Thousands of people took to the streets across Argentina on August 18 to protest rising living costs and demand the government take action to improve material conditions.
In the capital, Buenos Aires, more than 500,000 protesters marched towards the national Congress.
The national day of action was called by the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) — the country’s largest trade union federation — and the Argentine Workers’ Autonomous Central Union (CTA). Unions covering construction, public service, energy and transport workers joined the protests.
CTA general secretary Ricardo Peidro said: “We have been fighting in unity for a universal income, an increase in the minimum wage above inflation and an intensive price control so that we do not continue to be the workers who pay for the crisis.”
Poverty, living costs and unemployment have risen since 2018, when former right-wing President Mauricio Macri adopted neoliberal reforms and signed a US$57 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Inflation in Argentina is about 70% and the poverty rate is 40%. Inflation rose by 7.4% last month, the highest monthly increase in 20 years.
In an August 18 statement, the CGT said: “Inflation has reached intolerable levels and is pulverising the purchasing power of workers.”
The statement called for “a stop to the plundering of the social wealth produced by the workers, against the enrichment of the financial sector at the expense of the people and for a halt to the price mark-ups that continue to attack the pockets of the working class”.
Price-fixing and speculation by big companies have also increased the cost of basic goods.
Union leader Sergio Palazzo denounced “the intolerable actions of the financial corporations that threaten the food rights of millions of Argentines”.
This comes after widespread protests last month over living costs and talks between the government and the IMF to renegotiate Argentina’s debt.
Protesters held signs that read “Break away from the IMF” and “Out, Fund, Out” and called on the government to not make debt repayments to the IMF.