New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

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New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

The Soapbox: Economic crisis in Argentina, an explosion in Gaza, food crisis in Ghana

The Soapbox is a weekly column by WSN covering major news developments at NYU’s campuses and study away sites abroad. Global consciousness for a global university.
Max Van Hosen
The Soapbox is a weekly news column rounding up stories worth reading for a global university. (Max Van Hosen for WSN)

In Argentina, an economic crisis looms over upcoming election

The annual inflation rate in Argentina rose to 124.4% in the past year, according to a study conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina this August. The increased inflation rate comes weeks before an upcoming presidential election.

This April, Argentinian president Alberto Fernández announced that he will not be running for reelection this October. Fernández’s approval rates have dropped below 20%, which reduced his chances of winning reelection, according to Reuters. 

Consumer prices have increased by 12.4% in the last month alone — the largest increase since February 1991, according to Al Jazeera. According to a central bank analyst poll, inflation will rise upward of 169% by the end of the year. This increase comes after the government’s decision to devalue the local currency, pesos, by 20%. 

Sergio Massa, the current Minister of Economy of Argentina, is running for election, and is attempting to salvage the reputation of the country’s left-wing coalition. Massa is currently facing opposition from election front-runner and right-wing populist Javier Milei. 

In his campaign, Milei announced that his plan for economic recovery includes the adoption of the U.S. dollar as the country’s new official currency — replacing the depreciating peso. Amid the country’s economic crisis, the affordability of food has decreased, with the price of beef rising from 40% to 70%, according to a study conducted by local Argentinian consultancy AZGroup.

“Massa is a candidate who carries the burden of being a minister,” economist Martin Kalos told Al Jazeera. “He is a presidential candidate who must find a balance between the response to the crisis he has been unable to provide as a minister and promising that he could deliver them as president.”

In occupied Palestine, five civilians die in Gaza explosion 

An explosion in the Gaza Strip left five Palestinians dead and around 20 seriously injured on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The explosion occurred at a gathering of hundreds at the border for two demonstrations, both held on the anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. 

Hamas — the Islamic militant group that has controlled the region since 2007 — organized one of the demonstrations, while the other was a public rally in support of Palestinian prisoners held captive in Israeli jails. 

Both groups gathered to burn tires and deface Israeli flags, celebrating the end of Israel’s “cruel occupation” of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military responded by releasing tear gas at protesters, many of whom were throwing homemade explosives.  

According to a BBC interview with a Palestinian security source, the device, “typically used to cause a disturbance by making a very loud, annoying sound,” exploded when the Palestinian supporters tried to throw it at the military. 

In a statement given to Al Jazeera, witnesses claimed that while a Palestinian Explosives Engineering Unit was attempting to defuse the device, Israeli soldiers opened fire, preventing demonstrators and soldiers alike from escaping the blast. 

In Ghana, Niger sanctions exacerbate food crisis

Months after a presidential coup in Niger, onion prices in Ghana — one of the world’s largest importers of the vegetable — have almost doubled, deepening the African nation’s food and economic instability.

Members of the Nigerien presidential guard, a group of militants responsible for protecting the president, overthrew the democratically-elected leader Mohamed Bazoum in July. The coup triggered a series of sanctions on Niger, impacting the economic stability of nearby countries. Niger, a key exporter of onions in West Africa, is reportedly responsible for a worsening economic crisis in Ghana, according to Al Jazeera.

The closure of borders in Niger, as well as its imposed sanctions, have raised concerns about potential onion shortages and a notable uptick in prices. Niger is responsible for roughly two-thirds of total onion exports in West Africa, exporting around $21.7 million worth of onions to Ghana in 2021, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity. Yakubu Akteniba, an onion seller in Accra, told Al Jazeera that 100 kilograms of onions now costs $105, as opposed to $61 prior to the coup in Niger. 

Despite Ghana being a member of the Economic Community of West African States — a West African coalition for economic and political cooperation that supported the Bazoum’s regime in Niger — the country, along with other military-run states such as Burkina Faso and Mali, strongly opposed military intervention in Niger. 

Ghana’s opposition to military intervention in Niger has isolated the country from its other ECOWAS allies, especially the regional powerhouse Nigeria, from which Ghana imports about 20% of its onions. The most notable impact on Ghana’s onion supplies comes from the sanctions on Niger, from which Ghana imports about 70% of its onion supplies. Fearing further damage to cultural ties and military relations with other ECOWAS members who support the intervention, Ghana has largely remained compliant with the sanctions.

Ziad Hamoui, who co-chairs the Food Trade Coalition for Africa, told Al Jazeera that sanctions on Niger have come at a price, and urged regional leaders to take a more moderate approach. 

“I think it’s still important to maintain the regional trade flows,” Hamoui said. “First of all, you can’t really stop trade by blocking the borders. So, closing the borders on one hand, does not solve the issue.”

Samson Tu and Yezen Saadah contributed reporting.

Contact Maisie Zipfel at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Maisie Zipfel
Maisie Zipfel, Deputy News Editor
Maisie Zipfel is a first-year double majoring in Journalism and Politics, and double minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish. She is a Yerba Mate enthusiast, a Taylor Swift fanatic and an anti-Greek Life turned sorority girl (Deeph or Die). When she’s not writing in the WSN basement you can find her isolated in Palladium for NYU’s Competitive Dance Team practice, obsessing over her Four-Year Plan or trying to weave in time to take a nap. You can reach her on instagram @maisiezipfel, on LinkedIn (her favorite social media platform) @MaeZipfel or preferably on Venmo @mkzipfel.

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