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Clashes erupt as general strike paralyses Argentina

A strike was called by worker's unions demanding to President Macri's government to take measures against inflation and keep campaign promises. Photograph: (AFP)

Reuters Buenos Aires Province, Argentina Apr 06, 2017, 02.46 PM (IST)

Clashes erupted near the capital of Buenos Aires on Thursday (April 6) as labor unions challenged President Mauricio Macri in the first general strike since he took office 16 months ago.

Riot police fired water cannon and released tear gas as protesters attacked with sticks. Several arrests were made, but a definitive number was not released.

Meanwhile, downtown Buenos Aires came to a standstill, leaving some workers frustrated as they struggled with the commute.

Truck and bus drivers, teachers, factory workers, airport employees and the government customs agents who run Argentina's all-important grains export sector walked off the job at midnight for 24 hours.

Marches were held around the country, with picketers carrying signs and shouting.

Macri, a proponent of free markets, took office in December 2015. He eliminated currency and trade controls and cut government spending, including gas subsidies, a move that sparked steep increases in home heating bills.

Protesters are also clamoring for wage increases in line with inflation, which was clocked at 40 percent last year and is expected at about 20 percent 2017.

A poll last month showed that for the first time since Macri took office, more Argentines disapprove than approve of his performance.

He was elected after more than a decade of populist rule left Argentina with rampant inflation, dwindling central bank reserves and a wide fiscal deficit.


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