Muerto de Hambre

November 10, 2016

            Every day Argentine children die due to malnutrition or diseases linked to the situation of extreme poverty and hunger[1]. The economic crisis has raised[2] the share of the urban population living below the poverty level from 29% to 32.5% early in this year.  That is an upward slope since Macri took office, exploding into a public health emergency. It is estimated that during the first four months of Macri’s administration, roughly 1.4 million people fell below the poverty line, largely due to inflation and hikes in public utilities. According a report conducted by the Ministry of Health[3], 891 people died of malnutrition in the country in 2013. This is the last available report of the kind.

    When on Oct. 13, 2016, children gathered for free food[4] given out by Norma Colque at her soup kitchen in the Villa 31 neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Norma worried that the food wouldn’t be enough.  Despite the fact that the government has been sending her food, Norma observed that the lines are growing longer.  More than one million Argentines ceased to be able to afford the basics for survival over the past nine months.

    Just in recent weeks, the website NotiActual[5] published the case of Junior Joneido Gonzalez Rodriguez – a one-year-old child who died in his mother’s arms.  The cause of death: chronic malnutrition.  The same website reports that in the short period of two months, six other children in Joneido’s neighborhood died of malnutrition. The deterioration of the social framework exacerbated by the increasing poverty level, as well as criticism of the Argentine entities and international protests led the Government to announce emergency plans and action fronts in several provinces.

    One in three Argentinians is poor[6]. This means that about nine  million urban Argentineans live today without sufficient resources to buy a basket of food.  Part of this population is served by government programs: income transfers, subsidies and popular restaurants in schools. In the Greater Buenos Aires area, 30.9 percent of the population is poor and 6.2 percent is destitute[7]. That translates into more than 4.5 out of the 14.6 million people living in the most populated region in the country who can’t afford to buy a basket of goods. Out of that number, some 900,000 don’t earn enough to buy food.

    The economic crisis, however, has prevented the Government from increasing social spending, and the number of unemployed, poor and indigent keeps growing. Today, 9.5% of Argentines are unemployed[8], and an estimated 40% other[9] work in precarious jobs with low wages and have no legal protection.

    The Argentine Catholic University (UCA) uses the term “alimentary insecurity,” to refer to children who have seen a decline in their food intake due to economic trouble within their households, or who claim to have experienced hunger due to lack of access to food but receive free food from some form of welfare program.  According UCA, in addition to severe food insecurity of 7.7%, the study shows a deterioration of the situation in the twelve months analyzed, which continues to worsen today due to the increase of inflation and rates. This constant or occasional lack of food often occurs in contexts where there are other important shortcomings. The study by the Social Observatory of the UCA[10] also points out that 42% of urban children and adolescents live in houses with sanitation problems, as well as lack of access to running water or bathrooms with proper drainage.



[1] Casey, N. (2016, May 15). Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals. New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from

[2] Gracía, R. (2016, April 4). Argentina’s Poverty Rate Soars to 32 Percent. PANAMPOST. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from

[3] Cada 10 horas muere una persona por desnutrición en la Argentina. (2015, September 10). Retrieved November 01, 2016, from

[4] Macri's 'zero poverty' promise a distant goal for Argentina. (2016, October 31). Retrieved November 01, 2016, from

[5] Crísis Humanitaria: Muere de hambre en los brazos de su madre -. (2016, September 27). Retrieved November 03, 2016, from

[6] Bio, D. (2016, September 28). One In Three Argentines Is Poor, According To Official Statistics. Retrieved November 03, 2016, from

[7] Bio, D. (2016, September 22). INDEC: A Family In Argentina Needs AR$12,500 Per Month To Not Be Poor. Retrieved November 03, 2017, from

[8] Wu, H. (2016, October 21). Ambassador Talks US-Argentina Relationship. Retrieved November 02, 2016, from

[9] Bertranou, F. Casanova, L. (2013). Informalidad laboral en Argentina. Segmentos críticos y políticoas para la formalizacíon. Organización Internacional del Trabajo, Buenos Aires. ILO (2011). La formalización en Argentina. Notas OIT Trabajo Decente en Argetona. Buenos Aires. Retrieved November 02, 2016, from

[10] Rosso, M. A., Wicky, M. I., Nessier, M. C., & Meyer, R. (2014, December 3). Inseguridad alimentaria en la ciudad de Santa Fé: percepción de los ciudadanos [Scholarly project]. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from

About Author(s)

marisapr's picture
Marisa is a third-year law student at the University of Pittsburgh. She is pursuing certificates in Health Law and in Latin American Studies. She is interested in gender and race issues and how they affect immigration and immigrant communities. She also does research in public health issues. She has been contributing with articles for Panoramas since 2015.