Last week, Argentina’s president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner faced a general strike from some of the largest unions of the country. Most businesses and services throughout the country were closed including transportation, hospitals, schools, and restaurants.1 With many taxi and bus drivers on strike, those who did not participate could not go to work for the day. Picketers blocked off roads, preventing travel throughout the capital. In other cities throughout the country, such as Córdoba, smaller scale strikes had similar effects.
Over the past few months, Argentina has suffered from many economic and security issues. Primarily, rates of inflation have drastically increased, expected to reach almost 40% this year.1 With the value of the Argentine peso plummeting, the American dollar has become ever more valuable, reaching a record high exchange rate of ARG$13 for USD$1 on the “blue” market.2 In December, looting occurred throughout the country as a result of a police strike.3 It seems as though the public has become increasingly frustrated with the economic failure and general violence that has recently affected the country. Last Thursday, Argentines united to show Fernández de Kirchner that it is a time for change.
Many who attended the protest did so in demand for a higher salary.1 Unions for various types of labor have asked for an increase in response to the rising inflation. The government, however, may be resistant in giving raises, seeing as it could intensify the inflation problem. Some accuse the president of cutting subsidies to avoid facing opposition from unions.4 Taxes have also been on the rise, particularly for the middle class, which continues to grow dissatisfied by Fernández de Kirchner’s economic policies. In a Polldata survey of 450 Argentines, 62% agreed with the statement that the president is "really losing control of things."4
As citizens are growing restless, crime has increased across the country. The December looting caused several deaths and injuries. In the city of Rosario, homicides rose 45% last year, from 180 murders in 2012 to 264 in 2013.5 This major port city has had several raids and increased police forces to help combat rising crime rates. Additionally, citizens and police forces will continue to clash as protesters take to the streets to march against the crime and inflation.
President Fernández de Kirchner appeared to be unaffected by the strike. She responded to the strike by asking why the capital’s restaurants have no empty seats if things are going so badly for the public.4 Her response shows a lack of concern for the public’s demand, perhaps foreshadowing future strikes.
It appears that many Argentines have not only lost hope in their president but also their nation’s economy and future.4 Some analysts state that the country’s economy has virtually stopped growing due to this lack of faith. The economy may have stopped growing, but the public’s concern has not. If Fernández de Kirchner continues to ignore the intense economic and security issues that affect her country, discontent will only increase causing even more strikes, protests, and violence.
1) Smink, Veronica. “Argentina: el paro que retó al gobierno de Cristina Fernández.” BBC Mundo. BBC. 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
4) Calatrava, Almudena. “Argentina Hit by Nationwide Strike over Inflation.” ABC News. ABC News. 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/argentina-hit-nationwide-strike-inflation-23273262
5) Devereux, Charlie and Daniel Cancel. “Argentine Transport Unions Strike Over Inflation, Crime.” Bloomberg. Bloomberg. 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-09/argentine-unions-plan-national-strike-over-inflation-and-crime.html