Saturday, June 22, 2024

ARGENTINA | 20-05-2024 13:16

Police in Misiones Province take to streets as pay protest intensifies

Active and retired police officers in Misiones Province stage street demonstrations in demand of better pay.

Law enforcement officers are normally expected to keep the peace, but residents in Posadas in the northeast of Argentina were greeted by the rare sight of police protesting last weekend.

Active and retired police officers in Misiones Province began staging street demonstrations last Friday in demand of better pay. The protests continued into a second day on Saturday, sparking a meeting of President Javier Milei’s crisis committee in Buenos Aires.

More than 1,000 officers, including prison guards, took part in the rallies in Posadas, some 1,000 kilometres from the capital. Police gathered outside the Comando Radioeléctrico, the unit that manages operations in emergency situations. 

At the entrance to the building, relatives of police officers have set up a camp with communal cooking pots. Police vehicles passing through the streets are sounding their sirens in protest, and tyres can be seen piled up, some burning.

During Saturday’s protest, teachers from public schools in the province – who are also demanding better salaries – joined the mobilisation. 

Retired police officer Ramón Amarilla told AFP that the protesting officers’ demands are "legitimate" and that they are seeking to re-establish dialogue with the authorities over pay.

"We ask the government of Misiones Province to open its heart, not to look for culprits, but to seek an immediate solution to this whole problem, which is purely and exclusively a salary issue," said Amarilla.

Another spokesman for the uniformed, retired non-commissioned officer Germán Palaveccino, denounced "a situation of extreme vulnerability" due to salary depreciation. 

"Our police and penitentiary sector, here in Misiones Province, over the last five months has experienced a loss in purchasing power of more than 50 percent of its salary," he said.

On Monday, local media reported that an understanding “in principle” had been reached, though demonstrators denied those claims. Provincial authorities have reportedly offered a 15-percent pay increase, but demonstrators are holding out for 70 percent.

"We did not reach any agreement," said Amarilla in an interview with local radio station Misiones Cuatro. “I am not going to create false expectations, what they proposed to us does not come close to what we want.”

"They told us that they are going to make an effort … and they are going to try to unblock this serious situation," said the delegate. 

After the government’s crisis committee met over the weekend, Misiones Province Government Minister Marcelo Pérez reported that criminal charges had been filed against the protesters for "sedition and incitement to violence," among other offences.

Local reports also said a judge had ordered "the clearing" of the area where protests are taking place.

"We have also ordered the evaluation and quantification of the damage that this protest has caused to charge those who have led and actively participated," Pérez said in a statement posted on social media. "The provincial government in five months has granted three wage increases that exceed the rate of inflation.”



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