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ARGENTINA | 23-02-2024 17:49

Multiple demonstrations in Argentina to claim food aid

Thousands of people marched on Friday across cities in Argentina to demand extra ood aid for soup kitchens and to reject severe austerity policies.

Thousands of people marched on Friday across cities in Argentina to demand fextra ood aid from Javier Milei’s government for soup kitchens and to reject severe austerity policies.

Argentina's ongoing economic crisis has already pushed poverty above 50 percent and inflation is running at more than 250 percent year-to-year.

In Buenos Aires, the main protest was centred at the doors of the Human Capital Ministry, in the city centre, which is in charge of social aid.

“Food emergency can wait no longer, no more adjustment” was the slogan gathering the protest of social organisations and left-wing parties.

The groups are seeking to highlight the challenges facing some 38,000 community soup kitchens, the last resort for people most battered by the economic crisis.

Since his inauguration as president on December 10, Javier Milei has introduced large cutbacks, devalued the peso, halves the number of government ministries amid a severe austerity plan. In January, the approach translated into the first fiscal surplus after 12 years in the red.

On the other side is growing tension stoked by lay-offs, the loss of purchasing power, smaller pensions, healthcare and medicine hikes and soaring food prices. 

Milei has also moved to slash government subsidies for utilities and public transport fares, which have risen by almost 250 percent in just three months.

“No to transport increases,” “Hunger can’t wait,” “Pots are empty, so are pockets,” were some of the slogans on banners carried by demonstrators outside the Human Capital Ministry.

Some soup kitchens reported that they received their last food shipments in November and that ever since, they have depended on donations and municipal aid to assist the increasing number of people visiting them every day.

The government says it will reach the most vulnerable citizens directly and wants to avoid the interference of intermediaries, most of whom oppose Milei's administration.

The Human Capital Ministry has signed a food aid agreement with evangelical churches to the tune of nearly US$200,000 and another for nearly twice as much with Cáritas Argentina, which answers to the Catholic Church.

The portfolio announced last month the start of a survey of soup kitchens that would allow “for the transparent purchase of food.”

Community centres report that in the meantime, all deliveries have been suspended.

“There should be no reason to stop sending food to soup kitchens,” insisted Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni on Friday, rejecting the claims.

The government has maintained the existence of the Tarjeta Alimentar food card, a direct monthly subsidy for parents of up to two children.

In February, that value of the card was 69,000 pesos (US$78.5 at the official exchange rate).

 

– TIMES/AFP

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