For the next 24 hours protestors will attempt to completely shut down Argentina.
The Workers and Transport Unions have joined forces to engage in a general strike in the country. This will impact all public transportation — domestic and international flights, trains, buses — food transport, garbage collection, and bars and restaurants.
Major roads into the capital, Buenos Aires, have been completely blocked.
In February, independant economist estimated that Argentina’s inflation rate has rose to 34.9% from the same time last year. Consumer prices rose 7.1% since the beginning of the year even after the government devalued the peso 19%.
Meanwhile, wages have not risen — and that is what these strikes are all about. They blame the Fernandez administration for the country’s economic malaise. Its tenure in office, however, will not end until late 2015.
Labour leader Hugo Moyano said the government wants to discredit the strikers, but that they will cause no violent incidents.
Jorge Capitanich, the head of President Cristina Fernandez’s Cabinet, made it sound like these strike would hold the country hostage. Their actions, he said, were “like going back to the Middle Ages with feudal lords.”
This is perhaps the administration’s most pressing problem, but there’s much more.
This week the International Monetary Fund issued a warning to Argentina. The country’s economy is in a state of “high uncertainty,” it said, and would likely grow a mere 0.5% (last year it grew 4.3%). It compared Argentina to its protest-plagued, shortage-rife fellow South American country, Venezuela.
The Fernandez administration shot back that the IMF’s estimates were ideologically driven.
“Fortunately, ex president Néstor Kirchner made a decision and that was to have autonomy in economic decisions,” said Cabinet head Jorge Capitanich in a speech following the report. “”We owe not a dollar to the IMF and it cannot condition the sovereign managing of Argentina’s economic policy anymore.”
He went on to say that the IMF caused Argentina’s worst fiscal crisis in history, referring to the 2001-2002 period when the country had five presidents in two weeks.
These protestors are living in the now, though. So they think pretty differently.
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