Blacks in Buenos Aires
A reader wrote in today wanting to know about how blacks are perceived and treated in Buenos Aires. Let me first say that you don't find many blacks in Buenos Aires. The reason for this is rooted in history. Unlike the Portuguese in Brazil, the Spanish who settled in Argentina did not bring in large numbers of African slaves to work plantations. Therefore, today, you don't see very many black people in Buenos Aires.
I must admit that as a white guy and an expat, I'm not really able to discuss the Argentine people's feelings towards blacks. Since the reader's question also deals with immigration, I asked Lorena Gallardo of Argentina Residency & Citizenship Advisors to respond to the reader. Not only is she an expert on immigration law, but she's also Argentine, so she's going to be much better equipped to answer this question than I am. The question and the response are both below.
I'm a Caribbean immigrant who grew up in New York, mostly Brooklyn, but now make my home in Manhattan. I'm not a citizen here, even though I've been here since I was two years old. Lately I've been on the lookout for a place to which to expatriate myself. NYC is the only place in the U.S. I'd want to live, but it's too expensive! Paris is another such place--thoroughly cosmopolitan, but unaffordable, especially if I plan to be a "semi-retired" expat. I've been considering Buenos Aires. It's like Paris, New York and Rome mixed into one, but at a fraction of the cost!
I was just wondering what it's like for blacks in Buenos Aires. I'd read that there aren't problems socializing, but there may be problems getting employment unless one is a dancer or musician; I am neither. I do not, however, plan to be looking for work in Buenos Aires. I'm considering it as a permanent expat home because it seems that I could live well on less than $1000USD/month. Also, are there complications to getting permanent residency because my citizenship is with a Caribbean country?
Black people are not often seen in Buenos Aires. Argentina was not a country with many immigrants from Africa. But the blacks that you can see around are mostly from Brazil. The cultural relationship between Argentina and Brazil is incredibly good. Argentines love to travel to Brazil during holidays and enjoy the beautiful beaches with their warm waters, and Brazilians love traveling to Argentina as they love our winter ski-season (which does not exist in Brazil.
What I want to point out is that Argentines do not have anything against black people. They respect them. I should also let you know that women in Argentina love black men from Brazil, so you won't find racist problems here. These problems appear not with color, but mainly with "origin". For example, in Argentina they do not accept kindly people coming from Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia. These people are often treated as inferior. However, the fact is that this happens because these immigrants come to Argentina without documents and to steal jobs from Argentine citizens. You could compare this situation to the treatment the Mexicans get who illegally cross into the American southwest.
I can say that, at least for the time I have been living here, I have seen that there are between 5 and 10 different neighborhoods built by different communities: Paraguay, Uruguay, China, Japan, Israel, Greeks, etc, and each community respects the other one.
Now, about getting a job, that is something that you won't be able to do. First of all, you need a work permit and you must enter the country on a work visa in order to work here. If you do find a job, they will pay you less than to any other Argentine worker, since you would be working in the black market (and when I say less, I am talking about a very very low salary -- surely you wouldn't be able to put up and maintain yourself in Buenos Aires on such a wage).
I should also point out that as a retired person, it would be even more difficult for you to find employment. There are millions of young people without jobs that you would be competing against. So, the principal option I can see for you to live here legally the pensioner visa. Assuming you can transfer your pension or social security to a bank account here, you would be able to live quite comfortably and maintain yourself at a very good standard of living. Feel free to contact me by e-mail or contact ARCA for help with your visa.