domingo, 19 de julio de 2009

Alarcón 2003: Cuando me Muera Quiero que me Toquen Cumbia

Alarcón, Cristian. 2003. Cuando me Muera Quiero que me Toquen Cumbia. Buenos Aires: Norma.
In this work, Alarcón recreates a disturbing and raw image of the everyday violence, crime, solidarity, selfishness, and death in a shantytown in the north of Buenos Aires province that reaches high ethnographic quality. Although coming from journalism the author shows with incredible detail and excellent prose a non-fiction work that not only portrays but also engages with the life of shantytown people seeking for survival in the midst of one of the most unequal places in the country, where extreme wealth and extreme poverty reside side by side; but particularly the author connects with teenagers, the “pibes chorros”, robbing and putting their bodies at risk of police repression, and using all kinds of drugs to live and die in their own way. In this corner of the great Buenos Aires area a 17-year old was murdered and pestered by the police and at that time a myth started. This was Victor Vital, a Robin-Hood type of illegal who always robbed to the rich and helped to the people of his neighborhood. After his death, many people declared Vital helped them to avoid police bullets or did not die when all odds where against that. Vital became a hero and saint, but also a sign of the past, when no one was bothering or assaulting people of their own neighborhood, when there were “codes”. Now children and young teenagers are using drugs and guns and they lost the respect for the elders and their own neighborhood. Ultimately, this is not only a story of violence and death of poor and criminal teenagers but also of this neurotic society anesthetized by the extreme poverty (and extreme wealth) and who simultaneously produce its own teenagers as victims and victimizers, saints and devils.

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