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Maticni Street Wall has finally found a good use
05-04-2000
Radio Prague, April 5th - The Maticni Street Wall in the North Bohemian city of Usti nad Labem, originaly designed to separate Czech residents from who they and their city fathers not long ago described as unruly Roma dwellers, has finally found a good use.

I should explain that last year, this wall, or rather a ceramic fence with open gates, was erected and then quickly dismantled after this controversial project touched off an avalanche of international protests pointing to the plight of the Roma ethnic community not only in Usti but in fact throughout the Czech Republic, and post-communist Europe at large.

Now, the fence, or rather its individual construction blocks, seem to have found a better use than separating members of the human race. The Usti nad Labem Zoo has won a city tender and will pay about 210,000 crowns, or about 6,500 U.S. dollars, to the Town Hall in exchange for the first decent decorative element it has ever had. One construction block will be sent to the town museum, forever to remind visitors of one silly, if not outright racist decision Usti has made in a very recent past.

The Usti nad Labem Zoo plans to install the fence that once divided people outside its main gate to provide added protection for pedestrians.

The Usti Zoo director, Zdena Jerabkova, is happy they have won the tender: "I think the fence will grace our zoo and this is the first step towards obtaining the decent fence that we haven't had thus far..."

Ironically, the 65-metre-long wall will now be erected less than one kilometre from the site where it was meant to separate people from people.

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