Argentine unions call for rural strike

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Argentine unions call for rural strike

Argentine agricultural and rural unions have called for a strike from June 15-23, protesting against a lack of attention from the government over the impacts of tax pressures, rising costs and the exchange rate. Argentine countrysider small _ Flickr Commons - Luis Esnal

Local press reported the Liaison Commission, which unites the country's leading agricultural unions, planned to make the protest official today (June 11).

Commission leaders told newspaper La Nacion that 60,000 producers had disappeared over the course of the Kirchner government, which includes the president's late husband Nestor Kirchner.

Eduardo Buzzi, who heads up the Argentine Agricultural Federation (FAA), told the publication the strike was called over the "thoughtlessness" of the government, which had not provided any answers to rural problems.

"What's coming ahead is a protest that, a few days from Tuesday, will begin and last for a week at least," Buzzi told Radio Mitre.

The other unions involved are the Argentine Rural Society (SRA), ConInAgro and the Argentine Rural Confederation (CRA).

Most discussion in the press was about impacts on grain and meat, however the strike also referred to "products of regional economies".

Buzzi lamented that President Cristina Fernandez had treated farmers like "greedy speculators" the week before rather than listening to their concerns, blaming them for a decline in treasury income due to unsold soybeans.

SRA president Luis Miguel Etchevehere told Radio Mitre the commission treated Fernandez's comments as an "attack".

Argentine analyst Rosendo Fraga told Chilean newspaper La Tercera that the loss of profitability in rural areas was key in understanding the agricultural strike.

"This is the point that connects with the 2008 protest. Deductions, the tax burden and the exchange rate policy - where the producer sells at the official dollar price but not the real [price] - are what generate the growing unrest in the field," he was quoted as saying.

"The protest of 2008 was one of the factors that explained the defeat of Kirchnerism in the midterm elections of 2009. Now the new protest may negatively influence the ruling in the legislative elections to be held in October."

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Luis Esnal



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