Labour pains: The dilemmas faced by Asian mothers on the Gold Coast

Emma investigates the dilemmas faced by Asian mothers living on the Gold Coast

Asian mothers living on the Gold Coast want to be part of the Australian community and healthcare, but when they are unable to follow cultural practices during labour and after birth they can be left feeling sad, anxious and helpless.

eye design clothes

eye design clothes

Faye is a young Chinese mother, whose baby was born at the GCUH.  Faye says she was not happy and she suffered anxiety, although she admits she was provided with a very professional medical service.

Faye said it was a painful process of waiting for the baby to be born made worse because staff were not aware of the different cultural health practices. “During that time, the nurse constantly brings ice water to me and urges me again and again to drink the water.” However, Faye said she could not drink the water, because she thought that drinking the water with ice will increase the pain. In addition, she said, the nurse also gave her cold water after giving birth and emphasized that drinking water would assist in milk production, which made her feel very anxious.

In fact, Faye cannot accept the cold water due to her own culture. “Since my childhood I was told that if I am in poor health condition I cannot drink cold water at all, especially after a woman just giving birth.” Although Faye was very upset at that time, she drank the ice water because she did not know how to say no.

In addition, there is another thing that made her feel disappointed. She said, “My son has to wear a special clothes with eyes design at the first time after he birth, which was prepared by her grandma, but I failed to fulfil this custom in Australia.” Faye did not dare to mention this with her family.

To wear clothes with the eye pattern is a very important practice for newborns, which represents the auspicious life and newborn babies will have a bright future. However, because there is no timely communication with the nurse this led to her baby failing to fulfil this important custom, which made her very upset.

Annie, another Chinese mother living on the Gold Coast, whose baby was born late last year, had decided to make the trip back to her hometown to give birth, because she felt that it would be better than giving birth in Australia. She took a more than ten hours’ flight back to China, when she was almost eight months pregnant. Annie said that she and her husband felt overwhelmed with facing the new baby’s birth, and they also was concerned about how to provide a good postnatal care for the new mother in Australia.

In non-western cultures, there are many health practices, especially in terms of postnatal care, and some rules need to be strictly abided by. That is why Faye cared about the temperature of the water and why Annie was so worried about the complex rules for the postnatal care and went back to China to give birth.

In Western cultures, once the baby is born, the all focus is on the baby rather than the mother. The common practice is to celebrate the baby with baby showers and visits from friends and family who come bring gifts all for the baby. However, Non-Western cultures place great attention on the health and recovery of the new mother. There are many different beliefs and practices in non-cultures and two common belief of which play significant roles.

One common belief is to maintain balance between hot and cold within body and environment, especially in the period of postpartum care. According to Karen’s blog, the concepts of hot-cold balance in healthcare area have a long history in the traditional cultures of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, which also called humoral theories. Karen writes that because the blood is considered hot and after women give birth the body condition is considered cold, to keep warm and avoid touch cold stuff is very important in order to recover humoral balance. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Faye was so concerned about the cold water that the nurse gave her.

Dana, a Korean new mother, whose baby was born in the GCUH, says in Korean culture new mothers are not allowed to eat cold or hard foods, nor can they be exposed to cold weather and cannot take showers. However, in Australian hospital the air-conditioner is open all the time and nurse always urged her to take shower that made she felt so cold and anxious after she give birth.

The second common practice is to encourage rest and confinement up to 40 days after birth to regain energy and strength, and during postpartum period women’s internal organs and tissues will be recovered. In Karen’s blog, there are many different postpartum care experience related to many countries, such as Korea, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. She said some rituals, behavioral restrictions and proscription of the postnatal care aim to make sure that the new mother can restore energy to focus on caring for her baby and herself.

Dana said, in Korean, they call the postpartum care samchilil, in which period there are so many behavioral restrictions and special diet for milk production. Miyuk-kuk is the traditional soup and is prepared for new mothers to eat at least 2-3 times a day during samchilil. “The meal in the hospital don’t suitable for me and to prepare miyuk-kuk and deliver it to hospital is too much trouble, so I went back home from the hospital as soon as possible.”

Zubida

Zubida and Emma

In addition, Zubida is an Iraqi mother, had her the second baby in Australia. She said, she stayed in door for 40 days after giving birth. In her culture, people believe that because of lochia, the normal discharge from the uterus after childbirth, women after birth are believed to be susceptible to evil spirits, so they do not leave their homes, and are not allowed to cook or clean for the first 40 days. Zubida said, after she gave birth, her parents came to Australia and dedicated to take care of her for the postnatal care. She said, “If there was no relatives come for help, I would really feel very helpless, also cannot cope with such a long time to take care of myself.”

Australia is a multicultural country, Queensland government pays attention to the cultural dimensions of pregnancy, birth and post-natal care. On Queensland Government’s website, there are many multicultural clinical support resource.The profiles present health and socio-cultural information which focuses on the pregnancy, birth and post-natal care practices of 11 multicultural communities in Queensland, as well as general information about each community. It encourages healthcare providers to actively explore cultural issues with patients and cautions against stereotyping.

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Gold Coast University Hospital

In addition, the GCUH also actively deals with the cultural differences that exist in the hospital, and constantly develop and perfect their medical services. Julie works in the GCUH as an obstetric nurse. She told me in email that as a nurse, it requires cultural knowledge and ability to provide multicultural services. Moreover, the GCUH is providing interpreters, group supports and other resources according to clients’ requirement. “Health workers are given continuous education through lectures online and face-to-face encounters about multicultural problems and their corresponding solutions.”  The GCUH are also distributing pamphlets, T-shirts and video materials advocating the solutions about cultural difference in health care system.

In the interview with Julie, I asked why these dilemmas  still exist. Julie said that Faye’s experience was a  vivid example of failure in rendering a holistic nursing care and management.  “As a nurse, it is a part of our professional ethics to consider and respect the rights of our patients and their families. Nurses should know their patients beyond their presenting problems but also their religion, beliefs, race, traditions and customs in order to give a better nursing care base on the nursing standards. However, not all Asian women are bound to follow their native cultures and traditions. Some of them are already exposed to more westernized way of living. So it always safe and advisable to treat each client individually.” Therefore, in these bad experiences, such as the cold water, the eye design clothes, and the shower and air-conditioner matters, she thinks the main problem is lack of an effective communication.

In terms of how to improve the effectiveness of communication, she said “I have a Chinese patient that can only speak Mandarin and few English words. She cannot understand our instructions and queries. This is an example of language barrier that can affect in the rendition of our care to her. ” In this situation, an interpreter should be arranged in order to have a better communication and to uplift a better nursing care and management. Furthermore, she said “nurses should not give up on one of the many barriers that we encounter on a daily basis. Instead, we should be encouraged to find ways to remove any hindrances that can affect the standard of our care.”

The problem that some Asian women feel helpless when they face to their own postnatal care and the confinement, Julie mentioned that currently the GCUH has upgraded the postpartum tracking service. A family doctor will visit to new mothers’ home after they leave the hospital and doctors will assist in their health and give some effective rehabilitation guidance. The family doctor will visit the new mothers every day during the first week, and the number and frequency of visit will gradually decrease with the degree of rehabilitation and needs. The GCUH wants to provide good healthcare for each new mother when they back home from the hospital. Although it cannot help them with household chores, family doctor will try to give them support and help.

At the end of the interview between Faye and I, Faye said, in Chinese cultural saying ”no” to the person who gives you help is very impolite, which means she cannot to refuse others offers to help. She also believes that the reasons causing her bad experiences are lack of initiative to communicate with the nurse. In the future, she said, if she wants to integrate into Australian community and becomes apart of them, it is important to conduct effective communication.

Culture plays a significant role in the way a woman perceives and prepares for her birthing experience. As Julie said, everyone knows that each culture has their own values, beliefs and practices related to pregnancy and birth. Not all Asian women are bound to follow their native cultures and traditions, and some of them are already exposed to more westernized way of living. However, there are other women who still consider that to follow their own traditional pregnancy and birth practices is very important. Queensland government believe that “if health care providers are familiar with different ideas, rituals and behavioural restrictions and proscriptions, and communicate with the women for whom they care, then women from different backgrounds will have more choices.”

At the end, Julie said, some Asian women still have the problems of multicultural service and face to some dilemmas, which is an inspiration for them to be more assertive and to ask preferences depending on their culture. For instance, “if a mother will ask for a glass of water, it is always advisable to ask her what she preferred: hot, warm, lukewarm, or cold water.”

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Same Sex Marriage: China and Australia

Same Sex Marriage in China and Australia by Jian Yuan Guo

Same Sex Marriage or No Same Sex Marriage? Who is to determine what is right for society or not right for society? The acceptance of Same Sex Marriage within Australia has under gone significant speculation? What about the Chinese population? From a recent survey conducted by the Chinese Government, Chinese homosexuals are numbered to be 30 million. Whilst in Australia, homosexuals are accounted for approximately 23,000. JianYuan Guo investigates the differences of Chinese and Australian homosexuals living under different circumstances and pressures of society.

Homosexuality, in fact is a social phenomenon, that has existed for thousands of year. Historically, many talented artists, philosophers have been regarded as being gay, such as Socrates, Plato, Michelangelo, Whitman, and many other excellent gay celebrities. However, the notion of homosexuality has been noted as being against the traditional society and moral standards. Up until today, the homosexual community is still an extremely marginalized sub-group, and often regarded as alien, which is not accepted by mainstream society.

Due to the differences in of the Chinese population the perception of values, communication and information channels are substantially different to the modern day Australian population. In China, it has been reported by homosexuals that, significant amounts of speculation, jealousy and social pressure arises. Due to the lack of respect and acceptance from the general Chinese Community, seriously affecting the livelihood and mental health on the individual. Many same sex partners believe, if same sex marriage is approved, it will be the best way to be respected from the heterosexual community, whilst also eliminating discrimination and injustice.

In 1997, the Chinese Government abolished the Hooligan law, an act considered by most to decriminalize homosexuality and in 2001, the Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of disorders. From such changes, the social status of homosexuals has changed, however, this special group in China is still discriminated and living under large social pressures. Most homosexuals in China are forced to marry heterosexuals by their family. From ancient traditions, a Chinese saying that ‘those who lack filial piety, are the worst especially those who have no children’. From such traditions, young women as young as 25 are forced to marry and bear children from a young age to fulfill their responsibility and carry no shame to their family name.

In China, at least 80% of the 30 million homosexuals have been or about to enter into marriage with heterosexuals by covering their homosexual identity, where they face pressure from society and tradition. In other words, at least 24 million homosexuals will build a family with heterosexuals. Undoubtedly, the specially arranged marriage makes it difficult to achieve a couple’s obligations such as sex, which will cause detrimental psychological pain, even tragedy in these marriages.

Jie Tan (alias) is a 26 year old Chinese lesbian whose girlfriend has been forced to marry to a man by her parents. “She did not want to break her parents’ heart, so she chose to marry a man, which she had only met for 2 months. She called me before her wedding and asked me whether or not I would hate her because she chose to follow her parents’ wishes. I was heart broken, but realized that I cannot do anything to change this situation,” says Jie

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Jie Tan

  

Jie says her girlfriends marriage is going badly. “She always feels that she must fulfill an obligation  when her husband asked for sex, but she instinctively curls her body up, and feels very frightened and scared. She also told me that she is very obnoxious when her husband tries to have sex with her. She assumes that her husband also feels disappointed and suspicions,” says Jie.

In China, few homosexuals would be brave enough to admit their sexual orientation. Many of them have heterosexual spouses. Occasionally some homosexuals have a marriage where they are able to reach an “agreement” with their spouses in order to reduce social pressures on themselves and camouflage a homosexual orientation.

According to Jie, “Some Chinese lesbians would have a ‘boyfriend’ to cover their sexual orientation. They would make an agreement after marriage to not interfere with each other’s personal life. In order to get along in the future. In fact, this is a last resort option, but compared with the marriage with heterosexual, at least they did not cheat on each other and will not be condemned by themselves and have a little bit of comfort.”

Many homosexuals in China believe the fundamental way to solve this problem is for the Government to approve to same sex marriage. They believe that legal marriage would objectively correct the understanding of homosexuality, eliminate prejudice, and build social respect. These homosexuals believed that the family recognition is one of the important ways to change the plight of 30 million homosexuals in order solve these special issues.

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Lydia Chan

Interview with Lidia Chan 

Lidia Chan (alias) is an Australian lesbian. She said “ most of my family members have not disagreed with my relationship with a girl. However, they would prefer if I choose a boy, but if I insist on choosing a girl, they would accept that. However, I have been discriminated by several family members. They believe that a homosexual relationship will not have a happy ending.”

In Australia, society and media have given homosexuals more attention than China. In Sydney, there is an annual gay and lesbian Mardi Gras Parade which is held in Sydney CBD, and Australia also has a lot of non-profit organizations and communities which support homosexuals to get their rights.

However, although Australia seems to be an open country, Same Sex Marriage has not yet been approved. On October 22, 2013, Australian Capital has approved Marriage Equality Act, however, on December 12, 2013, the High Court of Australia ruled that same-sex marriage is invalid.

“We would not expect and influence people to become homosexuals. We just only want equal opportunity and support. We believe marriage is only way to achieve it. Most homosexuals have found out that they are homosexuals from a young age, and we have never be in love with the opposite sex, we psychologically are limited to our choice,” says Chen

Though investigation, I found out that most homosexuals in both countries have suffered long term discrimination and unrecognized relationships which can lead to detrimental  behaviors. In China, it was founded that 30% to 35% had ‘Strong Suicidal Thoughts’; 9% to 13% had ‘Suicidal Behavior’; 67% felt ‘Very Lonely’; and 63% felt ‘Quite Depressed’. Comparatively in Australia, suicide is also amongst the high levels of risk amongst lesbians and gays. Of the 4,824 people from the electoral roll in Canberra, it showed that gay men were at a higher risk to suicide than heterosexual men.

Chen says, “so much mutual victimization behavior only would appear when this group generally suffers severe rejection. It is not a personality problem. It is a reason why we really want to be respected from heterosexuals, and we think if the government approves gay marriage, it can influence the thought from the next generation and radically change the situation to be a more acceptable society.”

Although Australia is an multi-cultured country, Australia has been structured with a strong Christian belief. On October 22, 2013, when the Australian Capital approved the Marriage Equality Act, Sydney’s main Christian churches made a coordinated appeal against same-sex marriage straight from the pulpit in a bid to rally in opposition and arranged anti-gay marriage marches before the federal parliamentary vote. To clarify issues, I asked Lilian Chen (alias) a Christian, to understand why so many people disagree with same sex marriage. I met her at of a quiet restaurant close to her home.

“In Bible, God has taught us that homosexuality is crime. In Leviticus 20:13, it clearly states, that if a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Lilian Chen said, “ In fact, the same sex marriage is not only destroys traditional marriage, the ultimate conspiracy is to combat and destroy the church which was built by God.”

Bible’s photo

I asked her if the government approving the same sex relationship was part of  protecting human rights?”

Lilian: “Protecting equal marriage rights is for those who meet the criteria of equal marriage. If the government approves legislation of same sex marriage, then, multilateral marriage (open sexual relationships), and even the human-animal marriages are likely to be approved in the future. If we do not approve it, people would say the activity is against the human right.”

Lilian also added “Moreover, If government approves legislation of same sex marriage, it might increase the rate of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).”

In 1981, the first cases of AIDS found in the world were a male homosexual. According to the Chinese Health Ministry’s figures released last year, the Chinese male homosexual HIV infection rate was reported to be 1.35%. This figure is nearly twenty times higher than the rate of infection general population.

Many people correspond the thought of AIDS with homosexuality. Due to a large population of homosexuals, and often accompanied by high-risk sexual behavior, homosexuals have a higher risk of AIDS.

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Lillian Chen

Interview with Lilian Chen 

In China, many homosexuals establish a family and have children with heterosexuals. But many of them conceal their homosexual identity to their wives in what is called “double life.” This is quite common situation in the homosexual community.

A potential danger is that if her husband is having sex with men who are infected with AIDS virus, his wife has very high probability to be infected. Once the virus spreads to many families, it would not be only that family which has be spread due to the “double life”. It is no longer a simple issue of homosexuality, but will evolve into a social problem. That is a reason why so many people would not support homosexuals, even the legislation of homosexuals’ marriage.

 I asked Chen what option were available for homosexuals. Can it be “cured”?

Lilian: “ Yes, actually, I have seen many cases of homosexuals have been cured in our church after they follow the teaching from God and try their best to become a cleansed person.”

This view is not a common one, and one that is rejected by most experts and people in the community.

Like many homosexuals in China Jie admits she was taken to a psychiatrist when she was a teenager.

 “ I used to force myself. I did not in speak or contact with any girls. I tried to look for boys but it made me unhappy, really unhappy. As long as I am such a person, I’d rather have nothing, I really think so.”

For Jie the treatment “failed”.  “Once I started to find who I am, I found true peace in my mind. Correction or a treatment is based on an idea, the idea is that homosexuality is wrong thing. In fact, in nature, a tree does not have totally the same leaves. In the world, people are different as well. So, I want to get married with my lover, because I can not change who I am and I want to have the a same rights as heterosexuals.”

On the day, the Australia High Court overturned same-sex marriage laws, many Australians have posted their views on Twitter. Sarah Hanson-Yong is a Greens Senator, she said:Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 8.53.34 am

Actually, if everyone can treat the same sex marriage like what she thinks the future of same sex marriage would not be far away.

Paint it black. Paint it Fujianese.

Pablo Tognetti investigates  the mob’s modus operandi in Argentina.

‘My life remains valuable.’ Cheng Chui Ping (known as Sister Pig) insisted, during the sentencing phase of her trial. Last April she died of cancer. She was serving a thirty-five-year sentence for operating a sophisticated immigration-smuggling ring that transported thousands of undocumented migrants from southeast China to the United States. Ping was born in the poor farming village of Shengmei in northern Fujian province, China

Fuijan has a population of almost 36.000.000 people. Mostly mountainous and traditionally described as ‘eight parts mountain, one part water and one part farmland.’ Rice, sweet potatoes, wheat and barely are the main crops. The province is separated from Taiwan by only 180 km. There is a famous expression that says ‘if you drive 10 km in Fujian the culture changes, and if you drive 20 km, the language does. Untitled

Chinese immigration to Argentina

Argentina receives a considerable number of people from Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay that are looking for Argentine citizenship. Quite obvious when you have the opportunity to know their lifestyles and minimum career opportunities for non-educated people.  What makes people travel 19.000 km to the unknown? To the other side of the word, where customs, values and ethics are so different.

According to the latest population census, Chinese community is the biggest Asian immigrant group in Argentina, consisting of over 120.000 citizens. And this influential community is helping to shape a new and more varied country. With their different perspectives on life, time, business and education.

According to Ana Kuo, director and co-founder of the Chinese-Argentine Cultural Association, since the beginning of the 20th century there have been three Chinese immigrants’ waves who came to Argentina looking for a better life. The first came from small coastal towns between 1914 and 1949, but the quantity was considered so insignificant that the National Migration Office doesn’t have any official figures available. The group mostly established in rural areas in the city of Buenos Aires and worked in horticultural cooperatives, together with the Japanese community

The second wave began in the 1980s and it was mainly composed of Taiwanese families who had escaped the mainland Communist regime. The majority of them with enough capital to set up their own businesses. There was also a considerable amount of immigration at this time from Hong Kong and the southern coastal region of China, with many trying their luck at opening restaurants in Belgrano. One of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires. In the 1990s’ a third wave began with immigrants arriving from the less developed and poor province of Fujian. It is this community that turned toward managing small supermarkets. At the present time, there are almost 15.000 Chinese supermarkets, which employ around 25.000 Chinese citizens, according to official figures from the Federation of Chinese Supermarkets and CCR (the biggest audit company in Latin America). the

Moving from China to Argentina
Imagine you are a young Chinese living in Fuijan. Having a tough life working endless hours on a farm and with no access to education. You are meant to live a miserable life. That is why, every year, more and more Chinese decide to move. Looking for a new life.

In Argentina an illegal group (Chinese and Argentinians known as the “mob”) controls the whole process for those ones looking for a new life. Basically they are businessmen with political contacts. Most of their businesses are illegal and they require to laundry their profits. Those illegal profits function as a loan for any Chinese who wants to launch a commercial activity in Argentina. There are only two essential conditions: cancel the debt (plus interests) in the next five years. And reach certain profitability objectives. In exchange, they would help them to find a good location for the supermarket and would take care of the citizenship’s process as well.

The life of a Fujianese in Buenos Aires

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Chinese supermarket in Buenos Aires

Menglin Zhang is a 37-year-old Chinese businessman who has lived in Buenos Aires for the last 12 years. He got married in Argentina and now they have two beautiful daughters, both of them attending the same primary school in Belgrano’s neighbourhood. He was born and raised in Fuijan and when he was 25, he embarked in a journey that changed his life forever.

Her sister and husband were already living in Argentina when he arrived at Buenos Aires’ airport. Back in China, he worked for a brewery company and then for an advertising agency. One day, he received a phone call from this brother in law, Li, asking him if he was keen to travel to Argentina to develop a business with him. He was looking for a business partner. The first two years in Buenos Aires Menglin worked in Li’s store and after that they opened a new store. Offering natural and healthy Asian products.

But how does it feel being a Chinese in Argentina? How does he manage the cultural clashes? The Spanish name for Menglin is León (lion in English). Spanish speakers do not have an outstanding pronunciation for Asian names, that is why they create an alias. To simplify communication. When León arrived to Argentina, he went for three weeks to a Spanish institute. Then he took particular lessons and finally he decided to continue with his learning on his own. Listening to the radio, watching TV, reading the newspaper and with a dictionary always in his bag. He used to think ‘Why being afraid of speaking in Spanish if Argentinians don’t know how to speak Chinese.’

I asked him what he really likes about Argentina. “I love the warm weather and the meat. Here ‘asados’ (the south American version for a barbecue) are a central aspect of life and friendships. The passion of soccer fans is something incredible, something that still surprises me.”  But not everything in life is a fairy tale, and Argentina is not an exception. He criticizes the Argentinian “lack of patriotism”,  “immaturity”  and  “complete absence of credibility and sense of responsibility.” We are talking about a country were the corruption is a major issue. According to a latest research by the University of Vanderbilt in Tennessee: 20% of Argentinians, who participated in the survey, assure that during the last twelve months they have experienced bribery. Bolivia, Haiti and Ecuador rank at the top with almost a 40%.

León believes that Argentina needs to decrease their levels of corruption and insecurity. He has been robbed twice in his store, both with guns aiming at his head. Menglin is not planning to move back to China. He has learnt to appreciate and love the country.

The life of a Chinese student in Argentina

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Leon

Lian Xiari (summer sun in English) is 24 years and moved to Buenos Aires 10 years ago. His Argentinian alias is Marcos. Originally from Fuijan and now studying architecture at the University of Buenos Aires. His parents moved when he was a kid, so he used to live with his grandparents. ‘I still remember heaps of people back home and plenty of noise everywhere. We used to live in the suburbs where the houses are really small and old-fashioned. We weren’t a rich family at all. I helped my grandparents in the farm, taking care of the potatoes, rice and jasmine plantations.’ When Lian arrived to Buenos Aires he was 14 years old and he went straight to high school. Meanwhile he had to work in his parents’ supermarket. ‘I wouldn’t say I had to work, I just helped my parents. It’s my duty as a son. They have always looked after me. I didn’t have a salary, but they used to give me some money. I can’t complaint, they buy me everything I need.’

Marcos was lucky that his parents didn’t force him to do something that he really didn’t want to. It is a Chinese tradition to obey your parents’ wishes and desires. Now Marcos has decided that he wants to stay in Buenos Aires and live in a house designed by him. On the other hand he knows that his family is going to return to China soon. Their aim is no to stay in Argentina for the rest of their life. They need to go back to their roots. To their land 

How the Chinese’ mob operates in Buenos Aires

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Christian Gallo

Christian Gallo is the owner of the biggest food & beverage distributor in Buenos Aires (DICAMI). His company has direct business contact with almost 300 Chinese supermarkets and he knows the community in depth. For the last 13 years he has had the opportunity to build business and personal relationships with his bigger clients. And had access to vital information regarding mob’s method of operations.

He says ‘Once the supermarket is running, managers are going to receive a visit from the clan that manages the area where the store is locates. And they will be encouraged to pay a semester fee. The amount depends on the neighbour and on the size of the store. The biggest Chinese supermarkets used to pay U$S 100.000 a year. In exchange, the clan will provide three things. Protection. The certainty that no other supermarket is going to open nearby. And the promise you will not get killed.’ Now the supermarket has the clans’ signature. Usually they paint the front doors with a special colour, in order to communicate that the store is already being protected

During 2012, there were twelve different clans operating simultaneously in Buenos Aires. The strength of them was defined by their firepower. This means by the number of killers working for the clan, most of them Colombians, Peruvians and Argentinians. ‘The payment was attached to the kind of mission. For example: shooting to someone’s legs costed in between $5.000 and $8.000. Shooting to someone’s chest in between $10.000 and $15.000. And shooting someone to death in between $20.000 and $50.000. Paying was always the best alternative for Chinese supermarkets. They know this is not a joke.’

Recently there have been dozens of cases of Chinese citizens being smuggled from Uruguay and Bolivia into Argentina, the government official alleged. To make matters worse, Chinese supermarkets have been hit by a series of mafia-style killings that have targeted the store’s managers. In the last five years a total of 31 murders have taken place, a recent investigative report published in La Nación’s newspaper. This year alone there have been four supermarket managers killed because they refused to pay bribes.

In order to combat the rise in crime within the community, since 2010 the Argentine federal police have hired dozens of Chinese intelligence operatives and interpreters from Fujian province. In the last two years there have been 12 Chinese citizens deported and 14 are serving jail sentences. Nowadays, according to police records, there are only seven clans active in Buenos Aires.

On top of the rise in crime, the current economic crisis has also hit the Chinese supermarket sector hard. Inflation, currency controls and a plunge in purchasing-power has forced around 500 Chinese supermarkets to close in the last four months alone. Most of them are going back to China or moving to new businesses. How is the Chinese mob going to adjust their structures to Argentina’s crisis? A new chapter is going to be written. Wondering if it is going to be a peaceful one.