Argentina: Agricultural strike suspended

On April 2, after much dialogue with the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner government, agricultural producers suspended for 30 days a strike that began on March 11.

The strike began after the government introduced an increase on taxes for the primary goods exports market, which includes beef, wheat and soy beans, from 35% to 45%. Soy beans account for 22% of exports for Argentina.

The ruralistas, as they are known, blockaded major roads, prohibiting the transport of agricultural goods to the cities. However, civilian traffic was unaffected.

Shortly after Easter, local supermarkets were scarce of meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables — by the end of March local markets had no meat.

On Friday, March 28, the government and the rural sector established dialogue. The Kirchner government reviewed the application of the tax increase, and differentiated between the small-to-middle agricultural producers, and the large producers. As a result, the increase will not apply to the small-to middle-producers.

However, the four entities that represent the ruralistas immediately rejected the governments review as being inadequate. Subsequently, after temporarily ceasing the strike for talks with the government, the ruralistas resumed the blockade.

On April 1, the government organised a 100,000-strong demonsrtation in Plaza de Mayo in a show of strength. The rally was built around the themes: "defending the national and popular government". Kirchner was the only speaker to address the crowd.

While the strike has been suspended, the ruralistas emphasised they would be ready to mobilise again and are on alert. Local markets are beginning to see the normalisation of supplies. Further talks are expected between the government and the rural sector in the coming weeks.