Thursday the 13th of March 2003- Day 23 to Saturday the 15th of March 2003- Day 25

Thursday the 13th of March 2003- Day 23.

Burned some pictures onto a CD ‘ ROM. Hope it works.











Buenos Aires – March for the Disappeared

Taken on the 13th of March 2003

Every Thursday at 3.00pm in front of the balcony of the Casa Rosada, relatives of the 3,000 people who disappeared during the dirty war demonstrate. The women wear shawls on their heads with the details of the disappeared person on the back.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Went to two hostel called Millhouse and Saint Nicholas to see if they were going to organise a tour to a match. Millhouse were for 70P which included a BBBQ, transfer, tickets etc.











Buenos Aires – San Jose Martin Memorial

Taken on the 13th of March 2003

Buenos Aires – San Jose Martin Memorial which is on the main city catherdral. Saw the changing of the guard Later on when to the Shamrock Irish Pub. Met some very nice people from Buenos Aires.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Friday the 14th of March 2003- Day 24.

Demonstration take place daily.. meaning I see an average of 2 to 3 demonstrations PER DAY. The teachers, railway, subway people are striking. Economic strikes, bank demonstrations.











Buenos Aires – Teachers Demonstration

Taken on the 14th of March 2003

Buenos Aires – San Jose Martin Memorial which is on the main city catherdral. Saw the changing of the guard Later on when to the Shamrock Irish Pub. Met some very nice people from Buenos Aires.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Teachers Demonstration

Taken on the 14th of March 2003

Buenos Aires – San Jose Martin Memorial which is on the main city catherdral. Saw the changing of the guard Later on when to the Shamrock Irish Pub. Met some very nice people from Buenos Aires.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Went to the Kilkenny Irish Pub. This is the first time I have been out in BA as such. Anyway some 7.00 hours later, meeting many people from BA and Ireland, many of whom bought me drinks, got home at 4.00am.

Saturday the 15th of March 2003- Day 25.

Nothing done today because of a vicious hangover. First day off. More to come because of Saint Patricks Day

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires – Demonstrations in BA againt the War. Not a picture by me. (15-03-2003)

Thursday the 13th of March 2003- Day 23

Thursday the 13th of March 2003- Day 22.

Saint Patricks Day is coming up. Sign by Guiness hightlighting St. Patricks Day. They close a street (Reconquista), where three Irish pubs are located. Sometimes they close San Martin street too.











Buenos Aires – Guinness Sign

Taken on the 12th of March 2003

I am really looking forward to Saint Patrick’s Day here. I didnt think it would be celebrated but now you ahve posters all over the city advertising it. Not just one day but three days. Beer belly, here I come.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Found the following article.

ARGENTINE – THE FORGOTTEN IRISH. To be found online here.

by Guillermo McLoughlin

It is a fact that throughout Ireland there is a very scanty knowledge of the existence of an active Irish community in Argentina. Perhaps the language differences, the long distance between the two countries and the circumstance that the great Irish emigration to Argentina was discontinued in the 1880s, are the main reasons for this lack of knowledge.Nevertheless, it is worth noting that half a million people of Irish descent live in Argentina where they maintain their traditions and support schools and charity societies. It is also possible to meet people, whose families left Ireland three or four generations back, who speak with a Westmeath accent though they have never travelled to Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated all around the country and an annual meeting ‘Encuentro’, which gathers the most representative delegations of Irish Societies, takes place in different cities sponsored by the Federation of Irish-Argentine Societies, currently presided over by Richard Dillon.

At the beginning

Although the vast majority of the Irish people came to Argentina in the nineteenth century, after the new Republic became independent, some Irish families held leading positions in various social, political, military and economic environments during the colonial period. Among them we should mention the Lynch, Butler, Sarsfield, Kennefeaky (hispanicized Reynafe), O’Gorman, Dogan, O’Ryan and Whertherton families. They were families who came through Spain where they also held distinguished social positions and were grateful for the traditional hospitality accorded by the Kings of Spain to their long distant Irish relatives, descendants of Milesius.

In the early times of the discovery and conquest of America, many Irish took an active part in this enterprise. The first Irishmen to set foot on Argentine soil were three Galway-born members of the crew of the Spanish Admiral Hernando de Magallanes in 1520. John and Thomas Farel (Farrell) took part in the foundation of Buenos Aires City in 1536 and the Jesuit priest Thomas Fields, a native of Limerick, was an outstanding participant in the Jesuit missions.

The British Invasions

During the years 1806 and 1807 there were two frustrated British invasions of Argentina. The first was commanded by the Irish-born general William Carr Beresford, an illegitimate son of the Marquis of Waterford. In both expeditions there were several Irish officers and soldiers and some of them deserted and decided to establish themselves in Argentina. One of them was Peter Campbell, who was the organizer of the Uruguayan Navy.

In 1810 the ‘Criollos’ (Argentine-born people under the rule of Spain) decided to cut their relations with the Kingdom of Spain. On May 22 in a memorable session of the ‘Cabildo’ (the town council) Joaquin Campana (Campbell) demanded the dismissal of the Spanish Viceroy Baltazar de Cisneros. Three days later the first independent government was installed and, on the same day, Domingo French distributed emblems with the colours of the future national flag.

The struggle for independence involved the participation of many Irish descendants as well as some newly arrived Irish immigrants. Among them, the most prominent and important Irish figure in the struggle for South American independence was Admiral William Brown (1777-1857), a native of Foxford, County Mayo. He was the founder of the Argentine Navy and subsequently became Governor of Buenos Aires in 1826.

He won the naval battle of Montevideo on March 17, 1815, which assured the independence of Buenos Aires from Spanish rule. Brown began the action with the band playing the song ‘St Patrick’s Day in the morning’ in homage to the saint’s day. The names of Craig, King, Kearney, Turner and others must be remembered among the brave officers who took part in the battle.

But not only in the Navy did Irish officers distinguish themselves. In the army, too, we should recall the names of Lynch, O’Donnell, Warnes and especially a Wicklow man, General John Thomond O’Brien (1786-1861), who was aide-de-camp to General José de San Martin, liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru.

The large immigration

Although Irishmen settled in every Latin American country, Argentina was the only one where a large number arrived in order to form a distinct community. In the early 1820s and 1830s, many Irish people undertook the long journey to settle in Argentina, despite the fact that they knew little or nothing of such a far away land and also realising that it was not an English-speaking country. They were attracted by opportunities in the rising wool and meat trades, low land prices and high wages. William Mooney and Patrick Bookey from Westmeath, and Patrick Browne from Wexford, saw the potential opportunity to develop these trades, but realized they would need labour to do it. Therefore they contacted their counties of origin inviting people to emigrate to Argentina.

Wealthy Irish

From 1830 onwards we can see the increase in Irish immigration. In the very beginning most of these immigrants were the younger sons of large tenant farmers with the education and management skills which allowed them in a few years to become rich farmers (estancieros), after having fought against Indians and overcome climatic conditions very different to those of their native land. A special system known as ‘halves’ was used, whereby the owner would entrust 2,000 to 3,000 head of sheep to an Irish shepherd who was expected to cover all expenses for maintaining them for a specific period of time. At the end of the period, the flock, which by then had grown to 10,000-12,000 sheep was divided with 50 per cent going to the owner and 50 per cent to the shepherd. This system enabled many Irishmen to establish themselves quickly on their own farms and created a new opportunity for those who arrived from Ireland looking for work as they could get it from their own compatriots.

The names of John Murphy, Edward Maguire and Michael Duggan may be recalled from among many other Irish pioneers who amassed large fortunes. The last one claimed to be not only the richest Irishman in Argentina, but the richest Irishman in the world.

Edward Mulhall, a famous Dublin journalist established in Buenos Aires in the 1850s, wrote in 1878: ‘the Irish owned an aggregate value of lands and stock that cannot fall short of 2 million sterling. Some of these men have from 50,000 to 200,000 sheep, and run immense tracts of land which average 1,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds per year. In no other part of the world have Irishmen been more prosperous, and nowhere do they constitute a more orderly and industrious community than in Buenos Aires’.

Although there are Irish descendants from throughout the island, the largest immigration came from two specific areas: from south east of a line from Wexford town to Kilmore Quay in County Wexford (20 per cent); and from a quadrangle on the Longford-Westmeath border, stretching roughly from Athlone to Edgeworthstown to Mullingar to Kilbeggan (66 per cent). This has been pointed out by Pat McKenna, author of an unpublished work on Irish emigration to Argentina.

Irish priests took an active role in the life of the community and in holding it together. In 1844 the Rev. Anthony Fahy was appointed as chaplain. He was a native of Loughrea, County Galway and soon became the adviser, banker, matchmaker and administrator of the income of many compatriots. He was supported by a Protestant, Thomas Armstrong, a wealthy merchant from Garrycastle. Fr Fahy was also administrator of a welfare system for the newly arriving emigrants and he introduced many Irishwomen to their future husbands — Irishmen living in the vast country.

Many churches, hospitals and schools were established for the Irish people. They had very little social or cultural organisation except that provided by their priests, mainly Pallottine and Passionist fathers. In line with this, and in view of their rural lifestyles, it is not surprising that horse racing was a principal sport and social activity. These race meetings were, it was claimed, as good as ‘the best ever seen in Mullingar’. Nowadays the Jockey Clubs are prestigious social institutions in Argentina. They owe their origin to this period. The most important one is located in Buenos Aires city and it is presided over by Alfred Lalor.

People received Irish newspapers and it was usual to have more discussions on Irish politics than of Argentina’s situation. The major political movements of the nineteenth century in Ireland were reflected in Argentina. Daniel O’Connell’s activities and the Catholic Emancipation cause were supported in the 1820s, and Irish Relief Fund for the great famine was established in the 1840s. A Fenian Prisoners Fund, a Land League and Gaelic League branch, Sinn Fein clubs and a march in Buenos Aires City after the death on hunger strike of Terence McSwiney in 1920, are examples of their continued interest in Ireland, especially in Ireland’s independence movement.

The Irish Argentine

Nowadays, the large number of over 500,000 Irish-Argentine descendants are spread all around the country. It is the most important Irish settlement in a non-English speaking country.

Schools like St Brigid’s, St Patrick’s, St Ethnea’s, Fahy Institute, Michael Ham or Newman College (belonging to the Christian Brothers), provided education for many descendants of Erin. Different associations reflect the wide range of interest of the Hibernian-Argentine community. The oldest one is the Irish Catholic Association founded in 1883 which takes care of the education of the poor Irish-Argentine people. Also, some clubs, like the Fahy and the Hurling, maintain a very important social activity among the community, but the most outstanding organization is the ‘Federacion’ (the Federation of Irish-Argentine Societies) which gathers under one umbrella all the associations concerned with the Irish community. the members of the Board are in charge of the coordination of an annual event, the traditional ‘Encuentro’, where different delegations from distant places join together to preserve the spirit of the community. It is always honoured by the presence of the Irish Ambassador to Argentina.

Traces of Irish presence are everywhere to be found. Numerous cities bear the names of their Irish founders; other cities, as well as railway stations, hospitals, streets, schools town squares, etc. are named in memory of outstanding Hibernian descendants. It is also quite usual to find in some cemeteries various graves with Celtic crosses and inscriptions in English in homage to Irish ancestors.

The Southern Cross, founded in 1875 by Monsignor Patrick Dillon, the oldest Irish newspapers published outside Ireland, provides a lively forum for communication between members of the community.

Many descendants of Irish people have been prominent members of Argentine society. Among them are General Edelmiro Farrell, President of the Argentine Republic in 1944, and General Bartolome Mitré (Irish by his grandmother), a notable military officer, politician, journalist and historian, who served as President in 1862. In recent years Edward McLoughlin and Lucas Lennon held ministerial positions.

These and many other examples represent a brief synthesis of the importance of the Irish-Argentine community. Although in the last 50 years they are no longer an exclusive English-speaking group and there is much intermarriage with non-Irish-Argentines, the descendants are proud of their roots and of the great contribution their forefathers have made to their adopted land.

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Irish Roots Magazine in which it was first published in Issue 4, 1993. Published by: Belgrave Publications

Year written: 1993. Copyright owned by: Belgrave Publications

Alos found the following song from the Wolfe Tones.

The Wolfetones – Admiral Brown

From a city of the county of May a man came from much fame.

As marine and soldier were no braver other.

They say that one went to very young America like stowaway to sail everywhere.

Then the adventure took it towards the south, to the mouth of the Silver.

San Mart?n was in his way in Argentina like three boats to hunt whales that he bought.

He fought against Brazil and Spain, and then he wished independence for Argentina.

Admiral William Brown you are a difficult man who has demonstrated his anger in the battles where everything was in against and.

But your Irish heart was strong and follows alive in the memory.

And in Ireland there is people who do not forget to you.

The day of San Patricio they say that you gained many victories

You defeated all the invaders, gamberros and killers.

Later by Pampas you found a home happy.

“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.

I have listened that noble and brave Irish helped to release a called earth Argentina.

I have listened to with much aclamation the name and the fame of the Regiment of Patricios, that fought when in 1806 the British arrived until the Silver to massacre.

And until today they say in Argentina that the English fled downwards from Buenos Aires and

they took then for the crown.

“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.

We remembered William Brown and its famous earth.

The inhabitant of the islands of your country was forced by the pirates to flee.

And in Ireland of course that we know all history.

And also we remembered the Irish that they went to the new Argentina escaping of the English laws, the wars and the hunger.

They formed a loyal crew since all the Irish do.

“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.

The old colonial days and the cruel English methods with its uproarious looting we will teach to people.

Because the English go to the war since Whitelocke did before, with its boats, arms, drums, standards and flags.

In the days of the empire they killed by gold and they made it march past by the streets of London.

Oh, no human right will give back us to deads.

“Argentine the Falklands Islands”.

In Argentina it died, Fahey father was to his side.

1857 were the year when its country cried it.

It is remembered with rejoicing like a hero of the Nation.

And everywhere where still there is much freedom.

And the Cross of the South taking notices where the brave Willie Bullfin escribio ‘: “the Irish to you continue supporting Argentina”. When the Empire sinks you do not leave the Paddies that supports to the crown.

“the Iislas the Argentine Falklands”.

Wednesday the 12th of March 2003- Day 22.

Wednesday the 12th of March 2003- Day 22.

Hungover and stayed in bed until 11.00. Walked to Barrio de Recoleta – The city’s chicest neighborhood, the Recoleta is like the “Beverly Hills” of Buenos Aires. The Barrio Recoleta houses among other things the famous Recoleta cemetery, the beautiful Plaza Vicente Lopez, and the grassy Plaza Francia. Just above the Plaza Francia you will find a complex called the BA Design Center which houses some interesting galleries, as well as many good restaurants and cafés (Hard Rock caffe included). On Saturday/Sundays this is the place to go. There are many artists performing mini-concerts on the grass in front and onto the Recoleta Cultural Center, and the whole area is lined with stands selling crafts from artisans that come in from the outer provinces.

Some pics that I took, include that of Evita’s Grave and a certain Padre Fahey grace with a cetic cross headstone made in Dublin!











Padre Fahey Grave at Recoleta Cemetry – Buenos Aires

Taken on the 12th of March 2003

Padre Anthony Fahey’s Grave. I was surprised to see it but I suppose with .5 million people here in Argentina claiming Irish descent, not too surprised. He must have been an important man. Very ornate grave stone shipped all the way from Dublin, Ireland.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Recoleta Cemetry – Buenos Aires

Taken on the 12th of March 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Evita Peron’s Grave at Recoleta Cemetry – Buenos Aires

Taken on the 12th of March 2003

There is a very bizarre story about her burial. See this . After Evita’s death, a Spanish embalmer spent years preserving her body, its internal organs intact. The result was exhibited by Peron, but after his overthrow it fell into the hands of the junta. Fearful that the perfectly preserved cadaver might be used to rally the masses, yet also afraid to destroy it, they formulated elaborate ruses to elude Peronists and hide the corpse in a foreign cemetery. Compounding this black farce, several identical way and vinyl copies of Evita were created to mislead her devoted followers.The guy who hid her body came to believe that her corpse made its way to the moon, buried by Neil Armstrong as an international television audience looked on. He went mad beacause her followd played tricks on him .. kit goes ona nd on. You can get a book on it at Amazon.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Recoleta Cemetry – Buenos Aires

Taken on the 12th of March 2003

Buenos Aires – Recoleta cemetery. Thousands of these crypts, where you see the coffins inside each. Amazing religious art and scupltures.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Padre Fahey Grave at Recoleta Cemetry – Buenos Aires

Taken on the 12th of March 2003

Buenos Aires – Recoleta cemetery. Funny thing to say that its a great place to spend a day. Fasinating.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

It may seem strange to include a cemetery as a sightseeing attraction, but this this final resting place offers a unique insight into Argentine culture. Many of the country’s most famous deceased are entombed here in Moorish, Arabian, Greco-Roman and traditional Catholic crypts. All come from Buenos Aires’ most prominent families, and entombed among them is Eva Peron whose inscription reads, “Volvere y seré millones” (I will return and be millions). Open daily 7am-6pm. 1822 Calle Junin.

Museo de Bellas Artes (Argentina’s finest art gallery) is also located here, and has a good collection of modern Argentine painters, wood sculptured artifacts from the provinces, and Impressionist and post- Impressionist paintings such as Monet, Degas, and Chagal.

Went on the net and liostended to Vincent Brown Programme (irish Radio one) on the internet using real player and headphones. Very funny listening to Brown in Buenis Aires.

Tuesday the 11th of March 2003- Day 21

Tuesday the 11th of March 2003- Day 21.

Did a walking tour tour covered the Barrio de San Telmo district. Excellent and I would highly recommend it. The company are called Eternautas. Led by a historians from BA university, the price was 9 P (2.6 EURO) for 3 hours. Fredricko, an economist educated in Switzeraland and now has three part time jobs to keep going was great. He works freelance as an economist for the government and the UN and told all about Argentina history and economic downfall. Very intelligent guy. Walking from the Pink house, national bank, city cathedral to San Telmo district. This tour shows the city’s highlights, looking through its history and culture: the historic development, the immigration process, the cultural topics (football, Tango music), the architectural heritage, Peronismo era and the features of the Argentinean society.

Showed us all the old colonial houses, the different architecture and old port area. Lined with cobblestone streets, San Telmo is the oldest area of the city. During the turn of the century residents fled from this barrio after outbreaks of yellow fever and malaria. Today it is a thriving neighborhood. By day San Telmo is home to antique shops, cafés and the Sunday flea market and outdoor Tango show (Calles Humberto and Defensa). By night San Telmo is the place for cabarets, nightclubs, and Tango bars. Can be dangerous at night. Two others on the tour Randy was the USA and Jill from Manchester. We went for coffee (beer) after we finished the tour at 13.00am. Jill and I took the metro (first time) back into town. Single price only .70 P (0.20 EURO). Decided to meet Jill again at 20.00 to go to San Temo for a tango bar visit.

At 14.00, went on a bike tour. Called Biketours. Cost was 20 US for hire, insurance and guide. Because today was cold (17 oc), only myself and a guy from London, called Conrad turned yp. Nice bikes and off we headed with the guide. Forget her name, but she was confident and had goof English. Cycled over over the docks area, San talmo and specifically La Bocca.La Boca is one of the older barrios of Buenos Aires, and was the original Port area of the city.

Many of the residents can trace their ancestry to the town of Genova, Italy. La Boca is where you will find many bars and nightclubs, and homes painted in bright colors with leftover boat paint. If there is a dangerous area to be at night in Buenos Aires. It was very run down. In the middle of this district are these colored houses. A bit touristic and reconstructed, but before the inhabitants used to build their houses from wood and zinc and painted them with left over paint from the boats. This tradition has been maintained (pictures are below. Home district of Boca Juniors and sw the stadium. Many shops selling Boca Juniors gear.











Buenos Aires – Walking Tour

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

This was in San Telmo, the main Tango bars are here. The locals say its goten dangereous during 2003 and you should not walk along here, but if you want to see Tango in a live setting in the bars etc, you got to come here. There is a good weekend market here as well.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Walking Tour

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

This was in San Telmo again. Some good old bars and shops here. Had a nice beer with two others in the Walking tour.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Walking Tour

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

Memorial to the 800 head from the Falklands War. There is a 365 presence here with eternal flame and guards. Based on the Vietnam War Memorial in the USA.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – La Boca

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

La Boca Neighbourhood where Boca Juniors (the best team in South America) stadium is located. Its a tough working class neightbourhood and its where Maradonna was based. This is a colorful part of Boca.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – La Boca

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

La Boca Neighbourhood. Its a small area. Alot of football stores selling Boca gear which was quirte good. South American football shirts are de rigeur in Ireland.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – La Boca

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

Boca Stadium. Didnt get in, but nice to the staium. Very poor neighbourhood. Other big team in BA is River Plate although Boca are the better team with more supporters.Boca Juniors is traditionally regarded as the club of Argentina’s working class, in contrast with the more upscale support base of their cross-town rivals River Plate.

Fans are known for valuing sacrifice, and to root for the team in good times and bad. This is also in contrast with the image of River Plate fans, who demand attractive play from their team.

Boca claims to be the club of half plus one of Argentina’s population; a recent survey placed its following at 39%

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – La Boca

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

Maradona is still very big here. He has a reserved seat in the stadium for life. He is currently in Drug rehab in Cuba. His anme, tshirts and stories about his trobles are every where. Took the piss out of London Conrad but he was more of a rugby lad. he was 35 and was just spending a weeks holidays in BA.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – La Boca

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

More shots of Boca.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – San Telmo.

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

More shots San Telmo.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – Boca.

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

More shots of Boca. Yep, thats the great Maradoona looking down at his fans. The most famous celeb to this day in the area. The People here think hes a God.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Diego Armando Maradona (El Diego) (born October 30, 1960) is a former Argentine football player. With the possible exception of Pele, he is widely regarded as the finest and greatest player of all times.

Maradona was born in Villa Fiorito, Buenos Aires, Argentina to a family of humble origin. He first played in the Argentine Championship, for Argentinos Juniors (1976-81) and then for Boca Juniors (1981-82). He then went to Spain, where, playing for FC Barcelona, he won a Copa del Rey. On July 5, 1984 he went to Naples, Italy to join SSC Napoli, where he won two Italian Championships (1986/87 and 1989/1990), a Coppa Italia (1987), a UEFA Cup (1989) and an Italian Supercup (1990), plus Napoli were runners-up in the Italian Championship twice.

Maradona led the Argentine national team to victory in the World Cup in 1986, the team winning 3-2 in the final against West Germany. In this tournament, he became notorious for a goal in the quarter-final game against the England, which video evidence later clearly revealed he had scored with the aid of his hand. He later claimed it was the “Hand of God” which had caused him to score the goal, to the general derision of the English public and in particular the tabloid newspapers, who still resurrect the incident occasionally even today, branding him a cheat. However, Maradona showed the other side of his nature just a couple of minutes later in the same match, by running half the length of the pitch and beating almost the entire English team along the way, to score what is widely regarded as the most exceptional goal of all time.

Maradona also captained Argentina in the 1990 World Cup, leading a far weaker team to the final again, where they lost 1-0 to West Germany. In the 1994 World Cup he was sent home in disgrace after failing a drugs test for ephedrine doping.

In Naples, where he is still beloved (having brought the local team their first scudetto), he also faced a scandal regarding an illegitimate son and was the object of some suspicion over his friendship with the Camorra, the local mafia.

Maradona left Napoli in 1992, after serving a 15 month ban for failing a drug test, and played for Sevilla FC (1992-93), Newell’s Old Boys (1993) and Boca Juniors (1995-97). He also attempted to work as a coach on two short occasions, leading Mandiyú of Corrientes (1994) and Racing Club (1995) . He retired from football on October 30, 1997.

Maradona spent much of the 1990s battling a cocaine addiction, which included a well-publicized spell in a detox clinic in Cuba. He apparently surmounted the problem for the time being, and then embarked upon a new career as a talk-show host, with which he had great success.

In 2000, Maradona was voted FIFA’s Player of the Century by Internet users in a millennium poll, garnering 53.60% of the votes. In a reconciliatory gesture, FIFA appointed a footballing committee which voted in favor of Pelé alongside the Argentine.

In 2002, the Argentine Football Association asked FIFA for authorization to retire shirt number 10, the number Maradona used, as an homage. At first, FIFA authorized it only to reverse their decision soon after. While retiring a shirt number used by a great athlete is common practice in American sports, there were no cases of this happening in Football.

Maradona’s brother is also a soccer player and his alleged illegitimate child is now trying to start a career in football, but he does not appear to have inherited his father’s skills.

On April 18, 2004, doctors reported that Maradona had suffered a major heart attack following a cocaine overdose and was in intensive care in a Buenos Aires hospital. Dozens of fans gathered around the clinic indicating his popularity even in 2004. Days after the heart attack, a male nurse was caught taking photos of Maradona in his grave condition, with a cellular telephone. The nurse had received an offer of six thousand US dollars by a tabloid newspaper to take the photos. He was, however, promptly fired by hospital directors. Maradona was hospitalized in a floor that was closed so he could be attended to exclusively.

After he showed improvement, he was taken off a respirator on April 23, and remained in intensive care for several days before being discharged on April 29. However, he returned to the hospital on May 5. Since then, he has entered a psychiatric facility for substance abuse treatment in Cuba.

Maradona is also known in Argentina as “El Pibe de Oro” (The Golden Boy). In 2002, Maradona published his autobiography Yo Soy El Diego, which became an instant bestseller in his home-country.











Buenos Aires – Bike Tour – San Telmo.

Taken on the 11th of March 2003

Buenos Aires – La Catedral Metropolitana. The city cathedral is located on the site of the second church built in Buenos Aires (1593). This greek facaded structure contains the tomb of General José de San Martin, who with the help of Simon Bolivar, led the South American wars of independence from Spain during the 19th century. The structure has gone through many renovations. Subway Station Catedral, Line D.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Met Jill at 20.00 and went to San Telmo by metro. Had a few drinks in a bar in the square and at 11.00pm went to a Tango Bar. Stayed there watched the Tango dancers and singers until 1.00am and went to a bar next door. Aanyway, finished up at 4.00am at night. Drunk. Jill is a BBC TV reporter working on regional news out of Manchester. Walking worked on newspapers. Very nice and intelligent girl and had a great time. She knew more about movies than I did. She flies back on Thursday.

Sunday the 9th of March 2003- Day 19 to Monday the 10th of March 2003- Day 20.

Sunday the 9th of March 2003- Day 19.

A lot of walking done today. The city is walkable though ita block system (with traffic lights at the end of each block), so alot of stopping and starting. Saw the Pink House and the Congress building (see pictures below) which are both of the Avenue de Mayo. Downtown is grand in statue but after walking around all say, alot of it is run down with derelict buildings. They say all the middle class moved out years ago to the wealthier suburbs. The city centre (centro) is now full of suits until 18.00 each day but is essentially a poor peoples area. Got a very nice lunch (home made veg soup, Hungarian Goulash with ravioli and mineral water) for 13 P. Very nice. Bough the english language Buenos Aires Herald for 1.40 P (0.40 EURO). Also visited two hostels, same price as my single so I will stick to the hotel, but will call back later in the week to see if there is a tour to a football match.











Buenos Aires – Casa Rosada.

Taken on the 9th of March 2003

It’s a great building on the east side of the plaza. Named for it’s pink color, this building once was a fortress in colonial days, (protecting the city from invasions via the Rio de la Plata). From the balcony of the Casa Rosada, Eva Peron (“Evita”) delivered her speeches to the argentine masses. Demonstrations for the “disappeared” every Thursday at 3.00pm. Subway Station Plaza de Mayo, line A.

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Buenos Aires – The National Congress Building.

Taken on the 9th of March 2003

Another Impressive Buiding, a location where alot of protests take place. There seems to a different demonstration every day of the week and lots of cops always about.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Monday the 10th of March 2003- Day 20.

Up at 9.30am. Free breakfast in your room between 7.00am and 10,00am. Well water, coffee and three small crossisants. Ah well, for the price! Raining heavy today, so did nothing until 1.00am. Again walking. Went to the city tourist office for brochures. Saw a bank demonstration on Florida avenue (see below). Alot of people had signs saying “I want my dollars back”. They were banging hammers against the doors. Police all over the place.Alot of political graffiti all over Buenos Aires.











Buenos Aires – Bank Protest.

Taken on the 9th of March 2003

Another bank demonstration. Lots of people with hammers handing at the door. The cops did not interfere. Banging away with these hammers and others with placards saying “I want my money back”. Its hard on the peoole who lost out. It looks like they may never get their money back. The people in the know got theres out before the collapse.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Got lunch at a all you can eat buffet on De Mayo Avenue. /p including drink. Eat as much as you want (chicken, potatoes, salads, fries etc). Cant be beat. Eat dinner at the PITTO Parilla (341) on Montevideo Avenue. Basically, its a place you get Argentinean grilled beef (supposly the best in the world). Very good. Two beers (600ml bottles) at 3.60 P each and dinner at 7.50 P (2.20 EURO). Massive piece of beef that covered all the plate. Very nice.

Friday the 7th of March – Day 17 to Saturday the 8rd of March 2003- Day 18.

Friday the 7th of March 2003- Day 17.

Did nothing before going going directly to bus station (1.30R) from Centro Foz. Nice station. Plenty of room for seating and buses. Even an internet station. The bus is great (double decker). Only 3 seats across (bigger than airline seats) and ten down. You can stretch your body fully. You can recline your seat back and like airlines get pillows, blankets and breakfast in bed. Even got a glass of whiskey before bed. We stopped off for free three course dinner at 9.00pm which had live music. Very nice. Had my own seat up stairs. Even had English Movies on – Watched The Cell with J. Lopez which was visually great but plot poor and Mel Gibson in What Women Want which was poor.

Saturday the 8rd of March 2003- Day 18.

Arrived in Buenos Aires about 9.50am in the morning. Bus journey was a good 15 hours. Checked the net for a place to stay. Checked out the thorn tree on Lonely Planet. Guy recommended a cheap hotel called the OMEGA with cable TV (BBC World Service – yes) and free breakfast for 23R. That’s just 6.50 EURO a night in a nice hotel (well functional) in a nice part of central Buenos Aires. Nice lady even gave me back 3 P back as a discount. Took a 6 P taxi to Hotel. Very chatty taxi guy, and we conversed in German as his English and my Spanish aren’t great. Slept a while and went to a NET cafe to write previous days (see above) account of day. Still a bit sun burnt but improving. Going to walk around and get my bearings. Eat dinner. Will stay in BA for a week or ten days. Might find a good Hostel (not for price but for tours and fun). Maybe get to a BOCA juniors game.











Buenos Aires – Indepedence Square

Taken of the 8th of March 2003

I liked Buenos Aires the first time I saw it. Big grand building, wide long streets, classy women…

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Buenos Aires – A Buenos Aires Bank – Vandalised

Taken of the 8th of March 2003

A Buenos Aires Bank – Many of the City Centre banks have been vandalised and closed down – especially foreign ones like HSBC, Lyodds etc. Indded there were some more explosions in November 2004 in Citibank branches. People lost money in dollar accounts which they were converted by the goverment.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

First impressions – Buenos Aires is one of the great cities of the World (paris, Ne York). Its shopping street Florida is 20 times longer than Dublins Grafton Street, criss-crossing it are about 15 main streets 20 times longer than O Connell Street. Every thing is vast and big and at first you wonder if you can learn to cope with such a city, but after a bit of walking today its layout become pretty apparent. It also has has a metro system. Things are tough for the people since devaluation, and the peoples savings are depleted. All these great shops, but no one shopping. I have never seen so many net cafes (every fifth or sixth shop has a computer for public net access). Net access is just 1 P (0.30 EURO) PER HOUR. Its about seven euro per hour in Dublin. My luch today – a mineral water, a beer, main course (big portions) and latte was 13 P (3.70 Euro) in a really nice waiter serviced restaurant. The people here still dress very well and are out and about, but they say its going to take 5 or 6 years for the country to recover. See here for a Q & A on Argentinas current problems.

Sunday the 2nd of March – Day 12 to Thursday the 6rd of March 2003- Day 16

Sunday the 2nd of March – Day 12.

Checked out of hotel, but as my bus was not leaving until 22.15pm, hotel kept my bags. Very nice Sunday market (arts, crafts, local produce). Very quiet city, no tension or excitement, so only a place for R&R – don’t come here for nightlife. Bad tropical rain shower and flash floods. Took the 22.15 bus on the 2nd of March to Iguassu Falls which form the border between Brazil and Argentina. The mighty Falls span 2.700m. Bus took 10 hours with two stops. Way nicer bus than the Rio- to Curbita one. That had no reclining seats, and no air-con (so the windows were kept open) – Very cramped. The bus from Curitiba was great. Reclining seats, pillows, no noise, – actually got some sleep.











Curitiba Market

Taken on the 2nd of March 2003

Curitiba is so clean, so organised or civilised and so Euopean that it seems, its isnt Brazil. good Public Transport, a nice climate. Seems like a great place to work. Still, it lacks the soul and edge of Rio. The market had a alot of tourist crap.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Monday the 3rd of March 2003- Day 13. Arrived at 7.40am, and took bus (1.30R) to centro and another bus to Hostel called Paudimar, Excellent site with soccer pitch, bar, swimming pool etc. Very resort like. Downside was the dorms had 3 bunk beds )for 6), with one small fan and no air-con – stinkey and hot and humid. Dropped bags and went direct to falls – Brazilian side (National Park).- 18R in. Took an optional speedboat and jungle trek for 115R. Excellent. Up close and personal under some of the waterfalls. Got at 9.00 and back at 3.00pm. Could have spent longer, but a bit sun burnt. Will make it to the Argie side tomorrow. Played soccer for an hour with others from the hostel – 6 a side. They even had flood lights. Very international group. Very unfit, and as playing in bare feet like others, toes and feet very bruised from football. Paid 20R to go on the hostel tour to Argentian falls. Saves getting 3 different buses and going through passport control.

Tuesday the 4rd of March 2003- Day 14.

German guy in my room who was going to the tour woke me up. Breakfast ar 7.30am and bus leaving at 8.30am. Brekfast in Brazil is terrible. sweet cakes and sticky buns and maybe bananas. Seems standard fair, but give me barrys tea and toast anyday. Twelve in mini bus for the day. Went to the tri state boarder point first (Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Just a river really and nothing to see. Got to the Park and paid 30 PESCOES IN. National get in cheaper. Same on Brazil side. Got a map and full day walking. Took the full day of 9.00 to 5.00pm to finish all the advertised trails to see the different waterfalls. Went around with 5 others from the bus. Real, a Leeds guy I met the day before from the hostel is just finishing his year RTW. Janet , a London girl, Ricardo from San Paulo, Thomas a German and his girlfriend. Had a good day and again took an optional boar ride (30R). Not half as good as the Brazilian version. Too touristic, some of the time, people just wanted to take snaps. We decided to head straight to Foz )the town) to visit a Cgucc – all you can eat buffet. Great place – all you can eat beef and Buffet (spuds, salads etc) for 5R (1.30 EURO) or buffet and all you can eat pizza for 5R. Choose meat. They kept on coming with all the different parts of meat including some special ones like chickens hearts which is a speciality here. Very nice. After about 20 minutes of eating non stop beef, had to stop. Had more beers. Final bill each was 10R. (2.60 EURO). very cheap. Also watched the towns Carnival parade with samba etc. Very nice. Went back to Hostel bar until 2.00am. Very nice time.











Iguassu Falls

Taken on the 4th of March 2003

Wow, one of the world’s natural wonders and I was impressed. Impressed with the hostel. Impressed with my kind feloow backpackers. Impressed with the waterfalls. the biggest in the world and so powerful.

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Iguassu Falls

Taken on the 4th of March 2003

I enjoed my time here. I would bother with the extras they offer here like the jungle walks or the speedboat rides but I would go to both the Brazilian and Argentinan sides of the falls. Two very different perspectives.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Wednesday the 5rd of March 2003- Day 15.

Woke up late (11.00) – very hot and stuffy. Went out to hammock but fell asleep. Got sunburn. Had nothing planned, so stayed by the pool, played pool etc. Sun burn is nasty. Early night.

Thursday the 6rd of March 2003- Day 16.

Only 45 R for 3 nights at hostel including 9 R for 3 days use of locker. Was cheap. Great facilities and bar etc but rooms are too damn hot. Went To paraquay boarder (2R by bus). Exited Brazil and went to get visa. Said had to get visa in town (not true), but took me to back room for chat. Basicaly they wanted money for the visa. Started at 100 US, then 50, then 13. As I was only planning to go there for a few days and didnt like there attitude, I went back to Foz in Brazil. Brazilian officials very nice and professional. Great service. Went straight to the bus station and booked bus ticket for Buenos Aires – Executive class 75R (70 EURO). Stayed in Fitz Dey Hotel nearby. Had free breakfast and Air Con for 25R. Still sun burnt. The bus is always heavily booked and was lucky to get a seat for next day. One departure per day at 14.00 hours.

Saturday the 1st of March 2003 – Day 11

Saturday the 1st of March 2003 – Day 11,

I took the Elizeu de Queiróz / Best Way Trips – Serra Verde Express Train.

Curitiba/Marumby/Marumby/ Paranaguá / Paranaguá /Curitiba (round trip)

Conventional. departure: 08:00 , arriving at 12:00 in Paranagua. Coming back 15:00 Paranaguá,arriving Ctba at 19:00.

The price was R$25.00. You could pay for the ticket at the train station (same as bus station). There website is BWT – Serra Verde Express. Some great views from the train. Paranagua is a major port, fishing area and jump off to some holiday islands. Lots of kids taking a week out before returnuing to school and university. Nice time there and rushed to catch the train back to Curtibita at 3.00pm. The train goes through deep jungle and is fameous in Brazil. All the way, butterflys were flying in and out of carriages and were all over the place. The smells were also excellent from the jungle, shrubs. Was nearly 19.00 hours when we rerached Curtiba.











Curitiba to Paranagua Train

Taken of the 1st of March 2003

Paranagua is a major port, fishing area and jump off to some holiday islands. It was an enjoyable trip and the train was quite empty so it was nice to relax, the windows down, the warm air, the smell of the flowers and tress. Waxing lyrical.This was a picture of the train before it departed from Curitiba.

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Curitiba to Paranagua Train

Taken of the 1st of March 2003

Look it, at the 3000 pictures on this blog, you will not find me in any more than six. I got sick of asking people to take my photo and it ruined the background scenery. I am wearing a DANGER! mines T-Shirt from Cambodia.

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Curitiba to Paranagua Train

Taken of the 1st of March 2003

A simple shot of the track amongst the forest.

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Paranagua Town

Taken of the 1st of March 2003

Paranagua Town was a nice place. Lots of vollege kids use this town as a staging post for some holiday Island off the coast where they all camp out. Its a nice place with plenty of old buldings and outdoor eating. Hd my first “Kaiser” beer which was decent stuff.

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Paranagua Train back to Curitiba

Taken of the 1st of March 2003

The scenery was quite nice. Theres very little jungle left on the east coast of Brazil so I am glad they are keeping this part.

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Paranagua Train back to Curitiba

Taken of the 1st of March 2003

This picture was taken on the train abck that evening. The air was warm, dusk from coming, the air freah and sweet. I felt good that I had taken this journey. It might have been slower than Irish rail, and not funny if I was in a rush, but I wasnt. It was relaxing..

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Thursday the 27th of February 2003. Day 9 to Friday the 28th of February 2003 . Day 10

Thursday the 27th of February 2003. Day 9

Took the 9.45pm overnight bus from the “Rio Novo” station in rio to Curitiba in Southern Brazil. The bus station was a nightmare (20 minutes out of Coba), with dozens of different bus companies coming and going. Each all the major states would have its own bus franchise. I took PENHNA to Curitiba. All bus departures were running an hour late and I took the conventional 12 hour bus journey for 66R (17 EURO). There were 3 crashes within the bus station over an hour. I could have taken a leito (reclining seats and pillows) for 166 R. The bus stopped twice at 1 am and 8.00am for snacks/toilets and arrived in Curitia at 11.00 am by passing San Paulo (no loss). The stop over areas were very professional. You get a electronic card coming in and you eat and drink, (all hot food 24/7) and pay going out.

Friday the 28th of February 2003 . Day 10

Got to Curtiba around 11.00am. Very nice bus and rail station. Tourist information point also available. Availed of free map and asked on how to get to centro. Advised to walk 2 minutes to bus stop (well a tube which you pay as you enter) and wait for the bus. 1.70R, asked a chap about my Hotel (Golden Hotel, but didn’t know. Knew it was in the centre. So jumped off at what I thought was the city centre. With map, only took five minutes to find hotel. Rooms 22R, and 33R with balcony and view of town centre (very traditional with cathedral). All included Buffet Breakfast (Which was excellent). Excellent clean and friendly city. Seems out of place, its so like German and Czech cities. 1.6 million people, the majority having polish, Ukrainian, Italian and German Ancestry. Very little mixed or African blood here. Very hi tech modern city with the best mass transportation system in Brazil and the 1st predestined streets in Brazil. Enjoyed my 3 days. Nice temperature, no litter, no hassles. As soon as I got off the bus, I jumped on the tourist bus which is a HOP on/off bus. For 10r, YOU CAN GET ON/OFF 4 TIMES. There were maybe 15 stops/attractions where you could get off. Nice opera house, Botanical gardens, parks. Nice pub Disco as well in the city centre (walk left of the caterdral). A bit like Copper Face Jacks (only older) Ha!











Botanical Gardens – Curitiba

Taken on the 28th of February 2003

It pissed rain before I got there and I hid in there for 20 minutes until the rain fell away. Maybe a nice place on a fine day but nothing of interest there to report. Nice flowers anyone?

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Tangua Park – Curitiba

Taken on the 28th of February 2003

The sun was going down but the weather cleared up. The Its a funny structure. It has no purpose. It has no interior. Just two turrets on wither side for views. The camera flash reflected off the bricks.

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Tangua Park – Curitiba

Taken on the 28th of February 2003

Another shot of the park. A clse up shot (in comparison to the one above) of the left hand turret. Nice as the sun shines through in the background.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Wednesday, February 26th 2003 – Day 8

I am staying in the Copacabana Praia Hostal. It was a nice place, geat staff, and I would it it to any body staying in Rio. You can share a dorm or book a 3 bedroom dorn by yourself for 50R per night. Each room contains a kitchen, bathroom, double bed, TV, air conditionining and a a bunk bed.

The TV and papers have been concentrating on the shooting and bus burnings that have taken place over the past few days. Remember the FAVELA, I visited on Monday and I said all the shops and markets were shut because of its Drug Baron leader. Well, this leader told all shops to close on Monday and many did. Even so (even thought this guy is in jail), Drug gangs armed with machine guns and home-made bombs have brought chaos to Rio de Janeiro just days before the city’s famous carnival begins.

From the BBC website.

Gang members in the Brazilian coastal city attacked police posts, burned vehicles, forced shops to close and set off two small bombs on Monday. Police say the violence was ordered by the jailed leader of the country’s most notorious drugs gang in retaliation for a tough official crackdown against the criminal groups. Although no one has died, the turmoil comes at the worst possible time for the city, which is expecting almost 400,000 tourists for this year’s carnival, beginning on Friday.

The bombs were set off in the early hours of the morning in a wealthy beachfront area packed with tourists – although no-one was injured. Elsewhere in the city, a police post was sprayed with bullets from a machine gun while many shops stayed closed after receiving threats from the gangs. A number of buses were also torched by gang members, and at the scene of one bus burning, police and bandits took part in a shoot-out. Rio’s state security chief Josias Quintal said the order to shut down shops was aimed at creating “a wave of terror and climate of instability”, but dismissed it as a “desperate attempt” by drug traffickers to retaliate for tough police action against them. Police are blaming Rio’s largest drug gang, the Red Command, for the violence. The violence follows a police crackdown on gangs They say the order for the violence was given by the Red Command’s jailed leader, Luiz Fernando da Costa – better known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar, or “Seaside Freddy”. Such attacks have happened before and are usually designed as a show of force if police action threatens to undermine the balance of power in Rio, according to the BBC’s correspondent in Brazil, Tom Gibb. But the violence hit upscale areas of the city usually immune from gang-related incidents, and while tourists are still expected to flock in for the carnival, the traditional festival celebrated with fancy-dress parades, music and dancing it is a blow to Rio’s reputation. “It is lamentable that this happens when we have a record number of tourists,” said the city’s Mayor Cesar Maia.

In the last 14 years, for instance, almost 4,000 under-18-year-olds were killed by firearms in Rio alone. Anyway, did very little today. Relaxed, went to Centro to see the capitals Catherdral and went back to the Saint Theresa district on the tram.

Addition (from the BBC website from the 27th of Feb 2003

Massive security for Rio carnival

Carnival work goes on, despite violence fears

Police in Brazil police have launched a huge security operation to protect the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which has been threatened by spiralling violence between drugs gangs.

The authorities in Rio have asked for the army to be deployed, and up to 28,000 police are to be put on the streets to protect the carnival, which begins on Friday.

The drugs gangs have burned and machine-gunned buses, attacked police posts and set off small bombs in a beachfront area where hotels are packed with tourists.

“They’ve chosen the worst moment,” said Jose Eduardo Guinle, head of the state tourism agency.

“Carnival has to be celebrated without a hitch. This is our big chance to recover the image of the city abroad.”

As an aside: Thursday the 27th of February

I saw an attempted bus jack a few hours ago on N.S de Copa as it intersects with rua Pablo Junior. At the traffic lights there, a banger of car pulled up beside a bus at the traffic lights ( the car was in its bus lane). A guy in the front passenger seat got out with a handgun and started banging at the front door of the bus to get in. Everyone in the bus was looking out, but the bus driver put the boot to the floor. The lad went back into the car. They stayed there for a few minutes and drove off.

Friday, 28 February, 2003, 11:42 GMT – Army on streets for Rio carnival

From the BBC

Operation Safe Rio is designed to protect revellers

Thousands of troops and armed police have been sent onto the streets to help guard Rio de Janeiro’s carnival following a wave of violence by drug gangs.

The Brazilian Government’s decision to use troops came after gangs burned and machine-gunned buses, set off small bombs and attacked police posts.

With the massive security operation under way, the police say they have killed seven gang members in the last two days.

The carnival celebrations starting Friday are going on as normal, with some streets packed with drunken revellers following samba bands.

Most of the violence happened on Monday when shopkeepers were forced to close their businesses after receiving threats.

There have been frequent shoot-outs between gang members and the police and almost 40 buses have been torched.

Bus victim

On Thursday seven more buses were burned out.

Justice Minister Marcio Thomaz Bastos said the extent of the violence led to the decision to use the army.

“The destruction of buses and the curfew imposed by organised crime in the state have made us attend the call from the governor,” he said.

“The federal government has decided to put the army in the streets.”

The latest victim of the violence was a 70-year-old woman who died in hospital after being badly burnt when the bus she was in was set on fire.

The authorities are blaming the violence on the city’s most powerful gang, the Red Command, which has thousands of heavily-armed followers and controls many of the shanty towns.

They say they intercepted the gang leader giving orders on a mobile phone from inside the maximum security jail where he is a prisoner.

Fernandinho Beira Mar, or Seaside Freddy, as the gang leader is known, has now been transferred to another high security jail in the neighbouring state of Sao Paulo.

Almost 40 buses have been destroyed

With 400,000 visitors expected for the celebrations over the coming days, the city authorities say they are worried the violence could affect Rio’s tourist industry.

The head of the state tourism board TurisRio Sergio Almeida told the Associated Press news agency that they had had few cancellations so far.

“But if the violence continues it will hurt carnival,” he said. Rio state governor Rosinha Matheus said some 36,000 police officers and 3,000 soldiers would keep the peace under an operation dubbed “Safe Rio”.

Violence mars Rio carnival dawn From BBC

Friday, 28 February, 2003, 22:46 GMT

Rio’s famous carnival celebrations have officially kicked off, after Friday morning was marred by more street violence between security forces and drug gangs.

One armed gang of about 30 men initiated a three-hour shoot-out with police on one of Rio’s biggest thoroughfares, Brazilian media reported.

A motorist died after being shot at point-blank range by one of the group when he refused to give up his car.

Tens of thousands of armed police – and, for the first time, troops – have been sent onto the streets to help guard Rio de Janeiro’s carnival following the wave of violence.

‘Inferno’

In another incident, 28 terrified passengers on a bus bound for Sao Paulo threw themselves to the floor when their bus was hit by a hail of bullets and a Molotov cocktail.

The Brazilian newspaper O Dia said the Avenida Brasil, a dual carriageway, was “transformed into an inferno: cars screaming off in the wrong direction, a bus on fire and many bullets”.

In addition to the man who died, other motorists were attacked and ordered to abandon their vehicles in the incident, which occurred during the early hours of Friday morning local time.

It was the latest in a string of attacks in which over 50 buses have been torched.

On Monday shopkeepers were forced to close their businesses after receiving threats.

More than 50 buses have been torched

The violence prompted the Brazilian Government – headed by Workers’ Party President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – to deploy military police.

He said the population was threatened by “insecurity, unrest and fear”.

Revellers vowed not to let the violence spoil the four days of carnival, a pre-Lent festival of drinking and dancing.

Alex de Oliveira, who – at 135 kilograms (300 pounds) – was elected carnival’s Rei Momo (Fat King), received the symbolic key to the city and festivities began.

No soldiers could reportedly be seen as evening approached.

Seaside Freddy

The authorities are blaming the violence on a drugs cartel, the Red Command, which has thousands of heavily armed followers and controls many of Rio’s shanty towns.

Notorious gang leader “Seaside Freddy” was moved away

They say they intercepted the gang’s leader giving orders on a mobile phone from inside the maximum-security jail where he is a prisoner.

Fernandinho Beira Mar, or Seaside Freddy, as the gang leader is known, has now been transferred to another prison in the neighbouring state of Sao Paulo.

With 400,000 visitors expected for the celebrations over the coming days, the city authorities say they are worried the violence could affect Rio’s tourist industry.

‘No worries’

Rio state governor Rosinha Matheus said 36,000 police officers and 3,000 soldiers would keep the peace under an operation dubbed “Safe Rio”.

But our correspondent in Rio, Tom Gibb, says most visitors seem to have taken little heed of the stories of violence.

Major Gilberto Tenreiro of Rio’s tourist police said he thought the worst was over.

“The violence was a phase that has already passed,” he told news agency Associated Press.

“We are doing everything to make sure tourists can enjoy carnival without any worries.”