29 January 2009

Stupid Americans, Stupid Argentinos

I saw two things in La Capital today that really ticked me off. OK there is always a lot in the news to be ticked off at but these two really got to me because they show stupidity can be found in both of the countries I love.

First, An American couple, living near Miami, paid U$S 155,000 to clone their dog!!!! These idiots have more money than brains. Imagine how many kids could be fed for this amount of money. No wonder the world thinks so lowly of Americans. This really disgusts me. I lost my dog after 12 years and I cried for days afterwards but I would never, for an instant, thinking of doing something this stupid.

Second, Except for being a great futbol player, Diego Maradona has been a disaster. Now he compounds his errors by giving wholehearted support to the Dictatorship of Hugo Chavez, the Clown of Caracas. Diego, por favor, coach our national team and get the hell out of international politics, of which you know absolutely nothing.

28 January 2009

The World's Biggest Rose

The arrest order for Pimpi Camino and his brothers rates the world's biggest rose for all those involved with the arrest. One can only hope all the scum involved will be sent to try and live on sides of Aconcagua in the dead of winter. I only hope the Judge has the huevos to do the right thing. Can Lopez and the rest of his group be far behind? One can only hope so. More roses for the directors of NOB for speaking out on the role the predecessors played in their cozy relationship to criminal barra bravas.

¡Vamos Argentina! Devolvamos nuestros clubes del fĂștbol. DevuĂ©lvalo de la escoria.

27 January 2009

Roses and Thorns

A Rose to the City Government for implementing a new NO PARKING zone in the micro center. This area is too congested and the streets too narrow to accommodate cars, busses, parking and double parking.

A Thorn to the City Government for implementing a new NO PARKING zone. Where the heck am I supposed to park? The Estacionamentos are surely going to hike the prices a lot because of the lack of parking. Another Rose to the City if they enforce a price cap.

A Thorn to the City Government for the new property tax increases. Everything is going up (except the official inflation rate) so an increase in taxes is to be expected but some people are facing an increase of more than 1000%. A little more investigation might have caused the city to gradually increase these property taxes.

A Really poisonous excruciatingly painful Thorn to the Newell's Barra Brava. These scum tried to rip apart the home site of the club, stealing important papers and threatening everyone with guns, knives and baseball bats. Families with small children were at the club trying to enjoy the day and they too were threatened. At least the police arrived in time to arrest 19 of the 40 mierdas. These extortionists are pure garbage and I hope the new Directors of the club can find a way to get rid of them for good (that's impossible I know). If they do I will become a socio, I promise.

A Rose to the street sweepers of Rosario. These guys are out in all kinds of weather cleaning the street gutters and making the streets a bit nicer. Hats off to them. Yes, it could be done much more efficiently but this method employs people in a useful manner.

A Thorn to the national government for again raising the price of cigarettes, now up to 4.75 pesos a pack (around U$1.30).

Let Me Digress For A Moment

I just checked to see if there were any comments to any of my posts and, lo and behold, there were some and I found each of them interesting and helpful. After reading and responding to them I thought I would take a minute to maybe clarify a couple things. I am new to this so my thoughts are not always well organized and I am NOT a professional blogger --- obviously.

OK, I do have permanent residency here and my DNI is the one with the pink pages for extranjeros and not the one with green pages for citizens. And yes, I was very fortunate to have good friends and a great lawyer help get me through the maze in quick order.

I am not here to do business. I am retired and, I think, that gives me maybe a different perspective than the writer from BA, who I am guessing came here to work. (BTW, if "Anonymous" reads this please let me know how to contact you because I really did enjoy your comments.).

When I decided to retire I gave myself 3 choices: Mexico, Italy or Argentina. My ex and I always loved Puerto Vallarta Mexico. It is wonderful, mountains and seashore in the same place. In Mexico, however, I would ALWAYS be a gringo, my racial characteristics would set me apart. Italy, especially Northern Italy, is, perhaps, the most beautiful place on earth. Milan, the lakes, the mountains, etc. BUT the Euro made it impossible to live there. Argentina was always one of my favorite places and no one would take me for a foreigner there until I opened my mouth. In addition, outside BA, there are relatively few Americans. I didn't want to move to meet other Americans in a foreign locale.

While all the corruption, poverty, whacky drivers, etc. do bother me they are not show stoppers that would cause me to leave. I can stand in line at the bank for an hour or at the "Express" line in the supermarket for 20 minutes and it doesn't matter that much. Some of the "irritants" I write about are to "warn" others before they come here so they might have an idea as to what to expect.

While structurally the US is probably the best place to live in the world, you pay a price for it. I found, and I am only speaking for myself, that there was really precious little time to enjoy things. I got up at 5AM each day and came home around 5 or 6 in the evening and to do what? I was always tired so maybe I watched a little TV and went to bed at 10, never really doing anything outside the house (except to walk the dogs). It seems to me that we lived in silos and it wasn't until I traveled for work and got to meet other people in other countries that I changed my mind about the "best" way to live ... and, as it turned out, a slower paced society, with all it's problems, was better for me, BUT I am only speaking for me.

25 January 2009

Are they Serious?

I saw in La Capital today that a close friend Las K has been appointed Anti-Corruption chief and at the same time in La Nacion there was a story on El K giving 500 million pesos for works in Buenos Aires province in return for votes in the upcoming elections. Is that bribery or doing business as usual?

Seems like the new chief of the anti-corruption unit will be busy.....or should be busy at any rate. We will check back later.

Also, what is up with the photo of la K and Castro?

20 January 2009

The K's and the redistribution of wealth

The K's want a grand redistibution of wealth in Argentina. Ultimately this means taking from the rich and giving to the poor. This has been a standard practice in Argentina since the days of Peron and has been tried in so many other places around the world. To be honest, I cannot think of a single country where it has been successful, except for the rulers like the Kircheners and all their new found wealth (but more on that in another post)

Let me state that I do believe in a fairer distribution of income. The more well off have a duty and obligation to help those who are less fortunate. Where, in terms of state policy, this goes wrong is that normally, and Argentina is certainly no exception, the first people to be "helped" are the ruling cabal ... namely the Kircheners and their allies. Only after their insatiable appetite has been satisfied does anything trickle down to those in true need. Because the rich tend to be better educated they understand this is the consequence of redistribution schemes and, therefore, rarely if ever support them. I honestly believe that if the money actually made it to those in need there would be much more acceptance by those more well off.

There is no doubt Argentina is plagued by poverty. I see it every day, cartoneros on their bicycles, mothers begging in the street, children washing windshields and not in school, not to mention the villas miserias. It is a depressing site and depressing state of affairs. What I have come to understand, and I expect you to enlighten me if I am wrong, is that there are two kinds of poor.

The first are the working poor, those who work en negro whose wages are low, often with little education, but with a strong work ethic and a sense of self reliance. A belief that their hard work will make life better for their children if not for them. These people, and there are many, deserve our respect and help. They are honorable people striving to make a better living.

The second group does not share those values of hard work and honesty. They expect that Government to give whatever they want or need. There is no need to work, let others pay for their existence. These are the piqueteros and D'Elias' of this world. They have no apparent self-respect. The K's use this group to keep a hold on power. They pay them with tax money to protest, to beat up, to disrupt. When we had the farmers strike these were the people the K's bussed into the city to beat up the legitimate protesters, whose leader (D'Elia) said he wanted to kill the rich. These are the people Christina paid to go to Salta to applaud her. While every living person has value I would prefer 1 of the working poor to 1000 of this group.

So, how does wealth get redistibuted. First, EDUCATION. Without education there is no future for any citizen. Argentina has been a pioneer in free education for well over 100 years. In general the population is very well educated. Despite a history of public education the system seems to be failing. Schools are in disrepair, there are not enough schools, and many children do not attend school. Money that has been promised for new schools, to improve existing schools and for education often does not seem to make it to the intended recipients. Hmm, maybe there is some corruption involved. Many times, too many times, parents would rather have their children begging on the streets than getting an education. The value of education is not preceived as important to many parents, especially when they need money to put food on the table. Without the feeling that education is both important and neccesary poverty will continue to exist.

Second, PUBLIC WORKS. In the midst of the Depression in the United States in the 1930's President Roosevelt embarked on a remarkable series of public works. Anyone that wanted a job could have one, building roads, working in the national parks, excpanding the power grid, etc. All meaningful work that enabled America's infrastructure to expand, excellerate and improve the lives of everyone. The pay was not always the best, but it was meaningful work that instilled a sense of self worth in the individual. Why is this not possible in Argentina? I know, I know the politicians are so corrupt the money would never make it down those actually doing the work. Think of how the lives of many would change and would be improved if only the government did what was possible, not what was expedient.

Finally, TAXATION. If, and that is a BIG IF, the retenciones actually made it back to the provinces where the crops were grown I would wholeheartedly support the system. Knowing that the money will NOT make it back there and only go to line the pockets of the K's, the piqueteros and the city/province of Buenos Aires I cannot support it. Why should the farmers give up their money to support the very people who hate them? Farming is not easy, success is not a given, it is hard work and for people like the K's and D'Elia to criticize them as they do is hypocracy. Trust is not easily won and once lost is very hard to regain. The farmers do not trust the government, they have been fooled too many times. At the same time a way has to be found to get the farmers to actually feed Argentinos and not turn the country into one big soybean field. Tax incentives would help this as well, food IS too costly in a country as rich as Argentina.

So what conclusions does this outsider have. (1) If the government actually put the money it collects to its proper use the culture of work in Argentina would, over time, change dramatically. (2) It would help if the Argentine voter actually voted out of office those who are using the government as their private bank account. (3) Of course if things continue the way are and people don't become indignant enough to make the country work, we can always just change the name of the country to Zimbabwe.

But hey what do I know, I am only an extranjero.

A Glorious Day

I must depart from the normal today. It is a glorious day, Barack Obama has ascended to the presidency of the United States. It is a day I could never imagine in my lifetime, a black American has become president. It is wonderful, it is glorious, it is historic. I cannot know what kind of President he will be but the fact he was elected signifies so much. There IS hope for America that all that is good about the US can return. I will not dwell on the Bush years and the deceptions and mistakes. Today, more than any time in many years I am proud of my American heritage, I was actually close to tears. God Bless Barack Obama and God Bless the United States.

16 January 2009

What's not so good about Rosario and Argentina?

What's not so good? I was fully aware that I wasn't in the "good old" USA anymore and most of the inconveniences I can deal with easily and not think twice about it. I don't want Argentina to be like the US, it is it's own entity and thank goodness for it. This country has an educated population, great natural resources, and aboundant land, why does it seem to continually be falling towards 3rd world status? Anyway here is a list of some things that do bother me.

  • The state bureaucracy and government in general. Corrupt to the bone. In the US our politicians can be corrupt as well but they are amateurs compared to the professionals in Argentina. This will be one of my favorite future rants.
  • Worlds Worst Drivers. Death rates on the highway are among the highest. No one respects any traffic regulations (stop signs are only a suggestion). Trucks, cars, bikes, motos and busses all compete for space on the very narrow streets of Rosario.
  • Worlds Worst Pedestrians. People cross streets wherever and whenever they want, making driving even more hazardous.
  • For all it's beauty Rosario is one of the dirtiest cities I have ever seen. This makes me very sad especially when you consider that until a couple years ago it was even worse. The city IS trying but people litter everywhere. I have been told it is because they are angry and are losing hope, this may be true but why take it out on yourselves?
  • Crime. Crime is rampant and the police do nothing, or very little, about it ... sometimes because they are in on it.
  • Poverty. We have some of the worst shanty towns (villas miserias) I have ever seen. It is horrible to see the little kids begging for money in the streets. I have my own theories about this and will speak to it at length later.
  • Barra Brava. These guys are the scum of the earth (outside politicians). They are the hooligans of Argentine football. They are simply criminals, nothing more, who extort money from clubs and have gone a long way to damaging Argentine futbol.
  • Try finding your way around this city, it is nearly impossible ... there are very few street signs so it is anybodies guess where you are. The same applies to the highways ... they never post a sign with route name.

What's so good about Rosario and Argentina?

Top things about Rosario and Argentina. Obviously there are many more than this but these are some of the things that come readily to mind.

  • NO HipHop/Rap ... NO backwards baseball caps ... NO baggy pants ... NO pants below your butt.
  • It is inexpensive. The first time I came to Argentina it was the most expensive country in the world. Now thanks to the IMF and corrupt Argentine politicians it is one of the cheapest.

  • The People. I have travelled all over and nowhere (except maybe Mexico) are the people so open and friendly. All the men look like Antonio Banderas and the women, especially in Rosario, are the most beautiful in the world.

  • The Food / Wine. I love meat and pasta so here I have died and gone to heaven. The restaurants are fantastic and the meat is fantastic. Argentine wines, especially Malbecs, are excellent as well. Don't get me started on media lunas, alfajores, empanadas or choripan.

  • The slower life style. While at times it can be frustrating you learn to go with the flow. You can't believe how much time you will spend in endless lines from the bank to the supermarket. Overall the gentler pace is very agreeable. Besides without this slower pace you wouldn't have all day asados.

  • River Plate. Years ago in the US, thanks to Fox Sports, I became a huge fan of River Plate and even though we finished last for the first time in history in this clausura we are still the Mas Grande.

  • The Natural Beauty of the country. Argentina has magnificent scenery. Every type of formation is here; mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts, glaciars, the worlds largest falls.

  • Golf. One of my top reasons for moving here and I have not been disappointed. Golf is great in Argentina

On Moving to Argentina Part 2, Residency requirements

Before my move I contacted the Argentine consulate in Chicago for advice and the necessary forms. Luckily the father of the lady I talked with was a huge fan of my company so she was very very helpful. Since it has been more than 4 years since my move to Argentina I am sure some things have changed. Also I am retired which meant slightly different requirements for a residency visa than others (workers, students, etc.). I would suggest contacting a local Argentine consulate (there are many in the US) and getting the requirements from them.

Suffice it to say I ended up with a lot of paperwork, all translated into spanish. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself because what you send in will not be returned. When the paperwork was done I went to Chicago for a short interview, get my fingerprints taken and have a temporary residency visa put in my passport. Hint: if your passport is about to expire or does not have many years left on it get a new US passport so that your visa will be good for 10 years otherwise there are many headaches involved in getting the visa put into a new passport.

Once approved the consulate will give you 2 packs of papers (as I recall). One of them is to be given to Immigration at the airport when you land. They know what it is and will take care of everything regarding it.


This document is essential for living in Argentina. Yes, you can get by without it but believe me it is a lot better to have it than not. After two days of resting in Rosario I went to start the process of getting my DNI. The people in Rosario were helpful but, of course, there were problems with my paperwork. Translations were not done in Argentina and I needed to have them re-done. I got them re-translated and went back. Very good they said but now this is not correct, etc. Total bureaucratic mierda. One day I visited my friends at the my company's factory and said I couldn't believe how hard this was. The head of Human Resources heard me and asked me to bring my papers to him. He made a couple of calls and the next week I went to BA, accompanied by a lawyer, and in one day I had my DNI (actually it was all done in one day but I had to return 2 weeks later to pick up the document).

RULE #1 ... In Argentina it is all about who you know! I know this is the same in many places but never underestimate this rule.

With my DNI I can now (in theory) travel to any Mercosur country (without my passport). It did work that way when I went to Chile but I have my doubts about Brasil. I can (in theory) open a bank account. I can get a drivers license, etc.

In my previous post I remarked that my actual move and my meetings with the consulate gave me a false sense of security. My search for my DNI provided a much better insight into living in Argentina. This brings up another rule.

RULE #2 ... Be prepared, things move much more slowly! There is nothing inherently wrong with this, a slower lifestyle is why I moved here but when you have more than 50 years of dealing with a, more or less, streamlined bureaucracy it will take some getting used to.

On moving to Argentina, Part 1

While I was giving thought to moving here I did my research. It is no easy matter moving from one country to another. I had decided that the move would be permanent and, therefore, I proceeded on 2 fronts ... the move and the residency requirements.

The Move ... I contacted people at work for ideas on moving companies who handled international moves and settled on Mayflower. They sent a specialist and we went over my things and what would be advisable to take and what would not. Cars ... I decided not to bring a car for two reasons, one was the cost of shipping and the second was my misunderstanding of Argentine law. I believed that if I brought my car I would only be able to keep it for 18 months when, in fact, I could keep it forever but not sell it for 18 months. My spanish was obviusly much worse at that time. Electronics ... Argentina uses 220 volts where the US uses 110. I decided to bring my laptop and stereo. As electronics are VERY expensive in Argentina I also shopped for a TV that would accept both NTSC (US) and PAL (Arg.) signals. This was not that difficult to find. Furniture .. one easy chair, nothing else. I figured it was better to buy local and furniture is heavy so the cost of the move would go up. Kitchen ... nothing to speak of, I would buy local. Books, music and movies ... All indispensible to me so I brought almost all my cd's and dvd's. I did have to pare down my books from 3 or 4 bookcases full to maybe 1/2 of 1 book case, a tragedy!

The movers gave me an acceptable price and we set a date, approximately 1 month before my actual move since it takes at least 6 weeks for the stuff to arrive. At the same time they contacted Transpack Argentina (
http://www.transpack.com.ar/) who were incredibly helpful, thus giving me a false sense of security about the rest of what was to come. I highly recommend them. Naturally my stuff was a little late and then held up in customs for several weeks. In Rosario I talked with local people at work about storage companies as I would need my stuff stored until I got an apartment. The gave the name of an old well known company (Botta) and I contracted with them to hold my stuff indefinitely. Excelent marks to them as well, again giving me a false sense of security about the future.

All in all the actual moving of furniture went very well with a slight delay at Customs in BA but nothing horendous. All of my stuff arrived in Rosario with nothing missing nor broken.

One thing to note, any used personal item is allowed into the country without exception. As I mentioned I bought a TV in the US to bring but I never opened the box so it would be easier to ship. The movers said this was a no no. They opened the box and reclosed it thereby making it "used". This saved me several hundred dollars in import fees because it would have been considered new.

Another note, besides paying Mayflower and Transpack I also had to purchase an insurance policy that stated I would not sell any of my things. I paid Transpack a small sum for three years, as required by the Customs office, until I became a permanent resident of Argentina. I have paid the insurance policy for 4 yrs, and I am refusing to pay it anymore.


For better or worse I have chosen to live in Rosario Argentina. The "purpose" of this blog is to share with you the life of an expat. As this is the first posting I will introduce myself. I am retired and a US citizen. I had the privilege of traveling throughout Europe, South America and North America for my work and I came to "know" and appreciate other cultures. At retirement I realized I enjoyed the lifestyle (i.e. pace of life) more in other countries than in my own. So I took the leap and moved to Argentina.

This was not completely a leap into the abyss. I had visited Argentina perhaps 15 or 20 times over the previous 4-5 years and I had many friends there, both from work and outside work. I did my homework before leaving (see future posts) and thought I was more or less prepared. One reason I am writing this blog is because one is NEVER 100% prepared and maybe my experiences can help someone else. The other reason is to give my Expat's view on what is going on in Rosario and Argentina.

I have no real desire to give up and return to the US (I have lived in Rosario for 4 1/2 years now) although I do like to go back once a year to visit family. At the same time there are always circumstances beyond one's control that might force me to go back, so I keep my options open.