Argentina’s poverty level rises to 57.4%, marking 20-year high

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Argentina’s poverty level rose to 57.4% last month, reaching the highest percentage in at least 20 years, according to a report by the Catholic University of Argentina.

A local media company wrote about the report, according to Reuters, which said newly elected President Javier Milei’s devaluation of the peso, executed shortly after his inauguration in December, caused poverty levels to worsen.

In fact, the poverty level at the end of the year was 49.5%.

The devaluation of the peso also caused prices of nearly everything to rise.

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Poverty in Argentina

A sign outside a store reads in Spanish “We accept Dollars” in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 12, 2023.  (REUTERS/Tomas Cuesta/File Photo)

“The true inheritance of the caste model: Six out of every 10 Argentines are poor,” the libertarian president said in a social media post on Saturday. “The destruction of the last hundred years is unparalleled in Western history.

“Politicians have to understand that the people voted for change and that we are going to give our lives to bring it forward,” Milei added. “We did not come to play the mediocre game of politics. We came to change the country.”

Since taking office on Dec. 10, Milei has made good on many campaign promises to fundamentally overhaul the historically socialist federal government of Argentina.

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Javier Milei speaking

President of Argentina Javier Milei gives a speech after his Inauguration Ceremony at National Congress on December 10, 2023, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  (Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

But Milei’s drastic overhaul of the country’s economy is not expected to be a smooth operation. The president himself has characterized it as financial “shock therapy” that will negatively affect thousands of citizens.

Milei signed a decree in December, outlining his plan to address the crisis. The plans included the privatization of state-owned companies, though he did not name the specific firms, Reuters reported. He previously said he favors the privatization of state-owned oil company YPF.

Argentina has South America’s second-largest economy, but is suffering 143% annual inflation, which has caused the country’s currency to plummet.

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A man holds up a giant US dollar sign with President Argentina's President Javier Milei

A supporter holds a giant dollar bill with the face President elect Javier Milei as people start gathering outside National Congress ahead of his inauguration ceremony on Dec. 10, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

The country also has a trade deficit of $43 billion as well as $45 billion in debt to the International Monetary Fund, with $10.6 billion due to private and multilateral creditors by April.

On Friday, the country’s economy ministry reported a January budget surplus of 518.41 billion pesos, or $620.85 million. The announcement marked the first time the number has been in the green since August 2012.

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Reuters reported that it was not immediately able to see a copy of the report.

Fox News Digital’s Timothy H.J. Nerozzi and Reuters contributed to this report.