Argentinian town hit by crime wave during police strike

Looting in Córdoba.
 
The city of Córdoba turned into a lawless Wild West town from days gone by for nearly 24 hours earlier this week, with residents taking up arms to defend themselves against rampaging looters. Police officers were nowhere to be seen, for one simple reason: they had gone on strike. Our Observers were appalled by the police’s inaction.
 
From Tuesday evening to Wednesday afternoon, the city’s approximately 3,000 police officers stayed in their offices while looters ran riot in the streets.
 
The police have now finally gone back to work after striking a deal with the province’s governor ensuring them a pay rise.
 
One of the supermarkets that were looted. 
 
During these nearly 24 hours of violence, the majority of residents stayed home. Public transportation was suspended and schools were closed.
 
Looters in Cordoba. Photo published on Twitter by
@nachonegrin.
Contributors

“It didn’t look like Argentina – it looked like a country at war”

Liliana Capdevila lives in Nueva Córdoba, an upscale neighborhood of the city.
 
I live in a business district, where there are lots of stores, restaurants, and a university. The looting was particularly intense here. I watched it from my apartment, which is on the 13th floor of my building. Thieves were going around on foot and on motorbikes. They shattered store windows with stones to get in. Some of them went into residential buildings to loot apartments. I wasn’t able to sleep a wink because I could hear gunshots, explosions, and the non-stop sound of ambulance sirens. It didn’t look like Argentina – it looked like a country at war. This was a real disaster.
   
Two people died following the chaos, according to hospital sources. Hundreds of people were injured, many of them by shards of shattered glass.
 
In the police's absence, some residents banded together to go after looters. This video shows a thief trying, in vain, to get away from a furious group.

“Political spats put the lives of citizens in danger”

Pablo Segui lives in San Vincente, a middle class neighborhood.
  
Where I live, some residents took up arms to defend themselves. My local baker, whose shop is 50 metres from my building, spent the night watching over his bakery, with a gun in hand. Meanwhile, a local supermarket was completely looted. Though things are calm again now, people are still scared. There are very few people on the streets [as of Wednesday afternoon].
 
Residents of San Vincente defending their houses with shotguns. Photo published on Twitter.
 
According to our constitution, neither the police nor the military are allowed to go on strike. The local police’s strike was completely illegal. The governor, José Manuel De La Sota, asked for police officers from Buenos Aires to come to Córdoba. But the government was very slow to react. José Manuel De La Sota wants to run for president in 2015. Therefore he’s an opponent to our current president, Cristina Kichner. She clearly stalled as these incidents are bad publicity for our governor. [The government did end up agreeing to send police from Buenos Aires to Córdoba, but the local police ended their strike before this could happen]. These political spats put the lives of citizens in danger. That’s just unacceptable.
 

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