In Argentina, Organized Groups Are Looting Stores for Food as Inflation Exceeds 100%

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By the author of Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City and The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook

In the middle of August, large groups invaded and looted supermarkets and stores in the suburbs of the capital Buenos Aires and the provinces of Mendoza, Córdoba, Neuquén, and Río Negro. Though the situation has improved, I’ve been receiving direct reports from Argentinian locals saying attacks are still happening. As I write this post, more than 200 people, including minors, were arrested in more than 150 violent events.

“At least 20 people were arrested on Tuesday in Córdoba for the looting of at least 12 shops, provincial police said in a statement. In Mendoza, seven were detained, with unrest also reported in Neuquén. In the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires City, an attempt to loot shops in Barrio 1-11-14, Bajo Flores, on Monday night was prevented by residents.

Those incidents came less than 24 hours after a large group attempted to loot a supermarket in Río Cuarto, Córdoba Province. At least ten people were arrested for the incident, seven of whom are minors.” [source]

According to the authorities, the looting was organized and called for on social media by known groups. Indeed, former social union leader and presidential pre-candidate Raúl Castells said in an interview with a TV channel that “people are going after food, and we’re calling them to take everything they can to trade for food, but not to take money nor destroy property.”

The attacks brought back memories of 1989 and 2001 when the economy collapsed, and the population revolted during the governments of former presidents Raul Alfonsín and Fernando De La Rúa. Unlike those instances, though, this time, part of the population mobilized to stop the looters and defend commerce. Images of owners loading firearms and preparing to protect their stores circulated everywhere, too.

From bad to absolute hell

The context, however, is very similar: inflation is above 100%, one of the highest in the world, and 40% of the population lives in poverty (some say it’s even more than that). The government is desperate and running out of time and to unlock a US$44 billion credit deal negotiated with the IMF, it agreed on a 21% devaluation of the Peso, causing an immediate 30% rise in prices of… everything. The unofficial ‘blue dollar’ skyrocketed in the black market. According to analysts, the cost of living might reach two digits in the next months.

There’s a crisis in habitation reaching unimaginable levels, too. Homeowners and investors are waiting for the revision of the Ley de Alquileres, or rent laws, which were approved in 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, they’re now marking rents in USD rather than Pesos,  which added to the pressure of inflation. To make matters worse, there are almost no real estate listings in Buenos Aires and other large cities.

On the political front, President Alberto Fernandéz declared the looting “organized” and asked for “the preservation of social peace and democracy.” Fernandéz won’t run for office in the October presidential elections. Still, his Peronist party seized the opportunity to flood the press with declarations against the opposition for an alleged “public discourse that is trying to destabilize democracy.”

The main target of the Peronistas is right-wing Javier Milei, who gained a lot of attention and support after winning the August primaries with 30% of the votes. He declared, “It’s tragic to see images of looting after 20 years; poverty and plundering are two sides of the same coin.” (Brazilian legacy media has been trying to destroy Milei just as they’re doing with Bolsonaro and Trump – professional journalism is dead.)

Democracy under attack, or the social fabric undoing?

The barrage of criminals invading stores and leaving with bags of stolen goods unbothered has become a common sight in the US and other developed nations. In Europe, migrants attacking and raping residents in the streets for seemingly no reason is a daily occurrence in many countries as well.

Last weekend in Rio de Janeiro, 500 people got arrested during a free concert at Copacabana beach for trying to steal smartphones from attendees. I’ve already addressed the widespread issue of unprovoked violence, another recent phenomenon (and how to prepare for it).

The authorities in Argentina are treating the attacks as a criminal initiative.

“There have been arrests by the police and judicial authorities, and many of the organizers are citizens with previous convictions. We don’t see in this a social reaction, but rather acts that deserve the full weight of the law,” added Cabinet Chief Agustín Rossi on Tuesday. (source)

The same authorities are taking a political stance by trying to pin the “anti-democratic discourse” onto their opponents, who in turn are firing back by associating the looting with past crises of a different nature and dimension.

Who’s right?

In my opinion, both are right in their assessments but consciously omit part of the issue in an attempt to defend their agendas or profit politically from these events. These events are a mix of crime, political manifestation, and social revolt. It’s an expression of discontent with the corruption, the economic situation, the gaslighting, the loss of freedom and political expression, and more.

The present crisis is more profound and broader, rooted in complex causes. Identifying all those components – and possibly many others – in the wave of looting in Argentina is possible, as well as in the current crisis my country is going through, and also the US, Canada, Europe, and most others in the Western world, with some differences and particularities.

An important takeaway is that there seems to be no solution in sight, so the odds are these events will become more frequent and violent. Trends in motion tend to remain in motion and even accelerate toward the end (and we’re far from the end).

Another aspect to pay attention to is the natural developments. Governments will act to squash these and any popular movements. This response is never linear: typically, they downplay, under-react, then overreact. That’s the script every single time, and we, the people, pay the price either way, so better prepare.

So, is Argentina on the verge of social collapse?

Or is it something else? And why should you and I care?

Because something similar may happen in the future where we live for the same or different reasons. It may or may not be exactly the same, but it doesn’t matter much. I’m talking about dynamics.

Most First World residents look at Argentina and see just another Third World sh*thole that seems to never get out of the pit, a banana republic forever struggling with poverty, corruption, and shrouded in populism. That is hard to argue and a common perspective even in many of its neighbors.

However, Argentina is a big country, once the most prosperous and still the third largest economy in South America. Before WW1, its per-capita GDP compared to Germany’s, and Argentina shows marks of that period to this day. For instance, the education level of its population ranks higher than neighboring countries even after decades of erosion and decadence.

The reason I mention that is twofold: 1) Argentina may be a proxy of developed countries as well as of developing or poorer ones, and 2) How things can completely turn upside down and the circumstances change so drastically, given the right (or should I say wrong) conditions.

The events in Argentina are a lesson in “can’t happen anywhere” we so often talk about, and something to keep in mind.

What are your thoughts?

Have you followed these events? Do you see the parallels between the crime waves in large American cities and these events in Argentina? Have you given thought to how you can protect yourself if you’re present when something like this occurs? Have you seen a local uptick in crime where you live?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Fabian

Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.

Fabian’s ebook, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City , is a practical training method for common city dwellers based on the lifestyle of the homeless (real-life survivors) to be more psychologically, mentally, and physically prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the streets during normal or difficult times. He’s also the author of The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook.

You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor

Picture of Fabian Ommar

Fabian Ommar

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  • Possibly in other countries it is due to the need for food, in Argentina these lootings are promoted and in cases monetarily, by various sectors with the sole purpose of promoting instability. What the media does not show is the looting of clothing stores and electrical appliances, which are not basic necessities and more than looting, they are gang robberies.

  • Whenever people become desperate, this is to be expected. People will organize into gangs for some semblance of survival. They will start with food, and then it will become food, clothes, electronics, or whatever they can loot for possible profit. Of course there are the established gangs that exist before the crisis which are based on profit, and they will continue to function, but at a heightened level, and often with increased membership because people will see that they have, and join their ranks.

    India has suspended the export of most of the varieties of rice they produce. China has stockpiled record amount of grains and other staples. Why? Because they know that once a population becomes hungry that it is a breeding ground for unrest. The other thing that we should acknowledge is that in almost all of these cases that the crisis is created by ideologically driven policies of the government, or even worse, decisions that governments are forced into by the ideologically driven governments of the west, that control international aid/money.

  • There is a spiritual component to all of this also. As more and more people turn away from God, their sense of moral restraint is eliminated. Poverty does not necessarily equate to lawlessness. There have been many poor people throughout history that never considered crime as a way to alleviate their own suffering. Suffering can in fact develop stronger character in people whose God is not their stomach, but rather the Creator of their souls. People who believe that God is the source of all things, and that He will provide the things they need are far more likely to resist the temptation to steal than people who believe that they must provide for themselves. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:26-34)

    • @Kat: I totally agree. God is the provider and we who love Him and are called to Him should know that He will provide. We should NOT worry, do as much as we can and give up the rest and worry to Him.
      SAD that what was once a free country to worship God has now become a godless country with everyone going their own way, and many to money as their god. Or themselves.

  • coming from South Africa, I can relate to this, its all standard issue by now. Looting without consequence is part of the tradition like corruption has become something to inspire for, especially in government.. the youth thinks this is cool.. they killed reggae (Bob Marley) to put the gangster rappers in place.. our new culture to aspire to..
    anyway, now living in Ireland we see Ukrainians flooding the backward streets of previously quiet friendly peaceful west cork. Their unmannered attitudes causing conflict of opinions and mindsets, but most (except the mask wearers) have woken up to the fact that something is fishy in the state of Denmark.. they will pull you down easily, but its impossible to pull them up (and once we are down, no one will pull us up)..
    the new world order is in place.

    • Kurt, we’re feeling that here in the great country of Texas, not only along our Southern border being run over by illegals from all countries, but we’re being overrun by blue state people that are bringing their ugly voting habits, their socialist sheeple mindset. All trying to change Texas to destroy it. Prayers for you there Kurt.

      • Much appreciated TexasAntigone, all the same on the western front then.. the Kalergi Plan is being implemented as well as Agenda 21 worldwide.. once they lost touch with God, there is only one other way.. stay strong and keep up the good fight.

  • This will start here in the FSSA, once the EBT cards and other freebies do not work. Right now, the Flash Mobs in SoCal are just stealing high-end Bling. Plan accordingly.

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