Argentina, Hard

Violencia en pleno

Tuesday, May 8, 2007  

Violence is not always what it appears or what you expect it to appear like. In my experience living in a few different cities I have been exposed to all modes of violence both directly and indirectly. Something seeming very dramatic can really be nothing more than a squabble between two over-testosteronized dudes. A parent yelling at a kid can seem like just words but to the kid can be sheer terror. Or something hardly noticeable at all can be something more.

BruisedThis morning I stopped to meet a friend for a coffee at mid-day in a cafe in one of the most trendy corners of San Telmo, Buenos Aires. Though a brisk morning I sat outside with my dog Clyde waiting for Greg. I had my head buried on the newspaper which featured the return to public life of the soccer legend Diego Maradona after another near-death experience with alcohol and freebase.

Directly across from where I was sitting reading I noticed a crazed woman waving a large pole and screaming at some kids down the way. Then I looked at where she was shouting at and saw two young guys punching at someone on the ground. I got up to take Clyde to investigate when a moto scooter whisked by me and the two teenagers jumped up from the pounding to mount the bike with the third driving. They were gone before anyone had a chance to digest what was going on, except the crazed woman. They had just beaten up a guy in a suit in mid-day right under my nose and there was nothing I could do. There was nothing anyone could do, aparrently. This occurred right outside a restaurant and right across the street from a Shell gas station and a McDonalds where a security guard was. Less than a block away was a police officer on foot who showed up just in time to miss it all.

Crime happens in cities. And today gentrification is happening all over the world. I know nothing about the victim or the perpetrators, but when people in desperate situations feel displaced by others with better economic advantages, violence can occur. No matter how much security or police there are. Fortunately the victim got up under his own power with just a few dashes of spilled blood. Many people nearby were oblivious that anything even happened. Nothing in the daily routines of others was interrupted except that within the 30 seconds I got up to try to help, another customer robbed my morning paper from the table.

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