Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina hit by general strike over high inflation and taxes

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Media captionMetro, train and bus services around the country have been paralysed, as Ignacio de los Reyes reports

Public transport in Argentina has been severely disrupted by a huge nationwide strike against the economic policies of the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Most buses, commuter trains and metro lines across Argentina did not operate.

The 24-hour strike was called by unions amid public discontent over high inflation, taxes and wages.

The government said the stoppage was "anti-democratic" because it affected those who wanted to go to work.

"The right to strike is enshrined in the constitution, but also the legitimate right to work," Jorge Capitanich, the chief of the cabinet of ministers, told a news conference.

Airlines were forced to cancel flights and ports came to a near standstill. Many shops also closed because commuters could not get to work.

Some, like Rosana, had to walk miles to get to work.

"My colleagues of course can't get to the office," she told the Associated Press news agency after her 70-minute walk. "You can't get there without public transport."

Many public-sector workers took part in the stoppage, which affected services and school classes.

Picket lines

Unions say they want higher pay and lower taxes, and blame the Argentine government for an annual inflation rate of more than 30%.

Protesters also formed human chains and blocked the main access routes to the capital, Buenos Aires, and other cities.

There were some incidents of violence and arrests after police tried to break the picket lines.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The strikers formed picket lines and blocked some roads in the capital, Buenos Aires

The unions said more than a million workers had taken part in the stoppage.

"The strike is going to be broadly observed because people are unhappy," said Hugo Moyano, a union leader who organised the protest.

"The strike had to take place because the government does not address our demands," said another union leader, Luis Barrionuevo.

This is the second general strike President Fernandez de Kirchner has faced in her two-term mandate.

The last one took place in November 2012 and partially paralysed Buenos Aires and other cities.

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