Today we took the City Office up on their offer to ‘come up anytime the light is on’ and asked more questions of Mariela, who is truly becoming our heroine. She knows so much and cares even more. I was interested to hear that cartoneros were commonly considered ‘good’ if they formed cooperatives, but that the chances of all cartoneros forming coops was extremely unlikely. We raced from there to visit Marcela de Luca, an engineer who works for both UBA and as a consultant funded by many different organisations including CEAMSE. We knew she had studied cartoneros and waste management in the city for years but had no idea what a wealth of information she would be. Again, she really cares about the cartoneros, but in a very different way to others we have spoken to. Marcela worries about the under 15 year olds who work alongside their parents and do not attend school. She gave us a figure of 9,000 registered cartoneros, higher than we had heard before. She also informed us that they had not really existed before 2001 – at least in their current status – different from Suarez’ notion of ancient ceruja influences. Apparently, they were at work in the city area but not in the outer districts, and their functions were very different. They would collect directly from city offices and not so much from the streets. Marcela has created many many reports and is extremely knowledgeable so we could only capture a tiny amount, but took away 6 tons of reports to read later (thank God for CDs). We also learned more about CEAMSE, which has become an enigma to us (even the City Government say they don’t actually understand how it works). It was started by the Military Government in 1978, seems to be a complex amalgam of City, Provincial and National (maybe) Government and private companies. They own the landfills and as soon as the trucking companies drop off the rubbish that they have collected from the streets, at transfer units, they own the rubbish. Until then the municipality owns it. Are we starting to see the light? Not really. Who and how controls CEAMSE exactly and who benefits and how privatisation works in this instance is intriguing to say the least.