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Argentine protesters are demanding a universal living wage

#Argentine #protesters #demanding #universal #living #wage

Thousands of people demonstrated in Buenos Aires on Thursday demanding a “universal salary” in crisis-ridden Argentina.

Protesters gathered outside the presidential palace, where centre-left President Alberto Fernandez met his economy minister, Silvina Batakis, who opposes such an idea amid rumors of a cabinet reshuffle in the works.

“Poverty has taken control of the country,” Monica Sulle, a leader of the Socialist Workers’ Movement (MST), told AFP.

Argentina is gripped by an economic crisis characterized by rising inflation and rapid currency devaluation.

Radical left groups close to the governing coalition Frente de Todos (Front for All) have been calling for a universal living wage for weeks.

They are angry with the government for the deteriorating social conditions faced by ordinary Argentines.

The protesters are demanding a minimum living wage of 67,000 pesos (around US$490 at the official exchange rate), which is equivalent to the cost of two baskets of basic groceries for the country’s low-income earners.

About 37 percent of Argentina’s 45 million people live in poverty, while inflation topped 36 percent in the first half of the year.

“This inexorable inflation is taking a seat at the family table at all levels of society, but it is catastrophic in the poorest sectors,” Vilma Ripoli, a leader of the Workers’ Leftist Front (FIT), told AFP.

Argentina, which renegotiated the repayment of a $44 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund earlier this year, has pledged to reduce its government deficit to 0.9 percent by 2024 from 3 percent in 2021.

Batakis has just returned to the country from Washington, where she met IMF executive director Kristalina Georgieva.

The local press has speculated that Batakis, who has been in office for less than a month since Martin Guzman resigned, could be one of the heads to roll in a cabinet reshuffle.

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