Here’s some friendly advice for foreign visitors (and many locals too) who never leave Recoleta, Palermo, or San Telmo: the slums of Buenos Aires are part of the city, and they’re a rich source of culture and history.
Most tend to associate the word villa with drugs, violent crime, or illegal activity, but these neighborhoods are as complex and diverse as the people who inhabit them.
For eight years now, Mundo Villa TV has been exploring what remains to many an unknown or undesirable side of the city.
Its young team comprises those living in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires and who experience the daily life there. Although they have endured many hardships (a cameraman tells Al Jazeera his father’s story, killed by drug dealers), they produce and develop stories that go beyond those about trafficking and misery, showing the viewer what the villas are really like.
Joaquín Ramos, director of the program, explains that “many people do not conceive journalism as a way of making a living, they don’t have a clue that communication is a tool, it gives them the power to question, to ask, and to understand reality.” To that end, most of the staff did not know that there were a possibility to actually film in the neighborhood in which they live.
Aired once a week on Congress TV, the show has guests and debates, but above all interesting stories from the streets of Buenos Aires, where journalists take viewers to places and introduce them to people who form part of these communities. Inhabitants, for example, are interviewed to pass messages on to politicians to fight against discrimination. One journalist, Dalma Villalba, mentions that “if they live here, people have to hide their address to find a job,” thus demonstrating how the program offers another point of view, aiming to change misconceptions and prejudices.
The show is also available on YouTube, where it reaches a younger audience and encourages them to make a difference in the way their barrios are treated by the media. A must-watch for anyone who wants to explore the other side of Buenos Aires!