Teachers, students strike in austerity-stricken Argentina over funding
Thousands of teachers and their students walked out of classes on Thursday to march on Buenos Aires, as part of a protest calling on the government to do more to sure up public education amidst crippling austerity in Argentina.
South America’s number two economy is in the throes of an austerity drive as the conservative government of President Mauricio Macri grapples with a plunging peso and double-digit inflation. With the government seeking to cut spending, teachers are demanding an increase in pay to offset inflation and students want more public investment in universities.
The Macri government has denied that there has been a cut in education funding. Buenos Aires has offered teachers a proposal to boost pay by some 15 percent, but teachers have rejected the move.
The protests come amidst a sputtering economy in debt-ravaged Argentina. To assuage concerns of a flailing economy, Buenos Aires has turned to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) for a a $50 billion dollar standby loan agreement. In return, the government has committed itself to eliminating its primary fiscal deficit next year.
But Argentina’s IMF deal has proven itself to be unpopular with much of the public. Punctuated by a 2002 debt default that tossed millions of middle-class Argentines into poverty, many blame the IMF and conservative economic policies for the current state of the economy.