Freight truckers and customs’ brokers’ staff paralyzed the Buenos Aires port five terminals for a second day running to protest restrictions on import trade recently implemented, which has caused a collapse in port activities and thus jobs.
“The decision to block operations is for an indefinite period until some government officer comes along and listens to us and we can have an open discussion” said Fabian Reina a leader of the customs brokers’ staff.
“This is a genuine protest because we are impeded from working, we are facing massive layoffs and globally we can say port activities are down 60%” added Reina who said other ports such as Bahia Blanca, Rosario, Zarate and Clorinda had joined the protest.
However port authorities from Bahia Blanca, Rosario and La Plata indicated that activities in their areas of influence were normal and traffic was recovering from previous protests by the pilots’ union.
“We want to talk with government officials; we’re not moving from the port’s premises until we can meet and talk this over with those responsible for implementing this scheme”, insisted Reina.
Since February Argentina began implementing measures to cut drastically imports hoping to boost the trade surplus and local manufacturing by substituting imports. With that purpose all imports must present previous to any import operation a sworn statement which is then considered by the office of Interior Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno, one of the most despised characters of President Cristina Fernandez administration.
“We were shocked to hear Moreno state on the radio that the measures are to help push industry and save jobs. That is total nonsense and madness, how can you help local industry if it runs short of input, spares, machinery?” said Reina.
Apparently containers traffic has dropped dramatically to almost 40% according to the protestors.