Thousands of protesters camped on Wednesday in downtown Buenos Aires to demand that Argentina declare a food emergency as the economic crisis deepened just weeks ahead of the presidential election.
The demonstrators, who plan to camp for 48 hours in the heart of the city, say rampant inflation has left many of the poorest Argentines struggling to buy food.
Argentina is devastated by inaction, hunger, and poverty, and we demand answers that live up to the situation, organizer Eduardo Belliboni said. We want social programs, we want to increase allocations for existing programs and increase food rations in schools, he added.
Clashes broke out with police as demonstrators tried to block public transport networks.
This Thursday, Argentine lawmakers will consider a food emergency bill, presented by the opposition, that would allow more funds to be allocated to manage the increasingly desperate situation.
But President Mauricio Macri's center-right government is opposed to the proposal, saying that it has already taken other emergency measures - such as the elimination of basic food taxes. However his lawmakers will be present ensuring quorum for the debate.
Likewise the decision not only centers on the food emergency but in incorporating tens of thousands more into subsidized programs, of which there are already 450.000.
Belliboni and his leaders are demanding an increase of that number recalling that back in 2003, when Nestor Kirchner was president, the number of social programs was close to two million, and the situation now is far worse, argues the head of one of several groups of picketers camping.
Argentina has been in a recession since last year, and has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, running at more than 55%.
Argentina's economic crisis has seen the peso lose half its value, unemployment soar and the economy shrink by 5.8 per cent in the first quarter. Argentines have seen their earnings, savings and purchasing power diminished.
It is among the Latin American countries where hunger increased most during 2018, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, and seeing families begging on the streets of the capital has become usual.
The country's economic woes intensified after shock primary elections in August saw Macri suffer a crushing defeat, sending markets into a tailspin and leading the government to impose foreign-exchange controls and request a rescheduling of its debt.
The results indicate that Macri's bid for reelection next month now appears in serious jeopardy.