Inflation causes a loss of 25% in purchasing power, which hurts the poorest people in the country.
There are people who commit crimes, it is the first time they are going through that, but due to a need, an economic pressure “.
The description does not belong to an anthropologist sensitized to the fate of the Argentines hardest hit by poverty conditions.
The “the lack of inclusion” leads to an increase in crime. It can be one of the causes of poverty
Those responsible for the security forces, executors of a new “hard-line” policy directed in a special way towards the poor, made an involuntary, unpublished and stark diagnosis that are a complement of poverty statistics.
According to the latest official figures, 28% of people in Argentina live in poverty. Children up to 14 years of age represent 39.7% of that total, while young people between 15 and 29 years account for another 31.3%.
Among the 71% of the people most vulnerable to the crisis are therefore many of those that the police observe as potential thieves, according to human rights organizations.
Inflation and arbitrarily imposed tariffs have become factories for new poor people in Argentina.
The price of energy accumulates an increase of 1,800% since 2016 and new increases of between 25% and 30% are being contemplated.
Gas had a new rise in April and has already increased by 1,030%. As for water, the increases hit 550%. Public transport will only have an increase of 70% this year.
All these price increases directly impact, like the dollar, the way in which people live.
The first year of Mauricio Macri as president closed with an inflation of 41%. In 2017, it fell to 24.8% but this year it threatens to double the 15% rate set by the authorities.
According to the private consultancy Kantar World Panel, the incidence of tariffs on the purchasing power of the weakest social sectors is of 25%.
A new way of life
Ice cream shops close because they cannot pay for electricity. Bars and cafeterias started to charge customers for the use of energy for computers.
As salaried employees have lost 7% of their purchasing power, meat consumption has been reduced.
When that happens, Argentines seek an emergency replacement in flour, but bread has also gone through the roof.
On April 25, the guild of bakers gave five tons of their products to Congress to denounce the effects of tariffs and inflation. Sales, they warned, have collapsed by 70%.
The opposition has managed to pass a law in the Chamber of Deputies that annuls the last rate increases to place them in 2017 values. The Senate is expected to do the same.
Macri has already said he will veto this initiative. The Minister of Energy, Juan José Aranguren, defended the measures in progress.
“They are ensuring that each time, there are fewer people in poverty. What we see is that poverty and indigence have clearly increased.”
In addition, in the neighborhoods, there is a level of outrage not only of rights but also of stigmatization of young people by the security forces. They do not guard, they repress,“ answered Deacon Ricardo Carrizo, a member of the Priests of the Option for the Poor.
More IMF fraud under Macri
As a result of the crisis, Argentina has again asked for money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) so that a new financial crisis will not explode and plunge even more the battered peso. The currency depreciated by 20% this year alone.
The simple IMF acronym has brought bitter memories to supporters and detractors of the Government. Every time the international organization intervened in the Argentine economy, history has ended badly. The future, many fear, begins to resemble a past that is determined to return.
In a few weeks, Macri’s galloping optimism shattered. “The worst is over. We are going to grow,” he said on March 1 when opening the sessions of the Parliament.
The right-wing government, he added, had undertaken since December 10, 2015 “a different path that is finally preventing us from repeating the same mistakes”.
In two and a half years, the opposite has happened: Argentina has borrowed in $142 billion dollars. Much of that money seems to have evaporated.
From the moment the State decided to stop collecting the money contributed by the large agricultural producers, the mining companies and the great fortunes – the main beneficiaries of tax reductions, only dollars served to attenuate the fiscal deficit.
The debt has also served to sustain financial speculation: capitals have risen to the value of more than $88 billion.
In a few years, Argentina experienced the consequences of not having foreign investment, and the lack of real dollars coming into the economy have always come accompanied by “storms”.
It happened to former president Raúl Alfonsín, who had to leave power six months earlier, and Fernando de La Rúa, who left the presidential seat by helicopter while the city of Buenos Aires burned down with the corralito.
The IMF has not been unaware of these two situations. Argentinians remember that going to the IMF has always brought more suffering.
“This an International Fund very different from the one of 20 years ago”, says Nicolás Dujovne. According to him, Christine Lagarde, the current head of the agency, will be showing more understanding with the Argentines.
A common feature why Argentina has failed to solve its economic crises is the inability to understand that it is not the center of the world.
By not doing so, the importance of the country is overestimated and it is presumed that it will be financed so that it maintains its economic stability.
The political opposition rules out that the IMF will lend the $ 22 billion in exchange for nothing.
There is already a talk of a package of harsh impositions: fiscal adjustment, labor and pension reforms, a greater rise in the dollar, with the corresponding inflationary impact on wages, and greater trade opening.
The financial Timebomb
But before the agreement with Lagarde arrives, the government has a major challenge on Tuesday. On May 15, the short-term debt securities bided by the Central Bank (BCRA), known as Lebacs, will be renewed for almost $ 30 billion.
The Lebacs are the engine of financial speculation: they offer a yield of over 40% that discourages all production.
Throughout years, international capitals have entered to sell their dollars, buy those securities, receive huge profits and then return to acquire the US currency to get out of Argentina.
JP Morgan, the investment bank where many of government officials used to work, just raised the alarm to warn that if the holders of this title decide to claim their pesos and massively turn to the dollar, the country will face a financial catastrophe of great severity. The price of the dollar would go through the clouds causing a more voracious inflationary spiral.
If this is out of whack, the natural consequence in public opinion will be similar to that of December 2001, when the slogan ‘that all go away’ synthesized the spirit of the time and widespread resentment against the political leadership.