Thousands of trade unionists and neighborhood activists have joined Catholic faithful in Buenos Aires to denounce the acute poverty that is affecting Argentina's most marginalized communities. The protesters want the government of Mauricio Macri to adopt a food law that would strengthen a program of soup kitchens in poor neighborhoods, known as the barrios.
The day began with a pilgrimage to a church in the Liniers neighborhood of the Argentine capital, where every year thousands of believers make offerings to St. Cajetan, renowned for his love of the poor, and pray for him to bring them bread and work.
There they were joined by movements of the unemployed like Barrios de Pie and the Evita Movement, along with several of the biggest trade unions affiliated to Argentina's General Confederation of Labor, the CGT. St. Cajetan's Day first took on an aspect of labor protest last year, when the CGT called a rally on this day to mark a process of reunification between its different wings, which had been split for many years.
"Because hunger doesn't wait, we walk from Saint Cajetan to Plaza de Mayo for land, a home and work."
This year, unionists from the CTA, Argentina's second trade union confederation, also took part, as opposition to the government's economic policies encourages greater unity among the country's social and labor movements.
By the time the protesters had marched the 15 kilometers to the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the presidential palace, organizers say 300,000 had joined the demonstration. They criticized the Macri government's failure to act. Freddy Marinos of the Combative and Class Current, CCS, told EFE news agency that the government had done nothing to advance the law, even though "hunger, child malnutrition, extreme poverty and layoffs are all getting worse."
Juan Carlos Aldrete, also from the CCS, said, "We are demanding the government implement a Social Emergency. We cannot wait for the elections. The soup kitchens are performing magic to get the food they need. The situation in the poor neighborhoods is desperate."
"The march for the Emergency Food law from Saint Cajetan to the Plaza de Mayo"