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ARGENTINA | 24-01-2024 17:11

Union leader Moyano sparks controversy with speech at anti-Milei march

Unions joined national strike measure organised by the CGT umbrella grouping. Camioneros leader Pablo Moyano sparks controversy by warning Economy Minister Luis Caputo that "workers will carry him and throw him into the Riachuelo" river.

Union leader Pablo Moyano stoked controversy on Wednesday as he warned Economy Minister Luis Caputo at a national strike that workers would “throw him into the Riachuelo” river.

Moyano, the leader of the Camioneros truck-drivers’ union and a co-leader of the CGT umbrella union group, later said that he was speaking metaphorically and played down talk of a threat.

Meanwhile, Caputo himself was accused of extorting provincial governors and lawmakers with doom-laden warnings about deep austerity cuts if President Javier Milei’s sweeping economic deregulation and reform plan is not cleared by Congress.

The remarks came as the CGT lead the first national strike against the Milei administration in rejection of the president’s emergency decree and mega-reform bill known as the ‘Omnibus Law.’

Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out to demonstrate against the government’s plans, with other unions, civil society groups, NGOs and human rights groups all heeding the call to march.

Members of the opposition Peronist coalition were also in attendance.

The strike was to last 12 hours, between noon and midnight on Wednesday.

The event’s focal point was a series of speeches delivered from a stage set up at the central Plaza del Congreso. 

CGT leaders Héctor Daer, Carlos Acuña and Pablo Moyano spoke at the central rally before a sea of unionised workers. 

Workers from the Teamsters’ union, UOCRA Argentine Construction Workers’ Union, UPCN Civil Servants’ Union and SMATA Auto and Mechanic Union, among others, were in attendance.

Demonstrators “entered Avenida de Mayo from Avenida 9 de Julio to Plaza del Congreso, ensuring the circulation of firefighters, ambulances, cars with emergencies and the entrance and exit of storefront owners all along their route,” the union said in a statement.

Moyano’s speech drew the most attention, given his outspoken criticism of the ruling party and, in particular, Caputo’s economic plans.

“If they vote for this law [in Congress], workers will carry him and throw him into the Riachuelo,” declared the bullish union leader.

“If they’re so brave, tax the large fortunes. Why should us workers have to pay income tax?” said Moyano, the son of veteran union leader Hugo Moyano.

Daer criticised Milei and his libertarian party also.

“They come out with such a noble word as ‘freedom.’ All peoples fight for freedom and here they use it to screw up the adjustment formula for pensioners. They push us aside with freedom and they want us to deliver the Sustainability Guarantee Fund, which is no other than the business of companies. Through freedom they want to give away state-run companies,” declared Daer.

“We’re here to tell deputies and senators that we wish to defend the Homeland, to redeem 40 years of democracy. That we’re here to defend democracy, and they have the possibility to put democracy back in its place in their hands, by redeeming the division of powers. We’re here with the Constitution in hand,” he continued.

“They devalued and doubled everything, food, the price of fuel, and now they tell us there are no rises for pensioners! That’s why we tell deputies: act in accordance with your popular mandate, look at the people in the face, and act accordingly,” demanded the CGT leader.

After the speeches by Daer and Moyano, the rally dispersed as protesters headed home before a scheduled public transport shutdown at 7pm.

While the Congress square heard speeches ring out, Economy Minister Luis Caputo was being vocal himself on Twitter. He issued a dire threat to legislators and governors that further austerity would be imposed if the ‘Omnibus Law’ failed to pass.

“I held a meeting with the secretary of the Treasury and the undersecretary of the provinces today to outline all the provincial items to be cut back immediately if any of the economic articles is rejected,” he stated in a post on the X social network.

“It’s not a threat, it’s the confirmation that we’ll abide by the mandate given to us by most Argentines to balance the books to end with decades of inflation and economic scourge,” he concluded.


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