Thursday, July 17, 2008

¡Viva el campo!

Historic happenings in a few months ago the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner proposed an agricultural export tax increase to 45%, which caused a huge uproar among the farmers here. They've been protesting/on strike/blocking food transportation for months now, and yesterday the Senate voted on the proposal. In anticipation of the vote, there have been huge demonstrations around Buenos Aires, at least one with over 250,000 people, this past week. Yesterday the Senate debated into the night, and ended up tied 36 to 36, with only Kirchner's VP left to vote...and at 4:30 am today he voted AGAINST the proposal, which is completely unheard of. People have been going nuts - there were a ton of people out in the streets last night banging pots and pans and waving Argentinean flags. Everybody has been telling me that this is a really historic time for Argentina - I guess truly honest politicians are few and far between here. Here's a link to a NY Times article on the situation:
In other, completely unrelated news, I discovered one of the wierdest places ever a few days ago - the Recoleta Cemetary! It's a huge graveyard in the middle of the city where all of the rich people of Buenos Aires have been buried (and still are!) since the 1800s. But there's no grass or dirt like in a normal cemetary - just tons of narrow paved pathways lined with family mausoleums, most at least 8 feet high and squished together like those tall skinny houses in San Francisco. The place is gigantic, and the pathways crisscross in all directions, making it really easy to get completely lost among all the dead folks.
A lot of the mausoleums have windows in them, and you can look in and see actual coffins stacked atop each other like or (for those who prefer to be underground) creepy narrow staircases going down into darkness. One was broken in the front, and when I looked in I saw a sunken room filled with four stacks of cobwebby coffins, stacked seven high. Adding to the general creepiness are the dozens of cats padding silently down the paths or sitting atop the mausoleums, staring at you as you walk by. We asked our tour guide why there were so many cats there and she said simply "Hay ratones" - "There are rats"
It was so wierd and creepy and a perfect horror-movie setting, especially because we got there right before 6, closing time, so there weren't a lot of people there and the sun was just starting to go down. Definitely one of my top 5 places in Buenos Aires so far! Pictures coming soon, I promise!

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