Safety in Argentina
Safety in Argentina
Argentina is safer than many Latin American countries. However, recent political and economic instability has caused an increase in street crime—mainly pickpocketing, bag-snatching, and occasionally mugging—especially in Buenos Aires. Taking a few precautions when traveling in the region is usually enough to avoid being a target.
Crime. Walk with purpose; if you don't look like a target, you'll likely be left alone. Avoid wearing jewelry, even nice-looking immitation items. Keep a grip on your purse or bag, and keep it in your lap if you're sitting (never leave it hanging on the back of a chair or on the floor). Make use of your hotel safe, consider carrying a dummy wallet, or keep your valuables in several different places on your person. Keep enough on hand to have something to hand over if you do get mugged. Nearly all physical attacks on tourists are the direct result of their resisting would-be pickpockets or muggers; comply with demands, hand over your stuff, and try to get the situation over with as quickly as possible—then let your travel insurance take care of it.
Piropos . Women can expect pointed looks, the occasional piropo (a flirtatious remark, usually alluding to some physical aspect), and some advances. These catcalls rarely escalate into actual physical harassment—the best reaction is to make like local girls and ignore it; reply only if you're really confident with Spanish curse words.
Protests. Argentines like to speak their minds, and there has been a huge increase in strikes and street protests since the economic crisis of 2001-02. Protesters frequently block streets in downtown Buenos Aires, causing traffic jams. Trigger-happy local police have historically proved themselves more of a worry than the demonstrators; though protests are usually peaceful, exercise caution.
Scams. Beware scams such as a kindly passer-by offering to help you clean the mustard/ketchup/cream that has somehow appeared on your clothes: while your attention is occupied, an accomplice picks your pocket or snatches your bag. When taking a taxi, hailing one during the day in big cities is usually safe, but be sure the driver turns the meter on. Have a good idea of where you're headed to avoid being taken on a circuitous route. Some salespeople, especially street vendors, take advantage of confused tourists by charging dollars for goods that are actually priced in pesos. If you're in doubt, ask.
Advisories and Other Information
Transportation Security Administration (www.tsa.gov.)
U.S. Department of State (www.travel.state.gov.)
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