Here I was sitting at the computer in my San Telmo apartment when I hear a helicopter flying around outside. That’s rather unusual for this area so I stepped onto the patio to see the helicopter hovering low over the apartment. Wondering what’s up, I slipped on my shoes and jacket to wander outside.
Didn’t see anything unusual at first, then I made my way down towards Constitución station. A few police on motorcycles were at the intersections on Av Montes de Oca. Curious, I headed down in that direction. Still nothing much happening.
Then I saw some banners of the MTD Aníbal Verón. There were about a couple hundred people camped out in front of the Hospital de Niños but it didn’t look like they’re demonstrating about anything. I kept walking down Montes de Oca to see if there was anything more interesting happening.
In my haste to leave the apartment I forgot that I was wearing my Tennessee Titans sweatshirt. Fortunately, I had put on a jacket also and thought it was wise to button my jacket, thereby hiding the starry red, white, and blue emblem that is the Titans logo. I figured that it was best not to walk through a pack of piqueteros wearing anything that even vaguely resembled a USA flag.
Most of the piqueteros were just hanging out, sitting around, having lunch. A couple of women were knitting. Actually, most of them were women of all ages and young children. None of them seemed quite to know why they were there. I felt like I had stumbled into some bizarre piquetero day camp. As I got close to the end of the group, a few of the guys starting telling others, “Arriba, arriba.” Evidently, lunch was over and it was time to get marching again.
Just downhill from the piqueteros (and yes this is one of the few areas in Buenos Aires that actually has a hill) were about fifty policemen gathered on the corner. In another block were the police riot squad and a water cannon truck, just in case things got out of hand. But they were staying far enough back and out of sight not to agitate anyone.
As I made my way back up the hill towards home, the piqueteros had moved off to wherever they were going. I went back home and checked Clarín to see if it had anything about it.
Joking aside: the group was on their way to Plaza de Mayo from estación Avellaneda, where they were protesting the 2002 murder of Maximiliano Kosteki y Darío Santillán at the hands of the police. The June 26 anniversary of that event is approaching, so there is likely to be more about Maxi and Darío soon. In my neighborhood, just about every other block has some type of stencil commemorating the two. For non-local readers not familiar with that disturbing event there is a well-written summary of the killings in English. The now famous photographs by a Clarín photographer capture the brutal actions of the police.