Gangs of 20 people, 40 or more, who swoop down on a supermarket or other business, sometimes forcing access to closed businesses… For the past few days, several cities in Argentina have been facing a wave of looting. In total, nearly 200 people, many of them minors, were arrested during looting in the provinces of Cordoba (center), Mendoza (west) and Neuquen (south). The suburbs of Buenos Aires were also affected.
Year-over-year inflation at 113% and the additional blow in mid-August of a 20% devaluation of the peso, make the end of the month an untenable horizon for many Argentines. Despite social aid, poverty reaches 40%. In addition to this very difficult economic context, there is also a tense political climate.
On August 13, the primaries for the October presidential election shook the country, placing a radical “outsider” in the lead, the libertarian economist Javier Milei, destroyer of the political “caste” in place. On Tuesday, Milei even threw fuel on the fire in a message published on X (ex-Twitter): “Tragic to see again 20 years after the same images of looting as in 2001. Poverty and looting are the two sides of same room. Argentina can no longer stand this impoverishing model”. In 2001, a liquidity crisis in the country caused a social explosion. Large-scale looting and protests were followed by clashes with law enforcement and left 39 people dead. Faced with a possible wave of food riots, the centre-left Argentinian president, Alberto Fernandez, asked his fellow citizens on Wednesday to “preserve social peace”. “Those who think this is a good way to encourage violence, I ask you: we have seen too much violence in Argentina to continue to suffer.”