Argentina battles health and economic crises as COVID cases soar

The streets of Buenos Aires belong to people like Gabriel Martinez these days, as he searches high and low for scrap pieces of cardboard to turn into cash in the dog days of the pandemic.

His nine-year-old son, Benjamin, dangles his legs over the edge of the cart, as his father returns empty-handed from a pit stop at a gas station.

Martinez has been collecting cardboard for a living since he was 19, and now he is 34.

He lives in the suburbs of the capital city, but he will sleep with his son, in a room they rent in the Buenos Aires depot where he sells his trove of scavenged goods, so that they can start early and repeat tomorrow.

“It’s bad. Because there’s nothing on the streets. We walk for hours and hours, from five in the morning until midnight,” he says. “There are a lot more people trying to survive out here now.”

The roaring metropolis has been muffled again as Argentina tries to tame a second wave of COVID-19 that is worse than the first.

Now, following a summer of relaxed restrictions and new COVID variants, the number of infections and deaths have exploded exponentially.