Argentina: Thousands march against President Macri’s austerity measureshttps://indianexpress.com/article/world/argentina-thousands-march-against-president-macris-austerity-measures-5532947/

Argentina: Thousands march against President Macri’s austerity measures

 Macri has slashed government subsidies for public utilities to reduce the country's chronic fiscal deficit, pushing electricity and gas rates up more 2,000 per cent since the start of his term, local media have estimated.

A demonstrator holds a banner reading in Spanish “Marci Traitor to the Fatherland,” referring to Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, during a protest against the increase in public service fees, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP)

Thousands of Argentines marched through downtown Buenos Aires on Thursday in the first of a series of demonstrations to protest the soaring costs of public utilities and transportation under President Mauricio Macri’s austerity program.

Macri has slashed government subsidies for public utilities to reduce the country’s chronic fiscal deficit, pushing electricity and gas rates up more 2,000 per cent since the start of his term, local media have estimated.

“The only way to stop this is to peacefully protest,” union leader Pablo Micheli said on local TV channel America TV.

A man holds a sign that reads “IMF (International Monetary Fund) = Hunger” during a protest against a cost increase in public and utility services in Buenos Aires, Argentina, January 10, 2019. (Reuters)

Inflation neared 50 per cent and the peso lost close to 50 per cent of its value against the dollar last year. The IMF announced a $50 billion lifeline for Argentina in June.

The crisis has dimmed Macri’s chances of being re-elected in an election scheduled for the last quarter of the year.

Protesters on Thursday carried effigies of Macri and signs that read “Enough of the Macri/IMF austerity program” as they marched past the city’s obelisk monument toward Congress.

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A union of truck drivers and a federation of workers’ unions organized the protests, which are scheduled to be held every Thursday through the first week in February. Members of leftist political parties and independent Argentines have joined in.