Buenos Aires, Aug 17 (EFE).- Pro-government unions expressed support for Argentine President Alberto Fernandez’s administration at a large-scale rally Wednesday in this capital, but they also called for urgent action to get inflation under control.
The Confederacion General del Trabajo (CGT), Argentina’s largest labor federation and an organization dominated by union leaders aligned with Fernandez, blamed “speculators” and “price makers” for the country’s sky-high annual inflation rate, which surged to 71 percent in July.
At the conclusion of the mass demonstration, one of the organizers said at a press conference that he is worried about inflation, “financial speculation” and also “political speculation” by opposition sectors ahead of the 2023 general election.
“This rally is about generating the necessary muscle to solve problems for the benefit of the most vulnerable sectors,” Hector Daer, a CGT leader, said.
Pablo Moyano, a truckers’ union and CGT leader, called for his part on the government to exert control over large grain and mineral exporters.
“The government must stand up to the powerful. Those are the measures we’ll side with if the government has the determination to do it,” he said.
Other participants in Wednesday’s rally included the CTA labor confederation, social movements and political organizations allied with the ruling Peronists.
“We’re here (to fight) against the financial coup of the local oligarchy, against the International Monetary Fund and the despotic actions of the price makers, who by devaluing the currency and hiking prices have caused great harm to the Argentine people. We’ve come to back the government against these sectors,” said Luis D’elia, president of the FTV unemployed federation and chairman of the leftist MILES party.
Wednesday’s rallies by unions and social organizations were held amid political tensions within both the leftist Frente de Todos coalition and the main opposition coalition, which are expected to face off in the October 2023 general election.
Those tensions have soared due to a deteriorating macroeconomic situation in the South American country, which is racked by high inflation and a rise in poverty rates, a large budget deficit and the depletion of foreign-currency reserves.
The country has had three economy ministers over the past month and a half.
Sergio Massa, who took over that portfolio on Aug. 3, has pledged to ensure greater fiscal discipline and bring inflation under control. But he faces growing pressure to boost purchasing power and preserve government subsidies for the most vulnerable sectors.
Leftist political groups and labor union also marched Wednesday to the Plaza de Mayo, where the presidential palace is located, to protest the government’s belt-tightening measures.
Argentina reached a deal in March with the IMF, the terms of which include a lowering of the country’s primary budget deficit (the budget deficit excluding interest payments) and a reduction in monetary financing of the budget deficit.
Leftist lawmaker Myriam Bregman accused Massa of devising a “neoliberal” (laissez-faire) plan to shrink the deficit and hike rates for gas and electricity services while keeping the country “tied to the IMF.”
Those leftist groups called, among other things, for an immediate, inflation-adjusted hike in salaries, pension payouts and social welfare payments and pressed for guarantees that no family be forced to live below the poverty line. EFE