A hundred years ago Buenos Aires was at its height. Argentina had one of the strongest economies in the world. Wealthy landowning families, profiting from exports to Europe, were building grand, Parisian style homes and buildings in the center of the city. Immigration was strong, as new arrivals from Italy, Spain, and elsewhere brought skills and craftmanship to the area. In turn, these immigrants developed their own distinctive neighborhoods as the city expanded its size.

There is no simple way to explain why, over the course of the 20th century, Argentina would experience such dire economic and political instability. It cannot be answered by simply pointing the finger at one or two political figures or by blaming the Dirty War or the devaluation. Indeed, it seems, as if long-term economic prosperity and political stability always have been just outside of Argentina´s grasp. It´s the unfortunate nature for history to repeat itself in Argentina. While the strong collective memory of human rights groups, led by the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, keep the terrors of the most recent dictatorship from happening again, politics are still controlled by a few provincial chieftains who govern more for self-interests rather than a beneficial society. Yet, the air of pessimism and self-doubt that pervade the consciousnous of porteños has create a vibrant cultural environment where creative pursuits in art, film, literature, and music can flourish. Equally rich are the intellectual discussions that enliven the city´s cafes and the pages of its newspapers. But behind the veneer of the city´s sophistication are the daily lives of millions who struggle to survive.

Through observing what is happening in this society, we can gain a sense of what it means to be alive alive in Buenos Aires in 2005.