When the cries of the hungry are met with beatings and tear gas

Police violently repressed social movements mobilizing to demand that the government take measures to address the crisis of hunger and poverty in the country

September 12, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Police attacked protesters in Buenos Aires who were demanding the government take action on to alleviate the hunger and poverty faced by the population. Photo: Twitter

On September 11, in Buenos Aires, City Police officials violently repressed a social protest carried out in front of the Ministry of Health and Social Development, demanding the implementation of the Food Emergency Act and a 35% increase in the Supplementary Social Salary. The police attacked the protesters who gathered outside the Ministry and beat them with sticks and sprayed them tear gas. A number of protesters were injured and at least two were arrested.

The social movements Barrios de Pie and Polo Obrero had decided to organize a camp-out for 48 hours outside of the Ministry to demand that the government take action and pass the Food Emergency bill to confront poverty and hunger facing the majority of the population. The bill will be addressed in the Argentine Congress today.

The leaders and social movements present at the protest, condemned the response of the Buenos Aires’ mayor Horacio Larreta. “Once again, the response of this government to the request of work and food is repression. There are hundreds of policemen here and there is no response to the desperate request of tens of thousands of families suffering from the crisis and the effects of devaluation,” said Camilio Mones, leader of the Movement of Classist Groups.

Several protests were injured after police attacked protesters. Photo: Twitter

Eduardo Beliboni, leader of the Polo Obreo, said that “We want them to accept the responsibility and tell us why they planned this operation. We want to carry out the mobilization in peace. If they don’t keep repressing us, we are going to set a camp here because we have the right to protest.”

In addition, the social organizations denounced that Larreta suspended one of the metro lines in order to prevent protesters from reaching the ministry and setting the camp.

However, despite attempts by the city government to impede their protest, the members of Barrios de Pie, Polo Obrero and Movimiento Teresa Rodriguez (MTR), reached the Ministry of Health and Social Development where they set up the camp-out and community kitchens to serve food to thousands of needy people.

The same day, on the occasion of Teachers’ Day, thousands of teachers demonstrated with the slogan of “With Hunger, there can be no teaching or learning”. They also demanded the implementation of the Food Emergency and a national parity of salary to teachers. The teachers extended their support to the teachers in Chubut, who have been struggling for the last two months for a timely payment of their salaries, among other demands, and to the teachers in Colombia who will be holding a national strike today.

Today, on September 12, for a fifth consecutive week, the social organizations such as the Confederation of Popular Economy Workers (CTEP), the Corriente Clasista y Combativa (CCC), the Somos Barrios de Pie and the Frente Popular Darío Santillán, will once again march to the National Congress to demand the approval of a unified version of seven bills on food emergency, that has been waiting for congressional approval since 2017 and will be addressed today.

A report by the Fundación Soberanía Sanitaria or Health Sovereignty Foundation, “Why do we talk about Food Emergency?” presents alarming data on food insecurity, malnutrition and social crisis in the country, collected from several national and international reports and surveys. The report states that today in Argentina, there are about 5 million people suffering from severe food insecurity, which represents a 100% increase when years 2014-2016 and 2016-2018 are compared. The report also revealed that over 43% of the children who attend community canteens are at risk of malnutrition. The report highlighted that the increase in the price of food products was up to 100% last year.