Shopkeepers and shoppers in Argentina can hardly keep up with the sharp and sudden rises in prices.
Shopkeepers and shoppers in Argentina can hardly keep up with the sharp and sudden rises in prices. Many shopkeepers are reluctant to even mark prices because they are subject to such rapid change. Some prices double overnight. Because of the skyrocketing prices, many essential items have vanished from the shelves--bought in advance before their prices became prohibitive. Beef, one of the staples of the average Argentinian's diet, is being passed up by shoppers who cannot cope with the high cost.
The Argentine Government has moved to curb rising prices by establishing controls on 27 staples. This is seen as the first step to introduce some order into the chaotic situation. Shopkeepers have been settling their own prices, often taking the Government's action in tripling the price of petrol and dramatically increasing the cost of public services as their guideline.
As a means of coping with rising discontent--much of it centred in the labour movement--President Maria Estela Peron accepted the resignation of her controversial cabinet minister Jose Lopez Rega on Friday (11 July). He had been closely associated in the eyes of many Argentinians with the economic policies which have led to the present crisis. He was the Minister of Social Welfare and her personal secretary.
One of his proteges, Celestino Rodrigo, was named Economics Minister in early June and his first act in devaluing the peso by 50 per cent triggered much of the present difficulty. To compensate for the suddenly-devalued peso, trade unions negotiated wage increases of up to 150 per cent. But President Peron annulled them in an effort to keep to ceiling on pay rises at 50 per cent.
Her action drew immediate defiance from the unions who staged a general strike. Under this pressure, President Person relented and permitted the negotiated pay rises to take effect, but she hung on against demands for Senor Lopez Rega's resignation until Friday. Her action the followed...within 24 hours of violent clashes between left wing guerrillas and police in Cordoba in which her resignation was also demanded.
There has been growing opposition to ??? actions on the political front as well. Last week the Senate rejected her instructions and elected a new Senate ???, Dr. Italo Luder. He is now next in line for the country's Presidency should she step down. She had favoured the Speaker of the Chamber, Raul Lastiri, son-in-law of Senor Lopez Rega and considered a ranking member of his inner circle.