Friday, February 24, 2012

Disaster on El Sarmiento

With fifty fatalities, over six hundred injured and at the time of writing, the recent re-emergence of two of the three unaccounted for passengers more than 48 hours after the accident, the crashing of the Sarmiento train at Once station in Buenos Aires is the worst train accident in Argentina since the 1979 head on collision of two trains near Benavidez station when over 140 people lost their lives.

The dramatic and distressing images of carnage and trapped passengers that were broadcast live over Argentine television were sometimes hard to watch as the severity of the incident became more and more paramount with the increasing numbers of official dead.

The Sarmiento train is the one that I use most weekends in Buenos Aires to visit my wife’s family who live in Moreno and we have many friends who use the service to commute to Capital for work. We therefore spent a number of hours confirming that no one with whom we were acquainted was involved in the accident. But as my wife’s sister said on her Facebook page shortly afterwards, ‘it could have been any of us who use the Sarmiento on that train. May this serve once and for all to end the negligence.’

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

El Subte

Present map of the Subte, the underground of Buenos Aires
So it’s been over a month since control of the city’s underground rail system, known as El Subte, was transferred from the Federal Government to Mauricio Macri’s Buenos Aires City Government, and although full control isn’t expected to be handed over for at least a further couple of weeks, the effects of the change are already being felt.

On January 6, fares were dramatically raised from $1.10 per journey to $2.50, a hike of 127%. This gave rise of course to protests and pandemonium which saw Metrovias open up turnstiles on day one of the new price to let everyone travel for free. While during the weeks leading up to the fare increase, lengthy queues built up at stations throughout the city as users stocked up on as many $1.10 tickets as they could cram into their pockets. Many even turned the exercise into a business opportunity selling ten journey tickets online for $20, undercutting the new $25 price and making a cheeky $9 profit in the process.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Argentina's football league to be called The Crucero General Belgrano First Division

With the thirty year anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom approaching, both countries have recently become more and more fixated on political rhetoric and squabbling.

This squabble is of course demeaning to the British and Argentine soldiers who gave their lives in the war and is also degrading to the Islanders whose voice seems to be heard less and less. UK headlines say 'Fernandez said this’ and the ‘Argies are doing this’, while on a daily basis in Argentina papers are dominated by ‘Cameron calls us this’ and ‘the pirates are robbing us of this’.

It is clear that talking about the islands serves both Cameron and Fernandez well politically. But unless the UK Premier has the intention of becoming uncharacteristically anti-banking and changing the name of the Barclays Premier League, then for now CFK has got one up on her British counterpart.