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ARGENTINA | 19-08-2022 14:13

Protesters at duelling marches in Argentina bemoan rising inflation

Pro- and anti-government demonstrators take to streets in the capital, demanding greater assistance – be it wage improvements or food aid – as price increases surge.

Thousands rallied downtown last Wednesday in favour of and against President Alberto Fernández’s government in protest against runaway inflation, which some attribute to speculation by businessmen and others to the lack of government action.

For the first time since the Peronist government took office in late 2019, the main trade union confederations, allies of the government, marched on Congress to protest the soaring cost of living in a country with one of the highest inflation rates in the world (46.2 percent in the first half of this year).

Meanwhile leftist social organisations grouping the informally employed and jobless, increasingly hostile to the government, directed their march to Plaza de Mayo and the Casa Rosada to demand from the government measures to halt the rising prices.

 

‘Financial speculation’

The trade unions aimed their anger at the business sector, underlining that their  march simultaneously sought "to defend the [Peronist] government and denounce those who snatch the plates of food from Argentine workers."

"Let us make it clear what this march is about – there is financial speculation by those who want to make huge profits via devaluation and there is political speculation by the opposition who want to see society with water up to their noses by 2023 in order to guarantee their electoral triumph," declared CGT secretary-general Héctor Daer at the end of the march.

Without speeches the columns of workers filed along the downtown streets until Congress, where they dispersed.

In a statement issued previously, the CGT denounced "the economic irresponsibility of the big companies who set prices and mark up essential products in order to improve their profit margins."

 

‘Government accomplices’

The leftist social organisations "marched apart" to demand new measures from the Fernández government.

"We marched apart because the trade union groupings were summoned to support the government. They criticise the inflation of which the government is an accomplice because it has done nothing to halt the escalation of prices," Juan Carlos Giordano of Frente de Izquierda told AFP while also criticising the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reschedule the debt of US$44 billion to the IMF.

The social movements are calling for more state aid and approval of a basic universal income at a time when the government must reduce the fiscal deficit to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product this year in consonance with its agreement with the IMF.

With inflation heading for 90 percent this year, many formally employed workers are finding that their wages cannot keep up with the basic shopping-basket which marks the poverty line.

Last year 37 percent of the Argentine population were below that poverty line.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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