September 29 2016
Argentine President Mauricio Macri speaks during news conference at the Olivos presidential residence in Buenos Aires in Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 28, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
The release of the figures prompted Macri to hold a press conference, in which he acknowledged that INDEC had now “put the real numbers on the table”.
Now one in three Argentines is poor
According to the country’s statistics bureau, the Instituto Nacional de Estadistic y Censos (INDEC), nearly one in three Argentines is poor, or don’t earn enough to buy a basket of goods and services.
The figure, released Wednesday, showed that 32.2 percent of Argentines live in poverty, up from 22 percent in 2007, the last INDEC report before the report was cancelled because there were concerns about reliability.
Following his inauguration in December of 2015, President Mauricio Macri reinstated the poverty reports, and Wednesday’s release was the first of his administration.
The news, as he conceded, was not good.
Loss of more than 150,000 jobs
The INDEC report, Macri said Wednesday, “put the truth on the table.” Since coming to office, Macri has faced near constant protests in response to the loss of more than 150,000 jobs, cuts to education, and revisions to the country’s tax and tariff rates, that privilege large, commercial exporters at the expense of smallholder farmers.
The result is a shrinking economy. Unemployment is nearly 10 percent, according to August figures. And in addition to the 14 million Argentines who live in poverty, the INDEC report found that 6.3 percent of all citizens, do not even have enough to buy enough food to meet the minimum monthly nutritional requirements for their diets.
Poverty level at 47.4 percent for the youngest segment of the population
Most shocking is that the poverty level climbs to 47.4 percent for the youngest segment of the population, Argentines younger than 14. Only adults between the ages of 30 and 64 years old (27.5 percent) and senior citizens above 65 years old (8.1 percent) are less impoverished than the national average.
With its broad manufacturing base and Keynesian macroeconomic approach, Argentina was, by most indicators, the most prosperous economy in South America for most of the 20th century.
That changed abruptly following the 1989 election of Carlos Saul Menem, who introduced a raft of neoliberal reforms similar to Macri’s.
The result was an implosion. Within a decade of Menem’s election, unemployment, which had never eclipsed 5 percent in the post-war era, climbed as high as 22 percent.
And the poverty rate, which had not climbed higher than 6 percent over that span, had encompassed 56 ´percent of the population by 2001.
When poverty was as low as 4.7 per cent
The election of Nestor Kirchner as president in 2003, followed by his wife, Christina Fernandez Kirchner, began to reverse the trend, though not entirely.
The release of INDEC’s economic date was suspended when under the Kirchners, poverty estimates fell as low as 4.7 percent, a figure that was widely believed to be incredible