Anger has erupted at local and national levels after news emerged that popular Villa 31 campaigner and resident Ramona Medina had died aged 42.
Medina, a key figure with the La Garganta Poderosa media outlet and a delegate for its community group, died on Sunday. She had been infected with Covid-19 and was hospitalised just days after denouncing before several media outlets that her neighbourhood in Villa 31 had gone 12 days without drinking water.
Medina was insulin-dependent and lived with seven of her relatives in a crowded small house in Villa 31, the large Retiro shantytown that borders Recoleta, where around 50,000 people live.
A passionate journalist and community activist, Medina died at the Hospital Muñiz in Parque Patricios. According to reports, other members of her family – including at least one of her children who has severe disabilities – have also contracted the coronavirus.
News of her death was broken in a text written by Nacho Levy, the editor of La Garganta Poderosa, who vowed it would not be in vain.
The publication accused the federal and city governments of failing to protect Argentina’s villas from the coronavirus threat and said they were responsible for Medina’s death, denouncing the conditions for those living in the villa.
Expressing his pain, Levy wrote of clenched teeth and hitting keyboards, biting back rage and spitting tears. The pain of talking about her “in the past tense.”
Medina, who was a health coordinator at Casa de la Mujer, had appeared on several news channels in recent weeks, demanding local and national governments act to restore drinking water in Villa 31. She criticised the Aysa water company and City administration of failing residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 1,200 Covid-19 infections have been confirmed in the country’s three largest “villas miseria.” In total, more than 7,700 cases and 366 deaths have been recorded in Argentina.
The issue entered political debate on Monday. According to reports, Radical lawmaker José Cano and Frente de Todos deputy Federico Fagioli clashed on the issue during a congressional videoconference call. Noticias Argentinas said that the UCR representative accused Fagioli of seeking to politicise the death, after the pro-government deputy had criticised the City government.
To date, at least nine deaths have been recorded in "vulnerable neighbourhoods" in Buenos Aires since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the City government.