Buenos Aires Smothered In Smoke
A thick cloud of smoke covered Buenos Aires for a fifth day on Saturday, the fallout from field burning by ranchers that has forced the closure of highways, flight delays and traffic congestion.Meanwhile, AP reports that President Christina Fernandez says:
The smoke started to appear over the Argentine capital more than a week ago, but visibility deteriorated considerably in the city on Friday and Saturday, with an acrid smell pervading homes and causing watery eyes and sore throats among residents.
Visibility downtown was barely 500 yards (meters), and residents' tempers began to fray.
/snip Authorities said ranchers caused the haze by igniting fires across 173,000 acres of pasture. The fires clear vegetation and renew soil nutrients and fresh pasture growth for cattle.
"People must be held responsible for this," Fernandez said after riding in a helicopter Saturday over cattle ranches and farms north of Buenos Aires, where hundreds of firefighters worked with the army to extinguish the fast-moving flames.And then AP makes the obvious connection to recent farm strikes in Argentina:
Farmers, who dumped soy and grains on highways to protest export taxes levied on their crops in mid-March, insisted that the recent fires were unrelated to their 21-day strike, which was suspended April 2.Meanwhile, Buenos Aires, a magical city, appears to be quite unlivable.
No one is known to have died in the flames, but at least seven motorists were killed in pileups on rural routes made hazy with smoke. The fires are raging just 45 miles north of the city and radiate out into the country's Entre Rios and Santa Fe provinces.
Foul-smelling smoke has shrouded the capital's iconic Obelisk and obscured skyscrapers in a crisis unprecedented in Buenos Aires. Residents flocked to doctors with respiratory and eye irritation.