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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Argentines in Street Protests at Macri Government


7Dnews London - AFP

Thu, 14 Feb 2019 17:17 GMT

Up to 50 Argentine cities and towns, including the capital Buenos Aires, staged demonstrations on Wednesday February 13th, demanding that the government declare a "food emergency" and put an end to suffocating price increases, AFP reported on Thursday.

"We are losing work, food, education, housing... it's desperation that is emerging among our people," said Osvaldo Ulacio, 60, as he marched in Buenos Aires. 

"They have left us no other tool than to come out in the streets to fight for our rights," added 29-year-old Diego Quintero. 

Since President Mauricio Macri came to power in 2015, electricity bills have gone up 2.1% and gas 3% . The government blamed the increase on the removal of significant subsidies imposed under the previous administration.  

"In the neighbourhoods, hunger has come back... it's the worst since the crisis in 2001," said Daniel Menendez, one of the protest leaders in Buenos Aires, referring to the year of a major financial crash. 

"The crisis is dramatic with falling wages, factories and businesses closing, and soup kitchens full of people," said Juan Carlos Alderete, another leader. 

Argentina was hit by an economic crisis last year that forced Macri to agree to a $56-billion bailout loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF predicts that GDP will fall by 2.6% this year. 

It was sparked by a fall in confidence in the currency, with the peso losing more than half its value against the dollar last year, while inflation finished 2018 at 47.6%. 

The country entered recession in December after the statistics bureau revealed the economy had diminished during the third quarter of 2018, the second quarter in a row it had done so.

This October, the South American country will go to the polls to elect a new president.