So proclaimed (in Spanish) the handwritten sign taped to the gates of the Escuela Normal Sarmiento on Av Callao. Starting Wednesday, students took over the high school in a demand for improvements to the school’s buildings, which the students say have deteriorated to dangerous conditions. For the past two days, students have partially blocked Av Callao, one of the main downtown thoroughfares.

Since the school is located within walking distance of where I live, I decided to go over there and have a look for myself. Last night, students slept in the school and are still blocking access to the building. Numerous handwritten signs and banners are posted all over the front of the building. The building itself, from the exterior is quite attractive though I don’t doubt the bad conditions on the inside. Indeed, it makes me wonder about the conditions of schools that don’t look so good from the outside; they much be deplorable. School buildings in Buenos Aires are in bad shape. Last night, a TV program did a segment on the horrible conditions of a school in Quilmes (a suburb of BsAs). Yet, the Buenos Aires government seems not willing to acknowledge that there is any problem with the buildings and are calling the student protestors liars (even though the students have invited TV news crews inside the building on Callao to document the conditions).

Today, a couple of TV stations were posted in front of the school. I hung around for a while and watched as student leaders came out and spoke to the reporters and then went back inside.

To keep the students under control, a very large police presence was lined up across Av Callao. I estimated about 50 cops were there, about a dozen in riot gear and another squad of riot cops were sitting in a bus that was waiting on the street. I doubt if the students were going to get violent, but I guess that the police just wanted to make sure that nothing got out of hand.

I actually admire these young teenagers for taking a stand. It’s good to see that the next generation of Argentines has developed a social conscience and is willing to speak against the government.