March 1, 2021

The dark side of Buenos Aires winter was palmed with solidarity in Argentina

It's Friday night in Buenos Aires and the thermometer shows 5 degrees in the Plaza de Mayo on one of the coldest nights of the little winter, while dozens of people line up for warm clothes and a blanket, a plate of soup for now and medicines in case a flu follows.

50 meters from the Casa Rosada, from where the Government of Mauricio Macri manages the serious economic crisis that the country is going through since 2018, Patricia tries to solve the most urgent thing: to shelter her five children before the first cold wave of the year, for the which has generated a wave of solidarity without recent precedents.

Until three days ago, five people had died in a period of eleven days in Argentina due to the low temperatures and only in Buenos Aires there are 7,251 people in street situation, according to a census of the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) in Argentina.

Patricia, a young woman, is not from the capital but from the south of the metropolitan area, of Lomas de Zamora, and after gathering the clothes she can, two hours of public transport are waiting for her back to her town with two of your little ones

"Let's say we have a difficult situation, it's getting worse, these last two years, for my personal side, they were bad," he tells Efe.

She is unemployed, her husband is a cartoner, they do not receive any subsidy and the cold, which freezes the body any of these days in Buenos Aires, aggravates everything more.

"(They gave us) clothes and good, what they serve you here to eat," he explains while holding a plastic bag full of clothes.

Although he expects the situation to improve for his people, for the moment he grabs meetings like this organized by the Red Solidaria association: "when it is not here, it is elsewhere", he says, asked about how he survives the austral winter.

Yesica, another mother who is in the emblematic plaza with her two children and several full plastic bags like Patricia's, recognizes that this help is essential.

"Comes rebién, more than anything for the kids," he says while drinking coffee that was offered after dinner.

Most of the nearly 300 people concentrated in the place are mothers with their offspring, there are few men and few elderly people.

At the head of the operation is Juan Carr, founder of Red Solidaria, who assures that the nation was on the way to "a record number" of deaths due to low temperatures.

When he saw that there were five deaths in only eleven days, it was said that he should make a special call to raise awareness.

They spoke with the River Plate club, who joined the cause, and on Wednesday they set up several gyms and changing rooms at the Monumental stadium, an initiative that went around the world and generated a tide of solidarity that contains the cold wave.

"Argentina manifested itself in an unusual situation, now there is an explosion of (soccer) clubs in Buenos Aires and the interior that are copying the model: they open the doors of the club, the neighbors prepare beds …"

Twenty-four years ago that Carr started Red Solidaria, five years ago he met with his volunteers from Monday to Friday in Plaza de Mayo for actions like this, but it was only three days ago, since 100 people sleep in the Monumental, when he saw something A) Yes.

Account that the calls to the line 108 of Immediate Social Attention of the city have gone from 1,000 to 3,000 in three days.

Since that date, no new deaths have been recorded.

"It's a new experience, there was no history, but it's a good way to avoid more deaths due to the street situation," he analyzes.

What does make clear is that for him, beyond the commotion of the last days, the problem existed and will exist as long as there is at least "a person in a street situation and with hunger", be it with this cold or with calmer thermometers .

Around Carr, dozens of children are kept warm, partly by the soup and partly because they run around the square while their mothers choose the clothes that the volunteers reach them.

Many children play as if it were another night, one night in the center, only that the meters will touch the negative temperatures a few hours later and some of them will continue without a roof.

"We find it alarming that there has been an increase in the number of children and adolescents (in the street), and 16% of the people surveyed are children," laments the president of the General Audit of the City of Buenos Aires, Cecilia Segura.

There are 870 minors in the city in this condition, which is aggravated in the metropolitan area of ​​the capital, where "the situation is really terrible".

The data presented this Friday with the CELS show that, of the nearly 7,000 people on the street, 5,412 sleep outdoors and 1,600 live on the street for the first time.

Segura blames the increase of the last two years – the previous census is from 2017 – to the crisis that began in 2018 and that still suffers from Argentina, which accumulates inflation close to 55% in the last twelve months and 40% projected for the total of the current year.

"The purchasing power of the salary fell, one of the causes that indicate the people who end up on the street is that they have not been able to pay the increase of the rates, the rent and the food." Lamentably the food returned to be an agenda item " , he says.

The one of the CELS is an information that contradicts the one of the Government of the city, directed by the macrista Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, that determined in another report that the people who sleep to the inclemency in the city are little more than 1,100.

"It is not a priority to take care of the sectors that need it most," Segura stresses.

And the solidarity of the last few days is insufficient in itself to end the worst of a Buenos Aires winter different from that imagined by Astor Piazzolla.

"Of course that is not enough, that is why people are dying of cold and hunger in our country," he warns.

Pablo Ramón Ochoa

(tagsToTranslate) dark (t) winter (t) porteno (t) solidarity (t) Argentina

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