Argentina: Inflation up over 100 percent

Argentina: Inflation up over 100 percent

Prices increased by 100 percent

Argentines suffer from record inflation: “We don’t have dinner anymore”

Argentina’s inflation rate has exceeded 100 percent for the first time in more than 30 years.

Buenos Aires. At the big family dinner at the weekend, the Fernández traditionally grilled meat for eight people. But now it’s more like spaghetti or chicken wings. The family only throws on the grill on birthdays or other special occasions, as Jesica Fernández explains. The 31-year-old is one of the millions of people in Argentina, which is actually meat-crazy, who can barely make ends meet financially. The inflation rate reached 102.5 percent in February and was thus in the three-digit range for the first time since 1991.

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Fernández shops at a market 25 kilometers outside the capital Buenos Aires. In exchange for free retail space, traders here offer staple foods at lower prices. “We buy less meat and less overall,” she says. “We can no longer afford luxury items like we used to.”

“The money isn’t enough for anything”: Prices keep rising

According to the Argentine statistics agency Indec, consumer prices rose by 6.6 percent in February compared to the previous month and thus more than expected. Inflation has been in double digits for ten years. Grocery prices were among the most expensive last month, up 9.8 percent compared to January. One of the reasons was an extreme drought, which drove up the prices for meat and other products.

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“The situation is very serious and it’s getting worse every day,” says 42-year-old Daisy Choque Guevara. Mabel Espinosa, who is shopping at the market with her 10-day-old baby Gael, is hoping for bargains to buy enough food for herself, her husband and six children. “The money isn’t enough for anything,” says the 37-year-old. “You can forget about the barbecue.”

Fernandez under Druck

President Alberto Fernández has so far failed to get the rising inflation under control. The problem will no doubt also be an important issue in the campaign leading up to the presidential election in October.

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez is under pressure.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez is under pressure.

Argentinians have long suffered particularly badly from price increases – because the government is happy to have new money printed to finance its spending. This trend intensified during the corona pandemic, and the national currency also lost a lot of value, which also caused prices to rise.

President Fernández’s center-left government has used price controls to combat development, but so far has largely failed. Apparently she still wants to stick to the course. “The government remains firmly committed to controlling prices, controlling and reducing inflation and preventing further price increases,” spokeswoman Gabriele Cerruti said on Thursday. Many in the opposition, on the other hand, are calling for a comprehensive stabilization plan for Argentina, which must include a significant reduction in spending.

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“Nothing will change”

Espinosa does not believe things will improve, at least not in the short term. “I call it resignation. Nothing will change, why should I get upset?” she says. “Today you get something for one price and the next day it’s a different price, but it doesn’t matter, you have to pay for it because you need it.”

People have to limit themselves wherever they can. “For example, I used to be able to buy two yoghurts, now it’s only one,” says 38-year-old Roxana Cabrera. “It’s more difficult to shop now, you have to look for cheap prices.”

Anything that she doesn’t absolutely need, she puts off until a later date. “I used to be able to buy clothes, for example, but that’s no longer possible,” says Cabrera. “Now all I can do is buy food.”

“We don’t have dinner anymore”

For some, the cuts are even more drastic. “We don’t have dinner anymore,” says Yanet Nazario, who lives with three of her children and seven grandchildren in an impoverished neighborhood of Buenos Aires. She buys flour and soap from the makeshift stand of a local cooperative that sells a few basic items at lower prices than in stores.

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“We have to make a lot of sacrifices right now because the income is not enough,” says Nazario. “We have to work more and go to soup kitchens.” That’s where the children get their dinner. However, the offer is now limited to young people because the overall demand is so high. “We adults only drink one cup of tea (for dinner),” says Nazario. “The next day we skip breakfast and have lunch.”



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