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The streets as a stage

The streets of Cordoba City, Argentina are a stage for people pushing for change—whether it’s for better working conditions, increased security for communities, or a healthier environment.

Activism is alive and strong here. For instance, protests are held almost every day, says a news producer of El Doce. News programs always have stories about rallies.

I witnessed some of the demonstrations firsthand during my first few weeks in Cordoba. They reminded me of home not only because rallies are also common in the Philippines, but more importantly, because the protesters here and back at home face the same issues.

On Tuesday, I tagged along with reporter Mariano Cardarelli in covering several stories in the city. Two of those were protests.

The first one was in a government hospital where doctors, nurses, and other employees are on strike to demand that they be paid their wages. According to reports, almost half of the employees at the municipal hospital of Villa del Libertador have not received their salaries ever since the hospital was opened in September 2011. The local government has said the delay was because of problems in the bureaucracy like missing files, La Voz reports.

Hospital employees holding an assembly to discuss protest plans

As employees hold assemblies and street protests every day, patients are left with no one attending to them. The hospital, which was built for 53 million Argentina pesos from a donation from Spain, is no longer functioning.

A sign posted at an empty counter says the hospital's employees will not work during their scheduled shifts because they have not been paid their salaries since September last year.

A doctor explaining the situation to patients

Mariano then proceeded to another rally near the town center. This time, it’s by Cordoba’s judicial police, who are are up in arms over their “unhealthy” working conditions. Cadena 3 reports that some of the members of the Policia Judicial had committed suicide because of these working conditions, which it did not elaborate on.

Protest outside the building of the Policia Judicial

To draw attention to the protest, the demonstrators played drums and lit firecrackers.

Protesters lighting firecrackers

The other demonstration I witnessed was more physical, but less angry.

Last Saturday, I joined almost 200 people in biking around the city. It’s not just a weekend hobby. The event, organized by the group BiciUrbanos, called for better biking facilities to encourage people to use bikes instead of cars. They point to pollution as a result of having too many cars on the streets.

Almost 200 bikers attended BiciUrbano's event last Saturday, April 7.

Sharing the roads with buses and cars, the bikers went around Cordoba City while playing loud music, and stopped once in a while to chant and clap their hands.

Bikers on the bridge near the provincial government building

Cordoba City does not have enough bike lanes. It has a few but they are in a sorry state, according to a report by La Voz. Through the event, which is held every first Saturday of the month as part of the Masa Critica movement, bikers urged the government to address the problem.

Earlier, relatives and neighbors of Rocio Barletta–the 11-year-old girl who was raped and strangled to death last Holy Week–also took to the streets to call for justice and demand better security in communities.

Delayed salaries, unhealthy working conditions, rampant criminality, lack of facilities for environment-friendly transportation—these problems are present not just in Argentina, but also in the Philippines and other parts of the world. Wherever one is, people turn to the streets to call for change.

About Ryan Chua

I live to tell stories.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “The streets as a stage

  1. Filipinos should also push for more bike lanes in the metro, and I must say, the streets of Cordoba in your photos look clean. Even the hospital looks classy. :)

    Posted by N. | April 11, 2012, 06:20
  2. Excelent post and photos! I’m proud of you, Ryan :)

    Posted by elisagenzai | April 12, 2012, 15:23

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Hoping for solutions, TV station in Argentina highlights bad news « OFF THE BEAT - April 16, 2012

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