Poverty has skyrocketed six percentage points since 2015, up to 35.4 percent
CÓRDOBA, Oct. 26 (EUROPE PRESS) –
The recent Argentine economic crisis, which began in April 2018, has hit the middle and lower classes of the South American country hard. “Here we cooked using bottles of bottled gas. We bought four a month. But when the crisis came, and gas prices went up, we used firewood again to make food,” said Cristina Parra, who coordinates, along with dozens of neighbors , a social dining room in Villa El Libertador, one of the most impoverished areas of the city of Córdoba.
It is his way of facing poverty, which in 2015 affected 29.2% of the population, and has now skyrocketed to afflict 35.4% of Argentines. In the circular central square of Villa Libertador, a modest street market survives, managed by both Argentines and Bolivian immigrants.
Around there are business premises. Several are with the blind lowered at peak commercial hours. It is not to alleviate the intense heat of spring afternoon. They have made the closing, like thousands of businesses since the financial turbulence began.
“A lot of commerce is closing and a lot of people are being left without work. Many people pass by my house knocking on the door to give them a little flour, or sugar,” Parra laments.
The Argentine economy will contract more than 3% this year. Unemployment has increased to 10.6% of the population, causing thousands of Argentines to live on social bonds and charity.
The country has also been hit by high inflation. The president, Mauricio Macri, who has governed since 2015 and tries to get re-elected in the elections this Sunday, promised to end that scourge, but prices are expected to rise more than 50% in 2019, when, in 2015, before his Upon arrival in the Government, the country's inflation was 25%.
Argentina's public debt exceeds 68% of GDP. The Government of Macri signed, in 2018, a credit line with the International Monetary Fund worth 56,000 million dollars, in order to cope with the most immediate maturities, in a context worsened by a serious flight of capital in foreign currency.
The citizens of Villa El Libertador complain, especially, of the sharp increases in services such as electricity, electricity or gas, whose prices have risen to more than 1,500%, in some cases, by the elimination of subsidies, something considered as necessary by the Government to clean up the accounts of a country that, according to Macri, has lived “70 years of celebration”.
“From 300 pesos the light, we went up to 8,000 and up to 11,000 pesos. And for a month they have started to rise again. And then, in the shops it is all at dollar price. Today you go to the greengrocer, and the price, because yesterday the dollar went up. I wanted to die when I went shopping today, because I brought half of the things I had to bring, “Parra laments.
In the community canteen, they try to alleviate the nutritional needs of the children of the town with donations administered by the organization 'A collective dream'. “That's how we help the little ones, who, if they eat, don't eat dinner and if they eat dinner, they haven't eaten,” Parra recalls.
“My children last night ate fried eggs. One each. And I and the father were left without eating to eat them,” says Micaela Montenegro, a resident of Villa Las Lonjas, an area of invasion even more impoverished than El Liberator, where the Houses are made of wood and there is no street asphalt, much less sanitation.
The crisis affects those who have less. “My husband worked in a gas pipeline company, but they threw him out and he was left without labor. And the only thing I charge is the allowance for a son, which is 2,000 pesos a month – about 30 euros – and the money of some arrangement that my husband it still does, “Montenegro adds to the doors of a social dining room run by the neighbors, such as El Libertador, which feeds more than 100 families.
Most local people live as masons, but the rise in the price of the dollar has paralyzed many works, due to the rise in the price of materials, and workers have been unemployed.
“It affects everyone. Women too, that many of us work as housekeepers. They used to call you every day. Then, it happened to be once a week and now it is once a month. And they don't pay you what was stipulated. by law, which is 180 pesos per hour (2.7 euros). You get paid 110 pesos (1.6 euros). If you want to go you go, and if not, no, but hunger squeezes. You prefer to go for 100 pesos and at least one has a fried egg, “says Verónica Ríos, while cooking in the community dining room.
“Here you don't know what meat is anymore. I have a little boy who is six years old and I can't buy him a yogurt. Essential nutrients like fruit, dairy or meat, here in the villa the boys don't consume. If a kilo of meat comes to 200 pesos – about 3 euros – does not go out to buy, “laments, meanwhile, Belén Montenegro, another inhabitant of Villa Las Lonjas.
“Here you eat soup, stew, flour, which do not meet the necessary nutrients. Moreover, if it were not because we give food here at night, the boys do not eat,” he adds.
Women who collaborate in the social canteen also cook food to sell and organize traces with which to get more money for food.
“Every day the thing gets worse a little more. We who live here see it. We are surrounded by more wealthy neighborhoods, and we are joined by the people there, who come here to eat,” says Montenero.
“My husband does work more or less stable, but we can't make ends meet, pay bills, or debts,” says Nancy Guevara, one of the oldest neighbors in Las Lonjas.