"They live it like a Boca-River"

Catastrophic, disastrous, on the way to being like Venezuela or even worse.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 November 2023 Saturday 04:00
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"They live it like a Boca-River"

Catastrophic, disastrous, on the way to being like Venezuela or even worse. This is how some Argentines living in Barcelona describe the situation in their country as the presidential elections approach tomorrow, Sunday. In this context, the unusual proposals of the candidate Javier Milei arise, which aims to "dynamit the central bank", dollarize the economy or run the chainsaw through public spending (practically, eliminate it). The Argentines who spoke with La Vanguardia agree that Milei generates doubts and even fear. The choice boils down to risking the change proposed by ultra libertarian Milei or continuing with the well-known villain of Peronism represented by Sergio Massa.

When Jorge wakes up, he finds WhatsApp flooded with messages from friends in Argentina, who have commented on the latest developments in the electoral campaign and which he reads late due to the time change. "They live it as if it were a Boca-River, they are very polarized", says the owner of an Argentine bar. Since he arrived in Barcelona seven years ago, he says that Argentina has only gotten worse and that, despite the fact that in other circumstances many people would not vote for the crazy Milei, the discontent weighs heavily.

Fed up with the disappointments with politics, Jorge decided not to go through the necessary procedures to vote from abroad. Now he regrets it a little. "Not happy, but I would vote for Milei. I am afraid and have many doubts about him, but I am certain that with Massa everything will get worse, as it has been for 40 years with these people. I have the slightest hope that something good will come of it. It's sad, because an illusion is enough, but it is what it is."

La Flor arrived in Barcelona in 2001, just over 20 years old and eager to see the world. He now works in a graphic printing company and does not plan to return to Argentina. She is one of those who believe that, although her country is going through a very hard time, "there were worse situations, like in 2001", but she recognizes that, since she lives in Barcelona, ​​she cannot give an opinion with complete certainty . For her, tomorrow's elections are about "choosing against what you don't like", and she is clear that what she doesn't like is Milei. "It doesn't seem to me that a character like him can be president", he says.

"What is unfortunate is that on the other side we have the continuity that has brought us to the current situation. It doesn't convince me either, but I would vote for Massa", declares the Argentinian, who chooses to abstain because she does not feel legitimated to vote in a country where she does not live. But, if one thing is clear to Flor, it is that falling into the ultra-right would be a mistake. "The Milei phenomenon plays on people's tiredness. Some believe that they have already tried everything and ask themselves 'what can get worse?', but you don't have to start everything, just because Argentina is bad doesn't mean it can't be worse. I think it could be worse."

Ten months ago, Liliana Olivera López received 200 euros from the Argentine pension, now it's only 70. "Look at the devaluation," says this woman, who has lived in Barcelona for 20 years. "They had never destroyed the country in this way", he complains. Liliana would vote for Milei without a doubt. He likes his personality, thinks he has a lot of good proposals, although he doubts they can work in Argentina, and supports the alliance with Macri and Bullrich.

On whether she has hope for her country, she replies that, if a change comes, it will be many years from now and that she would no longer get to see it. "I see it as very complicated because it is ruined by everything they stole from Mrs. Kirchner, especially, and all the criminals who are there." Cristina Kirchner, president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015 and current vice president, is sentenced to six years in prison for fraudulent administration during the twelve years that she and her late husband, ex-president Néstor Kirchner, ruled.

After a first stay in Madrid in 2007, when "Argentina and Spain were doing well", less than a year ago Aníbal Benedetti came to Barcelona "fed up with the economic ups and downs" of his country. "Even though it wasn't bad financially, I couldn't save and everything was getting worse", says this man, who combines his work as a graphic designer with salesmanship at a car dealership.

During the nine months that Aníbal has been living in Barcelona, ​​he says that he has encountered a stagnant economy and not so distant from the situation in Argentina. "But here you can have a bit of foresight, in Argentina it is not possible because inflation is rampant", he says. "You are alarmed because they have inflation of 3% or 4% annually, we have inflation of 8% monthly".

Aníbal sees with good eyes some of Massa's energy policies, which aim to promote energy exports, and also supports continuity in terms of education and public health. But he does not fully trust the official candidate, who "promises things that he does not currently do", and, despite the fact that Milei "is very afraid of him", he does not rule out voting for him. "I have to continue meditating", he says.