Broken down wagon

photos: Martyna Szczesna · Carolina Pellejero

During the 1990s Argentina systematically de-nationalized and dismantled the largest railroad system in Latin America. Built by French and British capital in the late 1800s, the lines were acquired by the country in the 1940s by the government of Juan Perón. The privatization of the railway lines under the government of Carlos Menem left many small towns completely isolated (a result of the closure of all lines ‘not pro.table’ to the private company who bought the industry).

Train stations were left in abandon and the train cars and wagons were left to decay or to be vandalized. Railway workers found themselves out of jobs.
Héctor ‘Don Gomez’ is an employee of the railway and a local. He says from his experiences living and working in Buratovich that in 1949, ‘ there used to be a world of people here,’ and that everyone, everyone arrived by train. ‘ Look,’ he says, ‘ I can tell you, without exaggeration, that here, on this side, y’see, right here and in that platform there, it was crowded with folks! Magazines, hawkers, everything would come by train an it was quite an event, as you can imagine…You wouldn’t be able to recall, but when the train stopped coming, during Menem, it was like…it was like…a great sadness, a void.’

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