BUENOS AIRES – With a big smile and a look of pride, Emanuel Molla wears the uniform of the Argentine Postal Service. His daily mail-delivery route through the irregular maze of flimsy structures that make up the 21-24 neighborhood of Buenos Aires is a fight for the dignity of its residents.
Though it appears to be a basic service, in this shantytown there has only been a mailman for the last three years, when Cristian Heredia, president of the 21-24 neighborhood, struggled to allow citizens here to receive their mail at the door of their houses.
Molla was born and raised among the crowded dwellings, power blackouts and puddles of stagnant water of the slum, where since 2013 he has been one of its two mailmen, a service that is nonexistent in any of the other poor neighborhoods of the city or its surroundings.
“House No. 165! Chilaber Espinola?” Molla’s cry mixes with dogs barking. “I have a postcard for you. You have to sign here,” he tells a resident, who sticks his head out timidly through the bars on his window.
Before they were able to obtain the service, residents had to line up at a place outside the neighborhood where piles of mail were dumped by mailmen afraid to enter the slum.
Both Heredia and Molla speak of integration and want to see an end of the stereotypes on television and in the press about such underprivileged neighborhoods: violence, drug trafficking, muggings...
“May the residents of this neighborhood be seen as citizens and that we are integrated into the urban structure that is the city of Buenos Aires, which has always left us out,” Heredia said, while Molla got back on his route through the slum.
Among the graffiti on a wall down the street someone had sprayed the phrase: “My homeland is my neighborhood.”