Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
Protesters begin to occupy the Avenue Nueve de Julio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday. Photo: EPA

Protesters occupy Argentina capital Buenos Aires amid food crisis

  • Argentina’s economic crisis has seen the currency lose half its value, unemployment soar and the economy shrink
  • Demonstrators say rampant inflation – running at more than 54 per cent – has left many of the poorest struggling to buy food
Several thousand protesters have been camping out in downtown Buenos Aires since Wednesday to demand Argentina declare a food emergency as the economic crisis deepened just weeks ahead of the presidential election.

The demonstrators, who plan to camp for 48 hours in the heart of the city, say rampant inflation has left many of the poorest Argentinians struggling to buy food.

China turns to Argentine soy meal in fresh blow to US farmers

“Argentina is devastated by inaction, hunger, and poverty, and we demand answers that live up to the situation,” organiser Eduardo Belliboni said. “We want social programmes, we want to increase allocations for existing programmes and increase food rations in schools,” he added.

Clashes broke out with police as demonstrators tried to block public transport networks.

Social organisations camp in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Photo: EPA

On Thursday, Argentinian lawmakers will consider a “food emergency” bill, presented by the opposition, that would allow more funds to be allocated to manage the increasingly desperate situation.

But President Mauricio Macri’s centre-right government is opposed to the proposal, saying that it has already taken other emergency measures – such as the elimination of basic food taxes.

The country has been in a recession since last year, and has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, running at more than 54 per cent.

Argentina’s economic crisis has seen the peso lose half its value, unemployment soar and the economy shrink by 5.8 per cent in the first quarter. Argentines have seen their earnings, savings and purchasing power diminished.

An injured protester lies on the ground after clashes with riot police in Buenos Aires. Photo: DPA
It is among the Latin American countries where hunger increased most during 2018, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, and seeing families begging on the streets of the capital has become usual.

The country’s economic woes intensified after shock primary elections in August saw Macri suffer a crushing defeat, sending markets into a tailspin and leading the government to impose foreign-exchange controls and request a rescheduling of its debt.

The results indicate that Macri’s bid for re-election next month now appears in serious jeopardy.