Argentina's Growing Food Crisis

September 19, 2019

Since 2018, Argentina has been suffering one of the most devastating economic recessions in the world. Inflation has risen to 54%, causing the peso to lose over half its value, unemployment throughout the country has skyrocketed to 10%, and it is estimated that a whopping 32% of citizens are living below the poverty line. This rapid deterioration of the Argentine economy has made it increasingly more difficult for families to keep food on the table. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has provided evidence that Argentina is among one of the Latin American countries with the highest increase in widespread hunger in 2018. From Wednesday, September 11th to Thursday, September 12th thousands of protestors camped out at the nation’s congress building in Buenos Aires to demand the government to take action and provide aid for those suffering from the current food crisis.

Protesters’ demands included the allocation of more funds to welfare programs, soup kitchens, and schools. On Thursday, the lower chamber reconvened to pass an emergency food plan that addresses these demands. The bill was passed unanimously, and is currently waiting to be approved by the Senate. If the emergency food plan is approved, funds allocated towards food assistance programs would increase by 50 percent. Co-author of the plan Daniel Arroyo discussed the current crisis with the lower house Chamber of Deputies. He says, “We are facing a problem of hunger, malnutrition and a sharp drop in income,” just to highlight some of the devastating effects of the economic crisis over the past year.

However, some members of the current administration are not quite convinced that these major changes are necessary. Al Jazeera reports that Argentine Congressman Jorge Ricardo Enriquez stated "We have lifted taxes from basic food items, increased minimum wage, increased cash handouts and lots of other things to help those who need it. I don't understand why people continue to protest because we are giving them what they need." While it is true that actions such as lowering taxes and increasing minimum wage have been enacted over the past year, protesters argue that it is simply not enough.

While in the midst of his campaign for re-election, president Mauricio Macri has suggested that these protests have been not organized by desperate citizens, but by corrupt government officials. He claims his opponents have organized the demonstrations to create the appearance that he is unfit to run the country. The economic crisis occurring during Macri’s presidency has dramatically affected his chances of reelection, as shown by the results of the August 11th primary elections. Macri was defeated by leftist Alberto Fernandez and his running mate Cristina Kirchner in the polls. However, the future president of Argentina will not be determined until the general elections in October 2019. Hopefully whoever takes office will be able to effectively resolve concerns of Argentines living in poverty throughout the country and bring back the stability the Argentine economy has experienced in the past.

REFERENCES

  1. AL JAZEERA NEWS. (2019 September 13). "'The situation is dire': Argentines protest over food crisis". Aljazeera.
  2. The Globe Post Staff Writer. (2019 September 12). "Argentinian Protesters Occupy Buenos Aires Over Food Crisis". The Globe Post: News that Matters.
  3. News Wires. (2019 September 13). "Argentine lawmakers approve emergency food bill amid economic crisis". France 24.

About Author(s)

Dana Cornacchio's picture
Dana Cornacchio
Dana Cornacchio is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a Spanish major, a studio art minor, and certificates in children’s literature and Latin American studies. During summer 2018, Dana completed research with the Office of Undergraduate Research comparing contemporary children’s literature from the United States and Argentina. Dana intends to continue researching literature and other Latin American topics throughout her undergraduate career. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a masters in education in order to teach Spanish language in a classroom of her own one day.