President Mauricio Macri of Argentina may have not fully enjoyed his vacation in Tandil, southeast of Buenos Aires, especially Easter mass, as a priest unexpectedly condemned the violent police repression against the teachers' strike in recent days during his sermon.
“I have been a teacher for many many years, in rural areas,” said Father Raul Troncoso. “I know what this task and this passion mean, the reason why I wish to express my support to the teachers now, and I wish we could all do the same to the extent of our possibilities,” he added, while Macri sat and listened among the crowd.
When the president left the Santisimo Sacramento church with his family, people both cheered and insulted him, with some holding signs demanding the release of Indigenous lawmaker Milagro Sala, as well as education demands.
Since taking office in 2015, Macri has cut funding for Argentina’s Education, Health and Culture ministries while expanding the budget for the Ministry of Defense.
Earlier this month, for example, Macri announced plans to consider purchasing new anti-protest equipment to ramp up the government's arsenal to crack down on social unrest in the South American country.
Teachers are pushing for a wage increase of 35 percent to combat rising inflation in the country, which has also been hit by the Macri government’s austerity measures. The government has offered a 19 percent wage increase for teachers but has faced ongoing protests that have blocked streets and pushed back the start date of many schools.