Hundreds of protesters from social organizations set up a huge camp on Avenida 9 de Julio midweek to demand greater social support for citizens.
As inflation wreaks havoc on the pockets of Argentines, a number of groups have moved to Buenos Aires to demand that the government do more to help the country’s poorest citizens.
“Everything goes up except wages – austerity can no longer be tolerated,” read a banner posted by protesters at the gates of the Ministry of Social Development.
Opposed to the Peronist government of President Alberto Fernández, protesters also voiced outright rejection of Argentina’s recent deal with the International Monetary Fund that restructures $44.5 billion in debt dating back to the record $57 billion credit line. million granted to the country in 2018. during the presidency of Mauricio Macri (2015-2018).
The protest sparked traffic chaos on Wednesday, which continued the following day amid convoluted traffic in the center of the capital that began on Wednesday and continued through Thursday as part of a campaign organized by Unidad Piquetera, which brings together social organizations and radical left groups.
“Our demands are real work, new quotas for the Potenciar Trabajo [subsidy programme] and regular food deliveries for community soup kitchens,” the protesters said in a statement.
Under the Potenciar Trabajo program, which has 1.2 million beneficiaries, the state pays half the minimum wage (about $140 at the current official exchange rate) in exchange for work in local cooperatives or municipalities.
“Four points were raised and we agreed on two: expanding and strengthening food policies and setting up management and work units to provide tools to cooperatives,” Gustavo Aguilera, told reporters. secretary for the articulation of social policies at the Ministry of Social Development. a meeting with protest leaders on Thursday.
According to official data, Argentina’s unemployment rate fell to 7% in the fourth quarter of 2021, its lowest level in six years, amid the reactivation of the economy. The economy grew 10.3% in 2021 after three years of a deep recession made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite this improvement, poverty, measured solely by income, still affects 37.3% of the population. Rampant inflation, at just over 50% a year, has devastated the purchasing power of wages and social security benefits.
Argentina’s minimum wage will rise to 38,940 pesos (US$355 at the official rate) in April and increases are planned to take it to 47,850 pesos (US$412) in December.
Many citizens, despite being officially employed, cannot cover the total basic food basket of 83,800 pesos (approximately US$722), which is estimated to be sufficient for a typical family not to be considered poor.