Disabled people and the professionals who care for them demonstrated in the Argentine capital Tuesday to say "no" to austerity policies that undermine their rights and subject them to increasingly poor services.
"No to austerity for the disabled" and "We vote too" were some of the slogans brandished Tuesday in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo by people with disabilities, their families and organizations that provide them with services.
"Our organizations are concerned because we see that poverty is on the rise, inequality is growing and programs of assistance for disabled people are being cut back day after day," said Daniel Ramos, president of the Argentine Council for the Inclusion of Disabled People (Caidis).
Just under 13 percent of Argentines, roughly 5 million people, suffer from a "physical difficulty or a permanent incapacity," while 32 percent of the population are living below the official poverty line.
"Whenever assistance for disabled persons is considered an expense, then attempts are made to cut it back," said Nestor Lipani, who runs a social services center in Buenos Aires.
Inflation is running at more than 54 percent in Argentina.
We're making a huge effort to keep this insecurity away from people we are assisting," Lipani said, who noted, just like his colleagues in the sector, a delay in payments by the government of between five or six months and a shortfall of "not less" than 30 percent in the amount of assistance paid for. Argentina's GDP fell 2.5 percent in 2018, according to the latest official figures available, and the economy contracted by 3.1 percent on a year-on-year basis in the January-May 2019 period.
The conservative government of President Mauricio Macri has slashed public spending to satisfy requirements imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a condition for the three-year, $56.3 billion stand-by loan agreement Buenos Aires signed last year.
Macri turned to the IMF, which is widely despised in Argentina, amid a massive plunge in the value of the peso. EFE-EPA mpr/cd