Social Issues

Hunger protests reach the doors of Argentine supermarkets

Buenos Aires, Feb 1 (EFE).- Groups that support soup kitchens in Argentina demonstrated Thursday in front of the Ministry of Human Capital and several supermarkets against the scarce resources available to them since Javier Milei took office, local organizations denounced.

Argentina closed 2023 with an inflation of 211.4%, the highest in the world after Lebanon and Venezuela, and “food and non-alcoholic beverages” even exceeded that figure, reaching 251.3%.

Also, more than 40% of the population lives in a situation of poverty, making social aid and assistance a necessity.

Gabriela Belloni, who is part of the organization that runs the soup kitchen in the Tres de Febrero neighborhood, led one of the peaceful protests on Thursday.

The activist explained to EFE that it is “impossible” to feed so many families. They can no longer open the dining rooms, and there is no response from the national government, forcing them to ask for donations from private companies.

Amalia Suárez, leader of the social action “Movimiento Evita” – a political group of Peronist, national, popular, and revolutionary ideology – told EFE that their only goal is to make the complaints of those affected be heard.

“We are here to deliver a petition to all the supermarkets and to the Minister (of Human Capital) Sandra Pettovello to listen to us and recognize the crisis we are going through in the neighborhoods,” Suárez said.

“The food is not arriving, the national budget intended for it is not being used; it is not that there is no money, it is that the budget is frozen,” she added.

Without intermediaries

Milei’s government recently announced an audit of registered soup kitchens to fight against “discretion, purchases that are not well understood and issues that we are willing to change,” according to presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni.

“There will be an innovative method so that aid reaches those who are entitled to it,” he added, without giving further details, reiterating the government’s intention to “prevent economic gains from poverty.”

Meanwhile, Román Buccino, a member of the general secretariat of the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy (UTEP), was quite forceful on Thursday about the government’s position.

“There is a story that they (the government) want to cut out the middleman in the distributions, and the only thing they are cutting out is a lot of Argentine families that have nothing to eat,” he told EFE, explaining that since Milei took office there has been no food policy, something that has never happened in Argentina.

Pettovello spoke to those who marched to the doors of the ministry.

“Are the people hungry? I will go one by one to the hungry people, not to the middlemen. I will write down their name, their ID number, and they will receive individual help,” said the minister.

She added that her government will solve people’s problems but without being blackmailed by “poverty managers who manipulate those who are most in need.” EFE

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