- After Economic Collapse, Deep Poverty Makes Dignity a Casualty
- "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
- "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
- 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
- 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
- The one
thing everyone agrees on, however, is that there is no easy
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.
record number of Argentines, more than half, live below the official poverty
- Argentina long had the largest middle class,
proportionally, in Latin America, and one of the continent's most equitable
distributions of wealth.
- Then came "El Corralito."
- "There is not enough trash to go around for
- Rosario, a city of 1.3 million
residents 200 miles northwest of Buenos Aires and long known as
"the Chicago of Argentina."
- 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