Setting of La Salada Market, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ingeniero Budge


It used to be a place of recreation. Other than Urkupiña (named for the Bolivian Virgin of Urkupiña) the fairs are named for the old resorts that many years ago offered salt-water swimming pools, thermal springs and therapies: Atlántida, Punta Mogote and Ocean. The resorts were in business for decades, until the owners of some decided to empty the pools of water and fill them instead with tonnes of wreckage, turning them into the fairs that now stand on the site. Some people claim that as late as 2005 it was still possible on hot days to take a refreshing dip there.
Today, there is almost no trace of this air of calm. Many years before 2005, in the aftermath of the great hyperinflation at the end of 1980, the relaxation had been replaced with the bustle of commerce at the blistering pace of an economic model that burst into the lives of the residents of Ingeniero Budge and neighbouring areas during the 90s. Over the pools and the waterlogged soil that characterised the area, immense sheds were set up, subdivided into stalls to rent individually to stallholders. Outside, after the 2001 crisis, the streets were blocked and filled with metal structures to copy the business model of Punta Mogote, Ocean, Urkupiña and Atlántida.

If, according to the Argentine Garment Industry Chamber, only 30% of the Argentine garment industry belongs to the circuit of formal production, the remaining 70% is dominated by La Salada. Through a complex network of workshops, small landlords, entrepreneurs, administrators, guardians, policemen, cart pullers and storage managers, La Salada has become something more than a fair: it is an important supply centre of clothing for the working-class of both Argentina and neighbouring countries. 

And though its tentacles reach thousand kilometres away from Buenos Aires, La Salada remains a space teeming with local issues. Irma collects money from shoppers at the entrance of public restrooms and is worried about her daughter’s new friendships. Alejandro works as a cart puller and spent the night in a hospital in the Federal District because his son is sick with an illness that doctors cannot diagnose. Sebastian is a stallholder trying to rescatarse (to be rehabilitated) after being a user of free-base cocaine for two years. Everyone fears being hurt. Everyone see things. Everyone has a story of hardship to tell. Nobody trusts the police. Many residents who don’t work at the fair suffer because of it. But others, waking early each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday morning, have made positive achievements in their lives. A market emerges.


Ingeniero Budge is a neighbourhood located in Lomas de Zamora, a district of the Buenos Aires Province. A vast part of Ingeniero Budge borders the Riachuelo, a river suffering from heavy pollution (see homepage). Two markets, now separated by an avenue, are situated along the river bank.


The market has an enormous impact in terms of accessibility to the neighbourhood. It changes residents' lives. During the working days of the market, buses—the only public transport available—change their itinerary or do not stop at the usual stops. Ambulances do not enter the neighborhood and fixed-fare taxis or private cars are the only means of getting out.

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