Argentine Lootings 1989–1990
The first food riots in modern Argentina began on May 25, 1989, in the provinces of Córdoba and Rosario, and by May 30, when a state of siege was declared by the federal government, lootings exploded in the Conurbano Bonaerense. Described by newspapers as poor, humble residents of peripheral neighborhoods, hundreds of looters broke into food markets shouting, “Cut prices, we are hungry!” By June 6, massive lootings had taken place in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Tucumán, and smaller episodes occurred in Corrientes, San Juan, and Santiago del Estero; fourteen people were dead, almost a hundred were injured, and four hundred had been arrested throughout the country. The geography of death and injury closely correlates with the intensity of the episodes: Seven were killed in Buenos Aires, mainly in the “hot zones” of the Conurbano – as local newspapers called Moreno, San Miguel, General Sarmiento, Ciudadela, and Morón (i.e., the western area of Greater Buenos Aires) – with more isolated episodes in the south (i.e., Quilmes, Lanús, and Avellaneda), six in Rosario and Villa Gobernador Galvez, and one in Tucumán. The lootings occurred in the context of an unprecedented hyperinflationary crisis (during the first five months of 1989, prices of staple foods rose between 400 and 1000 percent, while wages increased 200 percent over a year) and of sudden massive cutbacks in the main national food distribution program (Programa de Alimentación Nacional) (Prevot-Schapira 1993:790).