Whether life in Buenos Aires is on the up or not depends on who you ask. In 2015 a new president was sworn in after 12 years under the Kirchners, signaling a significant shift to the political center. For many, Mauricio Macri's victory was a welcome change; others were distraught at the defeat of Kirchnerismo. And while homelessness and unemployment in the capital are on the increase, there is a feeling of optimism among many. After all, porteños are nothing if not resilient.
Since narrowly winning the 2015 presidential election as the candidate for Cambiemos (Let's Change'), a coalition of three political parties, Mauricio Macri has set about implementing his plans to encourage foreign investment, a pro-business, free-market reform stance that sets him apart from his leftist, pro-government predecessor.
Macri had been Buenos Aires' mayor since 2007 and was a former president of the Boca Juniors soccer club. His victory came on the back of his promise to improve international relations and loosen economic controls; for many porteños, it was Macri's pledge to relax restrictions on the buying of US dollars that decided their vote. President Obama's visit to Buenos Aires in March 2016 made him the first US president to hold high-level talks with an Argentine leader for 20 years, and was a great boost for Macri less than six months into his presidential term.
But already, porteños are feeling the pinch of Macri's policies, particularly the end of government subsidies of utility bills. Sky-rocketing heat and electricity bills, and rising unemployment, have dampened any optimism surrounding the new political order, and only time will tell if Argentina's new president can kick-start the sluggish economy. Argentina's problems of high inflation and economic instability may not be over just yet.
A Taste of the Future
Despite a discouraging economy and a downturn in tourism in the last few years, Buenos Aires' culinary culture continues to evolve. Intrepid young chefs are providing creative twists to the restaurant scene with relatively new-to-BA concepts such as molecular gastronomy. Chefs Gonzalo Aramburu at Aramburu and Soledad Nardelli at Chila are shaking up the BA food scene with their experimental cooking, while the likes of Leo Lanussol and Augusto Mayer at Proper and Mariano Ramón at Gran Dabbang offer a fresh approach to cooking at more accessible prices.
Buenos Aires was named the 2017 Ibero-American Capital of Gastronomy, prompting the city government to stage a series of events throughout the year. Add to that a few new exciting food fairs, such as the Feria Masticar, and BA is well on its way to becoming a foodie destination.
Meanwhile, BA has embraced craft beer with an almost revolutionary fervor, with a new bar opening practically every week. There's a real sense of camaraderie among local brewers, who get together to exchange tips, and it shows – the IPAs, golden ales and Scotch they produce are improving all the time.
Buenos Aires' public transportation is evolving. The final implementation of the SUBE card meant that obtaining enough coins for the bus was no longer a source of friction and stress in porteños' daily lives (really – it was that bad). And new bus-only Metrobus lanes down big avenues (including 9 de Julio and Juan B Justo) have eased traffic somewhat, though people continue to purchase private cars as an investment against inflation (nobody trusts banks with their savings any more). Congestion in the Center has been relieved by the pedestrianization of more than 100 blocks; making walking around the area a decidedly more pleasant experience. Bicycle use has also increased, as the bike-lane system keeps expanding, and the city's free bike-share program has been deemed a success. In 2014, these efforts were rewarded when Buenos Aires won the Sustainable Transport Award.
Finally, Buenos Aires is at last making serious efforts at recycling its waste. The Ciudad Verde campaign educates porteños on separating waste. Thirty Punto Verdes (green stations) are located in the city's parks and plazas where recyclable materials are collected and information is distributed.