BUENOS AIRES – Grassroots groups mounted soup kitchens in Buenos Aires on Tuesday to pressure Argentina’s rightist government into implementing a law passed last month calling for $1.8 million in spending to counter growing poverty in the South American country.
President Mauricio Macri’s administration needs to draft the regulations necessary to turn the legislation into programs, Walter Cordoba, a leader of the Barrios de Pie (Neighborhoods Mobilized) organization, told EFE as he and his colleagues distributed free food around the Obelisk in central Buenos Aires.
The law – unanimously approved by the Senate – calls for a supplementary social wage and the creation of 100,000 jobs, among other steps.
Implementation of the law would bring recognition of the basic rights of the 30 percent of Argentine workers who earn their living in the underground economy, Cordoba said.
The document mandates the establishment of a national registry of people working off-the-books to make them eligible for benefits.
Activists also want to see Argentina’s existing universal child benefit indexed to inflation, Barrios de pie organizer Leandro Martin said.
Barrios de pie and other groups set up soup kitchens outside Congress last month to encourage lawmakers to pass the legislation, which is meant to “guarantee social peace” and to confront an increase in the proportion of Argentines living in poverty to more than 32 percent.
Since taking office in December 2015, the Macri government has hiked public transit fares by up to 100 percent, while raising rates for gas and water service by more than 300 percent and electric rates by 600 percent.