Viewpoint: 'Our dreams have been stolen'              

By: Unknown Author
The BBC News, January 9, 2002


Taxi driver

Daniel, a taxi driver, is diabetic. His biggest worry is that chemists are running out of medicines, including insulin.

"It's not just about economics, it's about my life. I've been going to different pharmacies and they are not selling insulin. They know the prices will go up, so they are just not selling it," he said.

Now the government and social support groups are giving some insulin to the most needy, but Luis's problems are not over. After four years of recession, he says the taxi business is worse than ever.

"All the prices are going up. I went to the store last night and even the pasta is more expensive now. But of course I cannot put my fares up," he complains. "People don't have any cash because of the bank restrictions, so they are not using the few coins they have for taxi rides.

"They say devaluation is necessary to reactivate the economy, but I really don't know. What we need is less corruption. I don't believe this crisis is over."

Computer programmer

Gaston is 30 years old, he is self-employed and programmes computers. He comes from a typical middle class family and started his own business at the age of 19.

"I love my work and I love my country. But now I don't know what to do. I only want to have a stable job. Now I am even thinking of going abroad as I don't see any future here."

The devaluation, and the uncertainty of how it will affect people, exacerbates the sadness in the people. In the long queues at the Spanish and Italian consulates people say 'they stole our dreams.'

"I am different. I keep hoping. I keep dreaming. But I am worried, I really don't know what is going to happen," says Gaston. This week, his main worry is a dollar debt he has with a friend.

"How can I pay them back in pesos? I owe $3,000 and now it's much more than that."

Also he fears for his business. "People were already struggling to buy but now it's a whole lot harder. The computers are still been in dollars, in Argentina we don't produce any," he says.

The pensioner  

Julia Marini, a pensioner, says people are sick of the uncertainty.

"For a country that hopes to live in peace, five changes of authority in 13 days is not an encouraging sign," she says.

"We are determined to return to our protests and pot banging if the government does not act reasonably.

"I haven't been out on the streets for a few days, but from what I hear, there is a feeling of despair.

"There are huge queues of people outside the banks. Employees are nervous because the public is nervous. The new measures are not yet clear.

"I'll be back out on the streets banging a pot in protest if the government does not respond to the crisis.

"I will demonstrate because sadly, as citizens, we have put up with so much. For over 50 years we have had to bear corruption and arbitrary measures.

"It won't be easy. There are many who are not willing to budge in their positions.

"For example, one of our new ministers, who has an impeccable record, decided to sack some people with dubious track records. The next day, he had to go back on his decision - no doubt under intense pressure.

"Also, the president proposed that senior officials should not be paid for three to six months - they were not affected by the 13% reduction in salaries and pensions. But parliament unanimously rejected that idea.

"The banks are in chaos. The government has decided that all transactions should be conducted in pesos rather than dollars.

"There is very little money in circulation because of the restrictions. The pharmaceutical companies, for example, are not giving the chemists medicines because they are waiting for a price hike. The pharmacies are empty.

"I have just read that the price of bread will be tied to the dollar and will go up by about 25%.

"My pension is in pesos. There are many people who have their savings in dollars - if they are converted to pesos they will lose a considerable part of their savings.

"It shouldn't be like this at all - this is a country that has been blessed with incredible natural and human resources.

"I ask myself everyday what is going to happen tomorrow. At this stage in life, when one needs to be more protected, one finds oneself unprotected.

"I do feel attacked, destroyed. What can you feel when you read that 50% of our professionals are out of work?

"Our country does not deserve this. It is all because of rotten leadership. They have amassed debts and kept the money for themselves."

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