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March in Argentina for more work and better wages in the face of runaway inflation

March in Argentina for more work and better wages in the face of runaway inflation

March in Argentina for more work and better wages in the face of runaway inflation

Thousands of left-wing protesters and social movements converged this Thursday in the center of Buenos Aires from various parts of the country to demand urgent action from the government in the face of galloping inflation that is close to 60% annually in Argentina.

“The situation is complicated, the money is not enough. We are trying to open a dining room. There are many people cardboarding (collecting cardboard from the garbage to sell) who used to do changas (occasional jobs) like me”, Cristian Alegre, 36, who offers himself for painting, electricity and masonry, told AFP: “What comes out, but little comes out”he laments.

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The columns of the Unidad Piquetera, identified with the red flags of the parties of the left and banners of social organizations such as Movimiento Teresa Rodríguez and Barrios de Pie, launched slogans against the center-left Peronist government of President Alberto Fernández.

Traveling through Europe, Fernández said this Thursday that Argentina “it is growing a lot” but he admitted that his government “it is costing to correct the distribution of income and that is due to inflation”, which he described as “very harmful and we must stop it quickly”in statements at the Embassy in Paris.

The consumer price index stood at 6% monthly in April, which showed an annualized inflation of 58% and 23.1% in the first four months.

Caravans of protesters began the march last Tuesday from Jujuy (northwest), Misiones (northeast), San Juan (west) and Tierra del Fuego (south), with acts and assemblies in their wake.

“Housing is a drama, we pay rent, it is harder every day. I couldn’t hold college. Young people have no future. We workers have to go out on the street”launched Lucía Barrios, a service station cashier.

The 20-year-old lives with her mother, her grandfather and two brothers, ages 5 and 11, who receive food subsidies but “it is little, it lasts two weeks and it is of low quality”She complained.

Demonstrators march towards the Casa Rosada government house during a protest against the economic measures of Argentine President Alberto Fernández, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/)

More work, more help

The demonstrators demand the expansion of social aid programs and food assistance. More than four million people, almost 10% of Argentines, depend on state subsidies to eat in this country, one of the world’s leading food producers.

The basic food basket rose 7% in March. A family of two adults and two children required an income of at least 90,000 pesos ($737) to avoid being poor, according to the most recent data from the state Institute of Statistics.

In April, the government increased by 50% to 18,000 pesos (about 150 dollars) the allocation for the purchase of food for vulnerable families. In addition, he ordered an extraordinary bonus and the increase in the minimum wage, which from June will be 45,540 pesos (about 373 dollars at the official exchange rate).

The State also finances canteens in schools and supports those who maintain some 1,600 community organizations in the poorest neighborhoods.

The rise in inflation occurs in a context of reactivation of the economy that grew 10.3% last year, has been on the rise for 12 consecutive months and registered a year-on-year increase of 9.1% last February.

Unemployment is 7% and poverty 37.3%.

“Debt to the people”

The protesters also expressed themselves against the fiscal discipline required by an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which refinanced a previous agreement for some 44,000 million dollars signed during the government of former President Mauricio Macri (2015-19).

“The priority is not us, it is to pay the debt to the Fund. We are like this, thinking about fighting it day by day. Do you think it’s enough to live? Martha Lita, 62, asked AFP.

This woman who traveled from the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires to “claim and work” he brought with him rings of flour and sugar that he cooked to sell to the protesters. There are good days, he says, when he manages to collect up to a thousand pesos (eight dollars) but “I haven’t sold anything yet today” he lamented.

In the Plaza de Mayo, where the march converges in front of the Casa Rosada, sellers of choripán (sausage on bread), hamburgers and other foods multiplied, combining the protest with the search for extra income.

“The debt is with the people”, pray the banners of social organizations and claim “clarify fate” of the millionaire loan taken in 2018 by Macri.

Source: Elcomercio

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