Olympic Torch Relay Moves On to Argentina
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Now the Olympic torch arrived last night in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, and earlier this week anti-China protesters tried to disrupt this torch relay when it got to London and then to Paris and then to San Francisco. So we'll see what happens now. Today 80 runners are expected to carry the flame through the streets of the Argentine capital, guarded by some 3000 security personnel. NPR's Julie McCarthy is in Buenos Aires.
JULIE MCCARTHY: The Olympic torch was spirited from the Buenos Aires International Airport to a secret location last night, under the watchful eye of Chinese officials and Argentine sports authorities. The international media only got a glimpse of the motorcade baring the torch as it sped away.
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MCCARTHY: Live broadcasts carried the arrival of the Olympic torch that has ignited such furor, Argentine Olympic organizers acknowledge that they have undertaken extraordinary precautions to safeguard the route the relay runners will use as the torch is borne through Buenos Aires, the only city in Latin America to host the relay. Argentine Olympic Committee Vice President Alicia Morea says she hopes human rights groups crusading on behalf of Tibet heed the appeal by Olympic organizers of the torch relay to avoid happening here what happened in Paris.
Ms. ALICIA MOREA (Argentine Olympic Committee Vice President): They were supposed to run 28 kilometers and they couldn't run 200 meters, then the flame was extinguished. But we did something, we spoke with the people of Tibet and we asked them, please don't do anything else, just whatever you want so people can see you, but don't extinguish the torch. And they promised not to do it, so I hope they keep their word.
MCCARTHY: Diego Arduan(ph) says he and a handful of fellow students vow not to try to snuff out the Olympic torch along the heavily patrolled route, but this founding member of the Argentine Chapter of Students for a Free Tibet does not rule out surprise actions. The 18-year-old Arduan studied in China and says the human rights violations there compel him to speak out against Beijing hosting the Olympic Games.
Mr. DIEGO ARDUAN (Member of Argentine Chapter of Students for a Free Tibet): I hope people will get interested everywhere in the world to fight for human rights over economic advantages, or even for environmental protection before economic advantages. I mean we're going to have all Tibetan people without the Tibetan culture and then we going to have all the forest cut down because we didn't do anything and we just let economic progress go on.
MCCARTHY: The group known as the Human Rights Torch Relay is running an alternative to the Olympic torch procession. The organization has been sponsoring a global relay to raise awareness about everything from China's repression in Tibet to its treatment of the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that has been targeted by Chinese authorities who accuse it of being a cult and a threat to the stability of China. Axel Borgia is the spokesman for the Human Rights Torch Relay.
Mr. AXEL BORGIA (Spokesman for Human Rights Torch Relay): (Spanish spoken)
MCCARTHY: We aim to help improve human rights in China by making people understand that if a nation wants to integrate into the international community - and one way to do this is through the Olympics, he says - then they need to know that there are standards they must uphold, Olympic standards of human rights. Axel says they're not calling for a boycott and have no plans to disrupt the running of the Olympic relay. The Chinese Embassy wouldn't comment on the matter and said it was closed this week for the torch ceremonies.
Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Buenos Aires.
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