Activists in Rosario took to the streets on Tuesday to demand an end to the never-ending wave of violent crime in the troubled city.
Gathering under the motto “Let’s light up Rosario,” more than 100 people attended a downtown candlelit march convened by the Familiares y Víctimas de la Inseguridad group.
“Rosario is the capital of the perfect crime, they’re killing us and nobody does anything,” affirmed Ezequiel Lowden, the only speaker at the rally at City Hall who represented the families of crime victims.
Underlining the extent of the violence, each marcher wore a T-shirt with an image of their dead relative.
On the day of the march two more murders were announced, bringing the year’s homicide total up to 41.
“The politicians swap accusations [but] there is no response from the state, we don’t know what they do with the budgets earmarked for security. No answers given. Nothing works any more for Rosario,” added Lowden, the representative of Familiares y Víctimas.
“Where are the people of Rosario? There is no lack of empathy from the citizenry who took to the streets for the World Cup but do not care about crime,” screamed one neighbour during the rally as she held up a candle.
Lowden immediately responded to the gathered crowd: “I understand that there is a lot of fear in the neighbourhoods, people are being extorted, it is not easy to mobilise them. We equally thank those who are accompanying us now and the media present.”
The scene was a far cry from the massive rallies of previous years. After the son of the businessman Enrique Bertini was murdered in the doorway of his house in August, 2014, many rallied at Rosario’s Monument to the Flag to demand justice. Two years later in September, 2016, gathering under the motto “#Rosario is bleeding,” a crowd marched from the provincial court-houses to Plaza San Martín with posters, carrying photos of assassinated youngsters and delivering heart-rending testimonies describing a city seized by drug-traffickers. Then in October, 2021, the Monument was again the rallying-point after the murder of the architect Joaquín Pérez. The rally was even attended by Governor Omar Perotti and Mayor Pablo Javkin, who were forced from the scene by the angry crowd.
After 288 murders last calendar year and 41 so far in 2023, many rosarinos seem more comfortable following the horrors on news shows than to go out and demand that the politicians assume their responsibilities.
“People have their problems, we’re not making it to the end of the month, the money is not nearly enough, we hope that they pay for it in the ballot-boxes,” pointed out one lady during the rally, showing her candle in accordance with the motto.
Among the crowd were PRO national deputies Waldo Wolff and Gabriel Chumpitaz (the latter sitting for Santa Fe Province), as well as municipal councillor Carlos Cardozo.
“We’ll spend the night here camping outside the doors of City Hall. We’ve gathered signatures for a memorial with the names of each person who died as a victim of a robbery or crossfire, just as we have painted a red star in each place where a member of the family was killed,” added Lowden, speaking for the event’s organisers.
Earlier that same afternoon, two more murders were added to the interminable saga of death in Rosario. A woman of 65 was gunned down at the corner of Flamarión and Julio Marc streets on the southside of the city while drinking maté. Another woman of 50 was shot dead on the block of 24 de Septiembre and Guerrico streets in the Tablada neighbourhood, bringing February’s homicide tally to 14. Last Saturday night, local policeman Rodrigo Medini was gunned down while doing overtime in the doorway of a bar on the west side of the city.
Recent changes at the helms of the Security Ministry and the provincial police are not stopping the crimewave, while Perotti and the national Security Minister Aníbal Fernández trade accusations. Under this governor there have been four security ministers, four provincial police chiefs and 11 heads of Unidad Regional II, with 90 percent of crimes reportedly committed on the orders of individuals in prison cells – the bloodshed just keeps coming.
by Santiago Baraldi, from Rosario