Argentina anti-austerity strike brings country to standstill

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Buenos Aires, June 26 (IANS) Argentina has been brought to a halt by a general strike, called by trade unions in protest against a $50 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

The General Confederation of Workers is also demanding salary hikes in line with inflation of nearly 30 per cent a year.

Trains, buses and the underground system stopped in Buenos Aires. Access roads to the capital were blocked by activists, BBC reported on Monday.

At least 15 million people were affected in the capital, officials said. Flights were suspended across the country.

The IMF agreed to lend $50 billion to President Mauricio Macri’s government earlier this month after the local currency, the peso, collapsed.

Macri said he took the decision to avoid an economic crisis.

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“The strike does not contribute to anything,” said Macri.

“Our economy will start growing again, but for that we need to sit round the table and decide what each one of us has to do,” he added.

The unions say they are willing to negotiate.

“There is a new opportunity and I hope the government has understood what today’s strike means,” said Carlos Acuña, one of the leaders of the General Confederation of Workers.

The unions say the austerity measures demanded by the IMF to agree the loan will bring hardship to the poorest in the country.

–IANS

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