BUENOS AIRES – The third 24-hour general strike launched by Argentina’s CGT labor federation took effect early Monday, with protesters paralyzing the nation’s major cities, especially Buenos Aires, which remains without public transportation.
Strikers blocked the capital’s main thoroughfares demanding changes in President Mauricio Macri’s economic policy and rejecting the “brutal austerity” measures that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has imposed in exchange for providing Argentina with a $50 billion stand-by credit line.
Since midnight, buses in major cities have not been in service and the Buenos Aires metro system and commuter trains are not operating, while most domestic and international flights have been cancelled.
Commercial transportation of goods also came to a halt, as well as operations at banks, hospitals – except to treat emergencies – and public schools.
Despite the strike, taxi drivers are still working since the National Taxi Drivers Federation declined to participate in the protest.
Macri’s administration turned to the IMF last month as the Argentine peso continued to plunge against the dollar despite the Central Bank’s decision to boost the benchmark interest rate to 40 percent.
The prospect that the IMF – associated by many in Argentina with the 1998-2002 depression that saw the economy contract by 20 percent – will again have a major say in economic policy has increased the sense of grievance among government opponents already unhappy about growing poverty and massive increases in utility rates.