Sunday, November 30, 2008

Despair in Once-Proud Argentina

Hi guys, this article is pretty old, dates back to 2002.
English not being my mother language, this is a well written piece that explains many things much better than I can.

If you believe USA is already in a depression and it could get worse, PLEASE read this article.
It will explain better to those that are unfamiliar with Argentina, why there are many parallelisms between this country and USA, and in some ways it will portrait a better picture of what I try to explain here many times.

Please do read it. A lot of water has gone under the bridge and we have an entire set of new problems, but these ones during the first months and years, may unfortunately become common in USA one day.

I took the liberty of marking in bold letters the parts that I may have talked about before, or the ones that I found particularly interesting.

Again, PLEASE notice the marked comments about the situation in rural and agricultural areas, and the explanation on what happened to the middle class.
These folks left behind their homes in the agricultural provinces and moved to pick trash for a living in the city for a reason, them being stupid not being it.


Despair in Once-Proud Argentina

After Economic Collapse, Deep Poverty Makes Dignity a Casualty
By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 6, 2002; Page A01
ROSARIO, Argentina -- Word spread fast through the vast urban slums ringing Rosario. There was food on the freeway -- and it was still alive.
A cattle truck had overturned near this rusting industrial city, spilling 22 head of prime Angus beef across the wind-swept highway. Some were dead. Most were injured. A few were fine.

A mob moved out from Las Flores, a shantytown of trash heaps and metal shacks boiling over with refugees from the financial collapse of what was once Latin America's wealthiest nation. Within minutes, 600 hungry residents arrived on the scene, wielding machetes and carving knives. Suddenly, according to accounts from some of those present on that March day, a cry went up.
"Kill the cows!" someone yelled. "Take what you can!"

Cattle company workers attempting a salvage operation backed off. And the slaughter began. The scent of blood, death and fresh meat filled the highway. Cows bellowed as they were sloppily diced by groups of men, women and children. Fights broke out for pieces of flesh in bloody tugs of war.
"I looked around at people dragging off cow legs, heads and organs, and I couldn't believe my eyes," said Alberto Banrel, 43, who worked on construction jobs until last January, when the bottom fell out of the economy after Argentina suffered the world's largest debt default ever and a massive currency devaluation.
"And yet there I was, with my own bloody knife and piece of meat," Banrel said. "I felt like we had become a pack of wild animals . . . like piranhas on the Discovery Channel. Our situation has turned us into this."
The desolation of that day, neighbor vs. neighbor over hunks of meat, suggested how profoundly the collapse has altered Argentina. Traditionally proud, Argentines have begun to despair. Talk today is of vanished dignity, of a nation diminished in ways not previously imaginable.
Argentines have a legacy of chaos and division. In search of their "workers' paradise," Juan and Eva Peron declared war on the rich. During the "dirty war" of the 1970s, military rulers arrested tens of thousands of people, 15,000 of whom never resurfaced. And when then-President Carlos Menem touted New Capitalism in the 1990s, the rich got richer -- many illegally -- while the poor got poorer.
Yet some things here never really changed. Until last year, Argentines were part of the richest, best-educated and most cultured nation in Latin America. Luciano Pavarotti still performed at the Teatro Colon. Buenos Aires cafe society thrived, with intellectuals debating passages from Jorge Luis Borges over croissants and espresso. The poor here lived with more dignity than their equals anywhere else in the region. Argentina was, as the Argentines liked to say, very civilized.
Not anymore.

Beatriz Orresta, 20, holds her malnourished son, in Rio Chico. She had been feeding her children soup made with the dried bones of a dead cow her husband had found. (Silvina Frydlewsky for The Post)
Argentines have watched, horrified, as the meltdown dissolved more than their pocketbooks. Even the rich have been affected in their own way. The tragedy has struck hardest, however, among the middle class, the urban poor and the dirt farmers. Their parts of this once-proud society appear to have collapsed -- a cave-in so complete as to leave Argentines inhabiting a barely recognizable landscape.
With government statistics showing 11,200 people a day falling into poverty -- earning less than $3 daily -- Buenos Aires, a city once compared to Paris, has become the dominion of scavengers and thieves at night. Newly impoverished homeless people emerge from abandoned buildings and rail cars, rummaging through trash in declining middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. People from the disappearing middle class, such as Vicente Pitasi, 60 and jobless, have turned to pawn shops to sell their wedding rings.
"I have seen a lot happen in Argentina in my day, but I never lost hope until now," Pitasi said. "There is nothing left here, not even our pride."

Wages Fall, Prices Rise

Late last month, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Eva Peron's death, thieves swiped the head of a new statue of her. Nothing, really, is sacred here anymore. Ads by concerned citizens appear on television, asking Argentines to look inward at a culture of tax evasion, incivility and corruption. But nobody seems to be listening.
Food manufacturers and grocery stores are raising prices even as earning power has taken a historic tumble. A large factor in both the price rises and the slump in real wages is a 70 percent devaluation of the peso over the last six months. But the price of flour has soared 166 percent, canned tomatoes 118 percent -- even though both are local products that have had little real increases in production costs.
Severe hunger and malnutrition have emerged in the rural interior -- something almost never seen in a country famous for great slabs of beef and undulating fields of wheat. In search of someone to blame, Argentines have attacked the homes of local politicians and foreign banks. Many of the banks have installed steel walls and armed guards around branch offices, and replaced glass windows decorated with ads portraying happy clients from another era.
Economists and politicians differ on the causes of the brutal crisis. Some experts blame globalization and faulty policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund. But just as many blame the Argentine government for runaway spending and systematic corruption. The one thing everyone agrees on, however, is that there is no easy fix.
Statistically, it is easy to see why. Before 1999, when this country of 36 million inhabitants slipped into recession, Argentina's per capita income was $8,909 -- double Mexico's and three times that of Poland. Today, per capita income has sunk to $2,500, roughly on a par with Jamaica and Belarus.
The economy is projected to shrink by 15 percent this year, putting the decline at 21 percent since 1999. In the Great Depression years of 1930-33, the Argentine economy shrank by 14 percent.
What had been a snowball of poverty and unemployment has turned into an avalanche since January's default and devaluation. A record number of Argentines, more than half, live below the official poverty line. More than one in five no longer have jobs.
"We've had our highs and lows, but in statistical and human terms, this nation has never faced anything like this," said Artemio Lopez, an economist with Equis Research. "Our economic problems of the past pale to what we're going through now. It's like the nation is dissolving."

The Suffering Middle Class

Every Argentine, no matter the social class, has a crisis story. Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, 80, one of the country's richest women, was forced to offer up paintings by Gauguin, Degas, Miro and Matisse at a Sotheby's auction in May. For many of Argentina's well-to-do, the sale was the ultimate humbler, a symbol of decline in international stature.
Those suffering most, however, are the ones who had less to begin with.
On the morning of her 59th birthday, Norma Gonzalez woke up in her middle-class Buenos Aires home, kissed her husband on the cheek and caught a bus to the bank. There, before a stunned teller, the portly redhead, known by her family and friends mostly for her fiery temper and homemade meat pies, doused herself with rubbing alcohol, lit a match and set herself ablaze.
That was in April. Today, Rodolfo Gonzalez, 61, her husband, keeps a daily vigil at the burn center where his wife is still receiving skin grafts on the 40 percent of her body that sustained third-degree burns. She had no previous record of mental illness, according to her family and doctors, and has spoken only once about that morning.
"She just looked up at me from her hospital bed and said, 'I felt so helpless, I just couldn't take it anymore,' " Gonzalez said. "I can't understand what she did. It just wasn't Norma. But I suppose I can understand what drove her to it. It's this country. We're all going crazy."
Argentina long had the largest middle class, proportionally, in Latin America, and one of the continent's most equitable distributions of wealth. Much of that changed over the last decade as millions of middle managers, salaried factory workers and state employees lost their jobs during the sell-off of state-run industries and the collapse of local companies flooded by cheap imports.
Initially, Rodolfo Gonzalez was one of the lucky ones. An engineer for the state power company, he survived the early rounds of layoffs in the early 1990s when the company was sold to a Spanish utility giant. His luck changed when the company forced him out in a round of early retirements in 2000.
He was 59 and had worked for the same company for 38 years. Yet he landed a part-time job, and with his severance pay safely in the bank, he and his wife thought they could bridge the gap until Gonzalez became eligible for social security in 2004.
Then came "El Corralito."
Literally translated, that means "the little corral." But there is nothing little about it. On Dec. 1, Domingo Cavallo, then the economy minister, froze bank accounts in an attempt to stem a flood of panicked depositors pulling out cash.
Most banks here are subsidiaries of major U.S. and European financial giants that arrived with promises of providing stability and safety to the local banking system. But many Argentines who did not get their money out in time -- more than 7 million, mostly middle-class depositors, did not -- faced a bitter reality: Their life savings in those institutions, despite names such as Citibank and BankBoston, were practically wiped out.
Virtually all had kept their savings in U.S. dollar-denominated accounts. But when the government devalued the peso, it gave troubled banks the right to convert those dollar deposits into pesos. So the Gonzalez family's $42,000 nest egg, now converted into pesos, is worth less than $11,600.
As the family had trouble covering basic costs, Norma Gonzalez would go to the bank almost every week to argue with tellers and demand to see a manager, who would never appear. As prices rose and the couple could not draw on their savings, their lifestyle suffered. First went shows in the Buenos Aires theater district and dinners on Saturday night with friends. Then, in March, they cut cable TV.
Around the same time, the Gonzalezes' daughter, Paula, 30, lost her convenience store. Separated and with two children, she turned to her parents for support.
The Gonzalezes had been planning for 18 months to take Norma's dream vacation, to Chicago to visit a childhood friend. After the trip was shelved as too expensive, she seemed to break.
"I can't explain it, and maybe I never will be able to," Rodolfo Gonzalez said. He added: "But maybe you can start to figure out why. You have to wonder: Is all this really happening? Are our politicians so corrupt? Are we now really so poor? Have the banks really stolen our money? And the answers are yes, yes, yes and yes."

Scavenging Urban Trash

"There is not enough trash to go around for everyone," said Banrel, one of the participants in the cattle massacre. Rail-thin, he normally passes his days combing the garbage-strewn roads around the Las Flores slums in Rosario, a city of 1.3 million residents 200 miles northwest of Buenos Aires and long known as "the Chicago of Argentina."
If Banrel finds enough discarded plastic bottles and aluminum cans -- about 300 -- he can make about $3 a day. But the pickings are slim because competition is fierce. The misery villages, as shantytowns such as Las Flores are called, are becoming overcrowded with the arrival of people fleeing desperate rural areas where starvation has set in. About 150 new families arrive each month, according to Roman Catholic Church authorities.
With more people in the slums, there are fewer plastic bottles to go around. Banrel said he was getting desperate that day when he joined the mob on the highway.
His family of three -- his wife is pregnant with their second child -- had been surviving on a bowl of watery soup and a piece of bread each day. He earned at least $40 to $60 a week last year working construction. With that gone, and with food getting more expensive, he said, "You can't miss an opportunity, not around here."
"Am I proud of what we did?" he added. "No, of course not. Would I do it again? Yes, of course. You start to live by different rules."

Reality of Rural Hunger

For some rural families, the crisis has gone further. It has generated something rarely seen in Argentina: hunger. In the province of Tucuman, an agricultural zone of 1.3 million people, health workers say cases of malnutrition have risen 20 percent to 30 percent over the previous year.
"I wish they would cry," whispered Beatriz Orresta, 20, looking at her two young sons in a depressed Tucuman sugar cane town in the shadow of the Andes. "I would feel much better if they cried."
Jonatan, 2, resting on the dirt floor behind the family's wooden shack, and Santiago, the 7-month-old she cradled in her arms, lay listlessly.
"They don't act it, but they're hungry. I know they are," she said.
Orresta can tell. Jonatan is lethargic. His lustrous brown hair has turned a sickly carrot color. Clumps of it sometimes fall out at night as Orresta strokes him to sleep. Santiago hardly seems to mind that Orresta, weak and malnourished herself, stopped lactating months ago. The infant, sucking on a bottle of boiled herbal tea, stares blankly with sunken eyes.
Six months ago, the boys were the loudest complainers when their regular meals stopped. Orresta's husband, Hector Ariel, 21, had his $100 monthly salary as a sugar cane cutter slashed almost in half when candy companies and other sugar manufacturers in the rural enclave of Rio Chico, 700 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, were stung by dried-up credit and a massive drop in national consumption.
Ariel now earns just over $1.50 a day, not enough for the family to survive. The peso's plunge has generated inflation of more than 33 percent during the first seven months of the year, more than double the government's projection for the entire year.
Goods not in high demand, such as new clothing, have not gone up significantly in price, but staples that families need for daily subsistence have doubled or tripled. The last time inflation hit Argentina -- in the late 1980s, when it rose to a high of 5,000 percent -- the unemployment rate was half the current 21.5 percent and most salaries were indexed to inflation. Today, there are no such safety nets.
"I could buy rice for 30 cents a kilo last year," Orresta said. "It's more than one peso 50 now."
"At least we will eat tonight, that's the important thing," she said, stirring an improvised soup.
The concoction, water mixed with the dried bones of a long-dead cow her husband found in an abandoned field, had been simmering for two days. The couple had not eaten in that time. It had been 24 hours since the children ate.
Orresta, like most mothers in her village, started trimming costs by returning to cloth diapers for her two young boys when the price of disposable ones doubled with inflation. But then she could no longer afford the soap to wash them, and resorted to reusing the same detergent four or five times. The children began to get leg rashes.
By late January, the family could no longer afford daily meals. A month later, Jonatan's hair began turning reddish and, later, falling out. Although he has just turned 2, Jonatan still cannot walk and has trouble focusing his eyes.
Orresta stopped lactating in April. But the price of powdered milk had almost tripled by then, from three pesos for an 800-gram box to more than eight pesos. At those prices, the family can afford 11 days of milk a month. The rest of the time, Santiago drinks boiled maté, a tea that also serves as an appetite suppressant.
"You know, we're not used to this, not having enough food," said Orresta, with a hint of embarrassment in her voice.
She paused, and began to weep.
"You can't know what it's like to see your children hungry and feel helpless to stop it," she said. "The food is there, in the grocery store, but you just can't afford to buy it anymore. My husband keeps working, but he keeps bringing home less and less. We never had much, but we always had food, no matter how bad things got. But these are not normal times."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Corruption in Argentina

Jennifer said...

I know this comment does not have anything to do with defensive choke moves, but I was wondering your thought on the infrastructure plan just announced by your president Cristina Kirchner?
President Cristina Kirchner on Tuesday unveiled a massive public spending plan to pump more than 21 billion dollars into Argentina's infrastructure and counter effects of the global cash crunch.
Would like to see a blog on that.

Hi Jennifer.
Unfortunately none of that gets to the people, not in any significant ammount.
This isn’t as easy to understand for people that come from places where things do work.
How can I explain this?
It’s all a big fat lie, ok?
This government ( and the ones we had for the last 20 years and beyond, both democratic and dictatorships) are so corrupt, it all disappears in a labyrinth of corruption and bureaucracy.
People in other countries are used to seeing people that don’t work form a line once a month and get paid unemployment or coupons.
That doesn’t happen here.
They talk, do a lot of talking, but the population never sees any of it.
For example, our gov. received 250 MILLION USD by the BID to get the terribly polluted “Riachuelo” river cleaned, a problem that is constantly causing deaths and chronic diseases to those of us that live in the south suburbs of Bs As.
Thank God I’m not that close, but those that live closer to it suffer all kind of problems, specially increased the infant death a lot.
Money disappeared. The population now has to pay for the loan, but the river? Never got cleaned at all.
They announce incentive and support to promote national small and medium industry?
My wife owns one such medium industry.
All they get from the government is corrupt inspectors and tax inspectors that threaten to cause trouble if you don’t pay them bribes.
You have everything in order, pay all your taxes?
Ok, one they you go to the bank and find that a tax inspector froze your account, due to some “suspicious” things he supposedly found.
When you confront such inspector he claims it was all a mistake.. but unfortunately your have to “tip” him a bit, if you want your account released sooner than say … 6 months give or take.
So if your business can survive that long without it’s account, that’s all good.. if not you have to pay this scumbag.
Where do you go? The authorities? They ARE the authorities.
How about real poor people?
Same kind of corruption going on.
The 300 bucks poor unemployed families are supposed to receive. Only get distributed among those that go to the protests, conferences and rallys supporting the current political power.
If not, you don’t get nothing.

Milk for the poor? They are supposed to give humanitarian packager to kids that otherwise starve to death.. but mysteriously only an extremely small of that milk ever falls in the hands of an actual poor mother trying to feed her kids.
The rest gets sold by the political figure in charge, and then gets sold again, showing up in other countries of South America, illegally crossing the border, even gets sold on the internet.

This is what happened when you mix a history of corruption, an authoritarian government, and local media censorship.

I can assure you, no one in this country, at least no one that isn’t mentally challenged OR has his own interests ( lots of corrupt bastards out there, getting rich supporting the political “punteros” ( district political leader), no one believes this woman’s lies.

What I particularly dislike about this government is how it controls the meida, and how it works very much like Chavez in Venezuela, but it’s supposedly a democracy.
In many ways, a false democracy like the one we have now, is worse than the military dictatorships we once had.
This is not me being paranoid. The truth is obvous and out there for anyone to see.
MR. Kirchner handed over the power to his wife, Ms. Kirchner ( shameless fraudulent campaign) .
Once she’s done, Mr . Kirchner is of course going to win the elections for a second ride (already talking about it on the media, preparing the field) , and then hand it over to his wife once more.
What kind of democracy is that?

Edited to add:

Jennifer said...

Interesting blog. The reason that I was curious is that our US elect president wants to help our country in the same way, by dumping lots of money in our infrastructure. Thanks.

Its complicated.
Here’s were our country differences may kick in.
USA is far less corrupt than Argentina. FAR less corrupt.
Specially these days, we are run by thugs.
I mean, it got up to the point were Mr. Kirchner, the ex president and husband of the current president Cristina, went to break a protest in Plaza de Mayo along with some other thugs including a savage character called Luis Delia, another one called Moreno, and a national kick boxer turned body guard ( several time world champ “Acero” Cali ) and they started to beat up middle class folk that were peacefully protesting.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing live on TV that day. Even Hollywood doesn’t come up with stuff this bizarre.

I don’t picture Obama making such a blunt, 3rd worldly demonstration of power.

What I fear the most about Obama is the control the guy will have.
People got scared due to the economic USA crisis, when people are scared they are willing to trade freedom for security and peace of mind.
You all saw that with the bailout. Doing the incorrect thing, because supposedly, the alternative was worse.
That’s a dangerous path to travel.
We went through that path ourselves, and now we have people running the country that are best buds with the likes of Chavez and Fidel, something completely unimaginable 10 years ago.
10 years ago, the overall public would not have accepted it. A few years of brainwashing and people now applaud these petty dictators.

Who would have imagined nationalized banks in USA?
Almost 7 years ago when I first stared getting online people said that what now happens in USA could never happen.
They said that what I had to tell about our crisis was interesting, but the thought of that happening in USA was laughable.

I’m not going to take credit on anything because I told these people that most probably they were right, I said it wasn’t likely, but I also told them we thought it would never happen here too.

Never say never, and prepare for the worst. And I’m not talking about nuclear war or zombies attacking if you know what I mean.



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Defensive choke Moves

UFC has some nice things going on but I don’t think you'll fight naked guys a lot ( no dude, I don’t even want to hear it !!:sptng)
Anyway, bare chest attackers aren’t that common, more than likely there going to be clothes, and you can use those to your advantage in a real fight.

Actually, it can be a VERY cool key advantage if you know how to use it, killing your attacker in seconds by cutting the blood flow to the brain.

But in the real world, expect punches to the head, desperate attempts to sink the fingers into your eyeballs as well. You want to this move, but also close your eyes tight and press your face against your crossed arms to keep his fingers off your eyes and mouth. Just hold on, take the beating like a man ( or woman) for a few seconds while the choke does its magic. It will soon be over… for him. :)

Keep in mind I’m talking about unarmed attackers. If a knife is involved you don’t want to be this close unless you disarmed your attacker first ( other set of moves).
Also, we are not the only ones that carry folders. Keep an eye on any hand movement to the waist or pockets and neutralize any movement towards them by hooking your arm under the armpit during the choke, or doing it under both arms and locking the fingers together on the back of the neck.( Careful with any kind of pressure in the spine!)
This gets a bit more complicated and requires more upper body strength, but the basic chokes still work well on unarmed attackers.

For the ladies, think about the typical rapist stance (bad guy on top)

You can practice these with a friend to get it right .
CAREFUL!! this is dangerous stuff, make sure your partner isn’t an idiot and understands the risks. Blood flow stops immediately, let go as soon as the partner taps.

This choke is VERY effective. Use it knowing the risks involved. Let go of your partner right away or you can do a lot of damage.

Triangle Choke. A bit more dexterity required, but very effective.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Alternative transportation

I have great reservations regarding any other transport that isn’t an automobile, simply based on how exposed you are and how easy it is for anyone to just snatch you and steal from you.
Even if an ordinary automobile wont stop bullets, it provides a physical barrier between the occupants and the outside world, and you also have an important amount of horse power at the tip of your foot.

But what about the most poor segment of society that needs some transport but can’t afford anything else?
Here’s a couple of solutions people came by.

1) Horse and cart .

“Botelleros” cutting the La Noria bridge in 2003, demanding they be allowed to work and go around the city with their carts.

Popularly known as “botelleros”, they are part of our local culture already.
People so poor, they make a living by collecting bottles, paper and other things they can sell to recycle, or pick other things people throw away to fix, resell or use it themselves.
Some people talk about how expensive having a horse is.
These guys, they use horses to work everyday, and they don’t even live in the country, they live in the city. They keep the animal watered and look for some grass in an abandoned lot to keep the horse fed.
Sometimes the animal is abused but more often than not you see “botelleros” taking good care of their horse, probably because it’s their basic work tool after all.

Point here is, if it comes to that, you can have a horse in the city without spending a fortune, and you can keep the animal fed. These guys are a proof of it.

2) Bicycles.
Nothing fancy here. Almost everyone knows that already, how effective bikes are for moving around.
But those of us that spent any amount of time on the road with one also know they can be a pain in the butt if you require to transport any significant load along with you.
Solution? At least here, it came in the form of tricycles.
I’ve seen gardeners use them to move around heavy equipment, people using it to move loads of paper to recycle, move around groceries (several times what they would be able to carry just using their hands) , etc.
If crime isn’t that bad and the distances involved are rather short, seriously consider one of these:

Take care folks.


Friday, November 14, 2008


ive been thinking about this for a while, and maybe worrying more about being low-key is a smarter move than worrying about being armed to the teeth with smg's.

Having weapons is important but going unnoticed is a terrific advantage.
Some people in survival think they’ll be allowed to dress up like a soldier once SHTF, problem is that version of SHTF may never come. And another more likely version probably will, one were you will not be allowed to walk ½ a block with a vest covered with mag pouches.

Rather the contrary, it will probably be a world where police are more trigger happy about weird looking people, were gun laws are more strict, and where ( even in spite of al these restrictions) crime reaches levels you’ve never seen before and you never felt the need to be armed so much in your entire life. That’s what happened to me at least.

You know how little things stick I your mind?
I remember driving my brother back from Ezeiza, through a couple roads, Camino de Cintura and Camino Negro, a good example of what our country has become.
By the time we got home my brother told me “ Dude, I need gun”
He said it in such a matter of fact way, I was surprised.

i read an article in a home fashion magazine today (decor?) about buenos aires, it had a lot of good to say and only mentioned the 2001 crash twice, stating it was good for tourists because everything was cheaper, and that it gave argentina a sense of authenticity in that they no longer imported a lot of the stuff they were accustomed to.


Regarding fashion, Bs As is an important city in South America.
Women are trully beautiful, middle class people (and up) care a lot about their looks.
Specially for women, things are very competitive. The more good looking women, the more they feel they have to look their best.
That, and a sense of style the city still has in some parts, makes for an interesting combination.

Everything is cheaper but getting more expensive each day. It’s not that much of a bargain any more. It’s still good for tourists with USD and EU, but not as much as it used to.
Mostly good restaurants, wine and entertainment ( of all kinds, unfortunately)
But it depends on what you want. Anything electronic or a bit more elaborated or imported costs a lot of money.
A roll of M3 ductape ( small one, 10 yards ) costs 5 dollars. :p

It does give us a sense of authenticity, but it also puts us like 20 years behind.
Think about everything imported you are used to and imagine either going without that or having to pay ( at the very least) 3 to 5 times more for it, IF they even bother importing. Most things are so expensive, importers don’t find it profitable.

of course, its a FASHION magazine.. they did say though that the government there was planning on removing some 40,000 billboards as visual pollution.

They promise a lot of things but believe me they never do 1/100 of what they promise.
They took a loan of 332 million dollars to clean the terribly polluted Riachuelo river.
Money is now gone, money loaned to the government and the taxpayers now owe it, and the river was never cleaned at all.

Wondering if you could enlighten us on employment trends in Argentina.

Here in the US the health care industry seems pretty solid.

Would really like to hear your thoughts on careers?

Thanks and please keep up the great work!

Doctors still get paid well, make a lot of money in private practice, as well as dentist. Nurses aren’t that safe but they get by.

There’s job for accountants, business managers and the other more common professions, but the catch is, unemployment is very high. The official INDEC strategy is to just lie about it, they consider it better to lie aobut the numbers than to tell the truth .
We don’t know how high but at least 15% or so these days, according to non official agencies, those that arent in their pay roll.

What you want to do is not so much rely on a certain carrier, but be either very good at it so that you can win interviews, change jobs until you find a firm that pays well or seriously consider working freelance or starting your own business.

Only way to avoid getting exploited, working like crazy for very little money.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Black/Gray markets

Black/Gray markets

A question I have, you have mentioned the black/gray market on a few occasions, but I have a somewhat hard time understanding it. In the US the only thing I can think of with similarity is a flea market, where you can buy some collection stuff(books, dvd's), some home-made stuff(leather belts etc) and a LOT of chinese crap they wouldnt sell in most stores. But never would one find firearms there, much less things like hand grenades. Why doesn't your police regulate and crackdown on some of the more illegal operations? Thanks, best of luck and congratulations with your new child!


I call them Black/Gray markets because they are mostly large fairs, most run illegally (rent of public space) and were a lot of conterfit, illegal and stolen products are sold.

For example in the “Larroque Outlet”, among the usual crap, Chinese yunk, etc. some stands sell stolen and counter fit clothes.

My sister’s father in law runs a transportation business and knows well that most of the merchandize that sometimes get stolen by asphalt pirates ( robberies that occur on the highways, usually away form the city and curious eyes) ends up there.

Some of these markets are like nothing you’ve ever seen.

I've been to a few markets in USA but these are totally different.
La Salada market is a case study, the thing looks like Barter town on steroids. There’s even a railroad ( in use!) running through the market.
When the train comes people move quickly away, move the stands full of merchandize that are over the rails, and once the train passes the space is occupied once again

People come from all over the country to buy stuff here and take back to re sell.

But you dont walk into the "La Salada" market and buy a bunch of grenades or guns. It’s not like Afghanistan were you buy Ak as if you’re buying bananas.

These are improvised ( VERY improvised) open air markets where you can find all kind of things, including stolen merchandize, counterfeit clothes, and such.
You can acquire weapons if you know the right ( well, actually wrong) kind of people, but you wont see any sold publicly.

This is of course illegal and not something you should be doing.
Guns you can legally buy in gunshops, so why do things the wrong way.

I suppose you have to see these places for yourself, they are hard to describe well.

“Why doesn't your police regulate and crackdown on some of the more illegal operations?”

Yesterday they showed a report on TV, on how cops of this same district “Lomas de Zamora” actually run THEIR own little market, selling autoparts of confiscated vehicles! :)

Cops don’t bust places like “La Salada”, they work extra hours there to make a few bucks.

The European Union once referred to “La Salada” as an icon of illegal commerce.

An image says more than 1000 words. I found this website with lots of pics of, “La Salada”.



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Altoids survival kit

This is something most people tried sometime. Maybe as a kid when camping, or when first getting started into survival and preparedness.

The idea is to fit a number of small items you’d need to survive into the small container, so that you can always have it available during an emergency.

Many of these things I already care one of everyday, ( lighter, LED, knife, etc) on me or in my bag, but the idea of a small emergency kit is still valid, because you end up including other things you usually forget about.

There’s are other better containers, but this is what most people use so I got one of these tins down town.
By the way, I paid 3 dollars for this, 10 pesos.

There’s thousands of small kits like this one, some more location oriented than others, and most have a few common items.

Let’s see what I have here.(left to right, top to bottom)

-Home made mini knife

Made using a piece of new steel saw. Made a drop point for this little knife, and left it razor sharp. It also has the original saw teeth left, so it can be used for sawing with a bit o patience.
Handle is made with self soldering rubber.
-Small Bic Lighter.
Red so it doesn’t get lost that easily if dropped in the grass.
-Altoids tin.
Nothing to brag about, but it can be used for cooking small meals, boiling a bit of water, and the lid can be polished and used as a signal mirror.
-Paper matches. For fire making redundancy.
-Ziplock bag
Roughly one liter. Can be used to keep stuff dry. Get condensation out of living plants. Treat water in it using potable water pills.

-2 Hair clips.
Various uses.
-Led light. Works for many hours.
-Chinese red tiger and dragon balm tin.
This stuff has been around for over 100 years.
It’s supposed to cure near everything, but I’ve only used it for muscle aches, headaches (using it to massage the temples) , and for using a bit under the nose and chest when I have flu ( menthol)
It’s supposed to cure any disease known to mankind, but I’m a bit skeptical. :)
It does work rather well for the illnesses described above.
The original, genuine Chinese Dragon Balm, a contemporary
incarnation of the Imperial Ointment created so many centuries
ago. Time tested and proven as a superior answer for quick,
effective relief of headaches, nasal congestion, arthritis and
muscular aches and pains. Dragon Balm is manufactured under the
strictest supervision of qualified pharmacists, and exported
directly from the Southern Provinces of China. Dragon Balm is
ultra pure and composed of only the finest ingredients,
containing no animal by products or synthetic chemicals. It uses
menthol cinnamon oil, eucalyptus oil, cajuput oil and camphor to
create marvelously effective, penetrating relief. A truly fine
analgesic from the Orient. Used in Dojos as Martial Arts
treatment. Large 19 gm size.
Ingredients: Menthol, Camphor
scented and colored with natural herbal extracts.


-Small red box with match firecrackers. These are for signaling, creating a distraction or blowing up small things.
-4 Strong pain killers (ketorolac)
-2 Ibuprofen 600
-3 feet of wire
-Folding cutter blade
-button compass
-Salt. For compensating dehydration, or making saline solution in the bag to clean wound.
-4 bandaids: 2 small, 2 medium size.
-About 5 needles of different sizes
-1 Big button. Fixing pants, bag and such.
-1 epoxy cloth bandaid “Poxita”. Good for fixing a number of things.
-1 Piece of fine grit sand paper. For sharpening the blades included in the kit.
-9 feet of unbreakable black nylon thread.
-9 feet of thread in OD green. Fixing gear and clothing.
-9 feet of waxed dental floss. Also have a big needle to use it to fix stuff in needed.
-4 one peso coins. For phone calls, bending machines, bus, subway.
Four pesos will also buy you a hotdog in some of the cheapo places, or a coke or water bottle.
-50 USD. Some emergency money. Dollars are readily accepted most of the time, or someone willing to change it for local paper money.
Why not include local paper money? Because our peso is much more volatile than the USD ( even with the crisis).
If your pocket allows it, a small gold coin might not be a bad idea (maximum value for minimum size)
Missing in this kit and soon to be added; Potable water pills. Not enough space for a vial, but some can be added to the ziplock bag.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Guys, I’m a bit like Ben Stiller in Zoolander when it comes to blogging. :)

Just realized that there’s a “Follower” tab thing you can add, and that the more followers the better, since more people learn about this place and can get into survival and preparedness, or at least, change mentality a bit into being more independent thinking people.

So please join and help spread the word.

Take care, and thanks.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Most essential piece of gear: You body

Most essential piece of gear you own, and the one most often neglected.
Brain gets covered when we talk about mindset, but what about the rest?:)

How many people out there consider themselves ready for disasters and a plethora of SHTF events but can’t run for a couple miles, or even walk 10 miles a day without needing an IV dose of sugar?

God gave us all different bodies, that part there’s not much we can do about it. But think of it this way:
What car runs best? One that is 20 years old, that got properly maintained through the years, even customized here and there with various upgrades, or the rust bucket with the same amount of years that received no maintenance at all?

Your body is your first weapon, your most essential, irreplaceable material belonging, take care of it the way it deserves so it will serve you best when needed.

Cardio and Muscle

You may be a huge muscle mountain and have no cardio resistance at all. You not only need to be strong, you need to be able to walk and work for several hours a day. Your ability to run and walk long distances may be a matter of life and death during a crisis.
Running and walking 3 times a week, for at least an hour, is a good way to get started. If an hour is too much start with 30 minutes, but you really need to work it up until you can easily do an hour of cardio without getting a heart attack. This is of course you minimum setting, if possible you should do more, find yourself a good program and stick to it.
While running is nicer, stationary bicycle and escalator aren’t that hard on your knees so you might want to do that instead.
Doing 40-60 minutes of escalator works nicely and you can do that while watching TV.

If there’s a crime problem in your neighborhood, going out jogging might not be the smartest thing to do.
I use the escalator thing a lot and going up and down stair isn’t a problem.
10 floors by stairs in the hospital because there’s a broken elevator and a line waiting to use the one working? No problem, I take the stairs instead.

Think about the situations when power goes down and or there’s a fire and you must use the stairs, like it or not.

Running away form danger, getting out of a collapsed structure, swimming to save your life when falling in a lake or river, just walking or running to get yourself form one place to another when there’s no transportation available, are just a few situations I can think of right now and are very real possibilities.


Mostly for getting work done, using a shovel, axe or machete, moving things around, lifting heavy objects.
Also for fighting, weapon retention and wrestling, you need strength.
Again, think of it as upgrading your car.
Granted, it’s not just laying down the money, you need to invest time and physical effort, but you can shape your body the way you want up to a point.
As a kid, my mother made me and my brothers swim like fish in the local health club.
Summer brake was worst, we trained everyday, 8AM for two hours.
In return we got good strong backs, good cardio and lung capacity, and that’s something you can’t put a price on when you grow up.
I’m sending my kid swimming as well.

Careful not to make a kid too young do weight lifting, get professional advice otherwise because it can ruin a young boy’s body .
The body should be fully developed before doing serious weight lifting, so it will depend a lot on age. Some say 15 to start lifting, others say 18.
All I know is that I knew two kids from school that overdid it while in their teens, 15 or so, and they ended up with nice looking muscles but lost several inches of the height they would have otherwise, one even had growth problems in his legs and needed surgery just to keep walking, forget about running for the rest of his life.
Both ended up noticeably short, specially when compared to their parents and brothers.

Bench work, barbell and dumbbells of various weights. I do a bit of each at least 3 times a week to keep arms and torso strong.

This website has some good exercises.

No, not suggesting people to get into body building, but the neck exercises pictured are similar to the ones my chiropractor gave me when I hurt my neck, and the rest also sounds like good sound advice.
I don’t care for that kind of looks, but it’s good to have a strong neck, shoulders, back and strong up upper body generally speaking.

Self Defense training

Whatever it is you do, do it often and practice it a lot.
Personally, I believe a combination of box, Muay Thai, BJJ (or some other grappling/wrestling technique you like, such as Judo) is the best combination.

You’ll need a partner to spar with. Real sparring with gloves and mouthpiece is the only thing that works for preparing for what you may encounter on the street.
Run away from instructor that teach self defense but claim the stuff they teach is too deadly and can’t be sparred with full contact.

Of course you’re not going to pop your partner’s eye out, kick him in the groin or crush his windpipe, but other than that you can do all the kicking and punching you desire, and in particular submissions work just like they do on a real fight, the difference being that you wont care if your attacker tried to tap out.

A boxing heavy bag becomes mandatory for any self defense involving punching and kicking, and there’s this great full scale dummies used to practice wrestling that would be neat for practicing submission moves and locks on the floor.
Don’t own one myself but doesn’t look that difficult to make on your own.

The speed bag is also something you’ll eventually want to get, for fast hands and coordination.
The humble jumping rope will get your feet in shape.


Most of these are all mandatory in Argentina
At birth, I got BCG (anti tuberculosis) and anti hepatitis B
From the first month of life onwards, I got SABIN for polio
MMR (measles, mumps y rubella) The VZV shot, commonly called chicken pox.
Antihepathitis A.
Diphtheria, Pertussis, tetanus and Hemophilic influenza type b infections. Tetanus shots.
Getting flu shots once a year isn’t a bad idea either.

There’s somewhat of a debate in USA regarding vaccines and side effects.
There’s no debate here. You’d be an idiot not to get them, given that in recent years we’ve seen many of these diseases believed eradicated resurge, and many kids die because of them.

Best thing you can do is to talk with a doctor you trust about this.
But there’s a catch though.
Your doctor might not think a certain vaccine is really necessary, given that your doctor probably is not a survivalist, and he’s not taking into account the possibility of a more poor, dirtier population in the future, with viruses thought extinct coming back. Yellow fever and dengue just to mention a couple.
As long as there’s no significant serious side effect, get them covered, especially the ones that are common in third world country since these are the ones that may show up as general social health standards to go down along the crisis.


How would you manage without your eye? Oh, I do applaud those that even blind mange to go through life better than most but it is a true handicap, specially when SHTF or when you have to manage in a more brutal society.
I’ve needed glasses almost all my life, but even at a young age I couldn’t find myself wearing glasses.
Maybe others have different experiences and that’s dandy, but in Lomas de Zamora at age 13 wearing glasses was a social death sentence, since any weakness would be exploited.
Right away I refused to wear them and went directly to contacts, only wearing glasses maybe to watch TV or read at night.

Once you grow up? Things change little.
While GQ and Maxim magazine may say glasses make men look sophisticated, your pal FerFAL tells you social predators will see weakness in your glasses, and they are indeed something you don’t want to have in your nose when getting hit.:)
Safety glasses and google are another story, but a piece of glass, and one that you need to see your enemy is not something you want to rely on.
The solution?
For me it came in the form of LASIK.
I didn’t hesitate as I signed the paper that said I acknowledged the possibility of loosing my eyeballs during surgery.
People feel sick in the stomach when you mention the possibility, but for me it was a risk small enough worth taking, when weighted against the benefits.
Glasses ..100 USD with your MasterCard.
LASIK, 1000 USD ..cash..:p
Upgrading your eyes and never again having to reply on contacts, glasses, worrying about getting eye solution, loosing your contacts when getting punched… priceless.

This is what I talk about when I compare your body to a tuned up car. You get what you get in life, but it’s up to you to make the most out of it.
Mind set is terribly important for a survivalist or prepper, for any person than not only wants to survive, but succeed in survival and in every other aspect of life, reaching his maximum potential.
Think of everything you can do to better yourself:
Loose weight, workout, get your eyes fixed, your teeth, having a beauty mark/mole that is a bit too dark removed (skin cancer), fix and improve everything you can about yourself.

Getting rid or a mole today sounds ridiculously silly.
Will you be able to pay for it in the future?
Will you have a doctor available to get it done?