Protests continue in Argentina as officials resign amid food rationing and looting

A group of protesters, led by professional organizers or “piceteros”, protest at the Plaza de Mayo square in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, July 28, to demand more social programs and basic universal income from center-left governments. marched demanding

Demonstrators demanded income subsidies of at least 100,000 pesos (US$758) per month.

More administrative reforms took place last week after President Alberto Fernandez reportedly sacked newly appointed Economy Minister Silvina Batakis on July 27, just weeks after taking office.

Batakis succeeded Martin Guzman, who resigned from the same position on July 2nd.

The Speaker of the House, Sergio Massa, was given the position soon after Fernandez sacked Batakis.

Massa is currently Minister of Economy, Agriculture and Product Development.

“I put all my energies into solving problems and I know that is the best service I can offer this country,” Massa said. Position on Twitter.

Former Economy Minister Julian Dominguez resigned last week on July 29. This followed Gustavo Veliz, presidential adviser and secretary of strategic affairs, who resigned on July 28.

So, in less than 30 days, four senior Argentinian officials resigned or were dismissed.

Belize’s resignation comes at a crucial time for a politically divided administration. He was one of Fernandez’s closest officials, holding various roles including commanding the Economic and Social Council.

since fernandez took office In 2020, 17 ministers resigned.

Epoch Times photo
President Alberto Fernandez of Argentina speaks next to Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 1, 2022. (Matias Baglietto/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, many Argentines struggle to access basic subsistence necessities due to skyrocketing inflation, which reached 60% in July.

On the weekend of July 30, a supermarket looting took place in broad daylight in the town of Lawson, San Juan.

A large group of individuals broke into Chango Mas’ store, took control of the store, looted it, and trapped 20 store employees inside. The employee was eventually rescued by local police, according to a supermarket spokesperson.

Law enforcement officers arrested 36 persons involved in the looting.

Inflation aside, much of the recent panic around commodities was sparked by governments allowing food rationing in grocery stores across the country.

The measures were initially introduced at the end of March to allow markets to limit food supplies to avoid shortages.

Since then, inflation has skyrocketed, empty shelves and long lines at some stores to buy groceries such as eggs, flour and bread.

There are no price tags on the items for sale as they literally change from hour to hour. In other words, the price of 12 eggs at 8am is not necessarily the same at noon.

It is also recommended to pay in US dollars.

Epoch Times photo
A man stands inside a blacked out store during a power outage in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in June. 16/16/2019. (AP Photo/Tomas F. Cuesta)

Argentines have increased their use of the dollar as an inflation life raft since the pandemic began in 2020. Some experts believe this could be a short-term strategy against the country’s plunging economy.

“Initially, dollarization will have a very positive effect, lowering inflation. Argentina practically no longer has a currency,” political analyst Orlando Gutierrez Voronato told the Epoch Times. Told.

The continued devaluation of the Argentine peso and declining foreign exchange reserves highlight the crisis in the country. Coupled with the government’s inability to service its foreign debt and heavy taxes paralyzing the agricultural sector, some experts are noticing similarities between the crisis in Sri Lanka and Argentina’s sharp downward spiral.

Argentine Peso traded It fell from 106.3 per US dollar in January this year to 131.2 at the end of July.

Voronat notes that while using the dollar in the short term can take some of the inflationary pressure off, planning for the future is needed.

“It is imperative to create incentives to address the structural problems the economy has. Basically they are high and inefficient public spending and inherent budget deficits,” he explained.

“As we know, the deficit is financed by currency printing. [international] Credit and tax pressures are very high. “

Mr. Voronat’s words are in line with what countless other analysts and economists have said over the years: mismanaged finances and spending have been the latest administration’s inability to get out. I dug a hole.

Some legislators recognize the need to revise the appropriations package.

Batakis told investors during his brief tenure as economy minister that the country would need to pay its debts, referring to budget cuts in government spending.

Subsidy cuts within the energy sector began in June.

Still, protesters’ cries for more government funding continue to be heard in the streets. Videos from last week’s protests show demonstrators calling for a social plan similar to Cuba’s.

According to Voronat, Fernandez is crushing under the weight of “bad economic policies and planning.”

“This is exacerbated by his desire to make Argentina the first world state, while at the same time becoming a partner and defender of the Cuban and Chinese dictatorships, as well as the Russian Federation under Putin.”

autumn spreedeman


Autumn is a South American-based reporter for The Epoch Times, covering mainly Latin American issues.