Argentina Breaks Up Farmers’ Protest, Strikes Continue (Updated)

(7:30PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

cross posted from The Dream Antilles


Police Break Up Today’s Protest

This past Spring (Fall in Argentina) Argentina’s president, Cristina Kirchner, decided to raise export taxes on grains. This has led to more than three months of bitter protests by farmers, essayed here, and to shortages of meat, oil, flour and fuel.  Kirchner has refused to repeal the tax increase, which she claims will cut inflation and increase food supplies to the poor. Farmers have responded by cutting off transportation routes in an effort to strike back at the government. And the government has said in response to blockades of roads by farmers that it would guarantee free travel on all roads in Argentina.

As a result, food that normally ships to Europe and Asia has not made it to port, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of spoiled milk have been dumped on rural routes, and there are huge shortages of food in the capital city and elsewhere.  In other words, after more than 3 months, there remains a complete deadlock.

Please join me in Gualeguaychu.  

Today, according to AP there was an escalation: the farmers’ protests were forcefully broken up and 20 farmers were arrested:

Argentine authorities broke up a farmers’ highway blockade Saturday, briefly arresting about 20 protesters including a prominent leader of a months’ long protest against an increase in grain export taxes.

The arrests near the city of Gualeguaychu and Argentina’s river border with Uruguay were broadcast on national television and threatened to inflame a tense standoff between farmers and President Cristina Fernandez’s government. /snip

“The government is not going to pacify us like this – on the contrary. The protest will continue,” de Angeli told Cronica TV after his release.

CNN and the photo at the top of this essay provide some details of today’s confrontation:

Military police scuffled with farmers as they tried to remove them from a road that protesters had blocked with their trucks.

Protesters responded by throwing rocks at police and burning large truck tires in the road. Thick clouds of black smoke could be seen for miles.

Scenes of baton-wielding police in riot gear carrying struggling protesters away in trucks were broadcast live around the country.

The farmers are not alone in their protest.  The middle class, according to CNN, supports the farmers:

Thousands took to the streets in Buenos Aires on Saturday to bang pots and pans in support of the striking farmers. They also cut off traffic at busy city intersections, waving Argentine flags, singing the national anthem and asking for dialog between the government and farmers.

And so, too, the transportation unions support the protest:

Roberto Fernandez, chief of the Tramway and Motorized Drivers Union, announced a “total halt of activities” because of the lack of an agreement between the government and farmers who have cut dozens of routes nationwide, preventing buses from passing.

Cargo truckers have been idled by three separate farm strikes and have vowed to protest indefinitely themselves until the strikes are resolved.

According to IHT,the truckers voted Thursday to protest indefinitely and to block about 200 roadways until the strike ends.

Neither side seems willing to yield in any way.  There are presently no talks.  And none are scheduled.  The results? In addition to shortages throughout in Argentina, the protests are driving up food prices globally.  Argentina is the world’s third largest exporter of soy and corn, most of its exports go to China and the EU.

Corn and soy are in many processed foods, foods people in the developed world eat.  If the cost of these items increase, so too will the cost of food.  It’s unclear whether you can expect to feel the effects of the deadlock at your local supermarket in the near future.  It’s more likely that the consequences will first be felt in Argentina and then in the EU.  But in the global economy, the ripples of the protest will eventually be felt in the US as well.

Update (6/15/08, 9:40 EDT):  Reuters has a long article this morning that details the back story and reports on events of last night:

Hundreds of anti-government protesters in Buenos Aires took to the streets in small groups to bang on pots, in demonstrations reminiscent of the country’s political and economic meltdown in 2001.

Others protested outside the presidential residence in a wealthy suburb, where scuffles broke out with government supporters.

In the evening, several thousand leftist activists rallied in the government’s defense at the Plaza de Mayo square. Former President Nestor Kirchner, Fernandez’s husband, joined the crowd along with several cabinet ministers. Kirchner embraced supporters lining his path.

Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernandez told a news conference the government is willing to negotiate with the farmers but only if they stop setting conditions and staging strikes.

The government also blamed the truckers and farmers for yesterday’s violence.

The current strike began at midnight this morning, and will continue at least through Wednesday.


Skip to comment form

  1. Thanks for reading.

  2. Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernandez told a news conference the government is willing to negotiate with the farmers but only if they stop setting conditions and staging strikes.

    And I suppose the government would have jumped to negotiate had it not been for the demonstrations and strikes and setting of conditions.

    Seems to me that all around the world there is a widening gap between the people and the ruling powers.

  3. the BBC years ago alluded to the conclusion that AlQaeda was not in fact an organization with true global reach and influence.  Al-CIA-duh though does in fact have global influence, reach, freedom from Congressional oversight, unlimited funding from secret drug trade, the resources of an electronic surveillance grid uninmaginable to the average Joe six pack American, plus the most recent directives from the Bildeburg meeting in Chantilly VA.

    Why am I not surprised.  If you don’t like the term Illuminati you may substitute Globo-corp, New World Order and keep in mind your tax dollars most likely supplied the Argentinian government with those nifty stormtrooper uniforms and high tech riot gear.  Control the food and you really do control the people.

    • frosti on June 16, 2008 at 08:21

    with family, and I saw no shortages of anything, nor any protests in the capital.  I suppose there could be shortages somewhere in the country, but with various cousins coming from around the country, it would seem we would have heard something.  Also, we visited a synagogue and a high school, and there was no talk of this. It was not ongoing the whole three months, but perhaps occurred off and on.

    I know that Buenos Aires had ash when the protest broke out in the previous month.

    And the relatives were not big supporters of the current government.  Still, it was much better economically this time than the other times I have been there.

    And yes, Al Quaeda was there, no joke.  The synagogue had been bombed, and Al Quaeda claimed responsibility.

Comments have been disabled.