Friday, March 21, 2008

Three strikes

We have a long holiday weekend — not just Jueves Santo and Viernes Santo, but Monday's Día Nacional de la Memoria por la Verdad y Justicia.*

Banks are closed for the holidays**, but many bank employees had already been on strike anyway. The big question going into the holiday weekend was whether there would be enough money in the ATMs to withstand demand.

That question is academic if there's nothing to spend the money on anyway. Farmers in this country have gone apeshit after the government raised their taxes*** and have been on strike for 10 days. Shortages are starting to crop up in supermarkets.

Meanwhile, taking a flight in this country is always a gamble, but usually it's Aerolíneas Argentinas that's making passengers riot.**** This time, flights on LAN were delayed for hours or canceled. Why? A strike at the weather service meant they couldn't plan their flight routes.

I'm giving this country ten days to shape up or I am so out of here.

* This is the relatively new holiday that marks the 1976 military coup. It has always fascinated me, living in Spain and living here, the long shadows that dictatorships cast on the memories of those who lived under them. My friends Eli and Leo were teenagers during the dictatorship and a lot of their stories about growing up are not just about youth rebellion for rebellion's sake, nor are they about the broader horrors perpetrated by the dictatorship. Instead, they are stories of the mundane oppression and indignity of living in a military state — like how someone decided it would be a good idea to ban pinball machines in the city.

** It's curious that a country with a history of bank runs would allow the banks to be shut for five days straight.

*** The government charges farmers export taxes on the products they sell on the international market. I'm not talking a token 1% or 2% levy. Farmers now pay a 45% tax on soy they sell abroad. This is up from 20% not too long ago. There's a lot more to this, but not right now, OK?

**** Or have a heart attack . . . like when Stu and I were on Aerolíneas flight in January and a recording came on saying that cabin pressure had been lost and oxygen masks would now be deployed. I would have flipped out, except that we were still on the ground. It was less funny when it happened a few times after we took off. Through it all, the utter obliviousness of the cabin crew was priceless.

Mmm... footnotes. Full of footy goodness.

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