BUENOS AIRES – Thousands of people took to the streets in Argentina on Thursday to protest the situation of the country’s poorest citizens during the coronavirus pandemic, with the largest demonstration taking place in Buenos Aires before the Social Development Ministry.
“We’re protesting in Argentina on a national day of protest at many places around the country. We’re representatives of the poorest workers in our class,” Marianela Navarro, a delegate with the Organizations in Struggle Front (FOL), said noting that the social organizations are fighting “not only the pandemic, but the spread of hunger in the neighborhoods.”
Navarro demanded “that the national government before meeting with the CEOs or with the businessmen pay attention to the social organizations.”
The protesters also asked that food be provided to the neighborhood food banks and complained that the government is not supplying those locations.
“Our demand is for the food that is being held back from the … food banks (by) this government which says it’s supplying them but it’s not true, and the situation is getting worse during the quarantine for this pandemic. The pandemic also (is causing) the growth of hunger,” Ricardo Antuñez, a leader with the Teresa Lives Unemployed Movement, told EFE.
The Social Development Ministry said that it is maintaining an “ongoing dialogue” with the social organizations and noted that two of those groups – the FOL and Barrios de Pie – are part of the Social Emergency Committee.
In addition, the ministry said that it is supplying dry food to the food distribution centers, adding that “since the start of the quarantine transfers of money have been made to the provinces and municipalities for the purchase of food and cleaning supplies.”
“From Jan. 1 until now, 1.77 billion pesos (about $16 million) has been transferred to food banks … for the decentralized purchase of food. Of that total (about $11 million) has been circulated specifically during the pandemic,” the ministry said in a statement.
On June 1, the Argentine government announced that this month it will once again provide an economic subsidy, as it did in April and May, to those registered families without formal income to alleviate the effects of the obligatory isolation measures adopted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between April and May, about nine million people – about one-fifth of Argentina’s population – received 10,000 pesos ($142) each from the Emergency Family Income program, a state-run effort originally slated to be a one-time aid package but which the Alberto Fernandez government decided to repeat given the extension of the isolation measures, which have been in force since March 20.
In Argentina, so far 25,987 coronavirus cases have been confirmed and 741 people have died, according to the government’s figures.