During the last days of 2007, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at Valparaíso, sharing holidays with my new family. Valpo, as its inhabitants call this bohemian city-port, received more than one million of tourist for a long weekend. Why? Two reasons: the new year's eve fireworks and the Carnavales Culturales, a cultural festival that organizes hundreds of concerts, theatre pieces, films, dances in every corner of the city, whose pictoresque architecture worths his World Heritage recognition by UNESCO.
While the Minister of Culture opened a "chanchas" race, with only two participants, thousands of teenagers enjoyed of twelve hours of rock at the "Rockodromo", in the Playa Ancha Stadium. Punks, rockers, pokemonas, darks, hippies and many other urban tribes invaded the streets, squares and each public space. Thousands of families camped in the beach, just to see the reflections of lighty, noisy, colourful, vibrant fireworks on the Pacific Ocean.
The result: 200 Tm of garbage. Piss smelling in every street. Confetti and broken champaign bottles distributed all over the seashore. Graffittis on heritage statues. Something to regret.
Cultural management is important. Occupying public spaces gives meaning and identity. Rock, graffittis and drugs are part of urban culture, too. Parties and rituals are meaningful. However, this kind of massive events should consider their environmental impacts. Which is the impact for local wildlife? Will the humpback whales have slept well last new year's eve? What if the seagulls might demonstrate their anger? How many fishes will be poisoned by confetti?
Now I understand why porteños -people who live in Valpo- refer to Santiago as Santiasco, and to santiaguinos as Chantiaguinos.