Social movements start three-day camp against welfare cuts

Camping in 9 de Julio, marches, and roadblocks will extend throughout the week

Social movement Unidad Piquetera will start a three-day protest camp outside the Social Development Ministry on Monday afternoon, demanding jobs, resources for soup kitchens, and a halt to welfare cuts.

The organizations are demanding that Minister Victoria Tolosa Paz reverse a policy to end welfare recipients’ payments unless they verify their identity through the government smartphone app, MiArgentina. The cuts would affect social welfare plans such as Potenciar Trabajo (‘Empowering Work’), an employment program aimed at low-income families. 

Unidad Piquetera believes the process is a way for the government to cut social spending in order to meet its obligations with the International Monetary Fund to reduce budget imbalances. “We reject the measures that the Minister has carried out according to the IMF payments,” UP leader Eduardo Belliboni said. 

According to Belliboni, some beneficiaries cannot access the verification process due to a lack of connectivity. “We’re verified 99.5% of the people in our organization,” he told the Herald, “but there’s a lot of people in Qom and Wichí Indigenous communities that can’t do it.”

Tolosa Paz said on Radio 10 earlier today that people can be verified in person if they cannot complete the procedure online. “I keep telling Belliboni to bring them to the Ministry so that we can verify their identities, instead of taking them to an open air camp.”

A spokesperson for Tolosa Paz told the Herald that the Ministry has carried out significant programs to make sure everyone who is willing to get verified can access it, but, “if they [Unidad Piquetera] are expecting people to continue receiving welfare without getting identified – that’s not going to happen.”

The protest camp, outside the Social Development ministry on 9 de Julio, is the first part of a broader series of protests scheduled to last until May in 135 cities across Argentina.

Potenciar Trabajo is a cash transfer program giving welfare payments to the unemployed as long as they can show they’re involved in community service, productive activities, or studying.

According to the Ministry, almost 1.3 million people were in the program by December 2022. Between 100,000 and 160,000 people have yet to verify their identities. The Ministry has set March 15 as a deadline for them to do so. 

In addition to the changes in the Potenciar Trabajo process, organizations are demanding an increase in budgets for soup kitchens, the creation of employment, and higher payments for social welfare programmes. 
Unidad Piquetera also plans to block roads on April 5, ahead of the Easter Holidays, and hold another camp on April 18, 19, and 20 if the government has not responded to their demands by then.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald