Friday, August 21, 2009

Argentina after the 2001 Collapse

Hi Ferfal,

Your blog is amazing, scary, and eye-opening. I have a couple of quick questions you can turn into a blog post as long as you protect my email identity. Anyways here it is...

Is all Argentina a chaotic mess like you say or is it just B.A? Is the Mendoza area, for example, a decent place to live without the insanity you mentioned? I looked at the crime rates on that map and it truly was amazing and eye-opening. Is it the same in Mendoza or in the area just south of Cordoba in Alta Gracia? I would love to know.

How did those areas react when the peso collapsed several years ago? Was it as severe since it is mostly a farming area?

Your help is greatly appreciated and any facts, info or links you can provide me with any additional information would be great.


Argentina isn’t a Chaotic mess.
It’s a country that has seen a fair share of problems for many years and in 2001 suffered a lot with an economic collapse that ended up having long term economical, social and political consequences and its all still very visible and still developing.
People still live their lives, tourists come visit, kids mostly go to school (well, they closed because of the flu for several weeks and strikes are fairly common) but there are the problems I mention such as collapsed infrastructure in nearly all aspects, an inefficient and highly corrupt government, and crime problems that, even though more or less obvious depending where you are located, is out of control and out of charts. A small % of the actual robberies and kidnapping getting reported, there’ no system effectively tracking the crime problem.

Notice I rarely ever mention majestic places like IguazĂș falls or the Perito Moreno Glacier, or our rich criole culture. I rarely mention typical foods like mate, emapanadas, or the Havanna alfajores some tourist find fascinating. We have good things here, I suppose like in every other country, and we’re better off in many aspects than say, Bolivia.
“Surviving in Argentina” is a blog where I try to record and pass on lessons learned regarding overcoming the problems we have, not the good things, and there are many.
At least in my opinion and having a better view of what lfe is like in other countries, Argentina unfortunately falls in the list of places I’d like to live in. It’s just my opinion and frankly most people here never left the country, they don’t know any better or have no means to leave.
Other I know, they do know the difference and had the fortune to experiment other countries and cultures as well, but they are too attached to their town, their family and friends, they could never leave.
Is Bs As Chaotic? Depends where you land. The Capital district and northern suburbs are nice, you’ll find that’s where tourists concentrate as well. And there are other places where any person not used t this would simply be scared. If I drop a soldier in camino Negro he’d think what am I doing back in Iraq, and I’ve never seen footage of Iraq looking that bad and filthy.
Places like the villas that can be found along the Riachuleo river, those are places where a Hollywood director could role a post apocalyptic film and save millions: No a single dollar is needed to achieve the atmosphere of abandonment and poverty, you’ll even have the people walking around looking like crap.
That’s one of the most noticeable things, the gap between rich and poor. The small richest percentage making 33 times as much as the lowest middle class.

Let me explain BS As (and in some degree Argentina)wit 3 images:

Puerto Madero, one of the wealthiest parts os Buenos Aires.

Across that same river picutred above, maybe just 2 Km away from where that picture was taken: Dock Sud outisde the Captial Distric limits. Extreme poverty, crime and kids that are poorly fed and have high levels of lead in blood due to contamination.

Fuerte Apache, in Buenos Aires. About 20 km west from where the first picutre was taken. A war zone. Where "gendarmeria" posts are used for target practice when some of the locals get bored.

“Is the Mendoza area, for example, a decent place to live without the insanity you mentioned?”
Mendoza is big and overall expensive to live in compared to other provinces. It’s is nice but there are other nice provinces as well. They do have serious crime problems. Not as bad as Bs As but still, not what the average American would be used to.
That being said, Mendoza is beautiful and has some of the nicest people you find in Argentina.

“I looked at the crime rates on that map and it truly was amazing and eye-opening. Is it the same in Mendoza or in the area just south of Cordoba in Alta Gracia? I would love to know.”

Keep in mind that while a body can’t be just ignored (at least in most cases) robberies and kidnappings mostly go unreported. Even the cops encourage you not to file a report, they’ll tell you to not waste your time. It also keep the numbers lower.

“How did those areas react when the peso collapsed several years ago? Was it as severe since it is mostly a farming area?”

When the peso collapsed their products went up accordingly for export, so the medium and large scale producers (300 acres or more) did well exporting their goods. Of course the government saw this and heavily taxed them, so today they in some cases they only end up making 20% or so of their production. This situation caused the farmer’s crisis last year, you can goggle it up, its fairly well documented in English as well.
The farmer that produce at a lower scale always struggled a lot and still do. Not an activity you’d want to get into unless you can do so at least as a medium scale producer.



Anonymous said...

I'm curious about something. I'm somewhat of an architecture buff myself, although I never had the artistic ability to become an actual architect. One thing I've noticed is that in some places in the US, especially in the northeast of the country, construction in some places simply ground to a halt at some point, never to restart. I've been to places where 1950s houses are still on the outskirts of town, where the downtowns are still dominated by pre-1950 skyscrapers. When did construction of new buildings halt in Argentina? 2001?

I was also wondering if the styles of houses show a marked decrease in quality after say the Peron years, if there was any building at all. Here in the US houses gradually got cheaper in both materials and design after World War 2, leading up to the very ugly houses built during the last boom, which had numerous quality problems. Are there places in Argentina, not just rural areas but cities too, where most "new construction" was mainly of shanties and not "real" houses after the Peron years?

Do people tend to patch up older houses in makeshift ways, like they do in some parts of the US, especially rural areas? I've heard of people in rural Argentina who still drive 1930s era cars, because they never had the money to replace them. I assume that the same would go for houses, keeping the old houses and patching them and adding on. I was wondering if that happens in cities too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ferfal, inflation is beginning in europe. Food is now packaged in smaller portions, the price remains the same.

Could you tell us something about window grates in Argentina? In Germany there are essentially none at all. It is surely very tempting for burglars.

Do you know how window grates are produced and how much they cost in Argentina?
If I buy some, what features would you recommend the grates should have?

Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, sorry if this is off topic, I was wondering what you think will happen to Canada when the American economy finally collapses? Canada has little national debt, but America is our biggest trading partner. I believe your observation of decline may provide some insight. Thank you.

You may also find Gerald Celente's trend forecasts of value. He has a great track record, and mainstream media are now asking him for his opinion.
Especially for those who live in the USA.