Is this story true..

sergio

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Eric, What you have said is absolutely true. As you have probably surmised, the police here are not very well trained or efficient. I can't say more than that on a website. I mix more with Argentines than expats and I hear the same that you hear - complaints about the crime situation. None of my Argentine friends comment on the "safety" of Buenos Aires. Some have actually told me that they feel quite safe in New York but not here. I have the feeling that many expats here have not lived in big cities in the US. Maybe they have a false idea about the extent of crime in major US cities - that is crime in good neighborhoods. As you pointed out, there is a lot of crime here in Recoleta, Barrio Norte, Palermo, Zona Norte - the best parts of the BA metropolitan area. A lot of the crime is directed against the elderly. I just don't know people in the US who have been kidnapped, broken into and tied down to chairs while they were robbed, drugged and robbed, held up in restaurants etc. I do know Americans who wandered into marginal areas of American cities and had problems however I think that is a different matter. Looking at crime statistics that show higher crime rates in New York is not meaningful unless you can compare where the crimes occur and the nature of the crimes.
 

Granadaiscool

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If you walk around in about 80% of BA at night I can guarantee you that you will be robbed. That just does not happen in the US
Offcourse almost every major US city has no-go areas but that does not consist of 80% of the city.
And I don't even talk about the province. All of zona sur is basically a no-go area
 

bigbadwolf

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"ericdharma" said:
I don't know if the police are corrupt or if there just aren't enough policemen.
I've heard the ordinary BsAs policeman takes in about 1000-1200 pesos a month. There is an incentive to turn a blind eye (or perhaps even moonlight in some of these activities?). Again, par for the course for the Third World. The rich of course go for private security forces if they can afford them. But one mustn't exaggerate: Buenos Aires is not Sao Paolo.
 

Granadaiscool

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....and also not NY
Police-officers get around 600 to 1200 peso and there is absolutly no education. You can see it by just watching them
 

henryb

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I think you are listening too much to Argentines who are reminiscent about the good old times when nobody even locked the doors. I am absolutely sure that Buenos Aires is safer than Washington DC and Atlanta. I assume that it is safer than Detroit, St. Louis and many other big cities in the States. I am not saying it is safe. I am saying it is safer.
There are several reasons that make it look less safe than it actually is.
1. Social demand and attitude of the media.
If a black guy kills three other black guys on his way home in Washington DC it is a non-event. It will not get to the first pages of newspapers. Nobody will make demonstrations and demands for safety.
Here every newspaper would scream about a new outburst of violence. All the major TV station will send news crews to the place of the killings and show the bodies in direct translation for hours as long as they bleed.
I think people here just like to watch bad news. May be it fits nicely to the national character. Talks about how things have gotten worse are fashionable. They replace small talk about the weather.
On the other hand, in the States people who live in the neighborhood (read homeowners) don't want to build it a negative image because price of their houses directly depends on it. If something bad happens, they don't speak about it to strangers, they don't want to see it in the night news on TV. Definitely all this information is getting published in a pretty dry police reports section of local newspapers, but that's about it.
Even more than that. People there actually think that safety in the neighborhood is their responsibility. I remember how in one Italian neighborhood in Chicago that was adjacent to a black project area there were guys patrolling the streets at night. Not the police, not the hired security guards - relatives of the homeowners.
This kind of an attitude does not work here. Every Argentine thinks that it is up to the government to protect him. And his sacred duty is to demand it from the government. If all the energy that goes to organize a single demonstration of protest against injustice and luck of safety would be spent to organize patrolling of the streets by volunteers. But no, it is just way too boring.
2. There is no mobility in the society.
People don't move from one place to another. If Recoleta is so unsafe how some previous posters claim, how come people don't move from there to some safer place. Anyone for Chacarita?
The whole idea of relationship between safety and what is considered to be a good neighborhood is applied in reverse. It is not that in USA there is no crime in good neighborhoods. It is that good neighborhoods are located where there is no crime. Middle class people are getting squeezed out of high crime areas and move to other places where they feel more comfortable.
Often good neighborhoods are located in the areas that not accessible by public transportation. Remember what happened when city wanted to build a subway line to Potomac, MD?
3. There is no habit (culture?) of living in not-so-safe environment.
And because of that people are getting more exposed to crime. On my second day here my friends invited me to visit them in Almagro at 9pm. I said I can not do it because in the city I don't know I just can't go in the dark to a place I have not visited during the daytime. Sounds familiar? They had a hard time to convince me that everything will be ok. For several years I have been living here I don't remember any case I would decide not to go somewhere I would want to because I felt unsafe. I must admit I don't go to Constitution or Once stations at night. I don't go to Mataderos either. It is too far away anyway. But I feel safe pretty much everywhere within the downtown area (including San Telmo) and all the neighborhoods along D and B subway lines.
I think just by keeping a low profile you can significantly reduce probability of getting into trouble. Dress as a local. Don't speak loudly in English on the streets. If you believe that rich neighborhoods may be specifically targeted, move to Abasto or Caballito.
You can also sit at home at night and watch TV as most Americans do. And enjoy your precious safety.
 

Granadaiscool

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'Rich' people have definitly moved to Belgrano, Palermo or Recoleta. That's part of the housing boom there.
The countries really took off after 2001 as well
 

sergio

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I'm not clear about the point of henryb's long post. He asks why people haven't moved away from areas like Recoleta and Berrio Norte since these neighborhoods have become more dangerous. The answer is that they have. They've gone to "countries" or "barrio cerrados" but these now have problems too, though a lot less. Also keep in mind that many Portenos prefer a suburban lifestyle that allows them to have easy parking, a garden for their children to play in, a quieter settimg etc. (just what the US saw after World WW II). Some of the cities that you cite - Detroit, for example, are quite dangerous. That's because they are generlly quite poor by US standards with high unemployment and related social issues. These factors lead to a high level of crime. To get a more realistic contrast compare middle class/professional/wealthy areas of major cities like New York or Boston with BA. Do break ins occur with the same frequency? Do thieves have the habit of lurking behind entrance doors, gun in hand, waiting to force owners into their homes where they tie them down to chairs and then steal everything that can be packed into suitcases? Do armed robbers enter busy restaurants to hold up clients in a kind of Jesse James style? Believe it or not, this happens here! Are kidnappings commonplace? Yes, there are things one can do to be careful: use common sense, don't open the door of your building for someone you don't know (if there is someone standing there when you arrive, walk away. Go around the block and come back. DO NOT open the door), avoid plazas at night, try to avoid dark streets - especially in the Microcenter, stay out of very bad areas such as Constitucion, start dressing like locals - get rid of the stupid baseball caps and start to take an interest in the way you look. One positive thing that can be said about Portenos is that they dress well. Looking like a Porteno is no guarantee that you will not be robbed but looking like a tourist with lots of dollars or euros in his pocket will make you a greater target. As for the comment that I am hanging out with Portenos who long for the security of the military governments or some sort of rightism - nonsense! They are normal, ediucated people of different ages who find the exaggerated expat view of safety here to be far from reality.
 

henryb

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"sergio" said:
Do thieves have the habit of lurking behind entrance doors, gun in hand, waiting to force owners into their homes where they tie them down to chairs and then steal everything that can be packed into suitcases?
Sometimes there are so many of them lurking outside that it is difficult to open a front door. Sometimes they start shooting from AK-47s into the glass door before I can even open it. And the doorman (in those rare moments when he is not tied up to the chair with the duct tape) has to replace the glass. And it takes a while since almost all of his fingers were cut off in previous kidnappings... and so on and so on.
Come on, man. Get real.

"sergio" said:
Do break ins occur with the same frequency?
My guess the only way to find it out is to get into crime statistics data instead of telling horror stories.
 

bigbadwolf

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"henryb" said:
My guess the only way to find it out is to get into crime statistics data instead of telling horror stories.
This is a valid point, as otherwise we're just trading anecdotal evidence. One may ask, however, how accurate the statistics are for the countries being compared (not just Argentina but also, say, the USA).
I notice you favorably compare BsAs with D.C., St. Louis and Detroit; I'm not sure this is a fair comparison: the high crime levels prevailing in these places is due to large African-American populations (before the Boetians start howling, let me just refer them to Dept. of Justice and FBI figures and reports). Thus, for example, D.C. is 75% black. But most people don't venture anywhere near the trouble spots (i.e. project housing) in these cities and hence are not exposed to violent incidents. This isn't true in BsAs, where one can be a victim in any place, and at any time. But as you say, we need statistics to perform valid comparisons. Ah well, time to polish my Colt: a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do (John Wayne).
 
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