Friday, May 21, 2010

Thy people doth protest too much!

One of the things we have found interesting in Argentina is the total culture of protest. There seems to be a march, or a protest, or a rally, or just random people chanting everywhere we go. On our second day in Buenos Aires, we went down to the city center and visited the building that is the seat of the national government. In front is a famous square where many protests and rallies have been held over the last century. I took one look around and said ¨they must have had one heck of a protest here yesterday,¨because of all the trash and flyers scattered all over the square. What was particularly striking was that there were many, many empty trash cans in the park, but apparently, rather than walk 15 feet, everyone seems to have tossed their soda bottles on the ground instead.

We walked further into the city and noticed that all the turn-of-the century buildings were covered in graffiti with political slogans. I go tthe strong sense that the point of protest was as an excuse for hooliganism, not to actually improve conditions in the country. It left a very bad impression for both of us.

Then, the other day, we were watching the news. Three young men in their twenties had had sex with a 14-year old girl, videotaped it, and were scummy enough to show it around. Fortunately, they have been arrested and will face charges of statutory rape, and possibly child pornography as well.

And what was the response from the community? Why a protest, naturally. But not for who you think - it was a rally of women protesting for the release of the three men. Yes, they were marching to show their indignation at the arrest of three scumbags who had broken the law. Their reason? Because the girl was known to be promiscuous. I can only imagine how horrible it must be for the poor young woman and her family, having to see her community on the news, marching through the streets, no doubt chanting something classy like ¨Let them go, she´s a ho.¨ It goes to show just how far things still need to move for women in the country, I suppose.

Personally, I think they should all pack up their banners, put away their spray paint, and do something that will really make a difference - go to work, perhaps? Vote? Throw away your trash in a grabage can, even?