Yesterday, a group of ex-soldiers who for the last seven and a half years have taken turns camping out in front of the Casa Rosada in protest of their lack of recognition as Malvinas veterans ditched their tents and began constructing a brick and cement structure in order to, it would seem, proclaim the fact that they are here to stay. And because, you know, living in a house is far more comfortable than living in a tent.
“If they’re going to let us die here, we’ll do it under a roof, at least, in a place with dignity where we can sleep and take refuge from the rain or from the heat,” Tulio Traboschi told press.
The dream was short lived, however, as the soldiers dismantled the “house” 13 hours later, following a court order to tear the walls down.
This represents the latest turn of events in one of the longest protests in Argentine history — a tale that tells the story of a struggle between war veterans (well, that’s what they would like to be known as anyway) and Augustín Rossi, Argentine Minister of Defense.
Slogans such as, “Minister Rossi: Congress has given you the authority to recognize us: we are asking that you exercize it,” have been splashed in a garish red and black paint across many a banner erected in the Porteño plaza for nearly eight years now (precisely 2,781 days — fun fact) as some 400 men have taken turns protesting on the Plaza de Mayo.
They have been appealing to Congress, the government and the army, asking that in return for their work in the Malvinas struggle, they be recognized as war veterans and be presented with their due benefits and pensions.
The men were deployed to the South of the country but never to the Malvinas Islands proper, for which reason, it seems, they were never given veteran status.
“Give us back our identity,” said Fraboschi. “We have been ex-soldiers since the last day of the war. They usurped our titles and honors,” he went on.
But so far their cries have gone unheard, so yesterday it was down with their tent pegs and up with their shovels as they piled brick on brick in an attempt to create a more permanent protest camp in Buenos Aires’ historic center.
Unfortunately for them, however, this worthy haven’s life span was almost as short as Maradona’s legs.
13 hours after construction began, district attorney, Claudia Barcia, acted ex-oficio and ordered the federal police to bring this unruly activity to an end.
“This is a crime,” said Sub-secretary for the Maintenance of Public Spaces of the City Rodrigo Silvosa, “and we had to act,” he went on.
So the construction has now been demolished and the protestors have been fined a grand total of ARS$5000 to cover the costs of repairing the damaged grass and one wrecked flower bed.
On the bright side, the protesters have been promised that they can meet with representatives from the Human Rights department of the Porteño legislative body as well as the Ministry of Defense.
“Every cloud” and all that.