Argentina 09/05/11

Delayed trains spark fiery reaction in Buenos Aires on Monday, and what are the chances of seeing Maradona in your wallet?

Delays on one of Buenos Aires’ main train services, the Linea Sarmiento, that connects the commercial hub once in the centre with the western neighbourhoods of the city, ended in violence on Monday.

Following a derailed carriage in the Flores district early on Monday morning, Transporte Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Transport – TBA) found that two sets of tracks had to be closed, cutting available services by half.

By 8.30 am, severe delays to intensive rush-hour traffic culminated in an explosion of frustration amongst commuters.Whilst in numerous stations railway staff were threatened, violence reached a crescendo with trains being set alight in Haedo, Ramos Mejia, and Cuidadela.

The coincidence of the fires at numerous stations has prompted speculation that the attacks were premeditated.

14 waggons have been affected, including two locomotives; five carriages are beyond repair, meaning the service continues to be disrupted.

Buenos Aires’ mayor, Mauricio Macri, who has been widely anticipated as a centre-right candidate for this October’s Presidential election, declared yesterday that he would not stand. ‘After considerable reflection, a lot of debate, I am convinced that the best place for me to be today is in support of Buenos Aires city’ he said.

A friend of Mario Vargas Llosa – and a proponent of similar free-market politics – Macri has been a controversial figure in the city. Whilst many are in support of the wide program of public works he has initiated during his time as mayor (the development of a dedicated bus service based on Colombia’s Transporte Milenio is currently underway to ease the strain on the same commuter route that the Linea Sarmiento struggles to serve), he also draws criticism for failing to address numerous social problems in the city from poverty rates to paco abuse.

Without naming any names, he did confirm that his party – the PRO or Propuesta Republicana (Republican Proposal) would forward a candidate.

That ‘Number 10 is on the tenner’ is the tag line of a group on facebook who are campaigning this week for Diego Maradona to adorn the ten peso note.

More than 14,000 people support paying homage to the football hero by replacing the ‘Liberator’ and man behind the Argentine flag, Manuel Belgrano, with the Boca born superstar of the 1984 victory against England.

‘Maradona did more than Mitre’ is the cry, suggesting that the displaced Belgrano could substitute the 19th century liberal president Bartolome Mitre who currently adorns the 2 peso. ‘Belgrano for the 2 and Maradona for the 10’!

In more serious monetary news, this week also witnessed the first official admission by President Fernandez of her worries regarding inflation in Argentina.

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