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General Strike Eliminates Traffic in Major Argentinian Cities
November 20, 2012

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A huge strike by trade unions ground public transportation to a halt in Buenos Aires and other large cities across Argentina. It was the first general strike since Cristina Fernandez became President five years ago. In fact, it was the country's first general strike in a decade.

Train conductors, bus drivers, and workers in airlines, ports, and banks refused to work for 24 hours. Many of those on strike gathered in public places, among them the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the capital's presidential palace. Those in more destructive rallies burned tires to block roads and lashed out at businesses that remained open despite the strike. Some businesses closed down as a result.

Buenos Aires was mainly shut down. Trains and underground lines were closed, and flights were cancelled. Roadblocks on the main access roads into the capital resulted in sparse traffic in the central business district.

Farmers joined the protest, meaning a halt in grain exports as well. Normally ports in Buenos Aires, Rosario, and elsewhere were silent. Farmers issued a call for lower taxes. The government's current export tax on agricultural goods is 35 percent.

It was the second large protest in the country in the past two weeks. The November 8 protest involved thousands of workers marching in the streets. This latest protest was much larger, however.

High inflation has ground down economic growth in recent years. Government reports set the rate of inflation at 10 percent, but many economic market observers say that the rate is double that, if not higher still.

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, warned the government to provide reliable data or risk being given a "red card," meaning, to borrow a term from soccer, Argentina would be expelled from the IMF.






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