More than half of Argentines in poverty: data

More than half of Argentines now live in poverty, according to data released Tuesday, with levels rising non-stop since a year ago and quickening since budget-slashing President Javier Milei took office.

The Pontifical Catholic University’s Social Debt Monitor put the figure at 55.5 percent for the first quarter of this year — up from 44.7 in the third quarter of 2023 and 49.5 percent in December, when Milei was sworn in.

Some 17.5 percent of the country’s 46 million people were indigent, according to the figures — nearly double the rate in the third quarter of last year.

The poverty level in Argentina is defined as a monthly income of less than the $292 required to buy a basic basket of consumer goods for an adult, or $904 for a family with two children.

An adult making less than $132 for an adult is considered to live in extreme poverty, or indigence.

The new figures are worse than recent ones from the Indec national statistics agency, which put the poverty rate at 41.7 percent at the end of 2023.

That was up from 39.2 percent a year earlier.

Indec releases poverty data only twice a year, and its latest report is from before Milei’s sharp devaluation of the peso mid-December and the rapid inflation that followed.

All economic indicators are pointing to a crushing impact on the population of Milei’s austerity measures, with falling employment and consumer rates on top of annual inflation exceeding 200 percent.

In March, UNICEF said the extreme poverty rate among children in Argentina likely reached one in five by the end of 2023.

Milei’s government, meanwhile, had frozen the distribution of thousands of tons of food aid for months pending an audit of soup kitchens.

Last month, a court ordered the food to be released “immediately” and an emergency distribution drive was organized this week, with the help of the military.

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