BUENOS AIRES ( Associated Press) — In a context of acute poverty and inflation, Argentine social and political organizations began a three-day march from different parts of the country on Tuesday demanding more work and salary increases and against the adjustment policies that attributed to the International Monetary Fund.
The kickoff of the massive protest – the largest organized since the beginning of the year – took place in La Quiaca, in the far north of the country, from where a column of protesters headed for Buenos Aires. Then, from different locations in the north and south, other columns began to mobilize to conclude their journey on Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the government house, in a demonstration that promises to be massive.
The so-called Federal March was called by several groups under slogans such as “the payment of the debt is illegal and illegitimate, for genuine work and salary increases and so that no worker is below the poverty line.”
Argentina is immersed in a scenario of rising prices, a problem for which the Peronist government Alberto Fernández has not found a solution. In March, inflation was 6.7%, the highest in 20 years, and 55.1% compared to the same month in 2021.
Poverty affects 37.3% of Argentines, according to data from the second half of 2021, but analysts believe that it has skyrocketed due to the effect of inflation.
Eduardo Belliboni, leader of the Polo Obrero, told The Associated Press by telephone from La Quiaca that “Argentina is suffering one of the worst crises in recent years with many people below the poverty line and great unemployment.”
“The government has to listen to our claim based on the fact that social reality is proving us right; if not, we will deepen our plan of struggle”, warned the leftist leader.
Bellini estimated that more than 300,000 people will participate in the protest along its route.
The Front of Organizations in Struggle, for its part, questioned the agreement reached with the IMF in March to refinance the debt and the forthcoming arrival in the country of technicians from the organization who will review the economic situation “to make sure that the ruling class has complied with the orders , which are nothing more than higher levels of adjustment and reduction of public spending”.
The agreement seeks to refinance a debt of some 45,000 million dollars taken during the presidency of Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) and contemplates the fulfillment of several goals, such as a reduction in the fiscal deficit.
Other organizations noted that “the real debt is with the people” and complained that they presented proposals to the government to generate “thousands of genuine jobs” without receiving a response.
These groups -which benefit from precarious labor aid programs- are demanding better conditions from the government at a time when the Executive is closing salary update agreements with unions that represent different formal sectors of the economy, with increases of up to 60%.
The march takes place while the first of the public hearings is taking place to define increases in gas and electricity rates as well as a scheme according to which users with more purchasing power will stop receiving subsidies and on the eve of knowing the rate of April inflation, which would be greater than 5%.
It also takes place when the government suffers an internal battle between President Fernández -on a tour of Europe this week- and Vice President and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015), who questions the understanding with the IMF and calls for a shift in economic policy.
The Minister of Economy, Martín Guzmán -who has the backing of the president- ratified the current economic plan. The official pointed out in a meeting with businessmen that the country needs to “act seriously” and reach certain consensus, such as fiscal sustainability, for which it is necessary to order public accounts.
“Guzmán is following the IMF’s script… the government’s internal affairs is the government’s problem, our problems are the lack of work and a reality that cannot be endured any longer,” Belliboni said in this regard.
Other protests have occurred in recent months, several of which have collapsed Buenos Aires with street camps of families receiving state subsidies that are insufficient for them.