Buenos Aires

Update to “Buenos Aires Contrasts”

In August, 2010, I posted about the contrasts between rich and poor in Buenos Aires, including a photo of a large abandoned bodega warehouse between the parallel streets of Godoy-Cruz and Juan B. Justo, separated by the rail line that brings the poor in from the “villas,” the slums, to work in the neighborhoods of the rich, like Palermo, where the photo below was taken.

Homeless taking over an abandoned warehouse on Godoy-Cruz at Nicaragua

Last week these people were rounded up and kicked out, given about $20 each, and told to go back to where they belong — which, wherever it is, isn’t anywhere around here. Most of these people work; I thought of them as trash entrepreneurs. They have homemade two-wheel carts they pull around city streets taking from the trash anything they might be able to sell, thus feed themselves and their children. I walk by here frequently. I’ve seen mothers washing their children and dressing them, probably for school, but I don’t know. Some families had scrounged arm chairs and old bits of busted furniture and created something akin to a living room or bedroom; they tacked cardboard or scraps of wood to holes, making windows and doors and walls.

Some of these now homeless again residents of the Godoy-Cruz bodega at work:

Trash entrepreneurs

Trash entrepreneur crashing

I sympathize with the people who lived in the apartments and houses across the street from the bodega, who first had this eyesore of a ruin that stretches the length of four city blocks, then to have it begin to fill up with “those people” from the villas. There were complaints of crime and noise, although this entire city is virtually the paradigm of crime and noise, so how would this be distinguishable from the general life throughout the city?

Regardless, last week the city kicked these people out and then razed the entire structure. Like this:

Tearing down the homeless bodega

Razing the Godoy-Cruz homeless bodega

Same part of the bodega as the photo at the top. Where I watched a Mom washing her daughter's hair one morning.

Where did the homeless once again people go?

Here, and here, and here … .







But you can be sure they did not go here:

This is where I live, by the park, across the street from the tallest building on the left side.

There but for fortune, my friends, go you or I.


5 replies »

  1. I didn’t say anywhere that it is an Argentine problem, or indicate this situation is exclusive to any place — it is sadly universal. But I happen to be here at the moment, so this is where I see it.

    • You have missed the point, and seem to want to make another one. I am in Buenos Aires, these pictures are from Buenos Aires; this post has nothing to do with comparing and contrasting various problems in various places. When I live elsewhere, I will write about elsewhere, as I have in the past.

      By the way, I happened to walk by that beautiful water building the other day, and the museum in it is water-related. I was there before opening hours, or I would have gone in. Another time.

  2. Yes, and I might add, in defense of Donigan, that these problems were almost non-existant in Buenos Aires before the 2001 peso devaluation. This subconsciously imbues the impact upon the newer expats and visitors.

  3. Yes, and I might add, in defense of Donigan, that these phenomena were almost non-existent in Buenos Aires before the 2001 peso devaluation. As a result, the shock of the social situation is subconsciously imbued with more impact upon the newer expats and visitors, as they empathize from the schema of the geographic collective conscious.