BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Jesica Fernández used to join seven family members every weekend for a large beef barbeque. Beef is no longer on the menu, and now they’re more likely to eat spaghetti or chicken wings.
In beef-loving Argentina, barbeques nowadays happen only on birthdays or special occasions, Fernández said.
Fernández, 31, is among millions of Argentines struggling to make ends meet as the country’s annual inflation rate clocked in at an annual rate of 102.5 percent in February, the first time it has reached triple digits since 1991.
She was shopping at a market sponsored by the Lomas de Zamora municipality, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the capital, where businesses offer basic goods at cheaper prices in exchange for the free retail space.
“We buy less beef and we buy fewer things. In reality, you can’t give yourself the luxuries that you could before,” Fernández said,
The country’s Indec statistics agency said this week that consumer prices increased 6.6% in February from the previous month, a higher number than expected, on top of years of double-digit annual inflation over the past decade. Food was among items that increased the most in February, rising 9.8% from January, in part due to a punishing drought that has pushed prices of meat and other goods higher.
“The situation is very difficult, and every day it gets worse,” said Daisy Choque Guevara, 42.
Mabel Espinosa, 37, was walking around the market with her 10-day old baby, Gael, hoping to find deals to buy enough food for herself, her husband and six children.
“The money isn’t enough for anything,” Espinosa said. “Barbeques? Forget about it.”
President Alberto Fernández has been struggling to put the brakes on the country’s soaring inflation rate that will undoubtedly be a key issue in the presidential campaign ahead of October elections.
Argentines have long suffered large bouts of rising prices, worse than elsewhere, because of the government’s penchant for printing money to finance spending. That trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic while a sharp depreciation of the local currency also pushed prices higher.
President Alberto Fernández’s center-left administration has tried to rein in the spiraling prices through price controls that have largely failed. Much of the opposition says Argentina needs a broader stabilization plan that includes a sharp decrease in spending.
“We obviously think the inflation data is bad, very bad, plus it was…
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