Tens of thousands of Argentines demonstrated on Tuesday in a partial strike that grounded airplanes and shut banks and other businesses to protest the economic policies of President Mauricio Macri.
The truck drivers' union was one of the main groups calling for the protests that saw airplanes parked on the tarmac and transit buses lined up in rows at their terminal.
Sea traffic was also suspended, most schools closed and many shops as well as banks were shut.
Macri's popularity has fallen in recent months, a disappointing sign for the president just six months out from elections in which he hopes to win a second term.
In an effort to reduce the state deficit, the government last year launched an austerity plan that has cut services to low-income Argentines.
The measures came in exchange for a US$ 56 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help the South American country battle its currency crisis and soaring prices.
Inflation over the last 12 months was around 55%, while the spending power of ordinary citizens has been in freefall.
Take Macri, leave the dollars, read one banner in reference to the IMF loan repayments.
The same slogan was also scrawled on the wall of a building next to that of the US bank JP Morgan.
Unemployment is increasing, poverty now affects 32% of the population and 41% of children, while businesses lay off workers and consumption drops.
The partial strike followed a protest called by trade unions in early April which saw thousands of demonstrators march in Buenos Aires against Macri's economic policies.
Not all unions joined the strike since there is great discrepancy about the leadership of the workers organizations. Anyhow the strike to have more impact was organized a day before May first, when Argentina comes to a complete standstill. A sign of weakness rather than strength for the organizers, the teamsters union.
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While the economy crumbles, the Macri presidency quietly begins an operation to woo voters with their own money -- an operation that was successful in the 2017 legislative election.May 01st, 2019 - 04:45 pm +2
Retirees and pension beneficiaries have now the possibility of getting 20,000 to 200,000 pesos in loans that can be easily obtained and are guaranteed by the retirement/pension payments. Once the loan is granted, the payback is achieve through discounts of up to 30 per cent of the monthly amounts that retirees receive.
Just a few days after being implemented, many have already used the loans. It remains to be seen whether the hand outs will work in the October election in the same way they did in 2017.
The loans have been nicknamed the choriplans, in relation to the 2015 election campaign during which the Cambiemos alliance claimed the choripans sandwiches distributed during popular Kirchnerist gatherings were used as a vote-buying strategy.
Some interesting details at the end of the story:May 02nd, 2019 - 05:16 pm 0
The partial strike... Not all unions joined the strike ... organized a day before May first, ... A sign of weakness rather than strength for the organizers, the teamsters union.
So, not the most strongly supported protest that there has been in Argentina...
The paradox of credit to retireesMay 03rd, 2019 - 01:57 pm 0
Those who underwrote for more than 30 years a significant portion of their income, (and the employers supported additional social burdens) should receive an annuity calculated at least with 4% annual capitalization in constant currency. Today they receive - on average - less than 10% of that simple actuarial calculus.
A large number of retirees paid 15% of their salary during over 30 years (and the employers supported the social burdens of a similar amount). Those funds should have been capitalized at least at 4% per year, in constant currency something that did not happen, even close.
If so average annuity should be – average - about 10 times the average annuity being paid today. In fact, they receive less than 10% of that simple actuarial calculus.
The paradox is that the government offers them to take their own money (already contributed) and several times seized by successive governments, through loans with interest.