Argentina’s ports, airports and public transport all came to a standstill on Tuesday as trade unions called a national strike to protest the government’s economic policy.
The government is renegotiating its loan terms with the IMF as it plans widespread austerity measures amid rising unemployment and inflation. CGTN’s Joel Richards reports.
Strike action in Argentina cut off public transportation and closed shops — as well as ports and airports on Tuesday. The social organization represents more than 50,000 people across Argentina.
“People are struggling to make ends meet. Not only are they buying less food but also services (are a problem), cheaper gas is not accessible to all neighborhoods, there is a sharp rise in electricity bills and so all this affects the quality of life of families.” said social organization leader Silvia Saravia.
Tuesday’s strike followed a march on Monday – a response to rising unemployment, now the highest in 12 years at over 9 percent. And inflation is now expected to end the year above 40 percent, hitting family incomes hard.
This is the fourth strike in three years called by the unions in protest at the government’s economic policies. It is held just as President Mauricio Macri is in New York not only for the United Nations General Assembly, but also to extend a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Reports suggest up to $5 billion could be added to the $50 billion loan agreed recently, as Macri this week denied the possibility of a default. Economists in Argentina said the government is facing a complicated juggling act.
“It is difficult choice that the government has to make which is trying to bring down inflation and somehow make Argentina eligible for financing again, and with that trying to live within the means that are available and how you distribute the burden within the population,” said Economist Daniel Marx.
Adding to Argentina’s challenges, the Central Bank president Luis Caputo also resigned Tuesday, barely three months after taking office, a time that saw the currency slide from 28 pesos to the dollar to 38.
With proposed spending cuts in areas such as education and health, together with economic instability, Argentina is facing more turbulence in the coming months.