Government wins appeal against distributing food to soup kitchens

Social leader Juan Grabois said the Human Capital Ministry should still comply with the ruling ordering renewed food deliveries

The Human Capital Ministry won an appeal in federal court on Tuesday against a ruling that obligated the government to renew food deliveries to soup kitchens, which have largely been halted since December. 

Both the order giving the government 72 hours to plan the distribution of 5,000 tonnes of food sitting in warehouses and Tuesday’s appeal against it were granted by Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello.

In February, Patria Grande social leader and former presidential candidate Juan Grabois filed a complaint against Human Capital Minister Sandra Pettovello for not delivering food to soup kitchens and, on May 23, he requested an ocular inspection of the warehouses. The next day, prosecutors Andrés Nazer and María Paloma Ochoa gave a five-day deadline for the ministry to deliver the food to the registered soup kitchens and demanded precise information on the stash. They also ordered the police to watch over the warehouses until the others were fulfilled.

Last week, the news website El Destape published that 5,000 tonnes of food had been sitting in government warehouses for six months. Federal Judge Sebastián Casanello accepted the prosecution office’s order but, on Tuesday, he also granted the government’s appeal against it. 

Now, Buenos Aires City’s federal court has to make a decision. Some media outlets reported that this implies the Human Capital Ministry is not required to hand over the food, but Grabois posted on X that this was not the case.

“The injunction remains in force,” Grabois said. “The appeal being accepted does not suspend the effect [of the ruling]. They have 36 hours or they’ll be in contempt of court.”

The Herald reached out to the Human Capital Ministry but did not receive an immediate response.

Last week, a spokesperson for the ministry said that the food in the warehouses is to be used in disasters and emergencies, an argument that presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni has repeated in his usual press conferences. 

However, Paso de los Libres’ Mayor Martín Ascúa said that the town he governs in Corrientes province is suffering from floods and that the government has not sent any food even though he requested it.

As some soup kitchens are managed by people from social movements that oppose Milei’s administration, social leaders say the decision to discontinue the aid is an attack on them. In his Tuesday press conference, Adorni said that “some people resent the fact that we have put an end to the middlemen,” referring to social organizations. 

This week, the Argentine Catholic University’s Observatory of Social Debt published a report stating that 55% of Argentines were poor and 18% were destitute during the first quarter of 2024.

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