High inflation leaves many Argentines struggling

Rising prices taking a toll on President Macri’s popularity but making the country a favourite of emerging markets.

Buenos Aires, Argentina – Argentines are struggling to pay for basics like food as the country deals with stubbornly high inflation.

Things are not as bad as 2016, when it peaked at 47 percent, but salaries are still lagging behind rising prices.

Marilin Rivas, a mother of two, says that with prices rising every month, it has been difficult to make ends meet.

“We paid 80 pesos for this piece of beef – 80,” she told Al Jazeera, holding up a piece of meat from a pot.

“And it just goes up and up and we are trying to catch up, but my husband’s salary doesn’t go up in the same way and that’s the problem.”

Since taking office over two years ago, President Mauricio Macri has been struggling to tame a double-digit inflation rate inherited from the previous administration, but it has not been easy.

The government has removed subsidies on utility bills that earlier provided Argentines with cheap electricity, gas and water. The decision has had an impact on prices.

This week bakers gave away over 5,000kg of bread because they say customers cannot afford the rising bread prices any more.

“The rise in the prices affects us because it has caused a rise in the cost of making bread,” Ricardo Fernandez, a bakery owner, told Al Jazeera.

“But we cannot continue to pass on the rising cost to the people because they cannot afford it.

“If things go on like this, then I will have to shut down.”

Unpopular measures

Macri’s popularity has suffered in recent months due to some of the unpopular economic measures he has taken in the last year.

He says he is convinced he is doing the right thing for Argentina.

“It is a lie that nobody pays for the gas and electricity subsidies,” Macri said in a recent video message.

“We all pay for it with inflation and debt. To pay for energy, we have to end debt ourselves – a debt our children and grandchildren will have to pay.

“The other alternative was to implement shock austerity measures. But we are chosing to be gradual in our reforms so that no Argentine is left behind.”

With the new government policies, Argentina has become a darling of emerging markets.

However, high inflation rates continue to be a challenge, especially for people like Rivas, the mother of two, who have to struggle to get by.