Argentina is struggling with inflation exceeding 60 percent, severe pressure on the peso currency and rising gas import costs.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez called for unity on Saturday as protesters marched to the gates of the presidential palace in the capital Buenos Aires, attacking his government over soaring inflation and the crushing national debt.
The center-left president faces a growing challenge from a militant left-wing governing coalition that wants higher poverty rates and more government spending to quell inflation. Two major Liberal allies left his cabinet last month.
The South American country, a major soybean and corn producer, is struggling with inflation exceeding 60 percent, severe pressure on the peso currency and rising gas import costs that are eating away at already weak foreign exchange reserves.
In a speech marking the anniversary of Argentina’s declaration of independence, Fernández called for “unity” and urged various factions to work towards it.
“History teaches us that this is a value that we must preserve in the most difficult moments,” he said, adding that countries with low foreign exchange reserves need economic responsibility and global inflation is “severely damaging” local economies. Is”.
“We need to move towards fiscal balance and stabilize the currency.”
Argentina, which has endured decades of economic crises, secured a $44 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund earlier this year to replace a failed 2018 program. Many blame the IMF for tough economic policies.
Thousands of protesters carrying banners reading “Breakaway from the IMF” and “Out, Fund, Out” marched on the streets of Buenos Aires on Saturday afternoon.
The demonstrators criticized the government and called for non-payment of loans.
Sections of the government, including powerful Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, have called for more spending to ease the impact of COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, which has sparked protests in countries like Sri Lanka around the world.
Socialist MP Juan Carlos Giordano, who joined the march, said: “There is a great crisis in our country.” “Argentina is a capitalist quasi-colony in the chains of the IMF. We are here today to say that we need a second independence. Argentina must sever its ties with the IMF, the Spanish empire of the 21st century.”
Fernández’s administration was thrown into turmoil a week ago by the sudden resignation of liberal Economy Minister Martin Guzmán, a close aide to the president who was holding talks with the IMF. She was replaced by economist Silvina Batakis.
Batakis, who is seen as closer to the left in the ruling coalition than Guzmán, spoke to the IMF on Friday and pledged economic stability despite concerns over a populist policy shift that dragged bonds down and the peso was crushed.
“The resignation of the Economy Minister has shown that there is an economic and financial collapse affecting the lives of workers and the entire population,” said Marcelo Ramal, a member of the Workers’ Party.
“We should keep in mind that this year we’re going to have about 80 percent inflation — 90 percent with wages not rising that fast.”