Two people have been killed, dozens injured, and at least 137 arrests have been made in several poverty stricken cities across Argentina, during an outbreak of mass lootings at supermarkets. The state has deployed the armed forces to try and maintain order.
The first incident of looting occurred in Bariloche on Thursday, and has since had a knock-on effect and spread to other areas, including, Buenos Aires, Santa-Fe, Entre Rios, Chaco, Esistencia, Zarate, Campana, and Rosario – where it was reported that at least 25 supermarkets had been emptied.
Despite all of the areas involved having extreme poverty, the government are accusing people of stealing televisions, and luxury items, rather than food. A government spokesman has said that:
“These are isolated incidents and in none of them have we seen people stealing food. They've been taking televisions"
Another minister claims that:
“There have been incidents of violence, theft and vandalism in Rosario, however they have nothing to do with social problems”
He has declined to mention the poverty that many ordinary people are currently experiencing, made worse by recent floods that have had terrible effects on people’s lives, and further exacerbated by power cuts in many areas, that have lasted over a week.
Similar instances of supermarket looting have occurred previously in Argentina. A major economic crisis in 2001 led to a similar wave of looting for food, and scores of people dead.
Riot police have been struggling to control the situation, which has led to the deployment of the military. One of the two reported death’s, was a woman who was shot in the head as she tried to enter a supermarket.
The government are hinting that there are groups behind the looting who have political agendas. At least one minister has openly said that he blames trade unions for instigating the looting.