World Cup football...and the multitude of preparations are all but engulfing Buenos Aires, the capital?
World Cup football...and the multitude of preparations are all but engulfing Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The city is wash with World Cup goods as everyone tries to cash in. And the special touches cover everything from fleets of brand-new taxis to some of the prettiest policewomen in uniform anywhere. Meanwhile, the government of President Jorge Videla continues to tap the public relations value of the imminent tournament as the competing teams arrive.
SYNOPSIS: The River Plate Stadium, where the opening match will be played on Thursday, June the first...defending champions West Germany versus Poland. The relaid pitch is delicate and needs protection from any likely rain before the matches begin.
Like the football pitch, the Argentina peso, its unit of currency, is also fragile. Only a few years ago, Argentina was a relatively inexpensive country. Now, inflation roars along at an estimated ten percent a month, and World Cup commercialism is fuelling it, This will mean problems for foreign visitors both changing currency and controlling their budgets.
World Cup fever is said to be infecting Buenos Aires merchants as severely as it is fans around the world. Commercialism is rampant, with the tournament's insignia and team emblems taped, stencilled or engraved on all manner of merchandise. Government officials have warned traders not to try to make a 'fast buck' out of the Cup, but soaring prices denote how intently this plea has been heeded. Everyone, however, has keenly noted a new corps of alluring policewomen, many of whom act as interpreters.
In the final weeks before the actual tournament begins, the fastest-selling items have been television and radio sets. They cost an average of five hundred American dollars.
Hotels are said to have doubled their rates for June, with single rooms costing around forty-five dollars a day, and double rooms fifty-five dollars.
This is the famous Ninth of July Avenue, one of the widest boulevards in the world. Its traffic islands give future champions ample room for practice.
Residents are hoping the improved telephone service will be one of the lasting benefits of the Cup. The taxi service is already better. New, sleek sedans have replaced many of the ancient wheezing taxis with rapacious meters which made taxi rides an adventure for nerves and wallets.
The government, too, is making the most of this unique event. President Jorge Videla has been highly visible at such moments of positive exposure as greeting the West German squad att a reception on their arrival in Buenos Aires. The regime sees a successful, trouble-free tournament as a counter to allegations of repression that have circulated world-wide.
But demonstrators also want to use the media to publicise their own causes. On Thursday (25 May), women silently promenaded in the Plaza de Mayo, to protest about menfolk they claim have disappeared. Usually police whisk them away promptly, but this day the women were allowed to stay.