Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Bus Ticket Cost Me a Finger

Foto NoticiaI saw some interesting news this morning from the Buenos Aires Herald. If you care to read the short article here, you'll see that at 4 am a bus driver in the district of Escobar was attacked by his only 3 passengers, who demanded he hand over the money from the ticket machine. The driver either refused or couldn't open the box, so they chopped off one of his fingers with an axe. Sounds pretty gruesome, right? Especially when you consider that these guys were probably not even going to make more than chump change off a public bus at 4 am with no other passengers.

What I find interesting about this, though, is the fact that other bus drivers went on strike as a result today. They are demanding more security on the buses. I wish these guys would be educated on the situation with buses in places like Ecuador. How do they plan to get more security on buses? Should every bus have a gun wielding guard? As is typically the case in Argentina, there is a protest, but no one has a solution for the problem. They just want to complain about it.

Take yesterday, for example. There were 4 separate strikes and protests disrupting the city. 4. One of the protests was against the mayor, who has been in power for 2 years. It's not as if the guy took power in a bloody coup. He was democratically elected. If you don't like the guy you don't protest, you just find someone better to run against him next time. It's not surprising that in a country where 20-30% of the population votes, they are unhappy with their elected leaders. But instead of doing anything rational about it, they take to the streets like wild Parisian students or Russian peasants who want bread.

Anway, to digress, once public buses start getting jacked in Buenos Aires, even if it's the province, you know things aren't going well. Though city buses get hijacked in Ecuadorian cities like Machala, you wouldn't expect it to happen in Quito. It's just too big of a city. But in Buenos Aires, that just sends a negative image no matter what. In Ecuador every bus has 2 workers: 1 who is driving and 1 who is taking money and basically keeping an eye out. I've heard they used to have that system here, but eventually eased it out for a ticket box to be more efficient. Maybe they need the 2nd guy again.

This incident tells me one thing unequivocally. Safety in Argentina has definitely become a real concern in the last few years, and it isn't getting any better any time soon. Even today an entire police station was raided by other police departments under question of the investigation of a missing family, which turned up dead yesterday. Let's not forget where we are folks. This aint Paris.

Above: Photo courtesy of the Buenos Aires Herald

1 comment:

Emily said...

I feel the need to note that Argentineans are actually legally required to vote. Perhaps the 20-30% figure is those who actually VOTE for someone as opposed to simply marking the neutral box on the form to fulfill the obligation, but they definitely all have to vote. You'll hear them frequently complain about it if you ever bring up the topic.

Also, public bus attacks were pretty frequent while I was studying abroad there. Usually homeless people up to no good. In fact, I was on a bus from Almagro to the bus station near Puerto Madero when a couple homeless people got on the bus being loud and harassing people including the bus driver. He called the police and they made the people get off.

I love that portenos protest about anything and everything--it's very much a part of Argentine culture, and even if it never changes anything or they don't have solutions, it's the passion behind it. Who wants to be like Americans who don't give a shit to lift a finger for change? Cast a ballot? Please. Get out in the street and let people know you're pissed off. It's a beautiful thing.