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Fear and Loathing in Buenos Aires

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The great urban sprawl of Buenos Aires at sunset (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Let’s face it: Buenos Aires is a big city, with almost three million inhabitants in the city proper and approximately ten million in the surrounding greater metropolitan areas (2010 Census), and we all know that crime is a by-product of all urban centres throughout the world.  But despite realistic expectations of crime, here there is an underlying unease, a pervading sense that crime is everywhere, that no place is safe anymore.

Just how safe or unsafe really is Buenos Aires?

The Facts

It turns out, for the present, that Argentina remains one of the safest nations in Latin America, (see Figure 1 rates of victimization, or page 128 of this report) and that the rates for heinous crimes, such as murder, have steadily gone down since 2002, as has all crime in general. (see Figure 2).  At present, Buenos Aires marks 4.6 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, more than a 40% reduction since the early naughts, making it a safer place than Toronto, Canada. And although Latin America in general has high crime rates, Argentina is far below the world average on all counts (see Figure 3 3rd graph).

This would seem to be good news, and yet the data has not been heralded far and wide. Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that Spanish does not differentiate between the words ‘safety’, as in the objective sense of public safety, and ‘security’, as in the subjective feeling of confidence; seguridad is the word used to describe both the objective and the subjective state. In Argentina, the term is almost always heard in a negative connotation, that is, inseguridad, or insecurity, which makes it difficult to tell when a person is referring to their emotional state or the alleged crime wave.

At present, fear of crime or inseguridad approximately doubles the crime rate. According to various polls, including Latinobarometro and TNS Gallup, crime and delinquency are what most worry all Latin Americans and Argentines are no different, where fear of being victimized has been a growing fear since 2003.

Dispersing in the night at the end of a protest (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

Paradoxically, most Argentines appear to associate the start of the feeling of inseguridad with the events of the last decade, when hyperinflation and poor management brought on by the inept economic policies of previous administrations caused widespread panic and riots. Nonetheless, there is an inverse correlation between economic well-being and the feeling of inseguridad. In other words, the feeling of insecurity has increased along with economic well-being and a reduction in crime, instead of decreasing, as would be expected.

What is worrisome in this situation is that Argentines apparently are not moved by or are ignorant of the facts of the decreased crime rates and are adopting behavioural measures to protect themselves against potential and unidentified threats. These measures can vary from iron bars and security cameras to changing routes or avoiding going out entirely. But the cause of the fear or inseguridad remains unclear, because an object or situation in and of itself does not cause fear; it is the lack of control that one has over it which gives rise to the fear.

Polarisation of Society

The Argentine obsession with its own insecurity is arguably the result of the removal of those authoritarian (i.e., fascist) tendencies that characterized the political leanings of the country during most of the twentieth century. In fact, many sectors of the population can be heard to describe a utopian period “before” when “things were safer”. Other, more reactionary, sectors are clearer and make reference to an “unsafe democracy versus a safe dictatorship”.

Apparently not all crimes are equal in the minds of the Argentines: what unsettles people is the randomness or anonymity of some crimes, or the presence of an unknown sinister figure behind them, as well as the possibility that the criminal escapes unpunished, all themes that recall the situation under the last dictatorship. Thus crimes which include some form of kidnapping, torture (either psychological or physical), and murder are those which occupy a larger part of the Argentine imagination precisely because they recall those crimes against humanity (albeit these are much less frequent than deaths caused by vehicular collision which is the principal cause of death among those under age 35 and the third cause of death for the rest of the population, after circulatory disorders and cancer). And although there are few murders and even fewer of these of the kidnapping/torture type, the media follow them with morbid detail, to the degree that it appears that a murderer is lurking on every corner. Do local media faithfully represent the nature of crime in Argentina or do they exaggerate it? And if they exaggerate it, what incentives could there be to do so?

The Media

From the 80s to the 90s crime reporting gradually migrated from sensationalist publications, usually printed in capital letters, to the principal newspapers and television stations, and along with them the image of a distant ‘abnormal’ criminal morphed into a threat to middle and upper class sensibilities, and thus a matter of public safety. Since the dawn of the millennium, the crime section of the major newspapers is a permanent feature, and in fact, out of 14 Latin American newspapers, Argentine newspapers have the highest rate of crime reporting. Curiously, crime that affects the lower strata of the socio-economic divisions is rarely represented in the media, as if the crime that afflicts the poor is of no consequence. In addition, the media in other countries typically underreport crime in order to protect business and tourism interests, yet in Argentina business has never been better and every season hits a new record for tourism despite the virtual reality portrayal of crime.

Locked up tight (Photo: Paulo Santa Rosa)

Nonetheless polls and reporting that spout statistics such as “in 2005, 83% of the population was victim to some crime or knew some victim” (La Nación 06/13/06) or “every three hours someone is murdered in Buenos Aires” (La Nación 03/09/03) give the impression that society is overcome by crime, when indeed, the reliability of such statistics should be studied. Many polls are carried out by organizations controlled by the same media instruments, as in the first case, and the statistical methodology in others is suspect, above all when numbers of crimes are not computed in relation to the population and population growth figures, as in the second case. In fact it is not clear whether the increase in crime observed during the transition period from dictatorship to democracy (1983-91 approximately) is in reality just an increase in the reporting of crime. In this case the use of outdated statistics and a revisionist view of the past would lead one to believe that the city was indeed safer during the 70s and 80s.

So why is there a misrepresentation of crime rates? One reason is obvious: money. More interestingly, there is a burgeoning commercial incentive to maintaining the public in a state of constant fear. For just one niche in this hefty area, security services, the Argentine Chamber for Security and Detective Agencies estimates that business is booming at an average of 5% growth rate per year since 2006; just during the year 2010 they netted over two billion dollars, and they project better numbers for the present year. The president of said Chamber, Aquiles Gorini, however, is an ex-federal policeman, part of the generation of cops that was trained during the last dictatorship under the auspices of the notorious School of Americas, or as it is now known, The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. For most Argentines, the presence of more policemen, especially policemen trained by ex-military/ex –policemen, is not a comforting thought. And indeed, the NGO Centre for Legal Studies (CELS), reported that there was a 12% increase in unwarranted police violence from June 2008 to June 2009.

The second, not so obvious scenario, would, of course, respond to the political agendas that those publications wish to promote – such as the removal of the present administration from power or to distract the public from official achievements. It has been legitimately established that crime shows the insufficiency of any given government and gives the impression that the administration is not in control of the situation.

This in turn explains why the media focuses on crime that affects the middle to upper classes:  because these typically a) have enough money to buy security products and/or insurance and b) are able to influence the political agenda.

The Profile of a Criminal

Police detaining a young man by Claudio

The threatening image of crime projected by the mainstream media here, however, often shows socially and economically underprivileged young males, though paradoxically the crime rates show that this figure is most often the victim of crime and not the criminal: “according to a 2007 UN Children’s Fund and National Secretariat for Human Rights report, juvenile facilities held approximately 20,000 children, 20 percent of whom were under age 16. The overwhelming majority had not committed a crime; rather, they were abandoned by their families or considered ‘at risk’ for other reasons.”

According to the World Health Organization, the rate of murders by youths in Argentina is among the lowest in the region, only Uruguay and Chile ranking lower.

'Long Live Videla' graffitied across a public advert in San Isidro (Photo: Patricia Di Filippo)

Nevertheless, the similarity between the media launching of the threatening criminal delinquents of today’s society bears much in common with the ‘subversive delinquents’ described by the de facto government of the military junta in the 70s. Junta leader Jorge Rafael Videla defined thus the ‘enemy’ that supposedly Argentine society confronted during the dictatorship: “a terrorist is not only someone with a gun or a bomb, but anybody that disseminates ideas that are contrary to Western Christian civilisation.” The purpose of the ‘Process of National Reorganization’ as the dictatorship was euphemistically called by its perpetrators was manifestly to systematically weed out this ‘enemy’. And unfortunately, the newspapers that spread this message during the dictatorship are the same that today are publishing sensationalist misinformation about crime.

Under this framework then, the attitudes shown by Argentines to either maintain a safe distance from and/or punish severely ‘delinquents’ or ‘criminals’ can be understood as tendencies towards new expressions of authoritarianism. Although most people probably would not ally themselves with policies that directly criminalize the poor, or youths in general, in their attempts to protect themselves, they might vote to increase punitive measures which further alienate entire sectors of the population undeservedly. As Hobbes famously said in Leviathan: “mankind will exchange liberty for security”. Therefore the question remains: Is the fear or inseguridad felt today in Argentina the result of decades of social conditioning against a threatening ‘other’, (howsoever society wishes to classify or define the ‘otherhood’ of the threat during any given period)? Or should we just write this off as an expression of, as Oriana Falacci once put it, “the little fascist that Argentines carry within.”

Genocidal Tendencies

Graffiti at Plaza de Mayo calling for 'Justice and Punishment' of those responsible for the military dictatorship. (Photo: Oriana Eliçabe)

According to Daniel Feierstein, UN expert on Human Rights and doctor of social sciences at the UBA, the distinction between the concept of warfare and that of genocide in the Argentine context is key to understanding the national idiosyncrasy. By describing the dictatorship in terms of warfare, the general public becomes the collective victim of two hostile factions, instead of assuming the corresponding degree of responsibility for the events that occurred thereto. As collective victim, the public at large exposes itself to a repetition of the same events, and indeed, it is this sense of ‘immanent victimisation’ which Kessler uses to best describe the Argentine angst with regards to crime and safety. In short, there was no ‘dirty little war’ as it is often called. There was no civil war, no warring faction, nothing at all that could be defined as warfare during the period when Argentina was under the military’s de facto government. There was genocide: the conscious and systematic effort of hegemonic powers to eliminate anything and everything that could be construed as opposition to their plan. But to date, this period in history is not generally recognized nor labelled as genocide, not even by Argentines, a fact that impedes the capacity of the population to find closure, meaning, and peace. In short, until the period of repression is understood and accepted as genocide, the Argentine society will continue to place itself in the position of ‘victim’ when faced with situations that are ‘threatening’.

Curiously, a liberal, atheistic/agnostic, and well-educated Argentine would be immune to such fears about his/her safety, which would seem to give further proof to a recent study carried out by the University College London that shows that traditional leftist or liberal thinking shows more grey matter in a part of the brain “associated with understanding complexity”. As published in Current Science, the study found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdales, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. People with a large amygdale are “more sensitive to disgust” and tend to “respond to threatening situations with more aggression than do liberals and are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions”. Here again, what causes fear is not an object or situation, but the lack of control over them; thus an authoritarian regime tries to bring all aspects of society under its control.

Freakonomics

We are here for your protection (Photo: Sebastián Dario)

Prize-winning economist, Steven D. Levitt in the book and documentary ‘Freakonomics’, explains the main reason why crime rates went down in the US in the 90s: the legalization of abortion in the 70s. While a discussion about the polemical nature of these claims is beyond the scope of this article, it is of interest to note what occurred in Argentina during the same time periods. From the time leading up to the 1976 coup d’etat all the way through to the fall of the military junta in 1982, the army succeeded in eliminating ‘the subversive threat’ by abducting, torturing, and murdering an estimated 30,000 people, the Desaparecidos or Missing Ones, most of them in their reproductive prime at the time of their disappearance. Although in this case it was the parents who were ‘aborted’ and not their unborn children, the effect on crime should be similar to the phenomena in the US given that the population cohort represented by the Desaparecidos embodied the ‘threats to society’. Nonetheless crime went up in the 90s in Argentina, when the generation raised during the ‘Process’ came into their ‘criminal prime’ which would lead one to conclude (perhaps hastily) that the military dictatorship killed off the law-abiding sector and left themselves, the real criminals, to breed. To further confirm these suspicions, crime went down in 2003, right when the ‘children of democracy’ came of age, another sign that something is wrong with the perspective that justifies authoritarianism as a legitimate replacement for democracy.

But perhaps the most serious situation arises from the efforts the developing world still directs towards a system of government that will somehow solve its problems, instead of searching for more internal, domestic, or organic solutions, such as grassroots movements or community projects. It has been argued that the tendency towards authoritarianism per se is just the seeking of an exoskeletal structure that will ease the burden of government from the people themselves, and obviously apposite idea from the concept of democracy. There seems to be no middle ground here: either a government of the people, for the people and by the people, or a paternalistic, despotic, authoritarian regime where the citizen is freed of responsibility, but also of certain ‘inalienable’ rights, and freedoms, and at times, of life itself. It is clear that in order to overcome the feeling of insecurity that plagues the imaginations of Argentines, there must be some degree of co-responsibility for historical events, including the horrific ones occurring during the dictatorship: “Without a strong transformation of the processes by which we construct our identities, without a reformulation of the limits of our responsibility when faced by ‘others’, without the understanding that we are an undividable part of the social practices which arise in the societies in which we live, which therefore make us morally responsible for the effects felt thereto, there is no possibility of putting aside the genocide.”

For those who suffer from fear and loathing in Argentina, the Process continues.

Lead image by Diego Herrera

Information for this article was taken from the following principal sources:
Feierstein, Daniel. El Genocidio como practica social. (Genocide as Social Practice). Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2007.
Kessler, Gabriel. El Sentimiento de Inseguridad. (The Feeling of Insecurity) Siglo XXI, 2009.
Levitt, Steven D and Dubner Stephen J. Freakonomics. Harper, 2009.

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20 Responses to “Fear and Loathing in Buenos Aires”

  1. Roberto says:

    Muere mucha más gente joven por accidentes de tránsito, que pueden evitarse con una buena campaña de conscientización y prevención de accidentes, pero curiosamente, no hay debate sobre el tema, no hay programa de gobierno ni en la oposición política al respecto, a pesar de que está a la vista cotidianamente. Es una pena.
    La gente está más preocupada por el crimen, que tal como el artículo dice, no es tan grave en Buenos Aires, y en cambio sí es una característica grave de Buenos Aires la cantidad de muertes por accidentes de tráfico.

  2. Pablo says:

    I found much of this resonant and all of it interesting. Thank you for this insightful and provocative piece.

  3. camila says:

    Hi Diego,

    Experience leads me to disagree with you in regard to the percieved vs. the real safety in Buenos Aires. In your article you question the reliability of the medias statistics, however, what about the reliability of the facts you quote?

    As an Argentine, I can say that EVERYONE I know, including me, has had some kind encounter with street violence and theft, many at gunpoint, and house entering. I have also witnesed beatings, sometimes with objects, personally know someone who was kidnapped (2002-2003) and someone who was murdered (2010). Of the 6 thefts that ocurred to me, I didnt report any, as I didnt see a point to it. Experiences with the police include one time I went to report some guys who had been harassing me in my neighbourhood and the policeman was completely coked up. Also being sixteeen and comming back from a gym class in baggy sweatpants and a teeshirt and having them yell obscene things at me. I also know a woman whos violent boyfriend had a restraining order but cant be arested if he violates it unless he does it at least 3 times. I also personally know cases of rape and child abuse that have never been reported. (Which is another issue in itself because it speaks of a society that allows the violence to happen, then victimizing itself as your article noted).

    Furthermore, I would like to note, that criminal activity includes fraud and scams, which we are unfortunatly famous for as a culture. Cocain kitchens, (also a criminal activity), have also appeared since the 2001 crisis and the clear evidence of this is the consumption of paco.

    Even though I have been in petty theft and violence situations ein other countries I have lived in, neither theft nor violence were experienced on such a general level amongst the people I knew, leading me to think, it isnt as generalized. I did however find a fearfull tendency in the locals of these other, (in my opinion) safer, communities which would reflect an enhanced cultural perception of insecurity, something which I belive to be global, specially thanks to the media. The fact that social psycological insecurity exists however, doesnt make Argentina safe, neither does the afirmation that its safer than the rest of Latin America.

    I totally agree however on that we are a society that enables all these things to happen and take no responsibility about our own contribution to the violence around us. Until the opportunist vision is revised by all of us we will continue to act to our own benefit without considering the terrible consequence of a desintegrated community. We´ll probably continue complaining about it too…

  4. Clara says:

    Estoy de acuerdo con el comentario de Camila. Independientemente de que los argentinos somos paranoicos, y del aprovechamiento político y negocios que se pueden hacer con el tema, la realidad es que hay más inseguridad. Siempre hubo robos, pero no siempre fueron tan violentos…y también hablo por haberlo vivido en carne propia.
    Me parece que tampoco es sensato comparar a Bs As con otras ciudades latinoamericana que tienen otra historia y otra realidad.
    Por otra parte no me parece mal que los medios hablen del tema, si el resto de los países quieren tapar la realidad allá ellos, yo quiero que la muerte nos siga movilizando, no me quiero acostumbrar!

  5. haroldo says:

    As an expat, in the 4 1/2 years I lived here, I’ve experienced more crime here, (not just scams but violent crime too,) than ANY place else I have lived. I hate to think that Argentina is the safest Latin American country. I sure don’t want to live anywhere else in South America. I plan to move in the coming future. BA is just not that safe any more. Personally I believe much of what the media says is true and that most crimes here go unreported. Good article though…….

  6. Celina says:

    It’s obvious that crime statistics are not entirely trustworthy because many crimes go unreported. However there are two important issues: the first one is that the article quotes mainly statistics about murders, which are the most trustworthy ones because everyone who dies gets a death certificate with the cause of death, so this doesn’t depend on people reporting it to the police or not. We can also assume that under-reporting is an issue in other Latin American countries so in a comparison they could also be valid. The other point is that another possible way to measure crime rates is through surveys where people are asked the questions. A real survey has a method and a sample population adequate in terms of size, age and socio-economic representation. It’s not based on “all the people I know got robbed”. I have never been the victim of crime and don’t think I know many people who have been, yet I don’t claim crime doesn’t exist simply because of this.
    As the article points out, the media play a big role in this. Also I don’t think the political gains of the situation are stressed enough -the old strategy of creating a problem in order to offer a solution. The last electoral campaign in 2009 showed this very clearly as one politician (De Narvaez) won the election on the back of his crappy “mapa de la inseguridad”.
    Finally -the writer of the article is called Patricia, not Diego.

  7. Fanny says:

    Genocide: “Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” – Article 2 of the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG).

    What happened in Argentina wasn’t a genocide. There were crimes against humanity and that’s utterly different. No doubts Argentine militaries were mentally sick and had been influenced by nazis practices, nevertheless the whole thing was about politics. Most of the desaparecidos (even if there were free murders too) were politically engaged and indeed, Argentina was on the verge of the civil war in the 70s because of rightist and leftist terrorism. To simplify historical facts won’t make it easier to understand.

  8. Elisabeth says:

    Es verdad que hay más inseguridad en otros países, pero eso tampoco nos exime. Yo no me llevo por lo que dicen los medios, generalmente estos te dan noticias opinadas o infladas, así que me llevo mas por mi experiencia personal. A pesar de haber tenido la suerte de nunca haber sido robada/estafada, se que hay inseguridad, me tengo que cuidar todo el tiempo, ya sea por evitar ciertos caminos o mantener los ojos en mi bolso para que nadie meta sus manos. Creo que esto me ha ayudado hasta ahora, pero desearía poder relajarme y no tener que estar pendiente todo el tiempo. Es por eso, pienso yo, que algunas personas sufren de tantos robos, como los turistas. Al no conocer el lugar, estar relajados, disfrutando, no saben que hay alguien que los observa.

  9. Celina says:

    I find the debate as to whether it should be called “genocide” or not to be quite sterile. However, and regardless of the definition quoted above and the one on the Rome Statute (which are definitions as political as anything else and therefore open to be debated), there is a big academic and political debate as to whether the term “genocide” should include political groups. In fact some national constitutions consider this to be the case.

    Anyway, throwing around the Teoría de los dos demonios -that is certainly trying to simplify historical facts, as well as being totally contradictory with the previous affirmation regarding the crimes against humanity. It’s one or the other.

  10. Werner says:

    Regarding statistics, while murder statistics suffer the least from reporting variations, murders are also at the extreme end of the spectrum of violence, and the incidence of other types of crime doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the murder rate.

    Furthermore, you also have to pay attention to who is murdering whom. For example, in areas with pronounced gang violence, your own risk of getting murdered would be substantially below average if you’re simply not part of a gang. Also, most murders tend to happen among people who are close acquaintances, e.g., members of the same family, while “inseguridad” is about violence brought upon us by strangers.

    Which brings us to the perception of control. What people are most afraid of are risks they can’t control, while they tend to be more relaxed about risks they think they can. This happens everywhere, not only in Argentina.

    Regarding fond memories of the “good old times” of dictatorship, we shouldn’t forget that the people who have those memories also got older. Do those who were 20-30 back then and who are 50-60 now feel they can fight back as good as they thought they could back then ? Probably not. So instead of the world around them having become more dangerous, they may simply have shifted to an age group that generally feels more vulnerable.

    Furthermore, many who lived with few responsibilities back then will have a family to protect now. This also adds new risks to worry about and changes the attention given to old ones.

    Last but not least, with age, the cumulative memory of violence one has suffered, directly or indirectly, only increases. This again twists the perception.

    – Werner

  11. Sarah says:

    just an FYI: political groups were originally included in the UN’s draft definition of “genocide” in 1948. But due to objections by member countries–including a number of Western countries and the USSR (at the time, headed by Josef Stalin) who argued against it–the term was excised so that the measure would pass.

  12. camila says:

    Thank you Celina for correcting my mistake, and my apologies to Patricia. (Diego is responsible for the lead image not for the article as noted).
    With regards to statistics, first of all, the article is about insecurity in Buenos Aires, not about murder, so basing the argument mostly on muerder rates is incomplete in itself. Also, underreporting is not the same everywhere. There are countries where people actually trust the police, that don’t just live with the assumption that crime is a part of their daily lives, and actually think its important to report it beacause thats a way to stop it. I dont think its the case here. Once more, stating that Buenos Aires is safer than other Latin American cities doesnt mean Buenos Aires doesnt have a growing security problem.
    Another thing to point out is that the article cuestions the reliability of the media surverys and statistics whilst accepting the oficial numbers. What makes the official ones more realible than the medias? Argentina is not exactly known for its transparency in that area. There are political gains in underplaying the crime rate to… as the inflation, which is also part of the national paranoia it would seem.
    Carrying out surveys to measure the crime rate, as you suggest, is of course a much more objective way of showing security issues in the city than biased accounts of personal experience, however, if the media cant be trusted, and the government cant be trusted, and the police is corrupt, (which doesn’t help in creating a sense of safety), who do you trust to carry them out and share the results with the community?

  13. Paul says:

    What a lot of rubbish. Anyone who has lived here for an extended period of time knows that the crime rate is very high. There may be more murders in other cities but there are endless robberies here. Crime in Canada gets reported; here it often doesn’t get reported. I would NOT report a break in to the police because they would come around and see my home, case it, and come back to rob. The police are useless anyway. Aside from being corrupt themselves, they are just plain incompetent at investigating crime – so why bother?

  14. Paul2 says:

    Great article! You have put many things spot on in my opinion. I am an expat living in BA since 2 years ago and, whilst not as safe as my country of origin, I think the media are doing a huge damage to society in their eternal search for new titles in block letters.

    The question really is not whether it is safer than before, or safer than Toronto or whatever. What I think everyone should ask themselves is: “Is it really as bad as media states? Who wants this news to be aired?”

    Without critical thinking we are giving away all initiative to people in charge of media and other power factors. Just by being aware you are making a statement: You can’t be pushed over just THAT easily…

  15. xbuenacausa says:

    Official data? only of murders? Safer than Toronto? jahjahja.
    This is not a press article but an essay, where everything can be said as long as it is justified (with official data jaja).

  16. Leticia says:

    Dear fellow travelers and ex-pats:

    If you have been scammed in Buenos Aires and would like to share your experience in a documentary, contatc leticia.meruvia@zigzag.uk.com

    We’re currently in production on a series about scams that tourists fall into in cities around the globe for National Geographic Europe.

    We want to provide an informative travel show that emphasizes each city as a travel destination but at the same time aims to make tourists aware of popular scams like the ones mentioned here.

    Many thanks!

  17. Walter says:

    You must be kinding me!!!We have lived in most big capital cities in the world and have never been asaulted. Here in the last 6 years, my wife and I have been assaulted 4 times including once with a gun. We dont know anyone who has not been assaulted.

  18. dennis says:

    this is South America.

    There are lots of people from bordering countries who do not represent those countries in a positive way. I love those countries when I am there but the fact is that most of the population that migrated to Argentina is not the intelligencia. I have been robbed three times by people of other countries in South America who live here.
    There is also a lack of police, corrupt or otherwise. I am totally amazed at the lack of police (I am not an authoritarian person) and when you speak to them, as I did when I witnessed a crime, they told me to speak to the federal police, not them.
    I have been here for some time now, years, and find the city to be more interested in complaining about how bad things are than doing anything about it, a kind of abused partner syndrome. Even the inflation could be dealt with by not buying ten kilos of meat or by simply boycotting, which is not part of the Argentine mentality, which leads me to believe that suffering is. I have never seen more people shrug their shoulders and ‘live with it’ than here. Part might be the hangover from the dictatorships, I don’t get the sense that people really care about each other and especially with the lack of police (when did you last see police on the subway?) when did you last see a 17 year old thief arrested? can’t. The longer I stay here the more I want to leave; the inflation rate may push me over the line but I get the sense that people are wired differently here. I was not born here and I don’t think that people take pleasure in suffering here, but they don’t seem to know much about what to do about it. Maybe there’s nothing . Government statistics about anything are a crock so I tend to doubt that the government really cares on a federal level. I think that San Jose, Costa Rica has more crime, and I have been victim to more theft in Peru than here, although I like Peru a lot and go there often. I get the feeling here that it’s everyone for him/herself and God against all.

  19. Jay Johnston says:

    Great article, but you reference it being safer than Toronto. I live in Tdot, and every single day I read about some kid getting shot on the sidewalk, murder here is EVERYDAY. So Toronto is not in the slightest but safe, rather bad comparison. A jail cell is safer than Toronto

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  1. Quora says:

    How safe is Buenos Aires for tourists?…

    Buenos Aires isn’t a dangerous city, but there are neighborhoods you shouldn’t visit as a tourist. It’s actually safer than most large US cities. Murder is worse in Austin, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and most others. If this seems surprising t…


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