"The Swans Are Dead"

In 2006 Bob McMahon travelled to Chile on a mission, a mission that was to consume him until 2012 when the Tasmanian 'Timber Giant', Gunns Limited failed and somewhat spectacularly. Arguably the company's failure was in large part to do with its blind insistence that it should build a pulp mill in Tasmania and more to the point in the Tamar Valley – on Bob's doorstep. To cut along story short Bob took up his cudgel, and along with others in the valley and from all over Tasmania, he set about campaigning against the building of "this dirty smelly mill" that he knew quite a bit about having seen one like it in Chile.

Almost the the first thing he did was write this story which he posted on the Internet one Sunday afternoon at the end of June 2006. His story started thus:
"Like many detective stories this one had a scene in a taxi. While it would be false for me to claim a detective role, I did travel to Chile especially to investigate an incident of death on a grand scale. The detective work was done by others. With few expectations, and with only one possible contact in the country, and with no facility in the Spanish language, it was a surprise when the first person I met after I got off the plane began talking passionately about the incident which had brought me here. Luis, the diminutive taxi driver, began waving his arms and shouting: “Los cisnes mueren. Los pajaros mueren.” He shouted because I was foreign and he wanted me to understand.

It was an electrifying moment. I knew those Spanish words and not many others. I was here for the ‘cisnes’ after all. The swans. The iconic black-necked swans of South America, Cygnus melanocoryphus. ‘Pajaros’, I knew meant ‘birds’. The word ‘mueren’, from the verb ‘morir’ like the French ‘mourir’ – to die ... click to read and see more

Some additional and interesting references:

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