BUENOS AIRES — City living often means getting to know your neighbors well, though not necessarily by choice. Whether its late-night partying or that leak from their floor through your ceiling, apartment dwellers often find themselves face-to-face with very tangible conflicts with their fellow citizens. Buenos Aires, a city where people increasingly live in tight quarters, wants to help its residents to avoid winding up in court — or coming to blows.
Alejandro Amor, the city ombudsman, has launched a new Buenos Aires guide that explains the various mediation services available in the Argentine capital. "Arguments ... are very frequent in big cities, and more so if we don't know our neighbors and only have distant relations with them," says Amor.
The Basic Guide to Rights: Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration is being distributed on street corners and in kiosks, with information for people about how to talk to neighbors, approach a mediator, as well as broader questions such as consumer rights and complaints about city services.
Buenos Aires reports that the most frequent problems in residential buildings are actually administrative (more than 40% of cases), then leaks (30%), followed by disputes among neighbors (7.9%) and noise (5.1%). The ombudsman office recounts some of the more memorable conflicts resolved by city mediators: the man who took an axe to a neighbor's Honda that was blocking his garage, the family cut off from their bathroom because a neighbor had somehow broken in and "annexed" it into his own flat, or the family forced to build a coop for their cockerel to help it sleep a little longer so others in the building could too.
Viva the peacemakers!