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Argentina paralysed by first general strike in decade

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-11-21

Argentina ground to a halt on Tuesday as unions called a 24-hour general strike to protest over taxes, piling more pressure on President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Road and air transport delays gripped Argentina Tuesday as President Cristina Kirchner, her approval rating in free fall, faced the second mass protest in as many weeks.
              
The general strike - the first to hit Argentina in a decade - follows broad protests held on November 8 over high crime, soaring inflation and the government’s policy response.
              
"There are hundreds of road blocks across the country," said one of the strike organizers, Oscar de Isasi, as he appealed for the government to "change course."
              
Road blocks cut off main access routes into the capital Buenos Aires, causing traffic jams, while domestic flights were canceled at the city's Aeroparque airport.
              
One full subway line also came to a standstill. Despite the impact, Kirchner tried to downplay the demonstration's impact.
              
"This was not a strike today. Not even a little march," the president said at an event in nearby San Pedro. "Let's say a bit of a squeeze -- or a threat."
              
"Every worker has the right to do what he wants," she said. "But I will put up with whatever I have to put up with. Nobody is going to scare me off with threats and tantrums."
              
Chilean airline LAN announced it scrapped flights within Argentina starting in the afternoon, as well as seven regional flights headed to and originating from Sao Paulo, Lima and the Chilean capital Santiago.
              
Behind the strike is the powerful head of the opposition faction of Argentina's CGT labor federation Hugo Moyano, who backed Kirchner until last year. A splinter group of the CTA union also called for the strike.
              
The union activists want lower income taxes.
              
The November 8 demonstration reflected the loss of faith among the middle class in Kirchner, who last year won re-election with 54 percent of the vote.
              
Argentina's growth rate fell from nine percent in 2011 to just 2.2 percent this year, according to the World Bank.
              
Kirchner's popularity has also dropped, from 60 percent the week of her re-election to 34 percent now, according to the Giacobbe and Associates polling institute.
              
Argentina's first elected female president, Kirchner was initially voted into office in 2007.
              
The Argentine constitution currently bars her from running for a third consecutive term in 2015, but her supporters in Congress have been lobbying for an amendment to change that.
              
Kirchner succeeded her husband Nestor, who then died of a heart attack in 2010.

(AFP)

Date created : 2012-11-21

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