Today’s march, headed up by union leader Hugo Moyano and supported by some unions, has tongues wagging on both sides of the political divide. Those calling for protest have called it a chance for unity among the opposition, while at the same time, the government has sought to downplay the impact of the mobilization.
So what exactly is each side saying? Take a look at some of the verbal volleys that were traded ahead of the march:
Moyano and allies
Pablo Moyano, Hugo Moyano’s son, Teamsters Union, speaking with Radio Rivadavia: “More than ever, I think that those who haven’t come to the march are cowards, traitors, because it’s their workers who are suffering the consequences of this economic model.
“This is going to be a before and after for a government that doesn’t listen to workers. Workers want there to be no ceilings on wage negotiations, and an end to layoffs and suspensions. They [the government] tried to discredit this march by saying that it was motivated by other factors.”
Moyano also recommended that the government “set aside its pride and listen, that it see the number of [protesting] workers and that in the next few days, there be dialogue, but serious dialogue. Not just a photo-op and a sandwich. All of the workers’ movements must be invited so that the government can give us answers.”
Roberto Baradel, head of SUTEBA, speaking with Radio Con Vos: “There will be plenty of us who will be going as part of an organized group, but there will also be a lot of citizens going on their own, to express their unhappiness with the government’s economic, labor, and social policies.
“Starting today, a new structure for the unions in Argentina is going to take shape with groups within the CGT, both CTAs, unions in the Corriente Federal, and social organizations.” He added that it was time to “build bridges” and that “the government should consider the demands being made. Otherwise, there will be more protests.”
Emilio Pérsico, Movimiento Evita, speaking with FM La Patriada: “If there isn’t any response after the march, we’ll have to call a national strike, but we need to do that with a united CGT, otherwise the government is going to screw us over.”
The Macri administration and supporters
President Mauricio Macri, speaking as he visited the construction site of a water treatment plant in Entre Ríos: “It is important to strengthen the tools for dialogue, and in this way, build solutions. This is the way, without pressures, without extortion, without acting like the mafia, without seeking privileges.”
Repeating that he intends to reduce poverty, Macri said that would be achieved by “working side by side.” “That way, we will build the wonderful country that we want. We want Argentines to say, ‘how can I help?'”
Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio, speaking with Radio La Red: “If Moyano mobilizes a lot of people today, nothing will happen tomorrow, because society doesn’t want marches, it doesn’t want strikes. They want to continue working, to progress, to see how they can improve their situation, and they need this government to do well so that Argentina does well.
“We’re not persecuting Moyano. The government isn’t persecuting anybody, and this is the cultural change for this country that makes us different from the previous government. We’ve been clear on this. It’s a march that has as its primary motivation the personal issue of one union leader who thinks that he should not face equal treatment in the courts.”
Ramón Ayala, UATRE (rural workers’ union), speaking with FM La Patriada: “The march doesn’t make any sense, workers are better off than before. It’s a march that is completely based on one sector, the majority has decided not to go because it doesn’t reflect the workers’ movement.
“Without a doubt, workers are better off now than in the last 12 years. We’ve achieved great things. We have improved many conditions, even if there are some particular situations in certain agricultural sectors.
“Unity within the CGT is very important, we hope that after the mobilization, there will be dialogue to unite the CGT.”