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Justice

Putting Slums on the Map

Activists in Buenos Aires seek to improve conditions by including marginalized neighborhoods on official maps.
Part of Villa 20, a large slum in Buenos Aires
Part of Villa 20, a large slum in Buenos Aires Caminos de la Villa

Slums house a tenth of the inhabitants of Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. Yet until recently they did not appear on Google or on official maps—and some still don’t. On Google Maps, the neighborhoods may look like gray smudges. When you type their names into the search bar, often, nothing comes up.

“Not being on a map has a lot of consequences,” says Mónica Ruejas, an elected representative of the Los Piletones slum. “It creates a lot of difficulties for us.” For example, residents have to make up their addresses at doctor’s visits, and can’t receive mail.