There is a growing body of opinion in developed countries that people’s freedom is becoming stifled by health and safety legislation and that somehow society has become too risk averse. However, it might be worth imagining a culture where such legislation is thin on the ground and where even this can be circumvented by greasing the palms of dishonest officials with relatively small amounts of money.
Although by 2004 Argentina had shaken off the shackles of a brutal military junta, its civilian infrastructure was riddled with corruption. The events on New Year’s Eve of that year at Republica Cromanon nightclub came to embody much that was wrong with the new Argentina. More than 3,000 revelers crammed into the venue to see Los Callejeros, a popular local rock band. The arena was lavishly decorated with, at its centerpiece, a Media Sombra (‘half shade’) in the form of a giant net. Literally everything that was used to adorn the venue was highly flammable.
Fireworks are a central part of seasonal celebrations in South America and, despite warnings from the band, a flare was set off in the crowd. The overhead netting immediately caught fire and showered the crowd with fragments of molten plastic. Overcome with fright, everyone made a dash for the exits only to find most of them firmly locked. Within a few minutes the whole place became a raging inferno as fee foam decorations began to burn, spewing noxious fumes into the nightclub. The air turned more and more poisonous and scores of people died from asphyxiation while hundreds more suffered lung damage from the toxic smoke.
When was the Republica Cromanon Nightclub Fire: December 30 2004
Where was the Republica Cromanon Nightclub Fire: Republica Cromanon nightclub, Buenos Aires, Argentina
What was the Republica Cromanon Nightclub Fire death toll: 194 dead and more than 700 injured
You should know: A subsequent inquiry revealed that the inspection system was severely flawed, in 2006, the mayor of Buenos Aires was impeached and removed from office and, in a trial some four years after the fire, the club’s owner, its manager and a local official received lengthy prison sentences.