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News > Latin America

Argentina: The Return Of Barter, After 2001 'Corralito' Crisis

  • Argentina's President Macri talks to members of Thailand's

    Argentina's President Macri talks to members of Thailand's "Wild Boars" soccer team during a visit at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 October 2018

Due to the economic crisis, Argentines are exchanging jeans for rice, or "remeras" (shirts, usually from football teams) for sugar.

The economic crisis has hit hard in Argentina under the neoliberal IMF-backed austerity policies pushed by Mauricio Macri's government. The economic rates are hitting the country and putting it in a difficult situation; 9.2 percent unemployment, 28.7 percent in poverty, and almost 40 percent inflation.

Argentina: Protests Mount Over Macri's IMF-Backed Measures

Argentines have resorted to different solutions to weather the economic crisis. Bartering markets have risen more and more in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, the country's capital. Argentines are exchanging jeans for rice, or "remeras" (shirts, usually from football teams) for sugar, among other barters.

Bartering was often used during the 2001 crisis, know as "El Corralito" (the little barnyard), where people exchanged products, and also their talents for products. For example, dentists would exchange treatment for a bottle of oil. At the climax of the 2001 crisis, the unemployment rate hit 20 percent and poverty hit 50 percent according to El Pais.

Today the bartering markets are more organized, mainly via social media — just in the one town of Moreno there are four markets that amass between 5,000 and 20,000 people. On social media, people post what they are exchanging and what they are looking for, and then go to the markets to do the actual exchange.

"The country is bad, even if those who govern do not want to recognize it, and this will not improve. I used to live better, and it's not because I defend Cristina (Fernández), but I could give myself a little treat," said Romina Mansilla to local news outlet La Tercera.

The Autonomous Observatory of Social Law in Buenos Aires (CTA) released a new study in September showing that Argentina’s economic and employment crisis, amidst a 30 percent inflation rate, is to blame for the increase of worker strikes and labor protests. The report also found that protest intensity has gone up as labor demonstrators face police repression and abuse.

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