The first steps to relaunch the government of President Alberto Fernández, in Argentina – with the creation of a “super-ministry” of the Economy – left a feeling of helplessness in the popular sectors. Since then, the country’s social movements have mobilized to demand responses from the government in the face of the inflationary crisis in the context of the relaunch of ministries.
After the unification of the ministries of economy, agriculture and productive development, the first announcements of the new “superminister” Sergio Massa pointed to the economic sector, with special financing programs for exports (in a context in which agro-exporters have withheld their crops in financial speculation due to the devaluation of the Argentine peso), the strengthening of reserves through programs with international bodies and the incentive for production and exports to the agro-industry, mining and hydrocarbon sectors.
See the video here:
Regarding social movements, the new minister announced that there will be a policy of reorganization over the next 12 months, including the return to the labor market, strengthening cooperatives and protection in case of situations of vulnerability.
These were not enough gestures for the sector that suffers most from the inflationary crisis and is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, as highlighted by the secretary general of the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy (UTEP), Dina Sánchez. “We listened with anticipation to Massa’s announcements, because it seemed important to us that the popular sectors started to get answers. But we didn’t”, says Sánchez.
The leader highlights how the population in the favelas supported the needs of their communities during the pandemic, from making masks to distributing food and cleaning products. They also promoted specific policies for popular neighborhoods, such as mobile testing for covid-19 through the DetectAr program, which brought vehicles equipped for testing closer to communities.
Read more: With super-ministry, Argentine government yields to the right in a context of crisis
“The current government is the government that we fought for to be elected, because we could not continue with a right-wing government. [Mauricio] Government macro. But we see that there is no will to determine a course,” says Sánchez.
Among the announcements, the new minister also announced a new plan to eliminate subsidies for gas, water and electricity services, something already planned by former minister Martín Guzmán and initiated by Silvina Batakis. It will be a planned elimination and according to the level of consumption: the subsidy ceases to be applied from 400kw onwards.
In the middle of this month, inflation data for July will be released, a month in which the country witnessed three different names in the Ministry of Economy and which, as a result, triggered a serious exchange rate run and pressure from agro-exporters for a devaluation of the currency. The outlook is for monthly inflation close to 7.5% for July, according to Central Bank forecasts.
Sergio Massa came to the Executive with the common agreement between Alberto Fernández and Cristina Kirchner, a trend of dialogue marked by the untimely departure of Martín Guzmán from the most important portfolio of ministries in the country. But since he took office, and after a photo taken with the new minister, Kirchner has returned to silence and has not expressed himself in the face of the new battery of announcements and measures.
The waters appear calmer within the ruling coalition. And also in the markets, as the parallel dollar stopped the uncontrolled increase during the three weeks of Silvina Batakis’s tenure. The economic course, however, could lead to the first rupture in the troubled ruling coalition.
After Massa’s announcements as minister, leaders of the Frente Pátria Grande party expressed their intention to leave the Frente de Todos (FdT) coalition in the face of the government’s lack of policies aimed at popular sectors.
:: Demand for basic income gains strength in Argentina ::
“We decided to reassess our link with the FdT,” Buenos Aires provincial deputy Lucía Klug, from Frente Pátria Grande, tells Brasil de Fato. “We represent a sector of society that was not welcomed in the latest government announcements: the sectors of the popular economy, informal work, or even formal, private and public work, which are below the poverty line”, she says.
“The latest statements [de Massa] prioritize serving the sectors of economic power in Argentina, especially agriculture. Just a sector that is speculating on the hunger of Argentines and leading the country to very high inflationary levels”, says Klug.
The deputy highlights that the Frente Pátria Grande took some time with its militancy to rethink the integration to the FdT and debate strategies to reach some policy for the most vulnerable sectors in this context. “Even if it is for the universe of 4 million people in indigence”, she concludes.
One of the proposals of the party, led by political activist Juan Grabois, is the project known as the Universal Basic Salary, an amount equivalent to an individual basic basket (about R$ 550) that aims to supplement the income of workers who, even , do not surpass the poverty line. The value also recognizes care work, performed mostly by women, free of charge and full-time.
This past week, popular organizations and picketers took to the streets of the country to demand measures against hunger and poverty, which affects about 37.3% of the population in Argentina, according to the latest report by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) , referring to the second half of 2021. This same report points to 8.2% of people in indigence – that is, who do not have the minimum income to meet energy and protein needs.
Last Sunday (7), organizations convened by the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy (Utep) held a protest in Plaza de Mayo, in the federal capital, demanding measures for the most vulnerable population in this context.
Piquetera organizations camped in the same Plaza de Mayo to protest against State spending cuts and for basic policies, such as the recovery of the total delivery of food provided by the State to popular neighborhoods and school canteens, cut in half during the pandemic without prior notice. to social movements.
Mobilizations were held across the country this week also against the persecution of social movements, another issue that has been exacerbated by the greater presence of militants on the streets. In recent weeks, in Jujuy, in the north of the country, there have been several episodes of police raids on private homes, popular canteens and places of social movements that administer the plans to beneficiaries of Potenciar Trabajo.
“Many question social organizations, but social assistance exists and has grown so much due to the bad policies of different governments. It is not the fault of the poor that there is poverty in Argentina”, says Dina Sánchez. “The persecution of organizations and leaders is serious. There is a very strong media lobby and they install a common sense of hatred, which is widely used by the right to promote these persecutions. It is happening in the capital, but with much more force in Jujuy”, account.
Another demand is for the expansion of the Potenciar Trabajo program, as emphasized by Damaris Rolón, a member of the Frente de Organizações em Luta (FOL). “The increase in the minimum wage has an impact on work programs, the most popular being Potenciar Trabajo, which serves approximately one million people,” he says. The social wage corresponds to half of the minimum wage set in the country.
The government has convened a meeting of the Minimum, Vital and Mobile Wage Council for the next 18th. Representatives from the private and trade union sectors will discuss the adjustment of the minimum wage on inflation – which, for that, the values should be adjusted by around 50%.
“The cornerstone of this whole adjustment and this situation, which will not allow growth for the masses, is the agreement with the IMF [Fundo Monetário Internacional]”, highlights Rolón. “And it is the stone that we have to remove if we really want to think about building an Argentina that offers work and opportunities, where children and young people who, today, are the ones who suffer the most from poverty and hunger, have a perspective of life. Teachers who work with young people in our organizations are warning about suicides among young people”, he says, noting that, in one of the schools, with 300 students, in one year, there was a record of three suicides.
“It’s a serious situation in which young people find no restraint. On the other hand, the right takes the opportunity to attract them with a supposedly disruptive discourse. Then we have to fight another battle, which is the cultural one, and show that there is nothing new in this discourse, and how disruptive it is to build a different world that includes everyone.”
Editing: Rebeca Cavalcante