Living and Dying in the Streets of Buenos Aires

By Matias Pacheco, Published by Resumen,  on July 8, 2019

Winter is here.We are not talking about the last season of Game of Thrones. We are talking about Argentina, and more specifically about Argentina under the presidency of Mauricio Macri. In the country of the south of the continent this time winter came with death. And we reiterate that we are not talking about any series, but about political decisions that are taken well in the north and that suffer in their own flesh well in the south.

In less than a week five people lost their lives as a result of the low temperatures in different parts of the country. The causes are not the inclement weather, they are the political decisions of a neoliberal government. The most emblematic case was that of Sergio Zacarías, who died 500 meters from the Casa Rosada. There were no pronouncements of any high or low UN commissioner on this fact.

Protesters protesting austerity in Buenos Aires, Feb 2019, Tasnim News

This sad reality led to a campaign of solidarity with the people living on the streets. From grassroots organizations to football clubs, they opened their doors so that the thousands of people living on the streets of the City of Buenos Aires could spend the coldest nights under a roof and with a plate of food. What was the government’s reaction? Accusing clubs like River Plate of being part of a political operation by Cristina Kirchner’s party for opening their doors to do what the state does not want to do. There were even officials who argued that the responsibility in the case of the deceased Sergio was his, because he did not approach the night shelters that the city government (also driven by the macrism) offers. State-run shelters that cannot accommodate the growing number of “homeless”. Cold statements, almost as cold as winter during the last week

During the month of April, more than 30 social organizations carried out a popular census of homeless people. In the country’s capital alone, there were 7251 people who sleep outdoors every night. One of the richest capitals on the continent cannot guarantee access to a roof for thousands of families. Half of them are in this situation for the first time. The census also revealed that the main reason for this reality is having lost their job and secondly the impossibility of being able to pay the rent for a house or room.

Dying of cold in the streets of Buenos Aires. A reality for thousands of families who cannot survive without solidarity. A State that cannot, or rather, does not want to guarantee the most basic of human rights: a refuge so that people do not die from cold weather. In Argentina there are no economic blockades, there are no international sanctions, there are no direct robberies of national assets by other countries, there are no sieges. There is a government aligned with and led by the United States. There is a right wing that demonstrates the worst of its aspects, which in 2015 campaigned stating that “it didn’t want to be Venezuela”.

The housing problem is not the only social problem the country is going through. Unemployment, the precariousness of work, the halving of salaries in dollars, the repression of social protest, the closure of thousands of factories, the increases in basic services, the constant increases in gasoline, the cuts in health care budgets, the closing of schools, in summary, an adjustment that falls on the most humble shoulders. A model of accumulation that was a direct offensive in favour of concentrated capital.

A winter arrived almost 4 years ago, although it formally began at the end of June. In October millions wait to see the crows in flight that bring the message that this winter is behind them.

*Featured Image: Waste pickers sift through trash at the state entity CEAMSE that deals with waste management for the city and province of Buenos Aires, in the neighborhood of Jose Leon Suarez, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina July 22, 2019. Picture taken July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian


Source: CRBZ, translation Internationalist 360

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