Food or medicine? Inflation squeezing retirees in Argentina

Argentina’s government has announced that monthly inflation was 7.7% in March, up from 6.5% in the same month in 2022

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — With trembling hands, the bingo players at a Buenos Aires retirement center put the buttons they use as markers on their cards. Small containers hold their betting money, coins and crumpled low-denomination bills that every day seem able to buy less.

The twice-weekly game brings some enthusiasm to the eyes of the retirees playing it in the recreational center serving Caballito and Villa Crespo, middle-class neighborhoods of Argentina’s capital. The men and women participating are all over 80 years old and find themselves in a situation they would have considered unthinkable before they retired.

“This center has middle-class people in it. We are deprived of many of the things we used to do,” said Betty Santucci, 85, who runs the place. She added quietly: “I did something I’d never done in my life: I asked for free medicine … nothing else can be done.”

Monthly inflation was 7.7% in March, up from 6.5% in the same month in 2022, Argentina’s National Institute of Statistics and Censuses announced Friday. Analysts project annual inflation — the measure used commonly internationally — will come in at 110% in 2023, one of the highest rates in the world.

“The numbers we see today represent the worst moment of the impact of the war (in Ukraine) on international prices and the worst drought in history in the country,” tweeted government s