- Sep 28, 2020
Father Basilicio “Bachi” Britez, 52 at the time of his death, had suffered from kidney problems, hypertension and diabetes, so when the COVID-19 pandemic began to surge in Argentina, he was advised to leave the shantytown where he lived. Britez refused, insisting he couldn’t abandon the people he’d been entrusted to protect in La Matanza, one of the poor areas that make up Buenos Aires’ industrial belts.
Argentina’s slum priests are working to prepare their people for COVID-19, but they say the “pandemic” of poverty, hunger, and drug abuse existed before the coronavirus, and will still be in the slums when the current crisis is over.
The soup kitchen at Father Nicolas Angelotti’s parish in the rough outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was feeding 1,500 residents daily in recent months, with demand driven by a weak economy and unemployment. But the demand more than doubled to 4,000 people per day after a coronavirus quarantine was imposed March 20
Argentina’s “slum priests” are joining forces with the national government to help flatten the curve of coronavirus, particularly in the country’s 4,500 shanty towns and illegal settlements.
‘Peronism’ has left an indelible mark in Argentina’s thought, “which is hard to comprehend outside of the country because it’s neither left- nor right-leaning politics,” according a slum priest working in Buenos Aires.
Ines San Martin is in Argentina talking to villero priests.