Food or medicine? Inflation squeezing retirees in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — 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.

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