Inside Villa Soldati

Indoamericano Park in Villa Soldati

It really is desperate in Villa Soldati. Squatters have occupied the Indoamericano Park, desperate for a place of their own to call home. Neighbourhood residents are desperate to get rid of the Bolivians, Paraguayans and their own Argentine brothers who have claimed the zone.

Conditions are desperate. Tapes cordon off “their” plots of land. One cartonera, Cristina, told me: “I know this is a public space and what we’re doing is wrong, but we don’t have anywhere else to go. This is the only option I’ve got.”

Under precarious, makeshift tents made of bin bags, blankets and corrugated iron, immigrants have come from nearby shantytowns in the hope they can keep their plot and build. But they daren’t move from what is “theirs”. Someone will come and claim it before they can even blink.

Water was delivered on Friday but the lorry moved on quickly. Bathroom facilities hadn’t emerged that day by lunchtime.

In this city government versus national government immigration fiasco, people are dying.

I went to the wake of a young Paraguayan in Villa 20 yesterday. Twenty-two-year-old Bernardo Salgueiro was shot dead on Tuesday night, when the police eviction took place. His brother Aníbal told me: “I just want justice. And quickly, so we can continue with our lives.”

The park looks like a refugee camp. These people have nothing except what they believe in. And they believe that this is better than living in Villa 20 or Villa 1-11-14 – and they are prepared to wait it out.

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