Protests escalate in Argentina

2 November 2001

In September, a recently formed movement of unemployed Argentinians erected roadblocks to protest at the government’s drastic cut backs in public spending. To try to contain the growing economic crisis, the government has adopted a strict budget, only spending what it receives in tax revenue.

The government’s “zero deficit” policy has already led to a 13 per cent reduction in the salaries and pensions of public sector workers, including teachers, doctors, judicial employees and police. Unemployment stands above 15 per cent; and nearly 40 percent of the country’s 37 million people have fallen below the poverty line – up from 17 per cent in 1994.

Food assistance to the unemployed has been cut, there are delays in the payment of unemployment and public works benefits, and hospitals are running out of medicines. There are fears that further cuts will be made as tax revenues decrease further. Several public entities have complained of delays in disbursements of already approved budget funds.

Argentina’s situation looks set to worsen as the global recession quickens in the wake of the insecurity caused by the attack in the US.