Argentine church leaders joined labour groups in late May to demonstrate against IMF economic policies. Protests erupted after the government announced tax increases and cuts in social spending, government investments, public sector salaries and pensions. The measures have been taken to bring down the government’s deficit to satisfy commitments to the IMF. Union leaders called for a one day strike to protest against the measures and the economic misery which is being blamed on the IMF.
An estimated 80,000 people joined the protest which coincided with an IMF mission to the country to review the government’s spending and income. The protesters claim that the government’s economic policy and international capital markets are directly impacting on peoples’ lives, and are calling for greater attention to social matters. The IMF has granted Argentina a $7.3bn loan in exchange for a commitment to keep this year’s budget deficit below 4.7 billion dollars, although the government has already consumed half this amount in the first four months of the year.
IMF President, Horst Köhler distanced the IMF from the demonstrations, “I was quite impressed that the President of Argentina strongly told me that it is his government’s program and not an imposition of the IMF“, he remarked at a press conference.