Thursday, August 13, 2009

Policia and "Villas Miseria" in Argentina

Saludos... It appears that the recent public demonstrations in various parts of Argentina in protest against the government's lack of ability to stem the huge increases in crime are having results. The Policia Prefectura are all over the Mar del Plata downtown area where I live. They are stopping cars day and night... I guess they are looking for DWI drivers using roadblocks. My wife reported they are also rounding up teenagers who are chemically impaired while walking on the downtown streets. Some of her middle school students are among those detained... soething the local cops don't usually do. One can see them in their specially equiped van-type vehicles in large numbers all over the highest crime areas... a very visible deterrant.

I don't know if this is the first time federal troops have been used in local crime supression.

The following article shows that the pharmacy murders allegedly by Mexican narcotraficantes over the psuedo-ephedrine traffic last year are also having results.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentine customs officers have seized more than four tons of a chemical that can be used to make methamphetamine during an investigation into drug traffickers with ties to Mexico.
Mario Crespo, director of investigations for the customs service, says a total of 4.2 metric tons (4.6 tons) of pseudoephedrine was confiscated at several government warehouses at the port in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. No arrests were made.
Carlos Stornelli, justice minister for the province, says the drug seizure is related to an investigation into a clandestine meth lab that was discovered near Buenos Aires last year at which nine Mexicans were arrested.

Captn. Rick

Hi Rick, hope you're doing well.
That's good news in terms of security, because “prefectura” is better at fighting crime and as you note, the militarized thing they have going on is a better deterrent. Of course its far from ideal because the police shouldn’t be a militarized force but its common practice in Buenos Aires. Same for gendarmería.
Do you remember the “gendarme” that was murdered last year(was it Fuerte Apache?)? I remember the comments from the neighbors were all very positive, they liked having gendarmería keeping a firm grip on things, keeping the goblins at bay so the honest inhabitants of the “villa” could have a better life.

Villa in Rosario, Argentina

About “villas miseria”, these are shanty towns and slums where there’s no formal street or sidewalk, just dirt passages that sort of form by themselves almost organically, as people build their shacks with metal sheet, cardboard, plastic sheets or whatever they can find.

This is what "Below the poverty line" means in Argentina: Not enough money a month to buy the needed calories to survive.
How many? 26% of the population as of 2004 according to INDEC. INDEC being manipulated by the K government, today we dont know how many live in these conditions.

These places have no formal floor other than the dirt and earth they sit on, and conditions are pretty bad.
They all have improvised illegal power connections but that’s where all luxuries end.
I interviewed people from “villa Carton”, as part of a special emergency Architecture project.
As the name implies, the place was full of cardboard and paper collected by the “cartoneros”, the scavengers that inhabited it.

"Cartonero" in Buenos Aires, one of the thousands that invade the city each night.

A fire, supposedly intentional, turned the place into firebomb and the people lost what little they had.

The more recent villa miseria I found near by in Ing. Bunge is a sight to behold. Looks like one of Dante’s circles of hell.
Imagine a junkyard, as wide and the eyes can reach and also gets lost in the horizon ahead. No imagine the place is flooded. Now imagine shacks with families living there.
I kid you not, as my wife said, even our dogs live better than those people. At least the kennel is dry.

People looking for food or trash to sell.

These people have a foot of water inside the shack as soon as they climb out of their soaked mattresses.
These villas are a politicians favorite dish: Poor, ignorant people willing to sell their vote for a few bucks and some false promises, each one procreating and making 4 or 5 new poor, ignorant and desperate voters. What an evil machinery.
Some of these villas have evolved, like villa 31, where the shacks were replaces by brick and mortar improvised homes. Still illegal in many ways, most have illegal power connections, but little by little the lucky ones evolve into real neighborhoods.



Anonymous said...

A long time ago I was looking for some article in local newspapers from 1962 when I came upon an article about the misery villages. Misery villages apparently date all the way back to the 1940s, according to the article. At some point, rents were frozen at 1944 levels, so nobody was able to move out of their apartments, therefore newcomers had no place to live, so they built tin shacks which were the first misery villages. Apparently there were few shantytowns before Peron.

Here in the US we have such a deep reservoir of houses from the boom years, especially 1920s and 1948-73, along with a couple smaller booms, that we don't have shantytowns per se. If somebody is too poor to afford a cheap house, they generally live in a tent, so we have tent cities. But we have so many old houses that are so cheap that the tent cities don't grow to any size.

We have slumlords who rent out the houses at very low rates, and while overall it may be just a step above a shanty, at least there is electricity and natural gas and running water and sewers. We also have the trailer people who live in old prefabricated houses and recreational vehicles. The trailer parks are the closest thing we have to a misery village.

I've lived in an old RV myself, and while it was no picnic I still had electricity and a flushing toilet and some running water although it was undrinkable. I even had an internet connection via dial up. I popped out a window and installed an air conditioner, so it was tolerable in the summer.

Usually the tent cities have people who are on drugs, or the mentally ill. Everybody else has some indoor housing, even if it's an RV or an old "tract house" from the 1950s. San Francisco even has squatters that live in abandoned apartment buildings, and they have their own union!

We have cartoneros, people who collect cans and bottles and cardboard. When I lived in San Francisco the Chinese businesses would set their cardboard by the curb, and at night Mexicans driving old rattletrap pickup trucks would come and haul it away. The old trucks would really groan under the weight of all that cardboard! In the US, there are so many old cars that anybody who passes the license exam can have a car, even if it doesn't run very well. Some people live in their cars.

ROADKING said...