take place I certainly wouldn’t have organised a flight to the southernmost city on the continent on any of days it was due to take place. But not knowing I innocently booked a flight to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires this coming Friday morning. Since I became aware (yesterday evening) the gangsters and their equally odious entourages were to descend on this country, in its own deepening economic and social crisis, I have been trying to decide what to do.

As these meetings have been drawing protests wherever they take place the matter of ‘security’ has become the most important aspect of any planning. But that ‘security’ takes precedence over anything and anyone else. I’m still getting to know the city of Buenos Aires but with what little I do know I can see how this meeting will cause unbelievable disruption during its three days duration. A vast area along the north-eastern coastal edge of the city will become a virtual no-go area.

Public transport in the area will be non-existent for the best part of three days. This includes buses, the subway and even the city’s main railway station – only a shadow of its former splendour.

Pedestrian access will also be strictly regulated – all aimed at preventing the mass build-up of protestors. But everything is unsure. I spent part of this morning trying to get answers about how access will be effected over the weekend but no-one could give me a definitive answer. Knowing what will be the situation no more than eight hours before in advance makes any planning impossible.

So after four days in the country with the only fixed, more or less, plan I have so far made have been ditched. I’ve extended my stay in Buenos Aires till Tuesday of next week – when, in theory, everything will have returned to normal.

When I made that decision, literally on the hoof, as I was walking to the bus station to find out if or how I could get to the international airport for a 09.00 flight I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find anywhere to stay. Would all accommodation, especially of the more economic kind such as my hostel, not be full of angry protestors. The fact there was no problem in extending my stay might indicate the level of the protest – at least from those non-Argentinians.

It will almost certainly mean that I’ll have to forego the airfare. When you go the cheapest way there’s no opportunity to change the timetable. My only hope in this matter is that the workers of Aerolineas Argentinas will call a strike for Friday and I’ll get my money back or an alternative flight. That’s not totally impossible. Strike action is taking place this week as part of a long running dispute with the management. And a statement made by the Transport Minister that I read in a newspaper yesterday was definitely intended to ratchet up tensions by insulting all who work for the company.

This Minister, whose name I can’t and don’t even want to remember, has obviously be cast from the same ugly mould as the transport incumbent in the present British Tory government.

Having made the decision before the end of today at least I won’t be losing out on accommodation I had already booked. The internet booking sites are useful in that way when plans have to be changed at short notice.

The reason for my decision was twofold – the first being more important. I’m very unlikely to be in the same place as the conspirators cabal at any time in the future and it would be a crime to be leaving when it all was going to kick off – whatever that might be. What made that decision easier was the sheer logistical nightmare of getting to the airport. There’s no definitive information about what the restrictions are or how they will affect anyone not part of the circus. They know everything, we know nothing.

Things might be easy (although very unlikely) but I wouldn’t know until I tried to get away. The money has been spent so there’s no real loss. And it will be interesting to see how the Argentinian workers and any foreign supporters will react to the criminal gang polluting their atmosphere. So what’s the reason no to be here?

I’ll have to make efforts to find out exactly what is planned for the three days. I know there is definitely a demo in the timetable for Friday, but exactly where and when I have yet to discover. Yesterday afternoon I was able to eventually get in touch with the only Argentinian contact I have. She’s a Trade Union official and I know she will have all the details to hand. Between now and Friday I have to make sure I also have them. But I forgot about a rally that had been called for this (Tuesday) evening and didn’t remember that it was taking place until I saw a ‘live’ report on the TV. I don’t believe I missed anything. Such rallies are merely a reaffirmation of what the people think, useful, no doubt, but in the general it rarely takes the movement forward.

The weekend could be an interesting few days. The Argentinian state is already ready geared up to deal with crowds who might represent something the government, of whatever political colour, might not like. On my first Saturday afternoon here I saw these large black screens (the name of which I read last night in relation to the ‘incidente’ of Saturday, but can’t at the moment remember and the young people in the hostel I have asked couldn’t come up with the exact name) in the area of the Casa Rosada, pushed to the side but within easy deployment reach.

On my way to the bus station to find out about transport to the airport there were many of them around one of the hotels that will be used by those lackeys attending the summit – many of them spanking new. The no-go area is so large they will be a need for thousands of these things – so someone has already made a pretty penny out of the meeting.

I’ve never experienced a city in lock-down so if you would like to know what happens watch this space for updates.

An Argentinian Joke

It might lose a bit in the translation but this is related to the ‘incidente’ of last Saturday and the on/off, if/when, and where of this incredibly boring game of football. (I never expected to write such a lot and spend so much time on this game.)

‘¿Has escuchado que el partido se juega en martes?’

Have you hear that the game will be played on Tuesday?

‘¿Esta semana que viene?’

‘Next week?

‘No, en la planeta.’

‘No, on the planet.’

In Spanish ‘martes’ means both Tuesday and the planet Mars.

Even more on the ‘incidente’ of Saturday

It has started to be a metaphor of the malaise in which the country is gripped. If you can’t organise an efficient sporting event then how can you run a country? People have ‘resigned’ (i.e., thrown to the wolves, and the only way this might come to an end is the fact that the G-20 will become even more of an issue. But that only lasts three days and if it’s a bad news day on Monday then the sharks will be out for the frenzy. That’s especially so as although the date/s of the game has been announced, the location hasn’t. I’m not really sure how you can do that? And we allow these cretins to rule us. Who is worse, them or us?

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