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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 03:55 GMT
Viewpoint: There is no future here
Policeman stands by a smashed window
There has been looting and rioting across Argentina
Martin Villarruel, 25, is from the north-eastern Argentine city of Parana, which has seen fierce clashes between police and protesters in recent days. He spoke to BBC News Online about how the crisis has affected him and his family, and his thoughts about the future.

I study dentistry in the state university in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe. I just need to take three exams to graduate, but the teachers are on strike because they haven't been paid. Now, I'll have to wait until next year to get my degree and work as a dentist.

That is why I came back to Parana to stay with my parents.

Parana is in the province of Entre Rios, which has not paid state employees for the past three months. People here are angry.

There are many people here who do not have enough money to buy food

My mother has been doubly affected by the crisis. As a teacher she has not received a salary ($700) for the past three months, but worse still her local health system has collapsed and she suffers from breast cancer.

Part of her wages go into a public health fund which pays the private sector to treat patients. But the private health providers have not been paid for eight months and have stopped giving treatment.

Public hospitals are free, but they are under-funded and do not have enough medicines to treat their patients.

We don't know what's going to happen when my mother needs her next dose of chemotherapy, which is very soon.


My mother does not know when she is going to get paid.

The only ones who have received their salaries are the police, because they have to protect state buildings and supermarkets from the rioters.

Fernando de la Rua
De la Rua's resignation will not make a difference
There is a lot of tension in the city, a lot of anger. Christmas is coming, and there isn't any money.

Until yesterday (Thursday), there was looting in the city's supermarkets. Supermarkets were emptied.

Police were guarding the stores, but people were waiting outside for the opportunity to go in.

Today things seem to be going back to normal. After the resignations of the economy minister and the president, people have calmed down.

I understand their anger - there are many people here who do not have enough money to buy food. Unemployment is at 20%, and those who work are not getting paid because there is no cash.

To make matters worse, the provincial governor had a row with the Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo before he left, so the state cut the funds it was supposed to give the province.

Political dynasties

The difference between Parana and Buenos Aires, is that the people in the capital are more out of control.

The poverty you see in the Greater Buenos Aires is incredible. Here too, but there you see more of it, because everyone goes there looking for work and there isn't any.

You see huge areas of people who have nothing to eat.

In recent years I have seen more and more people scavenging in the rubbish bins. You see whole families doing - parents with young children.

I don't think President de la Rua's resignation will make a difference.

I don't want to be negative about it. But the Peronists are going to be back in government, and they are the ones responsible for the mess we are in.

The Radicals were incapable of solving the problems they inherited from the military regime and the Peronists.

The problem here is that the political protagonists have been the same for the past 20 years. Always the same people, the same candidates.

The new politicians are the sons of those who are leading today, they are political dynasties - nothing changes.

No future

I was born in Canada, and my family came back to Argentina in 1983 with the return of democracy.

What is happening now was predictable. For the past 10 years our governments have been fooling the people.

The former President, Carlos Menem, used to make people believe there was no inflation and that everything was fine - but that was just a fiction which was kept up by borrowing money and selling off state companies.

The future looks bleak. I have friends who are dentists and can't cover their expenses.

Most of the people my age are getting passports to leave the country.

I have considered going back to Canada. But at the same I think this country has great things, such as free university for all.

The problem is there is no future here.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Americas
The night Argentina said 'enough'
13 Dec 01 | Americas
Argentina delays pension payments
07 Dec 01 | Business
Argentina seizes pension funds
21 Aug 01 | Americas
Argentine salaries paid in bonds
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