The Social Observatory from the Argentine Catholic University, UCA, has reported that poverty in Argentina during 2014, included 28,7% of the population, which is equivalent to 11.5 million people, and higher than in the previous report.
This contrasts dramatically with the 4.7% officially reported by Indec, the Argentine government's stats office and which president Cristina Fernandez graciously told the world last month during the FAO assembly in Rome: poverty in Argentina is below 5%.
The UCA report is based on a survey of 5.700 homes in conglomerates with over 50.000 people and has been doing it since 2010. The previous report indicated that poverty in Argentina was 27.5%. These figures have been a constant source of dispute between the government of President Cristina Fernández and the Catholic church which does not consider serious the Indec stats or the attempts of the government to discuss the measuring methodology.
The latest burst of controversy followed on Cristina Fernandez' statement before the FAO assembly, when cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez with a straight face said that Germany has more poor people than Argentina. Another stalwart of the president, Economy minister Axel Kicillof publicly asked why the need to measure poverty, since there is 'no need to stigmatize the poor', and admitted it was 'very difficult' to have an exact measurement of poverty.
The Argentine government so far has not released its latest figures on poverty arguing that it has yet to couple the old with the new percentages from the moment that the consumer prices index, is now calculated on a new methodology.
But the fact is that according to UCA, poverty in Argentina has not ceased to increase since 2011, particularly following the consolidation of inflation above 20% which eroded the purchasing power of fixed income people, destroyed jobs and hit even harder those with informal forms of employment. Likewise in the last two years the increase in salaries has been below inflation. According to Argentina's organized labor (and responding to all political groups), the loss of purchasing power has ranged between 5% and 10% annually.
The UCA Social Observatory poverty measurement is among the most respected non official stats in Argentina. The Catholic church has a grassroots' network very close to the least favored in Argentina via its Caritas care organization, which has 3.500 outlets in 3.500 parishes and missions throughout the country.