15 October 2022
Inflation continues to rise to record levels in Argentina. The country faces a possible inflation rate of 100 percent this year.
As prices rise, some people have turned to waste dumps to seek materials that can be sold for recycling. Others are lining up to trade personal belongings in special groups, or clubs, to earn extra money.
This year, the South American nation is set to record its sharpest rise in prices since 1990. The rate represents an extreme case although many nations face inflation partly brought on by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"My income is no longer enough," said Sergio Omar. The 41-year-old told Reuters he spent 12 hours a day searching through waste at a landfill in Lujan, about 65 kilometers outside the capital Buenos Aires. He looks for cardboard, plastic and metal that he can sell.
Omar said food costs have increased so much in recent months that it has become hard to feed his family with five children. He said an increasing number of people are coming to the waste dump to find materials they can sell in the struggle to survive.
"Twice as many people are coming here because there is so much crisis," Omar added. He explained that he could make between $13 and $40 per day selling recyclable waste.
At the dump, Reuters reporters saw men and women searching for usable clothing and even food. They move through mountains of flowing waste, alongside rats, wild dogs and birds. Gases produced by the breakdown of waste can cause sudden fires.
One hundred years ago, Argentina was one of the world's richest countries. But in recent years, it has experienced several economic crises and struggled to keep inflation under control.
Now, prices are rising at the fastest rate since the 1990s. The problems are linked to government deficit spending and a series of price increases by businesses. Existing problems worsened because of worldwide increases in fertilizer costs and natural gas import prices.
Experts questioned by Reuters estimated that inflation likely rose 6.7 percent in September. That has led the central bank to raise the interest rate to 75 percent, with the possibility of additional increases.
Poverty rose to over 36 percent of the population in the first half of 2022. Extreme poverty rose to 8.8 percent, which represents about 2.6 million people. Government assistance programs have helped prevent further poverty rises. But some people are calling for more social spending.
In 2001, during one of Argentina's worst economic crises, Sandra Contreras set up the Lujan Barter Club. This idea is now growing in popularity as many Argentines are trading things like old clothes for needed food supplies without using money.
Contreras told Reuters that many people come to the club "very desperate" because their jobs no longer provide enough money. She said, "things are getting worse day by day."
Contreras noted that some people start lining up two hours before the barter club opens each morning. "People have no money left, they need to take something home, so there's no choice but to barter."
Pablo Lopez is a 26-year-old man who works in a small recycling center. He said the effects of rising prices can be seen clearly every day. "This inflation is a madness, you can see it here with the people who come to work that inflation hits us all," Lopez said.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
Reuters reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
recycle – v. to put used paper, glass, plastic, etc. through a process so that it can be used again
fertilizer – n. a natural or chemical substance you put on land in order to make plants grow well
barter – v. to exchange goods or services for other goods of services, without using money
desperate – adj. a feeling that you have no hope left