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  • Protesters block an entrance to the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 29, 2019.

    Protesters block an entrance to the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 29, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 29 May 2019

All major trade unions are protesting against neoliberal policies as social organizations block avenues and entrances to Buenos Aires, the capital city.

Argentina woke Wednesday to no public transport, school classes, garbage collection, banking services or health services as over 70 unions across the nation take part in the fifth general strike since President Mauricio Macri took office in 2015.

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"We will work to consolidate Peronism as a political alternative," said the Secretary of the General Confederation of Workers (CGT) Hector Daer, according to South American Journal.

The unions and social movements are demanding President Macri reduce taxes on workers and approve wage increases to compensate for the nation's 54 percent inflation rate and high consumer costs for basic goods.

“Macri was elected in 2015 on the promise of lowering inflation and bringing an end to poverty and corruption, but since reaching power he has done precisely the opposite, having chosen to govern for a powerful minority,” said International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Despite his poor performance and falling approval rates, the right-wing politician Macri is trying to remain as president and is expected to take part in the October elections. 

The collapse of the Argentinian economy has been marked since Macri assumed leadership. In the last three years, Argentina has purchased as much as US$100 billion in external debt, most of which is being siphoned off to finance the fiscal deficit and capital flight caused by financial speculation. In the last three months alone, almost US$12 billion has left the country, despite Economy Minister Nicolas Dujovne continually swearing the situation would improve.

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The unions are joined in the May 29 massive work stoppage by grassroots organizations, feminist groups and other activists who are preparing large pots of food for demonstrators in the streets to symbolize the hunger in the country where unemployment has risen to over nine percent and the poverty rate to over 32 percent. 

"The 29th consolidates the hope that in October we are going to vote and ... defeat this government that is testimony of a failed experiment of the Argentinian right," said Hugo Yasky, General Secretary of the Confederation of Argentinian Workers (CTA) in a Tuesday interview. He added the Macri administration sold itself initially "as an expression of modernism, but ended up taking us back to the same disaster and the same destruction of the neoliberalism of the 90s." 

While some streets across the capital of Buenos Aires and major cities such as Cordoba and Mendoza are packed with demonstrators, these typically bustling cities are generally empty this Wednesday as no one is going to work and all public transportation has come to a halt. As well, there efforts are no domestic or international flights to or from the country’s main airports.

"Misery grows under Macri and almost one out of three people are poor in Argentina. Poverty has risen to 32 percent in the South American country at the height of Macri administration's neoliberal policies." The photo shows a "street pot" whereby protesters distribute food to demonstrate that 'hunger is part of everyday life.'

The country's economic recession shows no sign of stopping. According to official data, the output of small and medium-sized industries decreased 10.3 percent in April and supermarket sales fell 14.5 percent in March. In Argentina, consumption levels are lower than those in 2007, reports El Periodico.

"In 2008 we were competitive and could export. Nowadays, manufacturing a good in Argentina costs 90 percent more than making it in Germany," added Pablo Gonzalez, a marketing director.

Most opinion polls indicate that former minister Alberto Fernandez and former President Cristina Fernandez-Kirchner are the presidencial and vice-presidential candidates with greatest chances to win.​​

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