Thousands of demonstrators
marched through the capital on Thursday to protest President Mauricio Macri’s austerity measures and call on the
government to backtrack on its
policies, turning up the heat on
his government six months
ahead of general elections.
Though TV news coverage
focused on apparent tension
between the protesters and the
security forces policing the
event, the protest generally passed off without incident. Some
demonstrators, however, attempted to camp overnight next
to the former Social Development Ministry building on Avenida 9 de Julio, causing traffic
problems long into the night.
The protests come amid challenging economic circumstances and n a climate of social
unrest in recession-hit Argentina, with the government determined to reach a zero fiscal
deficit as part of its US$56-billion bailout agreement sealed
last year with the International
However, trade unions including the powerful CGT umbrella union grouping, which called
Thursday’s protest, say the
measures are crippling the
country’s economy by forcing
the closure of thousands of
small businesses and leading
citizens into poverty.
“This demonstration is one
more expression of the unrest
there is,” Juan Carlos Schmid,
leader of the Transport union
Confederation, told the AFP at
the march. “Keeping on this
path means we are heading to
the abyss. Economic policy
has to change, until now there
has been a policy of permanent
Thousands of trades union
members and members of social
activist groups, many waving
bright banners and placards decrying Macri and the IMF, defied
a brief downpour to march
down Avenida 9 de Julio to converge on the Plaza de Mayo.
“We cannot afford to pay for
the electricity or the gas,” said
55-year-old Blanca Carmona.
“Before, people in my neighbourhood used to do small jobs like
gardening, but now that’s gone,
because the middle class is collapsing – the increases are also
“The government is getting a
loan from the IMF but we’re flirting with hunger,” said Julian Pérez, a 19-year-old from La Plata.
CGT Secretary-General Hector Daer called for the creation
of a broad “opposition front” to
block Macri’s route to re-election in October. “We have to go
forward asking for an alternative proposal and a different model for the country, We can’t
continue like this,” he said.