After the death of Diego Maradona, a chaotic day of tributes in Argentina

Diego Maradona fans sing and dance as they are unable to enter Casa Rosada to bid a final farewell to their idol, whose coffin is on display today in the presidential palace.  Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Anita Pouchard Serra for Le Monde


Posted today at 11:27 a.m., updated at 12:16 a.m.

Diego Maradona’s family wanted the wake on Thursday, November 26, to be brief. It was announced, and yet, it was a safe bet that all Argentines wanting to pay a last tribute to the former player who died on November 25 at the age of 60, star of an entire country, would not manage to do it within a day.

An hour before the scheduled closing at 4 p.m., from the Ardent Chapel to the public, the queue to enter Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace, was still 3 kilometers long. When the police tried to cut it, some, tired from the long, hot day waiting for the coffin of “Dios” (“God”, the nickname of Maradona in Argentina), have cracked. Clashes erupted: water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets… The authorities cracked down on them without restraint. hinchas (“Supporters”) the most recovered of Maradona.

Buenos Aires, November 26.  Diego Maradona fans line up in front of Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace, for a final farewell to their idol.

On the outskirts of Place de Mai, disturbing crowd movements, especially in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, massed supporters against the gates of the Casa Rosada, which some Argentines went so far as to climb to enter by force in the presidential palace. The astonishing scene, broadcast live on all television channels in the country and elsewhere, took place under the eyes of President Alberto Fernandez, who observed the situation with a worried gaze from one of the building’s balconies. . Faced with the chaos, the authorities, who had for a time spoken of extending the vigil until 7 p.m., transferred Diego Maradona’s coffin to a more secure palace lounge, and the ardent chapel closed its doors once and for all. , under the noses of a frustrated public.

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“I cried so much that I have no more tears left”

The day had started off auspiciously. In the early morning, thousands of supporters, in football shirts of all colors and from all clubs – a rare sight in Argentina -, had patiently taken their place in the queue, in a good-natured atmosphere, showing off beautiful with slogans and songs in honor of “Pibe de oro” : “Maradona is stronger than Pelé” ; “We must support Marado ‘”, or “It is worth ten palos verdes” (10 million dollars), sometimes screamed with the mask lowered under the chin.

Buenos Aires, November 26.  Cecilia Castro in the queue to meditate on Diego Maradona's coffin, installed in Casa Rosada, the Argentine presidential palace.

Football shirt stamped 10 (the jersey number of the ex-player in the national football team) on the back and Maradona’s signature tattoo on the shoulder, Cecilia Castro, 38, is a staunch supporter of “Dios”, a real one. It is in her honor that she baptized her son Diego. “I cried so much that I have no more tears left”, she confesses, fifty meters from the entrance to the presidential palace after a three-hour queue. “I’m happy on the one hand that so many people have come to say goodbye to him, because he deserves it. And on the other hand, I am deeply sad. “ Cecilia inherited her love for Diego Maradona from her father, also deceased. This Thursday, she paid tribute to the two men.

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