Thursday, May 06, 2010


Tinogasta is a large town in arid Catamarca Province, where locals struggle to keep mining companies away from extracting uranium in the region. Roadblocks and rallies are common. IN the picture, a classical Argentinean pick up, flag, and a "pava" (teapot to boil water for mate)

Image of the town center, where life seems to carry on, while the threat is always there, underneath your feet.

As in the rest of the mining provinces, the problem is deep and has to do with possible models of development. Catamarca certainly existed before mining boom. Other activities such as agriculture (olive) are gradually loosing their reputation as key factors for economy development. Also, undescriminate social benefit programs are a factory of laziness. Most people just live day by day by stretching their assigned budget, and don´t work the land as eagerly as their ancestors.

Trucks in direction to La Alumbrerra mine being blocked by local enviromentalists in Tinogasta.

The mine trucks attempt to organize a counter-block. But the Army inmediatly ordered them to return to their possitions.

Six thousand people manifested against uranium industry some months ago.... Amazingly, the students who are taught the goverment is the one responsioble for watching over the citizens rights are now the ones reminding them their job.


Eduardo Real said...

"Also, undescriminate social benefit programs are a factory of laziness. Most people just live day by day by stretching their assigned budget, and don´t work the land as eagerly as their ancestors."

Well, not for $200-300 a month, sure. Give it $1.000 or so in white, pay its social benefits, get him hollidays, and you will see how they're ready to work on the spot.

In fact, social programs are not aimed to promote "laziness", but to fight slavery.

And it'is very good, not bad. Unless you prefer slavery to "laziness".

Juan Pablo Villarino said...


Maybe you didn´t get the issue.

People who work the land get their income when they sell their products in the market.

Why would you give them 200, 1000 or even 5000? I am not against welfare. I am against giving our money just to buy votes and wills. I am sure you live in a country where this doesn´t happen, But this is the scenario in Latin America.

People who own land should work it... not beg for money outside the town hall. That´s not socialism, it is stupidity.


Eduardo Real said...

"People who own land should work it..."

Sure. My comment was not aimed to landlords, but to 'golondrina workers' (cotton, grape, yerba mate pickers), masons, maids and so, which formerly were bought by a bunch of pennies. For sure they will not work for free anymore. And their children go attend school from now on.

PS: I live in Argentina.

Juan Pablo Villarino said...

I completely agree with you!

Actually, my comment was directed not to "golondrina workers" but a newer phenomena which still doesn´t have nickname.

I was pointing at the regretable downhill the culture of work is experiencing. I would personelly send to jail landowners who don`t pay their "vasals" in white and keep them within slavery. But paying a perons $200 for doing nothing is as bad as paying him a low salary.

My point is, and I will understand if you don`t agree, that there may be a mistake in Latin American socialism in its trend to continue senseless social plans, supporting "piqueteros", etc

Of course, I prefer this to a liberal right wing party. A hundred times. But I point corrections to be made. A better left should enpower people by giving them tools to work, not excuses not to...

Thanks for making this blog a space of debate.

And, by the way, if you read Spanish I would advise you reading my Spanish Blog (and link it!) which is My English Blog is just for pictures and their descriptions. My full articles are in the Spanish one.


Eduardo Real said...

"A better left should enpower people by giving them tools to work, not excuses not to..."

I think probably you're missinformed: Many social plans inherited from the 2001/2002 crisis were dropped many years ago and you haven't noticed yet.

New plans (i.e. "Argentina Trabaja" or "Ingreso Social con Trabajo", (1)), in fact, created 4.582 cooperatives (approx. 300.000 workers) in a year or so, with all the rights any worker must have, and shifting "piqueteros" into actual workers.

Sure, that's insufficient, bcos the 2009 and 2010 world crisis has hit too hard in many countries, including Argentina, and such State effort ought be raised and improved. Those "piqueteros" that haven't be included yet in this first round yells to be included in the next round (i.e. Barrios de Pie)

Moreover, 386,306 houses (1,545,224 people, (2)) (255,699 already finished and 130,607 in progress) was made with public funds to include weakest people, and they will pay it in little payments over 20 years. 1,545,224 people is the equivalent to 1.7 Rosarios, 5.3 Bahia Blanca or nearby 10 Rio Cuartos. That figures doesn't include house improvings, sidewalks, sewage, water, pavings, etc. That's was done from 2003 on by the public sector, sum you it up to the private one.

Of course, there are a kind of people here whose mindset doesn't allow them to think otherwise that the public funds 're funneling to "drugs and bingos" or "they do bbq with the house's parquet". IMHO, they don't. They work hard and deserves our support to help them to leverage his efforts, not to cast doubts over them.

But, well, everyone can think what they want.



Juan Pablo Villarino said...

And being back in the country for 4 months already I find no good news at all...

The gap between those working and those just queuing for benefits is getting wider. I refer to the symbollic gap. Nowadays, in Argentina, you are guilty of working and saving. Not even mention buying US dollars. Some stupid will point that if you do so, you are a “golpista” who owns a flat in Miami, even if your actual porpoise is to get foreign currency to backpack the world with an Educational Project.
And that’s how San Juan and Catamarca have to survive on mining, the provincial governments boycotting any other models of development. And censoring media brave enough to broadcast the issue. If everything is going so well, why should we use unsustainable industries?
About casting doubt over a government, that’s what thinking people ought to do. Always. Romanticism is for tiny islands ruled by military dictators. Of course there are achievements, especially in the Human Rights, but…
In Argentina is fashionable to support the government, while sipping a beer in Palermo, but few dare visiting the affected communities in Argentina and the rest of South America. Just the same as wearing a Che Guevara T-Shirt. But people are suffering, languages and people are being extermined in the Amazon, thanks to the Mining companies.
Who enables the Mining Companies to operate in South America. The same people that claim to respect cultural diversity, Pachamama and blab la bla. :-)
I just can`t believe how narrow minded people in my country are, that they don`t even admit criticism to a model.