10.12.2007 - 14.12.2007 30 °C
Every working day in Buenos Aires brings a new protest, rally or call to arms, and more often than not, the parades thrust towards 20-lane Avenida 9 Julio to cause as much upheaval as possible. A yawning chasm splitting the city's skyline down the middle, the world's widest street requires two light changes to span its immense girth on foot. An entire north/south column of city blocks was put to the floor in its conception, and the resplendently phallic Obelisco erected in the middle of its three-way intercourse with Avenida Corrientes and Avenida Roque Saenz Peña.
Along with the cloth banners and chanting of the typical protest comes the drum beating, snare rolling, whistle blowing and exploding firecrackers. I initially believed it all to be just pre-election ranting, but even after Cristina Kirchner succeeded her husband to the presidency, the streets of the Microcentro continue to be blocked periodically by taxis, sanitation trucks or throngs of labourers, construction workers and university students. One day I had the privilege of witnessing a protest traffic-jam at the obelisk, where a two-tone blue 9 Julio rally yielded to an angry red and white Corrientes mob marching perpendicular to their forward motion.
Today's rally took the proverbial cracker as almost half a million people lined up for the whole day along Avenida Mayo to watch 'La Presidenta' Cristina pass after her inauguration in the late afternoon. For its entire length from Plaza de Mayo to Congreso (just over one kilometre), the avenue was blocked by metal barricades with only two places to cross. In the end, I had to cross 9 Julio up and back at the junction of the two super-roads to find the crossing heading in the right direction, and even that required becoming an honorary member of a frenetically-drumming group known as the Octubre Movimiento. In fact, every person watching the parade seemed to be part of a political organisation or lobby group, often with the words nacional, liberación or frente planted somewhere on their movement's banner.
A spare change funded circus of sorts thrives outside the cinema centre in cash-riddled Recoleta. With an auspicious location across the road from one of planet earth's most glamorous cemeteries and only a coin's flip from the restaurant strip, the complex draws a significant amount of prestige foot traffic every night. Attracted to this jingle-jangle of foreign and local plata comes the street performers, grubby children selling roses for "One money please" and a blob-like character lying on a rug who bawls at passers-by in the hope they drop a couple of monedas into his Itty Bitty Bin.