Argentina: Thousands Protest Against Rates Increases

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Source: The Dawn News / July, 15, 2016.

Bad weather was not enough to stop the thousands of people who took to the streets to protest against Macri’s administration. The streets of Buenos Aires and other Argentine cities were filled with protesters in a “Cacerolazo” against a significant increase in the rates of public services, including a 700 percent rise in electricity, over 2,000 percent in gas and 350 percent in water, for some users.

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Gas: significant increase in the rates of public services

The main venue of the protest was the Obelisk, located in the Buenos Aires city center, but people from all over the country also joined in hundreds of locations. In Buenos Aires city, people gathered in their neighborhoods, making noise with whatever they had at hand: pots, pans, whistles…. This was replicated in Caballito, Villa Urquiza, Belgrano, Palermo, Saavedra, Villa Crespo, Almagro, Boedo.

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Also, people in the cities of Mendoza, Rosario, Córdoba, Alta Gracia, Bariloche, Mar del Plata also took to the streets to express their rejection against the weight that taxes have on their home economy. Many of them demanded the resignation of Juan Jose Aranguren, Minister of Energy and Mining.

The protest was first convened by groups of consumers united by the struggle against Macri, such as “Resistir y Luchar” and “Macri Para La Mano”, and it was then joined by social and political organizations, political parties, unions, workers’ associations, student organizations, and many other people who reject the public policies that Macri and his cabinet are carrying out.

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“No to the rate hike”

Context:

The tax increase is being reviewed by the Supreme Court of Justice, but the outcome is hard to predict. This week, the Supreme Court asked the Executive Branch to file a report explaining the reasons for the hike, adding a further month of suspense before a resolution to this saga —a final ruling before August is now unlikely. The legal conflict hasn’t only been focused on the Supreme Court, though, as the government also filed a request in a La Plata federal court against a judge’s decision of freezing the new rates announced this year.

The drastic increase in public services is made worse by the increase in inflation (which grew by 3,2% only in June), basic goods, transportation, among others. On the other hand, the average salary has lost its purchasing power. The raise of the minimum wage was not enough to cope with the increments in service rates and the price of the basic basket. Unions, associations, and organizations have held different protests and strikes to demand the government to take action regarding this issue. Unfortunately, Macri’s administration has no intention to reverse this situation and is implementing an adjustment plan that, as usual, hits harder on the poorest ones.

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Mother of Plaza de Mayo Hebe Bonafini


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