‘El superclásico’ | Sound and fury masks struggle of greater significance

Or they worry about the fútbol, as reflected in the undying animus among the Boca and River faithful. The teams often have been caricatured as showing two faces of the cosmopolitan capital, Boca the side of working classes, the xeneixe, descendants of Genoese immigrants who flooded the city as part of a population scheme of the late 1800s designed to attract Europeans. River Plate, although originally from the La Boca barrio as well, settled in Nuñez to the north.

The River supporters themselves adopt an air of superior refinement and take pride in the side’s aesthetic approach to their soccer. Gregory Sica, leaving La Bombonera with River supporters on Sunday, heard one respond to taunting Boca fans, “You will always be poor, you will always live in a slum, you don’t even know what it’s like to eat at McDonald’s.” Yet a young father with son replies, “I’m also poor and I’m from River; you don’t have to be rich to be a River fan, it comes from the heart.”

“There is a saying that we Argentines go ‘from ecstasy to agony in an instant,’ ” says Jorge Pizarro, publicity director for Argentine world-pop band Bersuit Vergarabat. The saying seems reflected in the moods reported by Sica. Exultant River fans, who feel the team in ascendancy when the Boca numbers fall to nine, later joke morbidly to an elderly woman waving a Boca jersey from a balcony: “The best thing you can do is to jump off the balcony, old bag!”

Continues Los Angeles Times writer Reed Johnson, in his profile of Bersuit:

One day, Argentines are feeling flush with national pride, boasting about their great soccer teams, world-class writers, beautiful women and “European” architecture. The next day, they’re practically suicidal, watching the peso crash through the floor (as it did in fall 2001) and rushing off to their psychoanalysts to vent their neuroses.

In shadow, meanwhile, we read of the indigenous contingents of Mocovi, Toba, Abipone and Guarani excluded from the footballing distractions of Boca versus River. “Not one of these pariahs is the owner of the soil where he lays his head,” writes novelist Alcides Greca in Wind from the North.

Every day a new owner arrives who pushes him farther and farther away. … Upon the last Indians a wind of death blows. Even their dogs seem unhappy.

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