The Olympic torch trotted right past me on its 8.5-mile journey through downtown Buenos Aires yesterday. Today, it’s headed to Tanzania and tomorrow, Oman, on its 23-city trip toward Bejing for the 2008 Olympic games.
In other parts of the world — namely San Francisco, London and Paris — the passage of the torch generated protests against China’s human rights record. Though Argentenian activists promised “entertaining surprises” during the torch’s relay through their capital city, nothing too surprising happened. The protestors paced peacefully down Pte. R. Sáez Peña Avenue with signs bearing slogans like “No rights in China,” “Eighty million dead since 1945,” “An Olympics against humanity” and “Free Tibet.”
A woman in a toga and gold sandals led the group, and a brigade of shield-bearing policemen and a truck blaring opera music followed. Argentine pedestrians stopped along the sidewalk to snap pictures with their camera phones, and taxi drivers encountering the march honked their horns and executed frustrated three-point turns to escape the blockage.
In an attempt to diffuse possible tension, hundreds of China supporters decked out in matching red windbreakers gathered near the Washington-monument-style Obelisco on 9 de Julio Avenue.