Popular settlements, the perpetual symbol of inequality in Argentina

Houses made of sheet metal, wood or cardboard, dirt floors or lack of basic services. These are the housing conditions facing the 4 million Argentines living in popular neighborhoods every day, precarious settlements that are a living example of the country's great inequalities.

The cyclical economic crises that Argentina is experiencing have pushed an important part of its population to this type of housing, the most visible rift between the different social classes of a country that once again sees how the value of its currency collapses and the prices.

The social organization Techo, which works to improve the living conditions of communities in popular neighborhoods, denounced this situation by placing this Wednesday in front of the Casa Rosada, headquarters of the Argentine Government, the "Casilla Rosada", an example of the type of houses in which one in ten Argentines lives.

"The Casa Rosada goes to the people who choose. The Casilla Rosada is inhabited by those who do not choose," he summarizes in an interview with Efe Virgilio Gregorini, executive director of Roof in Argentina.

With this precarious house, painted in the characteristic pink color that distinguishes the government headquarters, the association intends to introduce the fragile situation of the popular neighborhoods in the campaign for the presidential elections in October, a problem that the State does not give a " comprehensive approach, "according to Gregorini.

"A government is coming and it says: 'I am going to solve it', and it cannot be solved, because it is not solved in four years and you need yes or yes long-term agreements," he says.

Popular areas are considered to be vulnerable areas where at least eight clustered or contiguous families live, where more than half of the population does not have land title or regular access to two or more of the basic services -red running water, power lines with home meter and sewage network.

In these 4,416 neighborhoods throughout Argentina it is estimated that 4 million people live, about 10% of the population of the country, based on data from the last national census, conducted in 2010.

From Ceiling they defend that in the last years the situation is getting worse, with new settlements and more population density in the existing ones.

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census, Argentina closed 2018 with 32% of its inhabitants in poverty.

Since then, the economy has continued to fall, with an interannual inflation in July of 54.4% and an exchange rate that since last Monday caused the price of the dollar to accumulate a 27.7% rise against the Argentine peso.

"Against the popular stigma that there are that the settlements are collective and with political interests, that there are, the majority are expressions of the inhabitation of the popular sectors that have no other way of accessing housing that is not occupying land, in general peacefully, "observes Gregorini.

If it is normal to buy or rent a house and then inhabit it, the residents of the popular neighborhoods reverse the process: first they inhabit them, then they build them and then they try to get the basic services.

The representative of Techo reports that, in many cases, they consume gas in bottles, so they pay more for this resource than residents of more affluent neighborhoods, while getting water from wells, sometimes of "questionable" quality.

Last year, the Argentine Congress unanimously approved the Law of Socio-urban Integration of Popular Neighborhoods to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of these areas.

Although from Ceiling they celebrate this achievement, they regret that the norm has not yet been regulated and Gregorini fears that the budget assigned to it will be low due to the economic blow that the country has just suffered.

Meanwhile, initiatives such as the "Casilla Rosada" mean that the spheres of power cannot look away from an uncomfortable reality that more and more people are part of.

Gil tone

. (tagsToTranslate) Popular settlements (t) perpetual (t) inequality (t) Argentina

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