Saturday, April 10, 2010
This is the part of Buenos Aires travel agents wont mention. It’s one of the many villas just a few blocks away from the government palace.
Imagine having this next to the White House or Congress … and still growing!
The Villa 31 has been there for over 50 years, but the truth is that back in those days it was just a handful of families living in the mostly empty lots of land that belong to the railroad companies. After the 2001 crisis the villa boomed. People coming from all over the country desperate to find a job, even from other neighboring countries.
Surprisingly, even though the Argentine crisis officially ended around 2004 or so, the villa never stopped growing, just like every villa in the country.
Isn’t it ironic that in spite of the supposedly prosperous times (that of course no one seems to be experiencing on personal basis, but well, that’s what the government says) these villas keep growing and getting bigger, both horizontal and vertically?
Up to 5 floors are being built with precarious materials, and no control whatsoever. Power? They hook themselves illegally and no one does anything about it and why would they? After all, these are Kirchner’s greatest supporters.
Its very interesting though to see how these places develop a la Mad Max's Barter Town. Drugs, booze, gambling and prostitution are of course readily available. They have stores of all kinds in there, you can rent a bed for 80 dollars a month, a room for USD 160 and an apartment in Villa 31 costs USD 15.000.
Hey! Its located just 4 blocks away from some of the fanciest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires where an apartment costs $ 200.000 to $ 400.000 so its actually a bargain.
Tyical house in Villa 31
A disaster waiting to happen. On the grownd level, a grocery, bread and cell phones can be bought.
This is how most arrive to the villa: A tarp and some cardboard to make a small shack. Then they buy materials and build a more solid structure. Notice the red brick buildings of the villa, visible on the background.
For those of you that ask what happened with those that went broke after 2001, many folks that lost their homes after the crisis ended up living here or in similar settlements.
This is the face of Argentina you wont see advertised in tourism agencies, but it is becoming more and more common all over the country.