Anti-austerity protests hit Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico
4 April 2017
Protest against economic policies of Argentina’s government draws 150,000
An estimated 150,000 workers and young people demonstrated in Buenos Aires on March 30 to protest the austerity measures imposed by the right-wing government of President Mauricio Macri. The protest follows a national strike by tens of thousands of teachers against skyrocketing prices and a call by the largest national unions for a general strike on April 5-6.
The protest, called by unions and opposition political parties, converged on the Plaza de Mayo … CTA head Hugo Yasky led a chant of “Vamos a volver”—i.e., “Let’s go back”—referring to the previous administration of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
… According to government figures, some 30 percent of Argentines fall below the official poverty line.
Argentine doctors, health workers hold 48-hour strike
Doctors and health professionals stopped work on March 29 and 30 in 80 public hospitals in Buenos Aires province. Their union, Cicop, which has called nine such limited actions so far this year, said it was seeking a salary raise and “the defense of the right to protest.” Union officials warned their “struggle plan” would continue if Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal does not respond. Cicop announced its members will participate in the upcoming nationwide general strike called by the CGT and CTA labor federations for April 5 and 6 to protest Macri’s austerity policies.
Protests in Brazil oppose attacks on pensions and jobs
All 26 of Brazil’s states, as well as its Federal District, saw protests March 31 against two proposed changes to laws regarding pensions and contract labor. The proposed measures are part of the Michel Temer administration’s agenda of making the working class bear the brunt of the nation’s economic crisis.
One law would change the eligibility for drawing a pension from 30 years of employment for women and 35 for men to requiring the worker to reach 65 years of age. The other would make it easier for businesses to employ contract laborers, as well as allowing for a longer period before they would be required to change the workers’ status to permanent.
In São Paolo, about 70,000 protesters gathered in the city center, while 15,000 converged on Rio de Janeiro. Other protests had smaller crowds. Union officials, most aligned with the Workers Party (PT), denounced the “golpistas” (coup participants) who removed PT President Dilma Rousseff last August. …
Puerto Rican public school teachers protest Department of Education policies
Public school teachers, parents and students held a protest March 31 in front of the Department of Education headquarters in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, to demand Education Secretary Julia Keleher prioritize student needs over demands of the fiscal control board.
That entity is currently devising and imposing austerity measures in response to the island’s fiscal crisis, and education has been hit hard. One specific target of the protest is Keleher’s announcement that over 300 public schools are slated for closure. More than 7,000 teachers and 60,000 students would be impacted by the shutdowns.
Other planned measures are reduction of workdays—which would lead to lowered income as well as possible firings—and evaluations that teachers describe as “punitive.” One teacher told El Voce that increased workloads, also part of the board’s plans, would return teachers “to slave labor, where we’d have to dedicate three, four and up to six hours after 3:00.”
The teachers are affiliated with an organization called the Broad Front in Defense of Public Schools (Fadep), and are members of the Puerto Rico Teachers Federation (FMPR).
ARGENTINIAN workers brought the country to a standstill yesterday after dozens of trade unions and grassroots organisations backed a general strike against President Mauricio Macri’s neoliberal economic policies: here.