Tuesday, September 10, 2013

American Expats in Buenos Aires: Day 3 and 4 – Multicultural Observations And Racism

We spent days 3 and 4 of our Buenos Aires trip sightseeing and taking photographs. Along the way, we found some theaters, which reminded us a bit of Broadway in Manhattan. In fact, there seemed to be more plays than movie cinemas. 
We found a Cuban restaurant called “Oye Chico!” (translated as “Hey kid!”), which is a common phrase used by Cubans. My spouse and I love Cuban food. Being from Miami, I got the chance to eat lots of Cuban food growing upUnfortunately, I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to eat any again, unless I made it myself. So this seemed like the right opportunity to try something we hadn’t had in the 15 months we’d been in Argentina. 
It didn’t quite work out though because the restaurant was closed during the day. It only seemed to be open at night, so we told ourselves we’d come back. Unfortunately, we didn’t. We ran into this amazing pizza place at night called UGI’S. It is the first pizza place in Argentina that does brick oven style pizza right! It has the taste and texture of a NY style pizza (minus the pepperoni). So in lieu of “Oye Chico!”, we chose to buy a pizza at UGI’s and take it back to the hotel. 

On our final day, we had to check out by noon, but since our train didn’t leave until 8:30 that night, Hotel Mundial was kind enough to hold our bags for us so we wouldn't have to drag them around the city all day.

We needed to charge our phones and MP3 players so that we’d have something to keep us entertained on our long train ride back to Cordoba, but the plugs we brought were incompatible. So, we asked around and learned that a lot of the electronic mom and pop shops around the city are owned by members of the Asian community. There are a lot more Asians in Buenos Aires than in Cordoba, which meant there were Asian buffet restaurants like in the States. As tempted as we were to eat in one, we decided not to eat at an Asian buffet because we were going to be stuck on a train for 21 hours. We didn’t want to eat too heavy for the trip back.

We also noticed that there were more black people in Buenos Aires than in Cordoba. Unfortunately, with the added mixture of different cultures comes racism. As I was walking by a building I saw a graffiti sign stating “Negros Toxico”, which translates to blacks are toxic.

Update: One reader posted on the comments below that the reference to the word "Negro" isn't so much related to someone's skin color, but to the poor, particularly those called "villeros". 
That’s not the only disturbing type of graffiti I’d found. Now, it’s no secret that some Argentinians have anti-American and anti-British ways of thinking. Although I’d never seen this type of graffiti in Cordoba, there was one that said, “No a la ley anti-terrorista”, which translates to “Say no to anti-terrorist laws”. This, as I understood it, was basically showing support for terrorism. 
As I passed an HSBC Bank, which is a British bank, I saw that someone had spray painted the words “Fuera Ingleses”, which roughly translates as “British, leave!” 
Buenos Aires was a lot like home in NY. It was more commercialized. People spent more and there was more cultural diversity. Despite, some of the racist graffiti, I’d like to point out that we were never discriminated against and we never saw anyone being discriminated during our 4-day stay. In fact, for the most part, the people of Buenos Aires were quite friendly and more open-minded than our host province. 
 It’s funny though. For the first time since I came to Argentina, Cordoba felt like home and I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I love Buenos Aires, but I definitely was looking forward to the calmer, not-so-hectic lifestyle of the province of Cordoba. 
I’ll be posting a video of footage I took in Buenos Aires soon. So keep checking back… and as always, thank you to everyone around the world for supporting my blog. 

Related Posts:
American Expats in Buenos Aires: Day 1 - The Arrival

American Expats in Buenos Aires: Day 2 - The Search for KFC and Wendy's

Racism in Argentina


  1. http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ley_Antiterrorista_Argentina
    Thats the wiki page that would explain this graffiti to you
    La mayor crítica a la Ley Antiterrorista se da por medio de organizaciones que consideran que la norma deja abierta la posibilidad de que las huelgas y protestas sociales puedan ser calificadas como actos terroristas.

    Basically some argentines are against this law because they think it could be used to stop social protest and free speech-- which the left in Argentina is especially protective of after the trauma of the dictatorship. So the graffiti was against this law being implemented because it would curb free speech-- not in support of terrorism.

  2. Oh okay. That makes a lot more sense. Thank you Grace. That really clears things up. Yes. The military dictatorship was a horrible period.

  3. Of course there's racism in Buenos Aires. However, that "Toxic Negros" graffiti you found is by no means an expression of anti-black sentiment but some sort of prideful signature -probably the name of a music group- by people who identify themselves as 'negros' (not meaning black but of mostly non-white European descent AND poor; social class is the relevant factor in the word 'negro').