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Tens of thousands of Argentines protested Friday to pressure lawmakers into backing a measure intended to address rising poverty in the South American nation. Demonstrators flooded the streets of Buenos Aires and marched to the Congress building waving flags representing some of Argentina’s most powerful unions and chanting slogans demanding passage of the “social emergency law.”
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Supporters of the stimulus measure say it would create a million jobs and it also would raise child welfare payments 15 per cent. The bill introduced by opposition lawmakers recently passed in the Senate but has yet to be considered by the lower house. Argentina’s conservative government says the measure would strain the budget.
Since taking office in December, President Mauricio Macri’s market-friendly reforms have been praised by international investors. But his hiking of utility rates, a sharp devaluation of the peso and other measures have fanned one of the world’s highest inflation rates and spiked poverty levels, causing social unrest.
Argentines have staged other protests against Macri’s firing of thousands of state workers and his cuts to subsidies that have increased the cost of everything from bus rides to electricity bills. Macri says the measures are vital to revive Argentina’s weak economy. The government says nearly one of every three Argentines lives in poverty.