Home | Friday 17th April 2009 | Issue 672
Residents of the run down Buenos Aires neighbourhood of San Fernando took community relations into their own hands last week when they demolished the beginnings of what was balled an ‘economic apartheid wall’
The wall, the pet project of Gustavo Posse, the mayor of the neighbouring and considerably more affluent area of San Isidro, was to have separated the neighbourhoods with a 1600 metre long and 3 metre high barrier. Labelling it an ‘anti-thief’ wall, Posse claimed that the project began in response to a request from a ‘group of neighbours’ concerned about security. This came despite the area having a larger police presence than any other district in the province.
As initial protests and vandalism brought the issue to the attention of the wider population the wall provoked national outrage and was labelled the ‘wall of discord’ by the Argentine media. Even president Cristina Kirchner chipped in claiming to be ‘astonished’ and comparing it’s construction to apartheid.
Construction had begun on the first 240 metres of the wall before the San Fernando residents decided to implant what has been dubbed ‘justice by mallet’ Police stood and watched as the group, which included pensioners and children, took to the wall with whatever tools they could lay their hands on. Machinery from the company involved in the construction of the wall arrived to salvage what they could but to no avail.
The afternoon after the wall had been reduced to rubble, a judge ordered a halt in construction based on the case brought to court by representatives of San Fernando. The judge declared the wall to be a “squandering of materials and labour” that would cause “moral damage”.
Posse, who reported the demolition crew for ‘destruction of public works’, is still refusing to understand defeat, announcing that “of course” work would continue, in the name of “humble, worker” neighbours “not from the slums”. However, Carlos Stornelli, the Minister for Security in Buenos Aires province has promised to use all the “power of the police” to stop the project should they try to restart construction. “This (the wall) cannot exist in the mind of anyone” he said.