The winter of Argentine poverty is worsened by Milei’s financial cuts

BUENOS AIRE (Reuters) – Homelessness has increased in major Argentinean cities, as the government’s harsh medicine reforms have squeezed pensions and state salaries, while driving up rent prices. This is forcing more people to poverty.

According to the latest local survey, the number of Argentines who sleep rough in Buenos Aires has increased from 3,511 a few years ago. The same numbers are seen in other cities like Cordoba or Rosario as President Javier Milei attempts to rebalance the state purse, at the expense of the economy and those most vulnerable.

Rocio, who is a pensioner of the state, has been without a home for many years. She called the current situation a disaster.

She was one of a group of homeless people and working class people who sought help from “Amigos en Camino”, a Buenos Aires charity that patrols streets distributing assistance to those struggling to survive.

Monica De Russis (59), a charity organizer who has been running Amigos on the Road or Friends on the Road for the last 13 years, says that conditions have gotten worse. Russis said that many more “who have roofs over their heads” come to them, because “they do not earn enough.” “(We) are doing our part.”

The government’s response to the crisis of homelessness has been criticized so far.

As Milei’s government tries to combat corruption and streamline state assistance, the aid to thousands of soup-kitchens was frozen in December when he took office. Milei wants to stop “the business poverty” through a change in the way charities distribute resources.

A court in Argentina ordered Monday that the government release food for the poor which had been stored pending an audit demanded by the government.

Earlier this week, the presidential spokesperson confirmed that they will appeal.

Between Eating and Heating

Francisco Llamas (52 years old) is one of those forced to seek help from food banks despite having a full-time job.

As part of the austerity plan, the government has begun to target utility subsidies and increase taxes.

Argentines are forced to choose between heating or eating this winter due to the near 300% inflation rate.

Llamas, who earns his money by taking care of the elderly, said: “I work and I cannot get through the month.” Llamas said that the Milei government “doesn’t think much about middle class people and those who are below them.”

A report from the Catholic University of Argentina showed that in the first quarter of the year, almost 18% of households were unable to meet their basic energy and food needs. This is up from the 9.6% recorded a year earlier.

UCA estimates that nearly 55.5% of people, or approximately 25 million people, lived in poverty in the first three month of this year. This is an increase by 10% over the same period in the previous year.

Milei has inherited a high level of poverty. In the last two decades, Milei has had a poverty rate that is well above 25%.

Campaigners say that under Milei’s policies, which have improved the state finances, but left more people in poverty, acute poverty has increased.

Russis said that more people could become homeless if they don’t pay their rent. “It is a choice between eating and paying rent,” she said.

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