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Javier Milei (OSV News/Agustin Marcarian, Reuters)

Dozens of priests in Argentina have written a letter to protest President Javier Milei’s administration’s decision to cut funds for public works in the country’s poor neighbourhoods and slums. Source: Crux.

A decree promulgated by Mr Milei on February 23 radically reduced the share of a tax collected on the purchase of foreign currency that is directed to integrate the slums into the cities. Until then, nine per cent of such funds were allocated to poor neighbourhoods. Now, that portion corresponds to only 0.3 per cent.

A significant part of the funding was transferred to co-ops that employ mostly local slum residents and were hired by the government for sewerage, public lighting, and pavement works.

These co-ops are connected to popular movements, which largely rejected Mr Milei during the presidential campaign last year. His administration suspected there were irregularities in the use of the funds and investigated it, but no evidence of corruption was found.

The public letter was released by the so-called curas villeros (slum priests in Spanish), an ecclesial ministry developed during the 1960s and 1970s by missionaries who live and work in Argentina’s poorest neighbourhoods. The document was also signed by the clergy members in charge of the Church program Hogares de Cristo (Homes of Christ), which gives support to drug addicts.

In the letter, the priests said “one of the main functions of the State is to look after the most disadvantaged,” an idea that directly opposes Mr Milei’s ultra-libertarian ideology and his intention of reducing the state’s participation in the South American country’s economy and society.

The priests emphasised that policies were gradually established to improve the slums’ conditions, giving many of their residents better access to sanitation, water, electricity, schools, and community centres.

“Others were able to expand and improve their humble homes. It is not good to disconnect the State from the slums and settlements. Reducing the funds that benefit more than 5 million residents, most of them minors, is a very hard blow,” the priests continued.


Priests protest Argentina government’s funding cuts for city slums (By Eduardo Campos Lima, Crux)