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  • Social, political and labor organizations have joined the protests, along with several high-profile politicians.

    Social, political and labor organizations have joined the protests, along with several high-profile politicians. | Photo: EFE

Published 19 April 2018

Since 2015, taxes on water, electricity and gas services have increased by approximately 500 percent.

To the clanging of pots and pans and the blare of horns, Argentine workers are still parading the streets of Buenos Aires in protest against the imminent increase of tariffs on public services.

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Since 2015, taxes on water, electricity and gas services have increased by approximately 500 percent. Argentina's main unions – the Workers and the Autonomous – are staging a March of Candles to confront President Mauricio Macri's decision to raise taxes further in an effort to compete with rising inflation.

"Candles are what they have to light in many houses where at this moment the electricity bills cannot be paid," said General Secretary of the Central Workers Union Hugo Yasky.

In March, Argentinians were told to expect an additional 40 percent increase in natural gas taxes, just months after the last increase of 45 percent in December.

As tariffs continue to rise, the national inflation forecast is also climbing: every few months, initial predictions are increasing by a fraction of a percent.

Meanwhile, Macri continues to reassure the public that the situation is under control, even though the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is reporting an inflation rate of 19 percent – four percent more than the official figure.

Pensioner Rodolfo Ramallo told La Vanguardia that the "rates are killing people... With this government you have to be healthy, because you are 73 years old and you have to be a kid of 20, because if you are sick, if you have a family, if you have a problem, if you do not have work, you might as well sell your soul to the devil."

The protest movement has spread to multiple cities, with hundreds of people picketing in front of local governmental institutions in Tucuman, Cordoba, Rosario and Santa Fe.

Social, political and labor organizations have joined the protests, along with several high-profile politicians.

Former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wrote on Twitter: "It is a lie that we are going towards self-sufficiency. Rates have skyrocketed and Argentina today produces less oil and less gas. We are not moving to self-sufficiency, we import more every day.

"Sooner than later, the government is going to have to address this issue. #BastaDeTarifazos."

Local media are reporting that the government has now summoned legislators to discuss the issue. On Wednesday, a special session was called in the Chamber of Deputies, but the meeting was later canceled due to a lack of representation.

Macri has shown little sympathy for the protesters. Speaking on Wednesday from Tucuman, he said: "I've always told them and I reiterate today: I'm not a magician. I'd love it, but it doesn't work for me. I'm not a swindler, either. Nothing that you promise and comes as a gift can be true."


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