Thousands of Argentines representing labor unions, political parties and social movements met in the capital Buenos Aires on Friday as part of a massive mobilization—"the Great Federal March"—against the right-wing policies of President Mauricio Macri.
The protest began Wednesday with a strike by teachers and rallies have taken place throughout the country, covering five main routes from various cities headed toward Buenos Aires. The protest seeks to put an end to mass layoffs, dramatic utility price hikes, and other neoliberal policies implemented by Macri.
Demonstrators from all over the country converged on the capital's historic Plaza de Mayo, where they were joined by thousands of demonstrators in one of the largest protests against Macri since he took office at the end of 2015.
Estela de Carlotto, head of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, one of the leading human rights organization in the country, also participated in the protest. Her organization has strongly criticized the Macri government for its repression against human rights activists and labor unions.
The nationwide demonstration is modeled on a 1994 action in which tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into Buenos Aires to protest the abrupt shift to neoliberal macroeconomic policies engineered by then-President Carlos Menem.
“Every day there are more poor people, every day there is more hunger, every day there are more workers who lose their jobs,” said Hugo Yasky, head of the more than 1.4 million-strong Central Workers’ Union, during a rally in Cordoba on Thursday.
“The adjustment is defeated in the street, in unity, fighting, building resistance every day,” added Yasky.
The national action comes as human rights organizations and social movements have raised alarm over rising poverty and inequality amid an ongoing wave of mass layoffs that has caused over 179,000 people to lose their jobs in both the public and private sectors since Macri took office in December.
Congressman Martin Sabatella said the protest was also in support of ousted president Dilma Rousseff and the people of Brazil after the Senate there voted on Wednesday to permanently suspend the democratically elected president.
"Impressive response to the Macrista policies. The people will not let their arms down."
The march was also joined by teachers and doctors on strike in Buenos Aires, and supported by the Union of Education Workers, the Argentine Union of Private Teachers, the Association of State Workers, the Federation of Workers and Telephone Employees, among others.
According to the local Observatory for Social Debt, some 1.4 million people have joined the ranks of the poor since the beginning of the conservative government’s term.