The fight against guns in Argentina

Teresa Bo reports on one woman's scheme to tackle Argentina's gun problem.

by

    Lidia Burry has begun her own initiative to
    tackle Argentina's gun problem

    Lidia Burry is 82-years old and is fighting her own war against poverty and crime in Argentina's shanty towns.

    In Argentina there are more than two and a half million guns, many of them hidden inside the slums of Buenos Aires, where they become the source of one of Argentina's biggest problems, an increasing crime rate.

    Burry is taking matters into her own hands by doing what many would be afraid of - buying the guns from the criminals.

    "If I had enough money, I would disarm Argentina," she says.

    "All I do is offer this young people an alternative. Guns are infecting our society, especially the poor areas where most youngsters have no hope."

    Every day Burry visits a poor neighbourhood outside Buenos Aires.

    There, she tries to convince the people to give up their weapons in exchange for money and food.

    In the slums, many young people become criminals to survive.

    They say that stealing is their only option.

    Life of crime

    Two young men have called Burry and are willing to give up two guns. Walter and Leo are 20-years old.

    Burry's guns are turned into works of art
    "I am a thief. It is the only way I can make a living," says Walter.

    "I tried to get a job, but once you've been in prison nobody wants you. My brother was shot once and nearly died. I don't want to end up like him."

    Leo says: "We need work... We are not thieves because we want to. Nobody gives us anything."
     
    "At least Lidia tries to help us. She made a huge difference in our neighbourhood."

    She pays them $60 and tells them to come back with more.

    Works of art

    Burry has managed to recover 1,000 guns and is hoping for more. Money is one of her biggest problems.

    "It is not easy to get cash for a project such as this one. I am putting my own money," she says.

    "Most politicians are afraid of getting their hands dirty. They talk of big projects that never come to effect. Mine is a small one that at least is making a difference."

    Burry donates the guns to a group of artists who then melt them down into statues.
     
    A small project with a big challenge in a country where violence is becoming an every day issue.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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