“This world is a soup“Mafalda used to say that she associated global aberrations with the broth on the plate. Her mother tried to convince her that” soup “was not a bad word.” What are chickens guilty of? “, challenged the indomitable girl who Quino created in 1964, when in Argentina, despite its political follies, it had less than a 8% of poor families and at a family table, lower-middle class as in the case of Mafalda, questions of taste could surface. Perhaps today Mafalda would be hungry and would receive the soup with her arms and her mouth wide open.
A recent study by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) figures in 56.3% girls and boys between 0 and 14 years old who are poor. A year ago, when the pandemic was not even hinting at the horizon of sleeplessness, 52.6% of Argentine minors lived in homes that did not cover the basic food basket. And 15% of them subsisted in absolute poverty.
Given these data, Mafalda’s tantrums should be read today in an almost archaeological key and as discomforts of a country that hardly exists. According to Unicef, Argentina has not yet hit bottom. The GDP will fall this year by 12% in the best of cases and will drag the child poverty rates to 63%, with which, there will be more than 1.2 million more children and adolescents than during the previous right-wing government of the former president Mauricio Macri . Another Unicef report refers to the effects of the economic crisis on minors: multiplication of cases of hunger migraine and the diarrhea of children who ate in garbage dumps or contracted respiratory diseases from living on the street.
Everything has worsened with the arrival of covid-19 and the stoppage of activities. One year before the birth of Mafalda as a character, in 1963, Armando Tejada Gomez he had written the poem ‘Is there a child on the street’ which, in 1967, in the midst of a military dictatorship and the full success of Quino’s comic, became a song. “At this time exactly / there is a child on the street,” sang Mercedes Sosa. The ‘at this hour’ was associated with a moral problem for those who would listen. Fifty-three years later, the weather is part of the natural landscape of many children, including those who accompany their parents in attempts to land in the province of Buenos Aires or those who make a pilgrimage to the capital and its surrounding areas. surroundings since the relaxation of sanitary restrictions.
The INDEC report that has been released these days reveals that poverty has risen five points in 12 months. Now him 40.9% of the population is poor and with the passing of the weeks that number will grow without pause. Of this total, 10.5% are indigent, which means that 2.9 million people are unable to cover the basic food basket. “The results of poverty would be infinitely more negative if the State had not helped as it did”, defended the president Alberto Fernandez that recalled the measures taken since March “to reach the most vulnerable”: social subsidies and the food card.
Argentina came out of the last military dictatorship (1976-83) with 21% poor. “With democracy you eat, you heal, you educate yourself,” said Raúl Alfonsín, the first president of the transition. However, 15 years later the poverty rates rose to 35.4%. At the beginning of 2002, and after the crisis of “financial playpen“, the percentage rose 14 points. The indicators were reduced by almost half during the years of sustained economic growth, between 2003 and 2010.
“It breaks my soul to see so many poor people“, Mafalda says to Susanita while walking down a street. “Me too,” replies her friend. And then Mafalda was fired up: “We should give shelter, work, protection and well-being to the poor.” Susanita turns around and says: “Why so much? It would be enough to hide them“Half a century later, even that classist comment would be unworkable.