INTRODUCTION: Argentina was once the promised land in South America, and for more than a century, immigrants flocked there from all over the world.
SV People buying newspapers
SV People look at hospital leaflets on street stall
CU Man searching newspaper for work (2 shots)
GV People queue outside immigration offices (2 shots)
GV PAN Wooden huts
LV ZOOM TO Remains of hut (2 shots)
SV Tent inside camp
SV PAN FROM Woman washing clothes outside hut TO husband clearing ground
GV People working on huts and clearing ground (2 shots)
SV Family outside hut PAN TO children
CU Virgin de "Itati" on wooden altar with candle burning (2 shots)
SV Family outside hut
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Argentina was once the promised land in South America, and for more than a century, immigrants flocked there from all over the world. But now, because of economic turmoil and political uncertainty, Argentina is losing scores of people to other countries and those who stay are finding that unemployment and poor housing have reached unprecedented levels.
SYNOPSIS: In Buenos Aires, the Argentinian capital, low wages and soaring prices mean that many people have to held two or three jobs to survive. The Argentine economy is facing a severe crisis. With its currency plunges, inflation runs at almost 150 per cent and unemployment soars, especially among professionals.
Every day disgruntled argentines line up outside foreign consulates in Buenos Aires to apply for immigration or simply to find out where the pastures are greener.
For those Argentines who decide to stay, the future is becoming increasingly bleak. So many people are now out of work that a new problem is appearing on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Thousands of squatters are building shacks on government-owned land. More than 20,000 now live in these cheap houses and tents, in an area known as San Francisco Solano.
The shanty towns are a sign that Argentina's economic and political foundations are beginning to crumble. The vast numbers of people leaving the country has been labelled a colossal brain drain. Hundreds of professionals -- doctors, engineers and biologists -- have either joined the ranks of the unemployed or taken jobs as taxi drivers and construction workers. But now, unskilled people are leaving Argentina. Many simply leave on tourist visas, hoping to find work and join, legally or illegally, the more than two million Argentines already living abroad. Almost all of those leaving are of European stock, their ancestors being the Spaniard and Italians who arrived in Argentina some 60 years ago.
The actions of the squatters have often been backed by the Catholic Church. This altar honours the Virgin of Itati. For most of the squatters at San Francisco Saolano religion and faith in providence are all they have to rely on.