Last weekend an article appeared in Staunton News Leader about a family from Buenos Aires that had emigrated to Virginia in the U.S.; Staunton is a small town in the pretty Shenandoah Valley about 3 hours southwest of Washington, DC.

It’s a rather odd article as it paints a very dark, ominous picture of Buenos Aires that, frankly, I find doesn’t exist. The article is titled “Family Finds Safe Harbor in the Valley.”

The wife of the family talks about how much safer it is to go to a shopping mall in the US than in in Buenos Aires : “I don’t have to worry when I take them to the mall here. I don’t have to grab their hands and pray for their lives.” What?! That seems just hysterical. I’ve been to shopping malls here a lot and never seen anyone who looked like they’re in fear for their lives.

Admittedly, there are a few cases of kidnappings among wealthy families, but that doesn’t seem to be too common. Staunton’s reporters wrote another article titled Crime rate in Argentina makes daily life unsafe. The article perpetuates the image that all of Latin America is some desperate Third World “wild west” where armed desperados roam the streets:

Silvana and Natalio Scotto Lavina also faced each day in Argentina with trepidation. Were their children going to be kidnaped, was their home robbed?

“There are so many people without money there,” Silvana Scotto Lavina said. Although the threat was constant, her immediate family did not have problems ”“ but close relatives did.

What type of problems? True, the very wealthy here are likely to encounter more potential criminals than the average person since their wealth makes them an easy target. But, that’s true in every country of the world even in the U.S.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the story was the caption that ran under the photograph on the story about crime. The caption states that a “man digs through the garbage”. Now if you look closely at that photograph, the man is clearly walking the dog that is standing to his left; the dog obviously is on a leash. It’s likely that the man is simply dropping a bag of doggy poop into the trash. And the two girls in the background of that photo look very stylish and happy, certainly not fearful.

I will confirm, however, that there are a lot of people who go through the trash every night in Buenos Aires. They’re called cartoneros. (I’ll soon be posting an excellent link that tells the story of the cartoneros. Indeed, one of the saddest sights I remember seeing is a small child, almost still a baby actually, sitting on top of a trash bag while his father retrieved any usable, recyclable material from one of the many other trash bags on the curb. Every night in my neighborhood, on the street in front of our apartment building, one can see the cartoneros. However, I have never felt fearful at the presence of any of these people.

Just hope that the good people up in Staunton, Virginia, USA don’t get the wrong impression of Buenos Aires from those articles. I’m a former resident of Virginia also and it’s a great place but so is Buenos Aires.