The "Verdurazo", a nickname for the massive protest featuring fresh vegetables, was convened by the Land Workers Union (UTT), brings together farmers who are pay rent on the fields where they grow food.
For more than two hours, families, retirees and neighbors waited to receive lettuce, eggplants, beets and peppers, which were delivered for free distribution at Plaza de Mayo, Argentina's emblematic square of resistance against authoritarian governments.
“We are giving away food to demand good policies and to repudiate repression," Lucas Tedesco, a UTT member, said and added that "Argentina's economic recession is making increasingly difficult for small farmers to move forward."
UTT requests measures such as "incentives to production" and concessionary loans so that small farmers can have access to land ownership. In the province of Buenos Aires, for instance, 70% of farmers rent land.
"There is no public policy in this regard. Current policies favor seed pools, soybean monopolists, and business speculators who keep production in silos and wait for dollar exchange rate hikes," Tedesco denounced.
Argentina is one of the world’s main producers of soybeans and corn, although those who came to get free food at Plaza de Mayo complained that “there is hunger in the country."
The Land Workers Union claims that small producers receive about US$0.1 cents for their products, while corporate supermarkets sell them at US$2. They attribute this ‘abysmal gap price’ to the power of the big food chains with the capacity to define trends in consumer prices.
In addition, UTT rejected the Buenos Aires government eviction of a ‘Solidarity Food Fair,’ which sold vegetables at prices lower than those of corporate supermarkets. The local police, however, cracked down on the small farmers and threw pepper spray at their customers.
The police action generated criticisms among opposition forces, to which Buenos Aires’ authorities responded by saying that the Solidarity Fair lacked “necessary permits”.
Among those who attended the "Verdurazo" was Eduardo Vitubio, 74, who waited more than half an hour with his wife to get a couple of food bags.
"This is tremendous. Vegetables cannot be bought anymore, Vitubio said and added that his retirement pension "is not enough,” hardly ever lasting to the last day of the month with money in his pockets.