Governor of Santa Cruz province Alicia Kirchner was trapped in the Provincial Government Offices until the wee hours of yesterday morning by a protest that began the previous day at 10.30am. This is the third time the sister of former president Néstor Kirchner has been trapped by such a protest. The previous time was only a few weeks ago, when her sister-in-law and ex-president Cristina was with her.
Access to the Provincial Government Offices in Santa Cruz was blocked from Sunday morning, when crowds of teachers, parents and retirees gathered outside to protest the ongoing financial crisis in the province, which has resulted in teachers and other state workers not receiving pay. Many services in Santa Cruz are currently paralyzed. Teachers’ unions ADOSAC and AMET started a new 120-hour strike yesterday, and health workers in APROSA are to strike for 72 hours. The annual deficit in Santa Cruz is AR $6,700 million, and 90% of resources go to the running costs of paying salaries. The province is in dire straits, despite receiving more money than any other between 2003 and 2015.
Among the protestors’ demands were full payment of their salary; a minimum wage of AR $20,500 per month; political trial for Alicia Kirchner, and for Cristina to be declared persona non grata. They requested an audience with the Governor, which was rejected. A group of mothers waited inside the Provincial Offices for 10 hours waiting to meet the Governor, whose staff said there was no space in Kirchner’s schedule. This aggravated the situation and helped keep the protestors outside the building for over 19 hours.
Alicia had arrived to her office early in the morning for a meeting ordered by the Casa Rosada to discuss Santa Cruz’ financial crisis. Also present were her Vice Governor Pablo González, representative of La Cámpora Mauricio Gómez Bull, and senators Virginia García and María Ester Labado. At one point during the shut in, District Attorney in charge of the first office in Rio Gallegos tried to act as mediator to ensure Kirchner’s exit from the building, but failed, and was met with jeers from the protestors. At 5:40am yesterday morning, the Governor finally managed to exit the building, accompanied by security guards.