A cartonero (garbage picker) snoozes in Buenos Aires. The graffiti next to him says, “¿Y vos que haces?” (And what do you do?)
Cartonero (Garbage recycler)
Resides: Villa Fiorito
Q: You’re from Villa Fiorito, where Diego Maradona is from. What is it like?
It’s peaceful. I like it. My mom and sister live there too. I think it’s nice but other people go running when they hear ‘Villa Fiorito.’
• You have two kids with your girlfriend now, when are you going to get married?
Never! Are you kidding? If I get married what happens if I want to go with a girl I meet? I don’t want a ring on my finger and neither does my girlfriend. I like to party, I go dancing, I pick up girls all day long.
Anyway, once you get married then you just fight.
• Isn’t it dangerous to go with any girl you meet dancing?
No, I’m careful.
• And what about your girlfriend, can she just go off with any guy?
Yeah! She does too!
• Don’t you get jealous?
No, why? If she goes off with some guy it costs me less money. He can feed her!
• What if another guy wants to take her away for good?
Then he can take her! I’m there for the kids, not for her.
• What’s your favorite music?
Cumbia — Damas Gratis.
• Last time we talked, after you were hit by a car, you were leaving your previous lifestyle behind and not partying at all, what about now?
I party on the weekends, but I don’t do paco (crack) – never! I take care of myself. I’m not one who gets crazy. I’m not one to fight. I drink my beer and I’m cool. If people want to fight they should fight with each other, not with me.
• What happened after you got hit by the car that ran a red light while on the job? Did you get a settlement?
Nah, I didn’t get squat. The cops said they lost the (police) report. My lawyer didn’t do anything. That’s the way it goes.
• When you started working as a cartonero you also left behind a life of crime. Is it difficult doing this hard, dirty work for so little money when you know you could just rob someone and get the same money very easily?
Nah, no more of that for me. I don’t want to spend like eight years in jail. And then when you get out everyone says, ‘Look at him, he’s a thief.’ I prefer to be with my kids any day.
My girlfriend is scared that I’m going to rob people when I’m coming to work. We fight about that all the time. Because when I met her I was robbing people and drinking all the time, so she got that idea stuck in her head. But I’m done. I don’t want anything to do with that. Anyway, the cops will kill you on the spot.
• You used to not bring your kids out here, but today you’re with your two year old, Luca. What gives?
He’s like a little adult, he can hot wire a car in two seconds. But he’s a savage. He fights with the other kids in the neighborhood — we have problems with the neighbors because of that, so I brought him to hang out with me.
Anyway in two days I’m starting another job, I’m going to work selling newspapers.
Are you going to sell La Razón?
Yes, it’s going to be better. I’m going to make more money.
• Is there anything you’d like to tell the readers, foreigners from all over the world?
Don’t do drugs!