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Americans Fleeing The US For Argentina?

March 22nd, 2009 | Categoría: Culture


clarinEvery six months or so local newspapers like Clarín and La Nación write stories about foreigners living in Argentina. The articles usually refer to expats who have blogs or own businesses here. La Nación has had two such pieces so far this year and Clarín has just come out with this one.

The premise of Clarin’s story, if one can call it that, is that Americans are fleeing the crisis-ridden U.S. to escape to Argentina. Clarín’s evidence: a few interviews and immigration data that show a 12% increase in the number of Americans (742) who applied for permanent residency last year.

But most Americans didn’t really start to feel or think about the financial crisis until the fall of 2008. Clarín doesn’t break the immigration data down by months or quarters, so it’s hard to know, from the data, if more people really started immigrating to Argentina because of meltdown on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, the upward trend in immigration to Argentina started in 2002-2003, when Argentina suddenly became a cheap place to live. Immigration to Argentina was rising even when the U.S. economy was still booming.

Nonetheless, it would surprise nobody if the U.S. crisis has led to an uptick in American emigration. (On a related note, I also know of Americans here who say Barack Obama’s election has made them want to move back to the U.S.)

In any case, Argentina is a great place to be for multiple reasons, not just because it’s comparatively inexpensive. (I first came here in 1995, when Argentina was the opposite of cheap, but it was fabulous nevertheless.) Still, the local stories about foreigners always seem to have the same feel, they often quote the same people, and they nearly always talk about the exchange rate. Typically, the stories are neither original, insightful or even particularly interesting. This time, however, Clarín included a video, in English, in which its foreign subjects discuss some of their reasons for making the move. You can see the video (and the rest of the article) here.

*Kudos to Brian Byrnes for passing this along.

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TamiNo Gravatar says:

It is beautiful: country, people and everything and anything else :)

Anonymous says:

It is not that cheap.
You have to pay in cash every morsel of food.
You have no credit cards.
The most a debit card, product of your deposits, or you own income.
Everything has to be paid cash, you are a specimen of some other planet.
People used to say that my face is not from around here. …YOU FEEL ISOLATED
(I was worn in BS.AS) spending 36 years in USA.
I am here for the same old reason, like visiting family members and listenning to their ordeal, a long list of basic neccesities.
But even throughut this crisis, they have time to take a whole months vacation time, they never miss a futbol game, never miss the beauty parlor….or eating out.And all of them have a cell phone that I never had in all my years of hard work. Just to receive calls and days of work , no tv, no photos….to take.
And the family does not give a dime about knowing that your income is from retirement.
They believe that you are rich, and you are not.
Again do not make yourself wrong calculatinons , the figures are not as cheap as you say.
You have to pay and some times more, because your face doesnt look from here, like you are here, but you do not belong here….
In the finals, if you dare to have money to cover your butt, and can not help the rest of the family…. let say, in a monthly amount of money you will finish isolated, just because they hate someone who looks from up north .And is such a miserable h de p
You have no plan de salud, no social security here, no health insurrance if you get sick, no one cares that you have to pay peso sobre peso, for any contingency.

Beatrice MNo Gravatar says:

We were put in touch with the reporters as possible interview candidates. They had a preconceived idea about what was going on and needed bodies to fill that idea out. Our story didn’t fit in their box, so we weren’t used and frankly, I’m glad. Seems like reverse reporting if you ask me. You should gather data and then test the hypothesis, not the other way round, or am I just naïve.

Yanqui MikeNo Gravatar says:

In fact, I’m pretty familiar with stories of yanquis going BACK to the US due to la crisis.

Retirees’ investment income down, parents beginning to wonder if they can continue remittances to children here, the lack of employment for foreigners, dwindling income for those that have “off-shored themselves” to here, all seem to me to point to a reduction in the expat community.

This is a wonderful place …so the attraction is obvious. I wish any new arrival well and I hope they’re fulfilled. The trend seems to be going the other way, tho.

TaosNo Gravatar says:

Hi Beatrice,

Very interesting. You’re exactly right.

This seems to be evidence of lazy journalism. Sometimes if a reporter has all the facts he needs to confirm a story, he will search out a certain kind of quote knowing that he’s certain about the underlying truth of the story or trend he’s reporting on. In this case, a reporter is just looking for a quote that will help highlight or explain the idea in a clearer and possibly more authoritative manner. But too often lazy or inexperienced reporters come up with a story idea not because they know or have confirmed that it’s story, but rather just because they think it is or have a hunch that it is. In this case, they seek confirmation by interviewing and quoting only people who they think will back up the thesis of their story. This is a dangerous form of journalism that can lead to stories that are no only not well research but are, in reality, untrue.

I’m not sure if that’s what happened here, but given what Yanqui Mike wrote here, it sure seems like the people behind this story failed to think it through carefully and they certainly failed to research the piece in a comprehensive way. In short, they left out key facts and trends, some of which Mike pointed to in his comment. By doing so, they leave readers with a story that is incomplete at best and misleading at worst. You’re definitely not “just naive.”

Take care and thanks for the feedback,

taosNo Gravatar says:

Hey Mike,

This is really interesting and the fact that Clarin didn’t mention any of this just underscores how incomplete their story is. When you put together what you and Beatrice have said here, it’s pretty hard not to conclude that Clarin did a pretty lame job with this.

Take care,

Yanqui MikeNo Gravatar says:

The story could be important in at least one sense. Most people here automatically associate North Americans and Europeans with being rich. It’s automatic, almost hard-wired, and since most people have never encountered anything that contradicted that stereotype …it’s accepted as truth.

If this story gets any traction, people may begin to look at extranjeros as being suddenly of two types: the rich and the deadbeats. Sort of like it was for me during the Bush administration; when introduced to strangers as being from the US, people would be a bit guarded with me until they realized I was a Democrat.

People might begin to be a bit reserved with foreigners until they can assure themselves which of the two groups we fall into.

CeeNo Gravatar says:

Yes, Argentina is great. It’s so great that americans are fleeing their country to come and live here!!!

… seriously, Clarin is too amarillo for my taste. I almost have to read between the lines all the time in order to get the story straight. It seems as if they’re trying to remind us, argentines, how great our country is and that we have it better than others. Really sad if you think about it.

Hello, Taos;
As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist working with foreign patients in Buenos Aires for over 10 years now, I was recently interviewed by CURRENT, from Hollywood, Ca, about the effects of the 2001 crisis in Argentina, aiming at prevention and design of coping strategies to apply in the US at present (I was amazed to hear that there is even a neologism “argentinitis”, used to describe symptoms in US citizens affected by its effects!).
If you are interested in running a feature on this subject, I´d be pleased to send you my colaboration.
Yours sincerely,
Dr. Laura Elizabeth Turner

taosNo Gravatar says:

Hi Laura,

Many thanks for your offer. And how nice to see another Turner around here!

I’ll send you an email separately.


BrianNo Gravatar says:

Hi Taos,
After reading the Clarin article and watching the video,I would like to make the following comments.As I mentioned in a previous message I am a native New Yorker who has been resident in Argentina since 1978.Cosequently,I have witnessed a lot of comings and goings of Americans in that time.However there are some historical facts of which you should be aware.
1) It is not at all new that Argentina experience this type of temporary immigration. Argentina has traditionally been known in Spain,at least,as “el pais de la segunda oportunidad-the second chance country “.It has been that for me an American as well.Also,the “inmigracion golondina-the swallow immigration” largely from Italy when more than 50% of the arrivals returned home after short stays of a few years around the times of the first and second world wars is widely known.The influx of Americans here during the convertibility years 1992 to 2001,most of whom fled with its demise, is especially indicative of this situation.
2) I enjoy your blog because you appear to be genuinely interested in that Argentina do well and seem to correctly wonder,as do many foreigners, as to why it does not.Maybe the following “refran criollo-creole refran” will hep to explain .” Rio revuelto,ganancia de pescadores-A choppy river makes for great fishing” It is to the decided advantage of many people “in the driver’s seat” here to keep things hectic
and changing because they benefit greatly from this turmoil.This game has existed at least since the 1930s with the first military takeover.
3) As Gerardo Sofofich once said,Argentines,at least porteños,generally can be divided into 2 main groups-Xenophobes and Xenophiles.I would say that there is a 3rd group as defined by the FORJA movement of Ugarteche ( 1920-1960) “Ni cipayos, ni tinglados-Neither lackeys of things foreign,nor shantytown dwellers”which,aside from its rather brash sounding motto was considerably intellectual and middle of the road. All this considerably predates the Bush presidency.I am an indepentent,however,I do not remember the Republican Ronald Reagan as being especially disliked here.I do not agree with political labels on people and ideas.In my view,there is a lack of democratic criteria in this type of thinking.
4) Finally, I hope that the new arrivals find what the are looking for and stay if they and the Argentine government are in agreement on that point.

Tony says:

I need help for an Argentina Gentlemen here in the U.S.A. He came to the U.S. with a North American he paid for his own ticket. The North American has dumped him out in Elkhorn WI, he has no money to get home to Argentina. The North American paid for him to live in a room, and the rent is due no one has paid it. The young 22 yr old Agrgentina man has no money, his passport the lady that they rented the room from has it. Won’t give it back till the rent is paid. The young man can’t get a job, no social Security Number. He is desparate he doesn’t know the english language he needs someone to help him. I speak butchered spanish so I’m no help to him. I leave for India and he needs someone to help him. I need someone to talk with him and try to get someone in Chicago Consulate to help him. He could hurt himself if he doesnt’ get help soon.

TabbyNo Gravatar says:

I have been coming back and forth from the US to Argentina for a bit now. I honestly have only met maybe 5 Americans out here, so I really don-t think too many are coming down. I tell everyone back home not to come here, in fact, because it’s an absolute nightmare trying to make a living here. I have an Argentine boyfriend that makes 2700, I make 800 teaching English and our apartment we’re renting cost 1500. Food is crazy expensive here and we never have enough money to eat during the last week each month. If you expect to come here and make a great life avoiding the crisis in the US, just forget about it. I’m going back home whenever I can afford a ticket.

AnyaNo Gravatar says:

My husband and I are are Americans and seriously considering a move to Argentina; if not permanent, then at least for a year or so. I teach high school English. Could I find a job there? We have kids, so can you please tell me how it works with schools there? Is it really so expensive everywhere you go? How does it work with health insurance? Any other practical advice? Anything will be appreciated!


blueridgeNo Gravatar says:

Well George W Bush bought a large piece of vacant property in Argentina, so that must mean something. What does he know?

From my research the place that is growing and is better for Americans to transition to is Belize. Interestingly, the Amish began to move there a long time ago before retirees did. You just have to stay away from the coast and occasional hurricanes.

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