Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Bjorn looked up from his computer screen while contemplating the arguments laid out by Pedro and the stall owners. The sun setting behind the mountains to the north west of Lundby made the sky flare up in the same dramatic fashion as it had done when Bjorn first arrived at the checkpoint, less than a week ago. It was a truly impressive view. Stunning and eerily cold and indifferent, as if completely immune to anything anyone might want to do to it. Watching it from the comfort of his office chair was delightfully meditative, making his thoughts move freely from one thing to another.

Bjorn found Pedro's argument quite revealing in that it exposed a motive for Pedro's decision to go into the deal with the foreign minister in the first place. The village was at the time completely uninhabited, and it was not unreasonable of Pedro to think that his promise to maintain public properties would include a right to "tax" anyone using these properties. And with a growing population, the money he could get through taxation would increase.

However, Pedro had not actually made his claim to the public properties widely known, so it was quite understandable that the stall owners felt that they had a right to use the village square without paying any dues to Pedro. And with this in mind, Bjorn returned to the article he was reading, feeling empathy for the squatters who were fighting for their right to be left alone.

The leaflets handed out by Pedro's men had come as a complete surprise to the stall owners, and feeling threatened by Pedro's sudden land claim, some of the stall owners had immediately gone ahead and bought themselves handguns over at Gus's gun store. And shortly after, the stall owners had formed a union, agreeing to stand together against what they felt was an attempt at extortion.

The union of stall owners, with its armed members, had in turn caused concern over at the casino, which prompted Jan to arm his employees, just in case the squatters would get the idea that they could do anything they wanted now that they have banded together. But the stall owners were quick to contact Jan, assuring him that they had no other agenda than to protect their right to be left alone. And having no interest in frightening their customers they agreed among themselves that they would keep their weapons concealed, and continue their peaceful activities as if nothing had happened.

Eager to find a peaceful resolution to what could potentially lead to an ugly situation right across from his casino, Jan volunteered to act as a mediator between the stall owners and Pedro, with a further suggestion that the stall owners not only complain directly to Pedro, but also make their case public by publishing a formal statement on the Blacklist, a website specifically designed for public grievances.

And it was the public statement made on the Blacklist that had drawn the attention of the journalist to the rapidly escalating conflict. It had prompted her to go out and get the full story, interviewing both the stall owners and Jan and his people. But, unable to reach Pedro, the only statement in his defence was the short reply made by him to the formal complaint on the Blacklist. Pedro's unwavering position was that since he had taken on obligations to take care of public properties in Lundby, he had in effect also received the right to demand rent from these same properties.

No comments:

Post a Comment