Covid-19 in Greater Buenos Aires: A Review of Urban Inequality, Government Response, and the Legacy of Neoliberal Economic Reform during a Global Health Crisis Open Access

Michaels, Claudia (Spring 2021)

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Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina is a major Latin American city with significant inequality, and as the Covid-19 pandemic caused a major outbreak in the city, levels of inequality became magnified. This project studies the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and government responses on inequality in Greater Buenos Aires between March and December of 2020. It employs a mixed-methods approach, examining data from government legislation, government datasets, the media, and interviews with local experts. Government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic included a lockdown and social assistance programs which yielded varying levels of success. It is found in this project that the outbreak peaked between May and June in the city’s informal settlements and in August it peaked in the city at large. Implications of the outbreak included increased vulnerability in resource-poor areas and strain in the healthcare system. A historical framework is presented here to contextualize inequality in Greater Buenos Aires. Neoliberal economic policies implemented throughout the past forty years in Argentina have caused high levels of economic instability, exclusion, and poverty which shaped the landscape of inequality leading up to the pandemic and limited the current government’s ability to respond. This project advocates renewed commitment to human rights and social justice as Greater Buenos Aires recovers from the pandemic.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Greater Buenos Aires and Argentina ..... 2

1.2 Introduction to Covid-19 ..... 12

2 Structure and Methodology 16

2.1 Government Data ..... 17

2.2 Media ..... 19

2.3 Interviews ..... 20

3 Results 23

3.1 The Initial Lockdown ..... 23

3.2 The Peak of Covid-19 ..... 29

3.3 The Landscape of Inequality ..... 35

4 Analysis 47

4.1 Poverty, Unemployment, and Informality ..... 49

4.2 Informal Settlements ..... 52

4.3 The Healthcare System ..... 56

4.4 The Way Forward ..... 59

A Tables 64

Bibliography 69

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