Abandoned to fate or the indifferent generosity of some institution. In the best case there is poorly-paid work; if not they are resigned to collecting rubbish, either roaming the city as human-powered vehicles or fishing directly in the dump. This is how around 200 families live in what’s left of some old train warehouses in the city of Córdoba.
Emerging during the wave of neo-liberalism in the 1970s, Villa Los Galpones is perhaps a metaphor of a country whose villas (slums) continue to grow. This is no longer due to railways being shut down or companies going bankrupt but as a result of the forced displacement of people from inner cities or from the rural interior of the country amid the ever-expanding agricultural frontier.
Unofficial estimates suggest the population of Villa Los Galpones doubled in size between 2006 and 2014. It’s a population that maintains a complex and sometimes tense relationship with the surrounding neighbourhoods. A population constantly hassled by the provincial police and their now infamous raids, police that hide-out in some of the abandoned warehouses that are blocked off to the villa. There are victims and culprits, but all demand to be treated as citizens, to have rights, especially over the land in which they live, the right to urbanise.
Above all, this piece of land in one of the most traditional neigbourhoods of Córdoba city, just 15 blocks from the centre, is home for these families. It is the place they belong, and for many, the only place they know and want.
All photos by Ignacio Conese.