Argentine President Alberto Fernández, who had said earlier through the coronavirus pandemic that he would rather have 10% new poor people than 100,000 deaths is now faced with his prophecy.
The Health Ministry Wednesday announced the covid-19 death toll had reached 100,250 after 614 people died of the disease in the previous 24 hours. The number of fatalities has doubled since last February 12, when the psychological threshold of 50,000 deaths was crossed.
As for the new poor, there is no official data but with the number of SMEs which have closed down and the people who have lost their jobs or sources of income, maybe 10% is, after all, another understatement from a Chief Executive unable to see violations of human rights in Venezuela and who has admitted to not knowing what was going on in Cuba.
I prefer to have 10 per cent poorer and not 100,000 dead in Argentina, Fernández had said in April 2020 in an interview with Jorge Fontevecchia for the Perfil newspaper.
“From death, you do not come back. On the other hand, from economic problems, you do. I always give the same example. The year before we took office with (former President) Néstor (Kirchner), in 2003, the economy had fallen 11 points. Eleven per cent drop in GDP, 57 poverty points, 25 unemployment points, and we came back. All that can be recovered, what I cannot recover is a life,” he had said.
According to unofficial press reports, the country has managed under Fernández to reach that 10% of more poor people. In the end, it was not one thing or the other. It was a package deal that has left 45% of Argentines behind the poverty line, way more than the 10% forecast by the President and a 30% increase from when he took office in December of 2019.
Since the onset of the pandemic, 4,702,657 cases have been detected, of which 276,004 are considered to be active. Occupancy of ICU beds nationwide is at 62.2% and 60.1 in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA).
Fernández's Government has also been involved in a series of scandals regarding the purchase of vaccines, having even rejected international donations due to legal technicalities which affected particularly Pfizer and Moderna, a problem which has reportedly been solved just in the last few days from a theoretical angle which has opened the doors to the arrival of the actual drugs in the coming months.
Nevertheless, Argentina's has injected 20,934,210 people with their first dose and 5,142,383 people having received both jabs of Sputnik-V, Sinopharm or AstraZeneca.
But as if to deal yet another blow to the President's sinking rate of approval, First Lady Fabiola Yáñez celebrated Wednesday her 40th birthday by posting a picture of herself on social media which enhanced the contrast between what life is like for most Argentines and the parallel world in which politicians and their families seem to live.
Economy Minister Martín Guzmán had forecast an annual inflation rate of 29%, but it is already estimated to be around 50%. In the first quarter of 2021, there were 1.97 million unemployed and 2.52 million underemployed.
In this scenario, the Government is heading for the mid-term elections later this year.