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ARGENTINA | 11-09-2019 18:46

Clashes between police, protesters attempting to camp out on Av. 9 de Julio

City police reportedly fired tear gas and beat protestors, after social movements and labour groups attempted to erect a 48-hour encampment in front of government buildings on Av. 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires' main thoroughfare.

Violent clashes between police and protesters have taken place on Avenida 9 de Julio, after demonstrators attempted to set up camp on the City's main thoroughfare. The clashes broke out after demonstrators reportedly tried to block public transport networks.

Several thousand protesters camped Wednesday in downtown Buenos Aires to demand Argentina declare a food emergency as the economic crisis deepened just weeks ahead of the presidential election.

The demonstrators, who plan to camp for 48 hours in the heart of the city, say rampant inflation has left many of the poorest Argentinians struggling to buy food.

City police officers were accused of beating protesters as tension rose, with video footage emerging of security officers attacking demonstrators, seemingly without provocation. Police used tear gas and batons to dispurse the protests, which were lead by social organisations and labour groups, such as Polo Obrero.

“They beat me savagely along with other comrades,” Polo Obrero leader Eduardo Belliboni alleged to reporters. “There are many injured.” 

The protest started with the objective of setting up an encampment of tents in front of the Ministry of Social Development. That move formed part of an attempt from NGOs and labour groups that the government declare a “food emergency,” amid rising inflation and falling purchasing power. Argentina, which was gripped by a currency crisis in the wake of August 11's PASO primary election, has been in recession for two years, with poverty and unemployment on the rise, 

“Repression never solves anything,” Belliboni said. “They’ve launched [tear] gas and batons against unarmed people who didn't have their faces covered.” 

The encampment began this Wednesday at 3pm after a meeting yesterday between social movements and Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley failed to satisfy the demonstrators. The encampment was meant to last for 48 hours, but its longevity is now uncertain after clashes with the police. 

“We want the opening of social [welfare] programmes,” Belliboni added. “Also, we want spending increases for the existing programs and an increase in rations for schools.

'Food emergency'

On Thursday, lawmakers will consider a "food emergency" bill, presented by the opposition, that would allow more funds to be allocated to manage the increasingly desperate situation.

But President Mauricio Macri's government is opposed to the proposal, saying that it has already taken other emergency measures – such as the elimination of basic food taxes. 

The country has been in a recession since last year, and has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, running at more than 54 percent.

Argentina's economic crisis has seen the peso lose half its value, unemployment soar and the economy shrink by 5.8 percent in the first quarter. Argentines have seen their earnings, savings and purchasing power diminished. It is among the Latin American countries where hunger increased most during 2018, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, and seeing families begging on the streets of the capital has become usual.

The country's economic woes intensified after shock primary elections in August saw Macri suffer a crushing defeat, sending markets into a tailspin and leading the government to impose foreign-exchange controls and request a rescheduling of its debt.

The results indicate that Macri's bid for re-election next month now appears in serious jeopardy.

– PERFIL / TIMES

 

Several thousand protesters camped Wednesday in downtown Buenos Aires to demand Argentina declare a food emergency as the economic crisis deepened just weeks ahead of the presidential election.

The demonstrators, who plan to camp for 48 hours in the heart of the city, say rampant inflation has left many of the poorest Argentinians struggling to buy food.

"Argentina is devastated by inaction, hunger, and poverty, and we demand answers that live up to the situation," organizer Eduardo Belliboni said. "We want social programs, we want to increase allocations for existing programs and increase food rations in schools," he added.

Clashes broke out with police as demonstrators tried to block public transport networks.

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