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News > Argentina

New Protests in Argentina Over Rising Poverty. Macri: 'I Was Too Optimistic'

  • Members of Neighborhoods Standing Up during the Feb. 3 march against austerity measures and poverty in Tucuman, Argentina. Feb. 7, 2019

    Members of Neighborhoods Standing Up during the Feb. 3 march against austerity measures and poverty in Tucuman, Argentina. Feb. 7, 2019 | Photo: Twitter / @barriosdepietuc

Published 7 February 2019

Feb. 7 starts a series of major union protests in Argentina against President Macri's austerity measures that have decreased spending power by 17 percent.

Argentine social movements and unions are demonstrating once again on Thursday against the Mauricio Macri administration’s continued austerity measures.

Argentine Unions Make X-mas Feast Protest In Front of Congress

The unions Workers’ Poll and Barrios de Pie (Neighborhoods Standing Up) will protest against the government's austerity measures throughout the country.

"Enough hunger and repression. Defeat the adjustment plan now," reads the Neighborhoods Standing Up Twitter feed. The organization is calling legislators within Macri’s Cambiemos party to “remember that the (economic) adjustments of this government are hitting the most vulnerable sectors of the country the hardest.” The organization says that unemployment is high and black market jobs are on the rise. More fuel price hikes were implemented on Thursday morning.

In order to adhere to the US$56.3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, the government has slashed as many as 16,303 state jobs in 2018 alone, according to the Center for Political Economy (CEPA) based in Buenos Aires, and 32,000 jobs since December 2015 when Macri took office.  

End Hunger and Unemployment

The government continues to purchase hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in order to stabilize its own devalued peso, but this has resulted in a skyrocketing inflation rate that hovers between 40 and 50 percent.

Poverty has risen to an eight-year high under Macri and 48 percent of all minors in Argentina are now impoverished. The unions are protesting against stagnant wages compared to inflation so that purchasing power decreased by 17.3 percent between November 2017 and 2018.

Just as the protests are gearing up, in a press conference Macri admitted he has been “too optimistic” during his campaign saying that he could fight inflation.

"Inflation is fought by not spending more than one has. ... Argentina has had this problem for decades. It has cost more than we imagined. I was too optimistic," said the president to reporters. The president told a local radio station during an interview that the end of 2018 “was very traumatic” and added: “There is still much to do. We have to continue resolving so that the economy can get on track.”

Unions are meeting outside of Congress and are marching toward the presidential palace on Thursday morning. The organizations will be setting up soup kitchens outside the palace to feed the hungry and as a symbol to the government that 12 million Argentines now live in poverty.

Though Thursday’s demonstration is set to bring out thousands, even more unions are planning another major national protest on Feb. 13 in favor of the Popular Economy Law and employment programs eliminated by the 2019 budget. The Association of State Workers (ATE),  Confederation of Workers for the Popular Economy (CTEP), Neighborhoods Standing Up, Classist and Combative Current, and the Front of Organizations in Struggle will mobilize together next Wednesday against "the adjustments and tariffs."

The ATE website already announced the first general national strike of 2019 in Argentina to take place on Feb. 26.  

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