Trying to understand Buenos Aires

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BA is unlike most other places in Latin America. The population is of mostly European descent (those of Italian extraction being the majority), attitudes are very middle class. Lots of social pretension. Some areas of the city - Recoleta in particular - are pretty first world but even there you find underlying "third world" attitudes. Too much to go into here. I am going away for the weekend. I;m pretty busy but if I can find the time next week maybe we can get together. How can I contact you?
 

bigbadwolf

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" (GUEST)" said:
BA is unlike most other places in Latin America. The population is of mostly European descent (those of Italian extraction being the majority), attitudes are very middle class. Lots of social pretension. Some areas of the city - Recoleta in particular - are pretty first world but even there you find underlying "third world" attitudes. Too much to go into here. I am going away for the weekend. I;m pretty busy but if I can find the time next week maybe we can get together. How can I contact you?
You can send me an email message at mathtalent@fastmail.fm. I'm here in Argentina till the evening of Dec.17, when I fly back to the US.

Cheers.
 

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Mr Nashorama
You are right about Peron´s fascist tendencies but a great many of your observations about Argentina are very wrong. Just a few that come to mind:
-Health care is ¨accessible¨ in Argentina in the sense that free public hospitals exist, however the quality of care is extremely poor. BA has the best of the bad, the Hospital Fernandez probably the most tolerable of the state run hospitals. Hospitals in the provinces are dreadful. A surgeon who works in BA told me that his father is a surgeon in the province of Formosa. He had to buy his own surgical instruments because the hospital had no money for basics. It is true that there are some good doctors in state hospitals but even if they are qualified, the conditions under which they work are miserable. The consequence of this highly inadequate system is that the middle class have to pay for private health insurance which may be cheap by US standards (when considered in devaluied dollars) but is expensive in terms of local incomes. As for the absence of free health care in the US, that is not really true. Hospitals do not turn away emergency cases or people with serious illnesses. I know Argentines who have had accidents in the US and received excellent and costly care. They returned to Argentina without paying. I also know Americans who allowed their health insurance to lapse and then got sick. One such person contracted a terminal disease and spent months at taxpayers´expense at one of the best hospitals on the East Coast.

There were not five Presidents in five days but more like five weeks. Admittedly, the instability is the same. However you are quite wrong to say that no one wanted the job. Duhalde would love to return. Kirchner is desperate to be re-elected.

The Clarin is a more ¨populist¨ paper than La Nacion but far more corrupt. As for press freedom in Argentina, there is very little. Journalists are easily bought by the government and there is very little honest examination of what is going on. The only paper that gives honest analysis is the Herald - in ENglish, so hardly widely read. I recommend James Neilsen´s weekly columns (I believe on Thursdays).

The protests in Mar del Plata (not ¨El Plata¨-- I assume you mean La Plata, the capital of the Province of BA) were hardly peaceful or dignified. They were extremely violent and aggressive. It is also very likely that they were paid for by the Argentine government. Two trains were sent down with the protesters - one with the piqueteros and another with Diego Maradonna. These trains were run by Ferrobaires, an entity of the Province of BA. Who do you think paid? It is also no coincidence that a member of the National House of Deputies escorted Hugo Chavez to the anti Summit stadium and around Mar del Plata to help him take part in the protests.

Fidel Castro was not invited to the Mar del Plata summit. Cuba was expelled from the organization decades ago for establishing a military dictatorship.

As for the summit, the majority of the members are in favor of the FTAA trade agreement. The US needs to give on the farm subsidy issue, admittedly. Argrentina can resist but that will just hold them back. Chile will continue to make favorable trade deals with the US and will continue to forge ahead as it has been doing for some years.

As for US domination of Argentina, he fact is that Europe has always been the stronger influence. Most of the investment of the 90´s was European, not American. The bondholders who were given a severe ¨haircut¨ were about 50% ARgentine and the rest mostly Italians and Japanese. Historically Argentina was strongly tied to Britain with Britain treating Argentina as a veritable economic colony.

So much more that I could add to your largely inaccurate comments but time limits me.

For those who haven´t read the witty comments of ¨George Orwell¨ who has posted on this forum, I urge you to go back and read what he has to say. To Mr Orwell, I can only say ¨touche¨!
 

Guest
NASHORAMA´S COMMENT ABOUT THE VIRTUES OF REQUIRED VOTING IN ARGENTINA ARE ABSURD. ARGENTINES ARE JUSTIFIABLY CYNICAL ABOUT THIS AS THEY HAVE SUCH LIMITED CHOICES. EVIDENTLY NASHORAMA HAS NEVER HEARD OF THE ¨lista sabana¨ I.E. THE CORRUPT SYSTEM BY WHICH VOTERS MUST VOTE A STRAIGHT PARTY TICKET, SO SPLITTING TICKETS. THIS KEEPS THE CORRUPT PERONISTAS IN POWER. MANY PEOPLE ARE SO CYNICAL THAT THEY VOTE ¨EN BLANCO¨ WHICH MEANS THAT THEY FILL IN THEIR NAMES AND DATA AND LEAVE THE SPACES BLANK WHERE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO TICK THE PARTY OF THEIR ¨choice¨:
 

Guest
Cynical wrting about Americans pretending to Canadian in Argentina is quite silly really. It would be more disturning if it was not so pathetic--true or false. However,I must protest the reported number of these "choices" being exercised by fellow citizens. In any event it would be less than a gracious attempt at making new friends abroad. Water seeks its own level and I am sure that these actors are few and far between with lock-step political stripes and top down superficial thinking.

Argentines would receive a newcomer, a visitor, an immigrant from the United States depending on that person´s comportment and attitude. Nothing more. Nothing less. And that has been the case in more than the 50 countries on 6 continents that I have visited in this manner since the early 1980´s.

Advising Americans not to feign being Canadian is insulting to most of us and not necessary really. Being an American is a choice--a political experiment still unfolding, a shining beacon on a hill....

Suggesting that one shall only find enlightenment in our great city of New York and only narrowness in our abundant Kansas fields is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the United States and a disservice to one´s readers. Repeating distorted facts, generalizations and prejudices help no one and actually hurt many young learners. It is not the citizens of the fair towns of Kansas I aim to shield from these unintelligent attacks but the ignorant student of the USA abroad. Before one can discuss a serious subject one has to have an accurate grasp of reality to begin. Ad hominum attacks serve no one but the pride of the writer--albeit briefly.
 

bigbadwolf

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" (GUEST)" said:
Mr Nashorama

As for the absence of free health care in the US, that is not really true. Hospitals do not turn away emergency cases or people with serious illnesses. I know Argentines who have had accidents in the US and received excellent and costly care. They returned to Argentina without paying. I also know Americans who allowed their health insurance to lapse and then got sick. One such person contracted a terminal disease and spent months at taxpayers´expense at one of the best hospitals on the East Coast.
All your comments about Argentina ring true, but the ones above, concerning the US medical establishment, need correcting. An emergency case will be admitted to the hospital -- but the hospital will come after you for the bill. Just the ambulance service will cost upwards of US $1000. I never heard of hospitals caring for terminally ill patients. Either you have health insurance (or are filthy rich) or you can go to hell. Medical bills are presently the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the US. Additionally, the burgeoning cost of health insurance is causing severe financial problems to corporate giants such as GM and Ford, who can't compete globally partly because of skyrocketing health costs. If this is Laissez Faire, the US is welcome to it.

As for Argentina -- sigh -- your comments ring true. A socially and economically backward country living with the nostalgia of a past golden age.
 

gracielle

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"As for Argentina -- sigh -- your comments ring true. A socially and economically backward country living with the nostalgia of a past golden age."

I take this quote, not with the intent to admonish the writer personally, but as a sample of generalized thinking. This is a democracy and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I merely want to add my grain of salt. My qualifications come from having been born in Argentina and spent 40 years happily living in San Francisco, California. Now I am back home to stay. And yes, I enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship.

I assume that most foreigners who choose to live here do so primarily because of the monetary advantages. Employment, or the lack of, does not affect you as the exchange rate favors many styles of living. Please tell me of another metropolitan city where you can afford to buy a home and/or land of this caliber at such prices. This city, compared to others in Latin America, is the closest to living in Madrid or Rome at a much lesser cost. Even when it was 1 to 1, it was still a great deal.

For this we can thank this "economically backward country".

I assume that the secondary reason for moving here is because there are many aspects of the culture which you can partake. I am sure that most of the people accept you, treat you reasonably well and you find some fulfillment in what you do here. Yes, you have to contend with corruption, "piqueteros", shady business practices, and whatever ails the rest of the population. But does it really affect you or is it that some of you have just nothing much to do with your time. The immigration laws are very flexible...come one, come all.... and leave when you want.

For this we can thank this "socially backward country".

You are a guest in a foreign country. Enjoy the time you have here. Learn to take the good with the bad as most Argentinians struggle to do the same. You never know when foreigners may be expelled from the country. Or worst yet, your bank account may no longer provide the buying power you now enjoy!!

I have heard diatribes from Argentinians but some of you guys weigh in with the best. In closing, I sincerely hope you stay and make it here. We can use a high dosage of diversity, but please leave the arrogance at home.
 

Guest
Mr Wolf...-
I have no reason to lie about health care in the US. Emergency cases are accepted at US hospitals. This is a simple reality. Hospitals will not turn away someone who has been hurt. Yes, the hospital will send a bill and, yes, an emergency room visit can easily cost $1,000 minimum. In the case of indigent people, there is nothing the hospital can do. The hosptal must absorb the costs which are passed on to those who pay in the form of higher fees and higher health insurance.

Terminal cases such as AIDS are treated in hospitals. I personally knew someone who contracted AIDS and was hospitalized by a leading US hospital for months. He had allowed his insurance to lapse. I visited him in the hospital and could not see that his care was different from that of a paying patient. In his case I am sure that Public Assistance picked up a large part of the bill. You may disagree with me because this is not the image you want of the mean US health care system but the fact is that my experience is fact.

I know two Argentines who had accidents in New York and who were treated at hospitals and never paid a cent. What could the hospitals do? It´s a bit difficult to collect from someone who is an Argentine national and has returned to BA.

In the case of patients who can not pay but are not indigent, hospitals are very willing to make deals whereby the patient pays whatever he can until the bill is paid off. This may take an entire lifetime if the patient can only pay $50 a month but the system exists and is common. I have talked this over with several doctor friends. You don´t get sued and lose your house as long as you make a sincere effort to pay something, no matter how small.
 

Guest
Nashorama
If you are satisfied with health care at Argentine public hospitals, it is all the better for you. I´d be very surprised, however, if few Americans or Canadians would agree with you. The fact is that if public health care were good here there would be no need for the huge system of prepagos or private health insurance companies.

You comment that people must use hospitals in their neighborhoods. I am quite sure this is NOT true as I know people who go to the Fernandez yet live at quite a distance They go to the Fernandez because it is far better than what they have in their own neighborhoods.

Clarin..,.Have you not heard about how the Clarin Group benefited from the devaluation? Their enormous debts were reduced to a fraction in pesos. Might it be possible that a deal was made with Duhalde?

BA Herald - not run by Anglophiles (lovers of British culture) as you say. Many on the staff are Anglo Argentine , i.e. their ancestors emigrated from Britain. In some cases they have been here for well over a hundred years. This is the ONE paper, incidentally, that stood up agiainst the military dictatorships. The Herald has a proud and courageous tradition of standing for democracy and human rights. Your comments are not factual and are insulting Mr. Neilsen, incidentally, has always stood squarely on the side of democracy and against dictatorship.

Incidentally, Menem is a Roman Catholic, not a Muslim. He was born into a Muslim family but converted prior to becoming Ptresident. This may have been opportunistic as at that time the Constitution would not permit a non Roman Catholic to be President. Nevertheless Carlos is a Roman Catholic who receives communion like other Roman Catholics.

Dictator and human rights abuser Fidel Castro was NOT invited to the summit.
 

Guest
Gracielle´s comments are very reasonable. It seems to me that this debate started with Mr Wolf´s inncoent question about what makes BA tick. That led to Nashorama´s disatribe against the US and inaccurate observations about Argentina. Expats have various reasons for being here. There is good and bad in Argentina as there is anywhere. What Nashorama does not seem able to do is to set aside his contempt for the US and look objectively at Argentina however the lack of real intellectual debate is common these days of political correctness. That´s why Orwell´s humorous comments were so apt.
 
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