The topic de jour in the United States these days is gun control. With the recent massacre of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, people are debating the issue as they haven’t done in decades.
The U.S. is a gun-loving nation is there ever was one. With an estimated 270 million civilian guns in the country, the U.S. has the world’s highest gun ownership rate. There are about nine guns for every 10 people in the U.S.
Even so, the U.S. does not have the highest gun death rate in the world. It is roughly the same as Argentina’s, with about 3 gun deaths for every 100,000 people.
The above chart, published here in The Atlantic, offers an interesting look at how gun death rates in different countries, including Argentina, compare with those of various U.S. cities.
Why compare cities with countries? For one thing, some of these countries have populations similar to those of U.S. cities. For another, it’s just interesting.
So, check out The Atlantic post for a better look at the issue. For a related post, click here to see how the murder rate in Buenos Aires compares with that of other major world cities.
*Hat tip to E for this post
In a bizarre, rambling speech Tuesday, President Cristina Kirchner said the “majority of Europeans are xenophobic.”
Here’s the verbatim script from the relevant part of the speech, in which the president appeared exceptionally, inexplicably elated:
“You, where are you from, Coqui (she’s referring to Chaco Province Governor Jorge Capitanich), you’re dark but you’re not indigenous, right? You’re from Montenegro. Where are you from? This dark guy, and he looks kind of indigenous, but don’t be fooled, alright, he’s from Europe, from the Europe that’s pretty xenophobic. Alright, let’s see, where are you from? Well, the europeans are, the majority are xenophobic. Uuuhh, man, I’m going to have to clarify this because if not tomorrow this is gonna turn into to a big stinking mess. Alright, alright, tell us where you’re from, Coqui.”
In the original Spanish:
“¿Vos de dónde venís, Coqui, vos sos morocho pero no sos de pueblo originario? Vos venís de Montenegro. ¿De dónde venís vos? Este es morochón y parece medio indígena pero no se engañen, eh, este viene de Europa, de la Europa media xenofóbica. A ver, dale, ¿de dónde venís? Si los europeos son…la mayoría son xenofóbicos. Uy, a ver, voy a tener que aclarar esto porque si no mañana se va a armar una podrida total. Dale, dale, decí de dónde sos, Coqui.”
You can see her comments starting at about the 10-minute mark.
Argentina’s tax collection agency, AFIP, closed Kansas Bar & Grill, a hugely popular American-style restaurant, for three days. AFIP said the branch, located in Pilar, broke the law by not offering receipts to customers.
I’ve eaten many times at Kansas in Palermo and San Isidro and have always been offered receipts. AFIP did not close those branches.
The restaurant will be open again on February 11, AFIP said.
Argentina’s growing drug problem represents a major threat to the kind of peaceful political and social stability the country has enjoyed, with infamous exceptions, in recent decades.
Experts say crushing the threat early is crucial to overcoming it before related violence and corruption infect public officials and police forces as they have in other countries. Once the problem has corrupted a country’s judicial system, it is exponentially harder to eradicate.
About two dozen journalists at the 135-year-old Buenos Aires Herald went on strike Monday, demanding higher wages and better working conditions.
As of late Wednesday, the journalists were still on strike, having rejected a 3% retroactive pay hike for 2010 and a 10% raise for 2011.
The Herald, Argentina’s only major English-language newspaper, gained international recognition for its courageous coverage of disappearances and other dastardly deeds during the country’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
“Unfortunately we haven’t been able to reach an agreement about salaries,” said Judith Rabinovich, a spokeswoman for the Buenos Aires Press Workers Union, or UTPBA. “We’ve had a lot of patience with these negotiations, which have been going on since January.”
Journalists at the Herald typically make somewhere between 2,300 (US $563) and 4,000 pesos a month, with the average likely being closer to 2,700 pesos.
“There’s a big difference between what Herald workers make and what reporters at other papers make,” Rabinovich said in a phone interview. “These salaries are very low. But these are very qualified reporters who speak two languages.”
Herald employees are seeking a 35% salary hike for 2011, putting the basic salary at the paper at around 4,100 pesos a month, she said.
The vast bulk of economists in Argentina estimate that inflation totals somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% annually. Most major unions have obtained annual salary hikes of between 20% and 30%, and often higher, in recent years.
“The company is very far from satisfying that request and making a deal,” he added.
The Herald is owned by the same publishing company that owns the financial daily Ambito Financiero. Despite the strike, Rabinovich said a reduced version of the paper is being published.
Union reps are set to meet with management Thursday at the Labor Ministry to try and reach a a settlement. A spokesman for the Herald’s management could not be reached immediately for comment.
UPDATE: The Herald workers on Thursday suspended the strike in hopes of reaching an agreement soon with management.
The number of so-called “express kidnappings” reported by local media soared in the first quarter of 2011, according to a new study.
The media reported 28 of these kidnappings in the province of Buenos Aires in the first three months of the year, according to an analysis by the think tank Centro de Estudios Nueva Mayoria.
That’s up from just one in the same period last year and indicates the first three months of 2011 were the worst since 2004.
The vast bulk of Argentina’s kidnappings occur in the province of Buenos Aires.
Of course, the study reflects only express kidnappings reported by the media. It’s unclear what percentage of overall kidnappings this actually represents, though I suspect the percentage is extremely low.
I was kidnapped briefly in a taxi in 1999. The whole incident lasted only about an hour, making it an express kidnapping. I reported it to police, who didn’t seem to care at all. It never appeared in the media. Meanwhile, I know of two people who were kidnapped for much longer periods of time a few years ago. Their stories never made it into the press.
It can be very hard to get accurate crime data in Latin America, where, according to experts, only about one in 10 crimes are reported.
While this study is alarming, it should not be taken as a definitive statement on the nature of crime or kidnappings in Argentina. Because it is based on media reports, it’s very hard to know how reliable it is because the media can be a fickle beast.
A more accurate overview of crime in general is probably Di Tella University’s monthly crime survey, which I will post on Wednesday.
By Katia Porzecanski
There’s a great deal of irony at play in the way this business is covering up older prices to reveal its newer, higher price. Despite the government’s best efforts to cover up official signs of inflation, the kinds of covering-up vendors do tell a different story. All over Argentina we see prices scratched out and rewritten or sheets of paper or stickers covering obsolete price tags. Some restaurant owners have even resorted to printing priceless menus.
The government says prices are up 10% from a year ago, but virtually all economists find this estimate risible. They say inflation totals about 25% annually. Economists use the word inflation when talking about rising prices, but government officials, including Economy Ministry Amado Boudou and President Cristina Fernandez, refuse to do this. Instead, they talk about an “immense dispersion of prices.”
Whatever you call it, prices are up across the board, as this photo shows.
*Katia Porzecanski is an economist and writer in Buenos Aires
OK, this is an admittedly bad photo. But the point isn’t to showcase my photography skills.
The point is to inquire about honesty in Argentina and ask if it would be possible to do something like this here. Would it be?
To clarify, this is a photo of a newspaper stand at the Dallas airport in Texas. The “stand” allows people to grab a copy of USA Today. In exchange people are supposed to put a folded dollar bill in the clear receptacle.
The business model is based on the honor system. That is, you could, if you wanted, take a copy of the paper and walk away without paying for it. The odds are that nobody would say a thing. You would not go to jail or even face ridicule.
But most people don’t do this. They put the dollar in the receptacle.
So, the question is, could this kind of “honor system” work in Argentina?
Photo posted by @denisitabaires, a bystander, to her Twitter account.
In an absolutely extraordinary event Monday, a young woman fell about 23 stories, from the top of the Panamericano Hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, and smashed, back first, onto the top of a taxi.
Remarkably, she’s didn’t die.
Though police aren’t certain about the details of her fall, investigators think she attempted suicide.
The driver of the taxi that the woman smashed into, seen in the above photo, described the experience in a brief interview with Radio 10.
In between tears the man, who goes by Miguel, said his “intuition” told him to step out of the car. “I saw a policeman looking up,” he said, adding that he also saw the woman “hanging” from the top of the hotel. Miguel got out of the car “a second” before the woman smashed into it and created a “terrible noise.”
He said he was standing about 10 meters from the car when she hit it.
“I just want to tell everyone that everything in life has a solution,” he said. “Life is for living.” (more…)
Torcuarto Di Tella University’s latest crime “victimization rate” survey indicates that overall criminal activity fell last month.
The victimization rate refers to the percentage of households which reported that at least one person in that home has been the victim of crime within the past year.
This could be any kind of crime, reported or not to the police.
According to the latest survey, which polled 1,193 households, 28.7% of the homes said at least one member of the household had been the victim of crime. (more…)
May each and every one of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving.
I am grateful for your readership, your interesting and intelligent comments and your generous feedback. As always, I appreciate it. Thank you!
If you don’t already have Thanksgiving meal plans, the very-American restaurant Kansas (even their toilets are imported from the U.S.) offers excellent Turkey and Pecan pie options today only. Their complete Thanksgiving Day meal costs 75 pesos.
You can see their Turkey-Day menu here.
But they fill up fast and don’t take reservations, so get there early.
*Next year I’ll have a new Thanksgiving Day joke
Aerolíneas Argentinas, the country’s perennially troubled flagship airline, has decided to give obese people a free extra seat on regional flights.
The company, which announced the policy Tuesday, has already been offering an extra seat to exceptionally fat people in some cases on flights within the country.
The airline teamed up with Inadi, the national anti-discrimination institute, to develop the policy.
“This way people will be given a more comfortable seat and they will avoid being charged differently for suffering from the disease,” the government, which owns the airline, said in a statement.
The government did not add details to clarify exactly what “the disease” is and the new policy will likely fuel debate about the causes of obesity. (more…)