Sunday, 8 May 2011

Guantánamo Bay in Freedom Square

It's tough being the guardians of freedom and liberty around the world. For a start, you have to protect your embassies in foreign countries from people who cannot see all the good that you are doing. For this reason both the British and United States embassies in Budapest are surrounded by solid fortifications to make it impossible to drive any sort of vehicle bomb close enough to do serious damage.

However, as the United States works to higher standards of personal protection than the Brits, since last summer the corner of Szabadsag Ter where the United States Embassy sits has been a building site, where roads are being dug up, mysterious equipment is buried and enormous fences are erected.

So stepping outside our apartment is now like arriving at the gates of Guantánamo Bay, with a 10 foot high steel fence running the length of (formerly) charming Perczel Mor utca.

Perczel Mor's new street furniture

According to local websites many local residents are extremely unhappy at what is happening, fearing that the presence of this fortified site is going to affect property prices and make the area a lot less pleasant in which to live.

Certainly the steel fence and associated structures now going up around the Embassy do not really fit in with the Art Nouveau and neo-classical buildings that surround the city's most attractive open space. It has been suggested that an altogether more sensible approach would have been to relocate the Embassy to a more suburban area where security installations would have been less obtrusive, but apparently the US government pays the city council $1.8 million a year for the privilege of living where it does.

So the beauty of the city suffers but the money rolls in. In another situation it might be called prostitution.

1 comment:

  1. I am disgusted at the monstrosity. I live in Buda but was passing by the barricades the other day. It just gets worse. I know the USA feels threatened but could they not have made the railings more interesting? They should have had a competition for local artists and artisans to make some pretty/thought provoking sections.