Several thousand demonstrators began camping Wednesday in central Buenos Aires to demand the establishment of a state of “food emergency” in Argentina, which is facing a serious economic crisis a few weeks before the presidential election.
These protesters, including many families with young children, intend to camp for 48 hours on Avenue du 9 juillet, in the heart of the capital, at the call of several associations and trade union movements. Another demonstration in the form of a popular meal took place on Wednesday in May Square, in front of the presidential palace.
“Argentina is devastated by idleness, hunger and poverty. We demand responses that are commensurate with the situation,” said one of the rally organizers, Eduardo Belliboni. “We want social programs. We also want more funding for existing programmes and more food rations in schools,” he added.
Scuffles pitted police against some demonstrators who were trying to block the public transport network.
These demonstrations are taking place as Argentinean MPs discuss on Thursday a bill on “food emergency”, presented by the opposition, aimed at increasing aid to people who can no longer feed themselves properly because of soaring inflation.
Opposed to this proposal, the Mauricio Macri Liberal government has already taken other emergency measures, such as the elimination of commodity taxes.
Argentina, in recession since 2018, has one of the highest inflation rates in the world (25.1% between January and July, 54.4% over the last 12 months), a decline in consumption, trade closures and an increase in poverty (32% in 2018) and unemployment (10.1% this year). Seeing families with children begging on the street has become commonplace in Buenos Aires.
The economic crisis deepened after the primary elections in August, during which Macri suffered a crushing defeat that did not augur well for his re-election in October. The government then requested a rescheduling of its debt and introduced exchange controls.