Trying to understand Buenos Aires

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#1
I flew into BA a couple of days ago from the US. I find it difficult to place BA. It's not third world, but it's most definitely not first world either. I can't get a handle on it.

I'd welcome a chance to get together with some expats (unfortunately, since I fly out on Dec 17, I won't be able to attend the next dinner). If someone is amenable for a chat about Argentina in some friendly pub, I'd be most grateful. In fact, I'll even buy the first round, ..., well, okay, two rounds.

I'm staying in the Recoleta area, but I'm willing to meet in any half-way civilised place (i.e. not La Boca).

Cheers.
 
#2
BA does not fit the mode! If you are here on vacation, just enjoy it. It's a beautiful city. If you plan to live here, flexibility is a must.

I hope you get replies from the group to join you for a chat. Talkarama has get togethers on Sat at 2 locations. You will find a link on this website.

For a local slant, you may also enjoy the Talktime groups. Argentinians who speak English get together weekly at different cafes for lively conversation on many topics. Here are some locations near you.

BARRIO NORTE -Café LOS PORTEÑOS -Av. Las Heras 2101 (x Uriburu)
MONDAYS from 7.00-8.00pm
RECOLETA - BUENOS AIRES DESIGN Café-Restaurant PRIMAFILA
TUESDAYS from 7.00-8.00pm
BARRIO NORTE- The Coffee Store -Las Heras 1822 (x Ave Callao)
WEDNESDAYS from 7.00-8.00pm
BARRIO NORTE - Café DEL LECTOR Agüero 2502 {x Las Heras}
FRIDAYS from 7.00-8.00pm

Good luck, Gracielle
 
#4
My fifth day here. Walked around Palermo, which by standards prevailing here must surely be an oasis of upper-middle class prosperity.Walked over to San Telmo yesterday

Innumerable quations gnaw away at me. The primary question is how the hell do the locals keep body and soul together here? Does the government provide some social-security net? What keeps people from starving? What do people work at over here? The official figure of 12% unemployment is complete hogwash. Seems 30%, maybe higher, would be a more appropriate figure. I see many people underemployed or doing various kinds of makework (street hawkers, street musicians etc.).

What is the Argentinian economy composed of?

And what keeps all of you on this forum here in Argentina? What am I missing? Where´s the attraction?
 
#5
Wow, you're the first person I've encountered on any of these forums that hasn't been completely enchanted by this city on arrival. However, I work for Cdn dollars for myself here so I don't have to deal with a lot of the grievances that the locals have. But there is something about this city, I don't know, originally when I got here I thought I'd do a trip out of town every other weekend, well 2 months later I still haven't set foot out of BA... I find it very relaxing here, I enjoy the cafes, the restaurants, just walking around -- yes there's pollution, yes you can't get any spicey food, yes the sidewalks are covered in dog poop, and yet somehow I really like it -- I think that would probably be the response from most people -- they can't quite say EXACTLY why they like it here, they just do!
 
#6
streets filled with swirling clouds of fumes, corrientes under a sea of white pollution, noise so deafening your ears ring once inside, deafening noise that overwhelms you inside as well, busses that spray black clouds like they do for mosquitos back home. And dare i mention the omnipresent child labor, kids at all hours in the trash, sleeping on cardboard at the retiro train station at night. and ALL of this accepted as legal.

Sure, if a newcomer is baffled, i understand. I still cant explain the things i see each day.
 
#7
Thank you Nashorama, you're the first person I've met that agrees that Mexico City is worse then Buenos Aires!

The whole 3rd world thing is a ridiculous way of categorizing anyway. 3rd world implies that Argentina and Sierra Leone are "on par". Hmm... Argentina, defaulted on a loan; Sierra Leone doesn't even have a banking system. As far as being "3rd World" the only thing those countries have in common is that they are rich in resources but a lot of corruption means they just aren't handled with the same level of efficiency (capitalism?) as you'd find in Europe/North America etc

To respond to BigBadWolf however, there is a bit more of a social neet here then in some other countries -- free education for all, accessible health care (I believe it is a tiered system, not 100%), and the church figures quite prominently so they do offer help in the way of soup kitchens etc -- as Catholicism is the official religion here the Vatican does donate sums to the churches for programs, but I could not tell you whatsoever the success of this etc.
 
#8
" (GUEST)" said:
Thank you Nashorama, you're the first person I've met that agrees that Mexico City is worse then Buenos Aires!



The whole 3rd world thing is a ridiculous way of categorizing anyway. 3rd world implies that Argentina and Sierra Leone are "on par". Hmm... Argentina, defaulted on a loan; Sierra Leone doesn't even have a banking system. As far as being "3rd World" the only thing those countries have in common is that they are rich in resources but a lot of corruption means they just aren't handled with the same level of efficiency (capitalism?) as you'd find in Europe/North America etc



To respond to BigBadWolf however, there is a bit more of a social neet here then in some other countries -- free education for all, accessible health care (I believe it is a tiered system, not 100%), and the church figures quite prominently so they do offer help in the way of soup kitchens etc -- as Catholicism is the official religion here the Vatican does donate sums to the churches for programs, but I could not tell you whatsoever the success of this etc.
´Course Mexico City is worse than Buenos Aires. So, undoubtedly, are Sao Paolo and Rio. But surely we´re not comparing BA to such places?

Argentina might be categorised as "third world" in the following more precise senses:

1) Widespread corruption in police and government
2) Resource-rich economy but little in the way of indigenous
manufacture. So local food is inexpensive, but everything
else is mostly unaffordable for the locals.
3) Glaring disparity between the affluent few and the great
unwashed (the USA is heading in the same direction); we
usually look at the Gini coefficient for this.

Poor countries generally lack a social welfare system and a proper educational system as well. An advanced economy requires not only literate workers but scientists and engineers with advanced degrees. En passant, the United States also lacks a real social welfare system, and it´s notorious for never having been able to produce the highly skilled labor so necessary for an advanced industrial economy.
 
#9
"nashorama" said:
To get a handle on Buenos Aires and Argentina in General:



-Compare the children and homeless cartineros to the illegal aliens (all ages) who pick all of the produce from Salinas to the Imperial Valley in California and the lettuce grown around Yuma Arizona.
But surely most of these children and "cartineros" I see are locals, no? The illegal farmworkers are not indigenous to the USA. Surely you´re not contending that the level of indigence here is comparable to that prevailing in the United States or Western Europe, are you? It seems to be the case that poverty is something people here aspire towards.

Furthermore, I´m not sure the USA is a yardstick by which to compare other countries. It´s the antithesis of everything I understand by civilisation. I thought Argentina would be different. I was expecting some genteel poverty, something down-at-heels, and not at all what I´ve been seeing.

-Compare the supposed figure of 12% unemployment with the actual figure of 50 year-old+ unemployed men who no longer show up on the USA's "official" unemployment lists because they no longer receive benefits despite looking for work since the depression lightly spinned as a recession in 2001 and add to that all of the shell-shocked Viet Nam Veterans living on the streets and in shelters who no one gives a damn about with the supposed "make work" vendors hawking flowers and whatever else where traffic backs up in the streets.

-Compare the cost of medical care in North America, which is completely out of control, with the very good health care available here which is just as state-of-the art (I can personally take you on tours of the hospitals), but costs a fraction of the same care provided in North America and Europe.
You´re right about US unemployment figures being crud. That still doesn´t affect the argument that the levels of unemployment and underemployment are of a different order altogether.

You´re right about the exorbitant cost of health care in the USA (indeed I believe it´s the leading cause of bankruptcy there), but Europe is a different kettle of fish.

-Then do a little research into the political history of this country where North America and Europe have historically intervened in the background by tempting and bribing via the International Monetary Fund and supporting outright corrupt governments, most notably the military juntas during mid 70s to the mid 1980s.
It´s been my experience that intervention by colonial and imperial powers only happens when there are local elites willing to be co-opted and subverted. I think this is what I see here. Those on the Left -- including myself -- call the pattern of "development" that ensues in such countries as "comprador capitalism." This means the local business class functions as commission agents and junior partners to North American, European, and Japanese concerns. These countries are typically exploited for their natural resources, and increasingly, for their abundant cheap labor. Please tell me this is not the case in Argentina. I will heave a deep sigh of relief.

I'm amazed at the number of foreigners who come here and haven't a clue that Peron was a proud fascist; he just thought Hitler and Mussolini did it wrong way. But what can you say to masses of Europeans and North Americans who have been brainwashed by a maudlin musical (the film version starring Madonna) that romanticised a basically corrupt regime.



Then, the next time you want to take a vacation may I suggest you hit the Bronx in New York, check out the homeless shelters in upscale Denver, Salt Lake City, Santa Monica, Seattle, the list is almost endless. Also go to México City,D.F. and see for yourself what happened when a wealthy country such as Argentina didn't stop itself with strict economic controls and confronted the IMF and tell me how "third world" you still think Buenos Aires is compared to 110,000,000 Mexicans who are barely able to scrape by as an alarming number risk their health and lives working in maciledoras (usually US owned, Mexican run companies) along the Mexican side of the US/Mexico border making brake pads, benzine, and just about anything that requires strict environmental controls in the USA and Canada for the North American markets as everyone looks in the other direction.

Finally, having lived in LA, Manhattan, and Barçelona for long for many years, Buenos Aires is actually a very clean city with smog that doesn't even come close to that of Los Angeles or Salt Lake City during one of it's famous inversions (trust me on this). And try living in New York (home of the most famous homeless people in North America) during a garbage strike. It ain't pretty. And Rudy Giuliani didn't get "solve" New York's problems with the poor and disenfranchised, he simply moved the to the outer boroughs.

- As for third or second world status, I personally think that only refers to the size of a country's military industrial structure. It will be years before Louisiana and Mississippi are finally back to normal, unless next hurricane season destroys what little reconstruction is currently under funded and under way.



Finally, take a trip to the largest democracy on Earth, India, and rethink the slippery slope of rating countries as first, second, and third world.



Nashorama
There are a number of non sequiturs here, and I´m not sure on how exactly to respond. Mexico is just deeper in the **** than Argentina. Please inform me that Argentina´s problems are of a different nature than Mexico´s: again, I´ll heave a sigh of relief.

In my humble opinion, what we see here is American-led "neo-liberal" (or "neo-conservative": take your pick) financial empire, to which dependent countries such as Mexico and Argentina are tied by an umbilical cord. The USA doesn´t even have to exert itself to exercise effective control in this part of the world --unlike countries such as Libya, Iran, and Iraq, which have been attempting to carve out a niche for themselves.

Anyway, my two cents worth. I claim no special expertise, and no doubt some of the opinions I´ve expressed here will change over the next few weeks as I slowly acquire a more nuanced understanding of Argentina.

Perhaps the fault is mine. I came expecting El Dorado, and instead what I´ve seen is what I´ve seen in other poor countries (albeit in mitigated form.)

Cheers.
 
#10
One does not have to put one country or culture down( in this case the USA) in order to try and have an intelligent forum conversation in replying to one person´s initial questions and observations about another city, country and culture( in this case Buenos Aires, Argentina)
 
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