To add insult to injury, in a week of intense summer heat, residential electricity bills here went up by 26-32%, with a further 14% rise in March and further incremental increases thereafter, to hit an annual increase of 55%. Imagine that back home!
And then to make it even worse, the city endured rolling power cuts in the heat of the day throughout the week.
So another day dawned with yet another manifestación, as they’re called here – a politically charged rally by thousands of workers through the city centre. This one took up the entire length of Avenida de Mayo, running from Congreso de la Nación Argentina all the way across to Casa Rosada, both centres of the federal government. It was so packed the rally didn’t move, just filled the street with people. No violence, no loud chants, drumming of course, but largely ordinary people and, in many cases young families, expressing their outrage. But what to do? The government’s austerity measures are a condition of the IMF bailout to wrestle run-away inflation (48%) and curb non-essential spending. It’s incredibly tough on people but what other choice do they really have? Let’s hope that they can get through this and end these crippling austerity measures soon. As you would imagine the government and, in particular President Macri (or Macri Gato as he’s known here – one meaning is cat but it’s not a compliment) are massively unpopular. There’s a federal election in October and should they kick him out, which is likely, and elect the opposition, which would potentially defy the IMF, then I’m afraid things may well get a whole lot worse, possibly back to the horror times of 2002 when the country was on its knees.
We managed to cross the Avenida de Mayo through the manifestación and walk down to the Congreso which ironically was quiet, no one around. This is the first time I’ve been able to get anywhere near the building as it’s always surrounded by noisy demonstrations.
We were on a mission. A hunger for Chinese food inspired by last weekend’s discovery of Barrio Chino, so we took a jam-packed Subte up to Belgrano and found a suitable restaurant. It was no Golden Century I’m afraid to say, but hey, we’ll have to leave that treat until we get home. It was kinda odd ordering Chinese food from a Spanish menu and a Spanish waiter and having Sweet and Sour Pork served as Spanish meatballs, but hey, it was good to have food that hadn’t been cooked on a parrilla for a change.