Healthcare in ArgentinaThe system used today for providing healthcare in Argentina was developed during a period of economic glory for the country. This economic reform was achieved throughout the 1940-50s period of urbanization, industrialization and labor movements. Since then, healthcare in Argentina has been largely decentralized and privatized to provincial-level support. Healthcare services and resources are divided across three sectors. The public sector offers all services free of charge and is used primarily by those without social security. The Obras Sociales sector, which is funded by compulsory social security, is used primarily by workers. The private sector, which users pay for entirely out of pocket, is the most exclusive. On average across sectors, a ratio of 3.6 physicians treats 1,000 people.

5 Important Facts Related to Healthcare in Argentina

  1. The gross domestic product (GDP) expenditure for healthcare in Argentina is high. According to World Bank statistics from 2017 for Argentina’s current health expenditure, health services contribute to 9.12% of the annual GDP of the country. This percentage is significantly higher than that of 2016, which was 7.54% of GDP. Argentina’s health expenditure is also 1.1% higher than the average for its Latin American regional context. Argentina can still make improvements by creating universal health services across the country, but since the introduction of a Universal Health Plan in 2016, Argentina’s health expenditure has risen. Because of the shift from state to provincial-level control of healthcare in Argentina, there are inconsistencies between the provincial-level distribution of funds toward the healthcare system. The physician to population ratio between the autonomous city of Buenos Aires and the Misiones province can trace the inconsistency of healthcare access across provinces. In Buenos Aires, 10.2 physicians serve a population of 1,000, while in Misiones there are just 1.2 physicians to every 1,000 people.
  2. Argentina has successfully lowered rates of poverty-linked communicable diseases, like Chagas. Chagas, which is a vector-borne disease, has seen lower rates of transmission within eight out of the 19 endemic provinces of Argentina that it has previously been found. The interruption of vector and congenital transmission of the Chagas disease achieved these lowered rates. The development of strategies to combat other communicable diseases within Argentina, like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), are still in dire need of support. One organization, called Mundo Sano, is working on strategies to interrupt the transmission of congenital HIV/AIDS between mother and child as of 2020. Statistics from United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) research shows that as of 2016, 91% of women living with HIV/AIDS were already seeking out either antiretroviral or prophylaxes treatment to prevent vertical transmission. As a result, an estimated less than 100 children contracted the disease. With support from Mundo Sano, vertical transmission rates of HIV/AIDS could decrease even further.
  3. Argentina has developed action plans to combat the prevalence of multiple non-communicable diseases. As of 2014, metabolic diseases accounted for 4% of all deaths and cancers accounted for 20% of deaths. Most notably, 28% of all deaths in the country were attributed to diseases of the circulatory system. Once implemented, policies will be used to regulate food advertising, fiscal policies and front-of-package labeling. With funding to support the implementation of these policies, the incidence of certain non-communicable diseases could decrease significantly in Argentina.
  4. Natural disaster relief is available to all 23 provinces of Argentina. Instances of climatic stress to the diverse terrain of the country emerge most commonly as volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, landslides, mudslides, tornados, storms, heatwaves and wildfires. The Argentine government established the National Directorate of Health Emergencies agency to prevent and mitigate the effects of a disaster. Environmental threats to public health across Argentina are combatted locally by provincial disaster response teams that operate under the national level agency.
  5. The aging population has free healthcare in Argentina. The National Institute of Social Services for Retirees and Pensioners (PAMI) in Argentina was created in 1971 to provide comprehensive healthcare and support to the country’s aging population. Since its beginnings, PAMI has implemented multiple programs for the betterment of health for Argentina’s elderly. Among the services available through PAMI are free healthcare for those 65 or more years old, along with preventative care resources like immunization and support networks. According to 2018 data from the World Bank, the average life expectancy across the Argentine population from birth is 76.52 years old, which has been steadily increasing since the creation of PAMI.

Since the 1940-50s economic reform in Argentina, the healthcare system has grown fragmented across the public, social security and private sectors. Healthcare sectors depend on the autonomous power of provincial-level governments and are therefore divided from one another.

In 2016, the government of Argentina responded to the fragmented nature of the system and introduced a Universal Health Plan. This plan is meant to increase the efficiency of coverage by compiling national health records into a single system, making patient identification more accessible across sectors. With cross-sector recognition and agreement for universalizing healthcare in Argentina, along with financial support for the cause, the country could achieve a healthier population overall.

Lilia Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Burden of COVIDThe most recent pandemic has wreaked havoc on countries all over the world and has stagnated, or even reversed progress in many developing communities. While officials have been trying to reduce the number of cases worldwide, there have also been many tech developments that help alleviate the burden of COVID-19. Various apps and websites allow us to spread information, contact-trace and even enforce quarantine.

6 Ways Technology Helps Alleviate the Burden of COVID-19

  1. Afghanistan- Without proper guidance, misinformation can spread like wildfire and can be deadly. For this reason, the Ministry of Public Health joined forces with the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology to create software that provides health information to Afghani citizens. Corona.asan.gov.af translates virus updates and information into three different languages, making it easily accessible for all people.
  2. Bulgaria- Local IT developers created a free app that connects citizens to health authorities to help ease the burden of COVID-19. Users verify their identity and can input various symptoms they are experiencing. A doctor will then review their symptoms and decide whether or not to send the patient to the closest medical facility for treatment. In addition to this, the app also can predict the future growth and spread of the virus. The developers are also willing to sell the software to other countries for a symbolic one euro.
  3. Germany- A Berlin-based tech startup created an initiative that would work on Android devices in developing countries throughout South America and North Africa. The project, called #AppsFightCovid would display health information on popup ads that already exist on different apps. The ads take info from the WHO website and advocate for frequent hand washing and wearing a mask in public. Because of these efforts, underdeveloped communities now have access to important COVID-19 information.
  4. Mexico- The Mexico City government created a screening service that determines how likely a user is to contract the coronavirus. The website also features a map that displays the closest hospitals and how much space is available in each of them. People can also filter the map based on whether they need a general care bed or a ventilator bed. In addition, users can input their symptoms and determine whether or not they require hospitalization. This helps alleviate the burden of COVID by reducing the number of unnecessary hospital patients during a global pandemic.
  5. United Nations- It is extremely difficult to get access to personal protective equipment and accurate information, especially for developing countries. Because of this, the U.N. partnered with the WHO and launched the Tech Access Partnership or TAP. This initiative helps reduce the burden of COVID by connecting expert manufacturers with developing manufacturers in poorer countries all over the world to share resources, knowledge and technical expertise. TAP will also aid countries in creating affordable and safe technology.
  6. Argentina- In hopes of reducing the number of coronavirus cases, a company is looking into enforcing quarantining and social distancing through a tracking app, though it is not yet operational. This would be a way to prevent the spread of COVID since the app would send an alert each time a person leaves their home. In addition, the Argentinian Ministry of Health created an application that allows people to evaluate their symptoms and see whether or not they require hospitalization.

 

Though the novel coronavirus has thrown us all for a whirlwind, many countries are doing their part to alleviate the burden of COVID by using technology. Whether it is through self-assessing symptoms, tracking hospitals or enforcing quarantine, government officials everywhere are trying to flatten the curve through the use of technology.

– Karin Filipova
Photo: Unsplash

COVID-19 in Argentina
As governments all over the world scramble to contain the spread of COVID-19, Argentina’s response has been especially quick and comprehensive. The South American country confirmed its first case on March 3, 2020. Since then, the government has adopted a response plan consisting of strict shelter-in-place orders and travel bans, as well as extensive economic relief. These policies have allowed the administration, led by President Alberto Fernández, to limit both the medical and economic consequences of the pandemic. To date, over 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Argentina and over 300 deaths have occurred. These numbers are better than those of comparable countries that had slower or less extensive responses to the virus.

Shelter-in-Place Policy

The Argentine government’s country-wide shelter-in-place policy went into effect 17 days after its first confirmed case. Citizens can only travel to their nearest supermarket or other essential business and otherwise have to stay home. The police are strictly enforcing this national shutdown of non-essential activity. The government emphasizes that social distancing is the most effective way to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Argentina, as the country does not have the resources to do universal testing. Violators of the shelter-in-place order can face jail time. The police began making arrests on the first day the policy officially went into effect.

Argentina has also enacted a travel ban that is among the strictest in the world. The country’s borders have closed to all inbound and outbound travel since March 2020. In late April 2020, the government adopted a policy banning all airline travel into, out of and within the country until the beginning of September 2020. Several South American countries have instituted similar flight bans, but Argentina’s ban will last longer than any of the others. The intention of these policies is to halt the potential spread of COVID-19 in Argentina by limiting people’s travel capabilities. However, many expect that the flight ban will be a significant burden on Argentinian airlines and airports.

Economic Relief

Before the pandemic, the economy of Argentina was in a recession; approximately 40% of people were living below the poverty line. The current administration inherited over $300 billion in debt when it came to power in 2019. To relieve the huge economic pressure that COVID-19 in Argentina caused, and to prevent the country’s economy from falling deeper into recession, the government has instituted multiple economic relief programs. The President issued an emergency decree banning all worker layoffs for two months. This measure should protect Argentina from the huge spikes in unemployment that other countries are experiencing due to the economic slowdown. The expectation is that business leaders will take a financial hit instead of laying off more financially vulnerable workers.

The government has also begun several social welfare programs. The President issued an executive order so that companies do not cut essential services, such as electricity, water and cable television, for retirees or poor households due to lack of payment. Another executive order provides a 10,000 peso emergency family income for domestic and low-income workers. Initially, many citizens had to wait in lines for up to 12 hours to collect their payments. The government has since expedited this process by keeping bank branches open on weekends. In addition, the administration has suspended all evictions and rent hikes until the beginning of September 2020. These policies should ensure that the most vulnerable members of society can maintain their basic necessities as the economy struggles through the pandemic.

While all citizens are enduring the huge impact of COVID-19 in Argentina, these policies have helped move the country closer to being able to return to its normal way of life. Banning international travel and enforcing social distancing are both important methods for minimizing the spread of the virus. Broad economic relief programs have helped limit the damage to an economy that was already struggling. It is impossible to know how long this pandemic will last, so Argentina’s government has been quick and cautious with the policies it has instituted.

Gabriel Guerin
Photo: Wikimedia

Benefits of FecovitaFecovita stands for the Federation of Argentine Viticulture Cooperatives; this group comprises 5,000 winegrowers that makeup 29 cooperatives. This group’s control of the wine market totals at 22 percent, with it owning roughly 30,000 hectares of land as of 2015 and producing over 260 million liters of wine in 2014. There are many benefits of Fecovita throughout Argentina. 

Fairtrade Advantages

The wineries that benefit from Fecovita operate as officially recognized Fairtrade producers. In this case, Fairtrade is an accredited certification company that works to provide a more equitable trade system for farmers and workers across the globe. Only four countries out of the 50 wine-producing countries in the world adopt Fairtrade labeling for their wine products including South Africa, Lebanon, Chile and Argentina.

Fairtrade labeling in Argentina has led to a floor price for grapes, which allows farmers to receive proper wages as well as improvements in farming practices, education and health care. As a result of Fairtrade labeling, workers have also been able to receive eye and dental care, help with nutrition and even community support for schools and health centers. 

Additional Benefits of Fecovita

The wine industry in Argentina has grown to thrive off of the foreign market. The Federation has provided small cooperatives with a seat at the negotiating table with much larger foreign and domestic wineries. As of 2015, Mendoza, a province to the west of Buenos Aires, supplied 70 percent of the world’s Malbec, becoming a massive wine influencer. Although reliance on exporting wine creates a sensitive reaction to the global economy, cooperatives and the contratista (contractor) system have helped to shield workers from this instability.

The contratista system entitles workers to a percentage of total grape sales every year, providing a voice when the meetings occur. Viñasol, an association of small wine companies, has used the extra profits that Fairtrade obtained for computer education for the children of the contract workers and also gave some money to a worker who was constructing a home for his family.  

Additionally, to ensure the production of quality products, Fecovita offers education and technical assistance. Some examples include the purchase of equipment, fertilizers and pesticides for individual members. The Federation also offers to local cooperatives for other necessary equipment, such as netting to prevent hail damage. Further, the cooperatives are able to transport the wine to the bottling facility just outside of Mendoza without cost.

All of these services come at a high cost that the cooperatives would not be able to afford without the support from key investors. Due to these investments, there are profound benefits to Fecovita. 

Altogether, the benefits of Fecovita have provided smaller vineyards and wineries the leverage needed to greatly impact markets and the support required to maintain stability for the businesses and the workers.

Scott Boyce
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Fastest Developing CountriesThe world economy is changing every day due to trade investments, inflation and rising economies making a greater impact than ever before. Improvements in these economies have been due to significant government reforms within these countries as well as the administration of international aid through financial and infrastructural efforts. These are the top five fastest developing countries in no particular order.

Top Five Fastest Developing Countries

  1. Argentina. Contrary to popular belief, Argentina is actually considered a developing country. Argentina’s economy was strong enough to ensure its citizens a good quality of life during the first part of the 20th century. However, in the 1990s, political upheaval caused substantial problems in its economy, resulting in an inflation rate that reached 2,000 percent. Fortunately, Argentina is gradually regaining its economic strength. Its GDP per capita just exceeds the $12,000 figure that most economists consider the minimum for developed countries. This makes Argentina one of the strongest countries in South America.
  2. Guyana. Experts have said that Guyana has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It had a GDP of $3.63 billion and a growth rate of 4.1 percent in 2018. If all goes according to plan, Guyana’s economy has the potential to grow up to 33.5 percent and 22.9 percent in 2020 and 2021. Its abundance in natural resources such as gold, sugar and rice are among the top leading exports worldwide. Experts also project that Guyana will become one of the world’s largest per-capita oil producers by 2025.
  3. India. As the second most populated country in the world, India has run into many problems involving poverty, overcrowding and a lack of access to appropriate medical care. Despite this, India has a large well-skilled workforce that has contributed to its fast-growing and largely diverse economy. India has a GDP rate of $2.7 trillion and a $7,859 GDP per capita rate.
  4. Brazil. Brazil is currently working its way out of one of the worst economic recessions in its history. As a result, its GDP growth has increased by 1 percent and its inflation rate has decreased to 2.9 percent. As Latin America’s largest economy, these GDP improvements have had a significant impact on pulling Latin America out of its economic difficulties. Additionally, investors have also become increasingly interested in investing in exchange-traded funds and large successful companies such as Petrobras, a large oil company in Brazil.
  5. China. Since China began reforming its economy in 1978, its GDP has had an average growth of almost 10 percent a year. Despite the fact that it is the world’s second-largest economy, China’s per capita income is relatively low compared to other high-income countries. About 373 million Chinese still live below the upper-middle-income poverty line. Overall, China is a growing influence on the world due to its successes in trade, investment and innovative business ventures.

This list of the five fastest developing countries sheds some light on the accomplishments of these nations as they build. As time progresses, many of these countries may change in status.

Lucia Elmi
Photo: Wikimedia

Sanitation in Argentina
Sanitation has been an ongoing issue in Argentina. In the last two decades, more citizens have gained access to running water and sewage than ever before. This is partially due to ongoing work by the United Nations, as well as an increase in national infrastructure. This article will provide a list of discussions around sanitation in Argentina, including causes, pollution and how the local governments are creating change.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Argentina

  1. Fracking damages natural water supplies. In September 2019, in Argentina’s Neuquén province, a fire burned for 24 days until professionals were finally able to stop the blaze. It was one of the many accidents that fracking caused in the country. In addition, oil leaking into the local water supply is one of the most common problems with fracking. These issues impact some of the most vulnerable communities, such as low-income areas, families with children, the elderly and disabled and local indigenous people.
  2. Low-income neighborhoods regularly struggle for clean drinking water. In the last three decades, Argentina has made strides to increase the amount of clean drinking water throughout Argentina. However, low-income areas and rural parts of the country remain without properly sanitized water for much of the year. In neighborhoods such as Villa La Cava, just outside of the capital Buenos Aires, it has become common practice for people to create their own makeshift water filters. People have also put small amounts of bleach in containers in an effort to clean their water.
  3. The United Nations has committed itself to sanitation in Argentia. In the summer of 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared clean drinking water and sanitation human rights. The U.N. revealed during 2010 that the city of Córdoba was without access to public water distribution networks. A report showed that the city relied on heavily polluted groundwater and wells. At the time, the U.N. required local authorities to provide each household in the city with 200 liters of clean water per day until public water services were fully accessible.
  4. Argentina set a goal to provide sewage to 75 percent of the population. Water professionals and government officials met in 2017 to discuss solutions for better access to sanitation. During the meeting, Argentina announced a new goal of providing sewage access to 75 percent of the population.
  5. About 90 percent of the population currently has access to sewage.  The national government’s 2017 goal has proven to be successful. As of 2020, approximately 90 percent of the population has access to a sewage system. Much of this is due to the recent construction of a sewage pipe, which the Argentinian government has called “the most important one in 70 years.” The pipe cost $1.2 billion to make and runs 40 kilometers underground. These efforts have successfully increased the overall sanitation in Argentina.
  6. Proper sanitation in Argentina requires more infrastructure. Argentina received a loan of $320 million to improve the infrastructure in the Buenos Aires area. The money will go towards making much-needed improvements for sewage filtrations, renovating existing water treatment plants and 130 kilometers of water treatment pipes and expanding already-existing sewers. The loan specifically targets the infrastructure in the Buenos Aires region. While this is the most populated part of Argentina, much of the country still requires significant sanitation infrastructure.
  7. Regulation of public water utilities has grown in the last decade. Due to the involvement of the United Nations and a push from the public, government officials have become more focused on the regulation of public water utilities. Since the increasingly strict regulation of public waterways, the country’s overall sanitation has improved. This has led to a better quality of water not only in households but also in restaurants and schools.
  8. Water consumption in Argentina is among the highest in the world. ResearchGate reports that Argentina’s national water use is approximately 387 liters of water per person per day. This is some of the highest in the world. In Buenos Aires specifically, the water use is higher at 500 liters and people use it for personal use, hygiene, cleaning and drinking. In contrast, the Water Footprint Organization predicts that the average worldwide water consumption is 157 liters per person per day.
  9. The majority of water usage goes towards agriculture. Argentina uses most of its clean water for agriculture and farming. Because the country has such a vast variety of soil and tropics, farmers can grow many different types of crops to export throughout the world. Argentina is the largest international supplier of soybean meal and the third-largest supplier for corn. Pollution can be damaging to millions of these crops if water is not sanitary, resulting in lost time and money.
  10. Drier areas sometimes lack access to safely treated water. Because of Argentina’s varying climates, certain areas across the country are drier. These places are generally more rural and the people are less connected to the main pipes of larger cities. This can be dangerous because inhabitants often depend on rainwater collection for the ability to cook food and shower. When rain is scarce, people have to travel to lakes and rivers for water, making it difficult for Argentines to ensure that their water is safe to drink.

Sanitation in Argentina continues to be an ongoing challenge in rural areas, according to local townspeople. When the United Nations declared drinking water a human right in 2010, the Argentinian government began adding new infrastructure including pipes, sewage systems, water filtration tanks and water purification systems. While current efforts demonstrate that the level of sanitation in Argentina can undergo a major transformation, many areas throughout the country still struggle for clean drinking water each day.

– Asha Swann
Photo: Flickr

 

Corruption in Argentina
Political corruption has long plagued Argentina’s government, dating all the way back to the 1800s. In the country’s modern history, there has rarely been a decade where some sort of political scandal has not occurred. However, the country has been steadily improving over the past decade. Here are 10 facts about political corruption in Argentina.

10 Facts About Corruption in Argentina

  1. Corruption Index Rating: The country had a Corruption Index rating of 40 in 2018, which was its best rating since 1995. This rating is based on the level of perceived corruption in a country’s public sector. The rating reached its lowest in the early 2000s during the tenure of former Argentine President Fernando de la Rua but has steadily risen in the following years, reaching higher numbers in the late 2010s. Its 2018 corruption index of 40 is fairly high if one compares it to other Latin American countries, although it is well below more developed countries.
  2. Police Corruption: Several Argentine businesses have reported that the police are among the most corrupt government agencies in the country and that Argentinians cannot rely on the police force to enforce the law. The Economist reported in 2014 that the police were reforming their systems, however. This started with giving policemen a higher salary, which is still increasing to this day, to reduce the risk of metropolitan police officers accepting bribes in exchange for their silence. While many issues remain with high ranking federal officials, Argentina is taking more action to reduce the amount of crime happening on the streets.
  3. Political Corruption: Political corruption often plagues businesses in Argentina due to excessive taxes and expensive, difficult customs process, with much of this revenue going to Argentina’s elite. In 2018, Forbes reported that people siphoned nearly $36 billion and put it into the pockets of wealthy businessmen in a corrupt public-private ring. Reports have determined that legislators have also taken bribes, leading to a messy lawmaking and enforcement process.
  4. Human Rights: The constitution of Argentina guarantees freedom of the press and speech, although journalists do receive threats. Because the government lacks federal legislation pertaining to access to information for the public, the government is able to manipulate economic statistics. There remain some problems pertaining to the safety of the press, but the government highly respects freedom of speech and it has taken reports of human rights violations very seriously. Argentina is also the first country in Latin America to pass laws protecting LGBT rights.
  5. The Justice 2020 Initiative: According to Anti-Corruption Digest, in response to issues revolving around legal loopholes and lack of criminal convictions, Argentine President Mauricio Macri enacted the Justice 2020 Initiative. This plan seriously overhauled Argentina’s court systems, which are in need of legal upgrades, along with fixing several legal loopholes. ACD cites that the changes from this act have doubled the court system’s productivity and helped clear the prior backlog of people waiting for prosecution.
  6. Prison Conditions: Prison conditions in Argentina are very poor. Prisons in the country tend to suffer overcrowding and violence between inmates; police abuse and bad upkeep of prison facilities are also very common. Under the Justice 2020 Initiative, President Macri made a commitment to prevent these abuses from happening further, and in 2011, members of the police made a commitment that it would only use force when absolutely necessary.
  7. Judicial Corruption: High ranking officials in Argentina are among the largest problems in regards to corruption in Argentina, with many of them accepting or demanding bribes for political favors such as pardoning crimes. High court judges are especially at risk of corruption; since 2003, with the approval of the senate, the president can handpick people for the courts, leading to poor separation of power between the executive and judicial branches. There are a president, vice president and three justices that currently preside over Argentina’s supreme court, making the policing of high ranking officials challenging to do. The federal court system is small, understaffed and underutilized, making the trial and removal of high ranking officials a long and difficult process.
  8. Quality of Life: Despite government corruption in Argentina, it remains one of the best countries in Latin America in terms of education. Nearly everyone in the country also has access to a reliable source of water and sanitation, with only around 1 percent not having access to water and less than 4 percent not having sanitation. Part of this could be due to Argentina’s abundant natural resources and booming economy, but one should also credit the country’s increasing focus on human rights enforcement.
  9. Abortion: While Argentina is a Latin American pioneer when it comes to human rights, women’s rights still remain an issue in the country. Abortion is illegal in Argentina unless the pregnancy is a danger to the mother’s health. The Catholic Church, which is the faith of the vast majority in Argentina, condemns abortion. Women’s rights groups have lobbied for legal abortion, including in 2018 when the country held a vote on the status of it.
  10. The Fundacion Banco de Alimentos: There are many nonprofits in Argentina that dedicate themselves to helping improve the quality of life for those who live in poverty. In the wake of severe socio-economic issues, the Fundacion Banco de Alimentos, a nonprofit food bank that emerged in 2000, acts as a channel for citizens to give food to Argentina’s most impoverished inhabitants. The vast majority of donors are local companies, farmers and supermarkets that donate food that would have otherwise gone to waste. Considering the country’s most recent economic issues, this is a great way for businesses to give back to the less fortunate in Argentina and reduce poverty without going through the government; over 1,000 communities participate, and people have donated over 5,000,000 food products with the food bank reaching over 143,000 people.

Political corruption in Argentina has plagued the country for centuries and one can trace much of this corruption back to issues with federal officials. There is not enough separation between the executive and judicial branches, which has led to the country’s continual issues with properly handling crime and enforcing justice. More citizen lobbying and human rights groups will be necessary to end government corruption and further push for the protection of human rights in Argentina’s near future.

– Andrew Lueker
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business of enslaving and transporting unwilling individuals into lives of sexual exploitation through violence and coercion. It directly links to poverty, which is an extreme living condition in which a person or a community lacks the financial resources for an adequate standard of living. Although both men and women can be victims of trafficking, traffickers are predominately selling adult and adolescent females into modern slavery by promising them wealth, the fulfillment of outstanding debt or false promises of opportunities that could result in better living conditions. Although poverty and sex trafficking is an issue globally, it is especially prevalent in foreign countries.

In June 2019, the U.S. Department of State published its annual investigation report that documents human trafficking from the year prior. According to the report’s tier placements, the number one countries on the best and the worst tier level are Argentina and Belarus. Tier placement is a four-level ranking that the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) created that documents a country’s acknowledgment of human trafficking and the extent of its efforts to eliminate it. Tier 1 includes countries with governments that fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. Tier 2 and Tier 2 Watchlist involves countries with governments that do not currently comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to ensure that,  they do one day; the two levels are similar, but the difference is that Tier 2 Watchlist countries either currently have a significant number of trafficking victims or the number of victims is significantly increasing. Tier 3 consists of countries with governments that do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards nor are they making significant efforts to do so.

Argentina

Argentina is a vast country located in the southern half of South America. As the eighth-largest country in the world, and the second-largest country in South America after Brazil, estimates determine that Argentina had a population of 44.6 million in July 2018. After a year of economic turmoil in 2018, poverty had increased from 25.7 percent to 33.6 percent by the end of the year with 13.6 million people living in poverty.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Argentina is a “source, transit, and destination [country] for the trafficking of men, women, and girls.” Women and adolescent girls who traffickers traffick in Argentina often come from impoverished communities. Often, they migrate to Argentina under false pretenses for employment opportunities, such as agriculture or nightlife, that would result in better lives. Since 2008, over 10,000 trafficking victims received rescue with 48 percent of rescued women and girls being poverty and sex trafficking victims.

Argentina’s Ranking and Efforts to Eliminate Human Trafficking

Argentina has skyrocketed to a Tier 1 placement through various actions to eliminate sex trafficking and prosecute individuals who perpetuate this unlawful crime. In reference to the U.S. Department of State, the Argentinian government’s General Prosecutor’s Office for Human Trafficking and Sex Exploitation and the National Rescue Program operate a national 24-hour human trafficking hotline, Linea 145, which has helped simplify investigations of trafficking allegations. In addition, the National Rescue Program coordinates emergency services for sex trafficking victims. The Argentinian government has also prosecuted and convicted complicit officials; identified, assisted and established additional legal protections for victims; and provided additional training to government officials and civil society members when encountering victims or perpetrators of sex trafficking.

Belarus

Belarus, formerly Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country located in Eastern Europe. As of December 2018, estimates determined that Belarus has a population of 9.7 million after losing approximately 14,000 people due to migration and the death rate exceeding the birth rate. Although Belarus has relatively low levels of poverty with only 5.6 percent of the population living in extreme poverty, the victims of sexual exploitation in this country are amongst a vulnerable population of individuals who live in extreme poverty and have low levels of education.

According to the U.S. Department of State, more victims of poverty and sex trafficking receive exploitation within Belarus than abroad due to its weak law enforcement efforts and nonsensical laws. One of these laws is Article 181 which deems sex trafficking illegal only under the demonstration of coercion, thereby dismissing sex trafficking cases that do not involve coercion and making Belarus a destination country for women, men and children to suffer subjection to forced labor and commercial sex. Traffickers typically transport victims who originate in Belarus to various countries in Europe such as Germany, Poland, Russia and Turkey. Victims who suffer exploitation within the country are usually foreigners, originating from countries such as Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam. Unfortunately, the Belarus government has not made significant efforts to rescue victims or eliminate sex trafficking from its nation.

Belarus’ Ranking

The U.S. Department of State credited Belarus as one of the top five worst offenders of human trafficking. After receiving a rank on the Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years, Belarus dropped to Tier 3 after making no progress to execute effective practices to combat human trafficking. The Belarusian government attempted to combat trafficking by participating in multilateral projects in an effort to eliminate sex trafficking and protect victims, and it repealed a decree that required unemployed persons to either pay a tax to the state or perform obligatory community service. However, a report from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) mentioned that government efforts to repeal forced labor policies and domestic trafficking were inadequate. In fact, the number of investigations progressively declined between 2005-2014, resulting in no convictions in 2014 and insufficient practices to protect trafficking victims.

The United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report allows the world to remain updated on the current state of human trafficking in both the U.S. and foreign countries. When countries receive a Tier 3 ranking, they may undergo sanctions, which could encourage them to implement more plans to eliminate sex trafficking. By acknowledging the issue and the connection between poverty and sex trafficking, educating the public and taking advantage of the resources to raise awareness, the world could one day eliminate human trafficking from all nations.

– Arielle Pugh
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Argentina

With political uncertainty and inflation rising, homelessness in Argentina is growing. In Buenos Aires alone, 6.5 percent of the population is homeless. This translates to approximately 198,000 people. This problem is not specific to the nation’s capital either. In fact, a report from the National Statistics and Census of the Republic of Argentina estimates that up to 5 million people are homeless (approximately 10 percent of the overall population).

According to the Social Debt Observatory of Pontificia Universidad Católica, while the national poverty rate was 29 percent in 2015, the current poverty rate is 35 percent. Rising homelessness is only the most visible manifestation of Argentina’s current economic crisis.

Economic Downturn

Recently, inflation reached 54 percent, while the peso fell by 30 percent. This depreciation follows Argentina’s recent primary election, which showed support for opposition to the current president, Mauricio Macri. Fearing these results indicate future political upheaval, international investors retreated from the market and caused the peso’s sudden drop in value.

On top of the decreased spending power of Argentines, the government recently discontinued subsidies for utilities and public transportation. Rising prices hurt average Argentine households.

Within the past year, the price of natural gas rose by 77.6 percent. Electricity and water suffered similar price jumps, rising by 46 percent and 26 percent respectively.

As Matias Barroetaveña, the director of the Center of Metropolitan Studies reports, seven out of 10 families consider basic utilities to be a strain on their finances. With the cost of living inflating, it is not surprising that homelessness in Argentina continues to rise as well.

The Reality

Homeless families and individuals end up living primarily in makeshift shelters around urban areas: in plazas and parks, as well as outside shopping malls and bus stations. There aren’t enough shelters around Buenos Aires to handle the homeless population; all of the current shelters are at capacity. Additionally, shelters divide everyone by gender, so families often forego them in favor of staying together.

Free meals from soup kitchens and similar organizations are staples for many as well. The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC) projects that food prices will increase by 80 percent by December. INDEC also expects the situation will worsen, so that one out of every 10 Argentines will experience extreme poverty or homelessness by the end of the year.

Helping the Homeless

Project 7 (Proyecto 7 in Spanish) helps homeless individuals in Buenos Aires and works to raise awareness about homelessness. In addition to distributing donated clothing and supplies, Project 7 works on various initiatives to give voice to homeless people. Through initiatives, such as “La Voz de la Calle” (The Voice of the Street), Project 7 offers alternate ways to think about and discuss homelessness in Argentina.

According to Horacio Ávila, co-founder of Project 7, one of the most difficult aspects of homelessness is the psychological toll. As he puts it, “when people live on the streets, they feel like they’re a waste of space like they deserve to be there. Your opinion of yourself is so low.” Project 7 not only improves the living conditions of the homeless but also supports legislation addressing the homelessness problem on a national level.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Wikimedia

Education in Argentina

Argentina was the seventh most prosperous nation in the world just a century ago, according to Agnus Maddison’s historic incomes database. In fact, its per capita income in 1909 was 50 percent higher than Italy and 180 percent higher than Japan. “The gap between 2000 income and predicted economic success, based on 1909 income, is larger for Argentina than for any other country,” according to New York Times’ Economix. In other words, income in Argentina is sharply declining. Much of the nation’s economic trouble can be attributed to shortcomings in their education system. Argentina’s education minister, Esteban Bullrich, says, “We don’t want to accept that we’re doing badly at anything.” While many of Argentina’s student academic goals are statistically high, other aspects of their education system have proved to be weak. Here are 10 facts about education in Argentina.

10 Facts About Education in Argentina

  1. Argentina’s quality of life is among the highest in South America. It is rated number 55 worldwide for quality of life and 40 in entrepreneurship. Due to this, many students have easy access to an education.
  2. Argentina’s literacy rate is 98.1 percent – a five percent increase since the 80s. More Argentinians are reading at a higher level now than ever before. In comparison, that is 12 percent higher than the global average.
  3. Argentina’s school year runs about 200 days. Students are in school from March to December with a two-week break during July and breaks on national holidays such as Easter. In contrast, American school years tend to run only 180 days a year. The Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness found through their study that longer school years can benefit students greater than longer school days. Shortened summers prevent “summer slide-back,” a phenomenon in which students forget learned information during summer breaks.
  4. In 2005, 12.2 million students made up 30 percent of Argentina’s population. In the early 2000s an economic crisis had a severe impact on those enrolled in school. Primary level enrollment fell from 117.8 percent to 112.7 percent. Despite this, school is mandatory in the nation.
  5. School runs for just four hours a day, Monday through Friday, with a student either attending an 8:15- 12:15 session or a 13:00 to 17:15 session. In contrast, American schools average six and a half hours a day and schools in China run from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a two-hour lunch break. A study conducted by the Department of Education in Massachusetts found that longer school days can improve test scores by 4.7-10.8 percentage points
  6. As of 2016, Argentina has a secondary school enrollment rate of 90 percent, according to the World Bank. Secondary education is broken into a basic cycle of 3 years followed by a cycle of two to three years where students can study accounting, computer science, and other various specializations. Technical-vocational programs include 12-15 hours a week in workshops.
  7. Only 27 percent of students in Argentina finish their university studies. This gives the nation a drop-out rate of 73 percent – one of the highest in the world. Esteban Bullrich, the education minister says that only about half of students finish their secondary studies.
  8. The Minister of Education in Argentina refused César Alan Rodríguez, a student with down syndrome, his graduation certificate, arguing he had received an adaptive curriculum. Rodriguez was the only disabled student attending his school at the time. In response, he sued his school for discrimination of basis of disability. Argentina ruled in this case to start taking the education of disabled students seriously, creating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). CRPD is the first human rights treaty clearly stating all students have an equal right to education regardless of ability.
  9. A teacher’s gross salary in Argentina is $10,747 in American currency. This number is roughly a fifth of what teachers make in the United States. In contrast, Regional IT Managers in Argentina make $134,336 and Software Engineers make $55, 535 on average.
  10. Argentina’s Ministers of Education met at the G20 Summit on September 5th, 2018 to create an action plan. There the ministers pledged to keep up with societal and technological innovations, better equip teachers, “[promote] multiple and flexible pathways into lifelong education and training,” improve policies, and engage students. Furthermore, they discussed how to finance these goals in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.

Like the rest of the world, education in Argentina is not perfect. Drop-out rates run high and school days run short. However, the nation is making a clear effect to improve the situation for students and educators across their country.

Maura Byrne
Photo: Flickr