Mariano Martínez de Ibarreta is general coordinator for the Social Programs' Administrative and Financial Unit of the Argentine Ministry for Social Development. He is national director for the Argentine UNDP project "Strengthening Management Capacities for the Financial Unit of the Ministry of Social Development," and general coordinator for the project entitled "Social Nets for the Implementation of Social Policy in Argentina," coordinated jointly by UNESCO and the Argentine Ministry of Social Development .

This presentation is part of a series of meetings sponsored by "Argentina @ The Wilson Center," an activity of the Latin American Program.

At this meeting Mr. Martinez de Ibarreta provided the audience with an overview of the social development policies developed during the current Duhalde Administration. "The exhaustion of the 1990s Menem-Cavallo Model led to the crisis of December 2001 […] In this context, the Duhalde Administration has successfully implemented social policies aimed at addressing the resulting social catastrophy." He also observed that after the violence in December 2001, the middle class tired of pressuring the State. This role shifted to the piqueteros and to those directly affected by the freezing of bank deposits.

To handle this emergency (more than 50 percent of the population is beneath the poverty line, 17.8 percent are unemployed, and 13.8 percent are under employed) the government created three main social programs. Jefes y Jefas de Hogar, a targeted program, serves the 1.900.000 people who receive a 150 pesos subsidy each month. This program is coordinated by the national federal government and has had a significant impact on the population. The Programa de Emergencia Alimentaria (Food Emergency Program), provides soup kitchens with funds to assist the homeless and unemployed, and is run by the national government and the provincial states. This program is complemented by a 95 million peso subsidy to civil society organizations that channel assistance to pre-existing soup kitchens. Finally, the Programa Familia (Family Program) specifically targets women and offers them subsidies on the condition they send their children to school and have their children's health checked periodically.

"The best social policy is economic growth with income redistribution," he concluded. "The growth model of the 1990s makes it impossible to overcome the current situation."