Sidebar: Cromañón, or the complicity of the state and business owners
ON December 31, 2004, a fire at a place known as the Republic of Cromagnon (managed by Omar Emir Chabán, a well-established business owner on the Argentine rock scene) claimed the lives of 194 people, the large majority of them young people. The survivors had with serious physical and psychological aftereffects, and some even committed suicide over the next few months (counting Martín Cisneros, who took his own life February 3rd, 2015, there were 17 survivors who committed suicide). There had never been a “tragedy” of such magnitude in the City of Buenos Aires. More than a tragedy, it was a massacre: the roof of the establishment was covered by a highly flammable and toxic material, where a pyrotechnic spark landed and started a fire. The emergency exits had been closed to prevent people from sneaking in to the concert of the rock band Callejeros. The case laid bare the bribes that the owners of these ventures were systematically paying the City Government inspectors, for the purpose of avoiding inspections and getting out of bringing their businesses up to safety codes. Following this “discovery” – which was really an open secret – came a wave of closures of bars, restaurants, and dance halls that had repercussions on the cultural environment and left artists practically without places to perform in public. This led to the birth of United Musicians by Rock (MUR), whose first formal assembly, attended by more than 70 people, was held May 11, 2005, at the BAUEN hotel, though they had already been gathering there –and would continue doing so – every Wednesday. But there were also family and friends of Cromagnon victims and survivors who always been in solidarity with the hotel workers, who had made the facilities available to them on more than one occasion: in September 2007, one of the talks of the Think Cromagnon cycle was held there, and more recently, on December 30th, 2014, ten years after the massacre, the organization Que No Se Repita (Don’t Let It Happen Again) gave a press conference there.
In terms of the safety of youth that come out to be entertained in the Buenos Aires night, little or nothing seems to have changed: September 10th, 2010, a mezzanine collapsed in a dancehall called Beara, leaving two dead and dozens injured.
This case demonstrated the complicity of two functionaries of the Macri government –Martín Farrell and Pablo Saikauskas– in the condition of the business.