Thousands march for work, wages and against poverty in Argentina

Thousands of activists from Argentine social organizations demonstrated yesterday in Buenos Aires in front of the government house, in a “Federal March” by “salaries, work, against hunger and poverty”when the country is going through a crisis with inflation of more than 100% per year.

The demonstrators -from Trotskyists to government dissident Peronists, to supporters of Pope Francis- they carried signs with slogans such as “Enough of hunger and adjustment” and “We repudiate the adjustment of the IMF”in rejection of the agreement signed in 2022 by President Alberto Fernández with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a credit of 44,500 million dollars that implies fiscal and monetary restrictions for the country.

This credit line against which social organizations protest was renegotiated by the current government on the original loan contracted in 2018 by the Executive of Mauricio Macri (2015-19).

For this “Federal Picket March”groups of different political persuasions joined together, bringing together disadvantaged sectors of society, the unemployed and beneficiaries of food aid, among others, known in the country as “piqueteros”.

“The unity that occurs in the street is very important to face the adjustment. Today what is being suffered is the adjustment, poverty, unemployment, it is not being able to make ends meet. That is why unity is important to face this government that goes hand in hand with the IMF,” Celeste Fierro, a 37-year-old leader of the Left Front (FIT), told AFPTV.

Under Argentine flags, posters with the image of Che Guevera, Juan Perón and Eva Perón, reached the historic May Plaza residents of the impoverished suburbs and inhabitants of the shantytowns (settlements) of the capital.

Cartoneros (garbage recyclers), unregistered workers, workers fighting for better wages and subsidized by the State with sums that do not cover the basic survival basket of 200,000 pesos (about 800 dollars for four people, according to statistics from the state INDEC), confirmed the AFP.

He Poverty rate stands at 40% of Argentinesalthough it hits childhood more because two out of three children (66%) are poor or are deprived of basic rights, according to the international Unicef.

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The levels of food deprivation affected a third of the population of children and adolescents, in the second semester of 2022, according to the Social Debt Observatory, carried out by the Argentine Catholic University.

Among those calling for this protest is the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy, which brings together vulnerable workers, whose leaders identify with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church (majority creed in Argentina) and the pope’s pro-poor preaching Francisco.

runaway inflation

Argentina, of 46 million inhabitants, suffers from out-of-control inflation that reached 8.4% in Aprilwith accumulated so far this year of 32% and 108.8% year-on-year, according to data from INDEC.

“A year ago, President Alberto Fernández said that he was starting the war against inflationbut it seems that he put up the white flag and has already given up, as could be seen this month with inflation of more than 8%,” said Nahuel Orellana, 32, a member of the Socialist Movement of Workers-Teresa Vive.

He parallel exchange rate increases dailywith a 100% gap with the official dollar, a destabilizing factor for the economy and for the plans of Fernández and his Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, who seek to contain the pressure on the green ticket.

Massa is a potential official candidate for the presidential elections on October 22, a key event that explains the social tensions.

The authorities have just launched new economic measuresamong them an increase in the interest rate from 91% to 97% in an attempt to contain inflation.

The government ordered this Wednesday that tax refunds for the poor be doubled when purchasing food, medicines and hygiene products.

The mobilization culminates with a camp of activists in the Plaza de Mayo and on Thursday there will be a closing ceremony, after having started on Monday with marches from the southern, western and northern provinces of the country.

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