Demands rang out from trade union groups and politicians on Monday as Peronist Loyalty Day was marked with massive rallies across the country.
The divisions and the variety of the requests underlined the challenges facing President Alberto Fernández’s government, which is struggling to deal with falling purchasing power in the wake of surging inflation.
Peronist demonstrators at different rallies demanded stricter price controls, support for domestic industry, wage increases and emergency bonus payments as the extent of Argentina’s challenges were underlined.
At the central Buenos Aires square of Plaza de Mayo, a rally commemorated Peronist Loyalty Day and the massive demonstrations that took place on October 17, 1945, the movement’s foundational day.
"The government has to guarantee the purchasing power of wages and the equitable distribution of wealth," declared union leader Hugo Yasky from a stage in front of the Casa Rosada.
The veteran union leader went on to express his support for Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who survived a recent assassionation attempt on her life.
Politicians and trade unionists aligned with the former 2007-2015 head of state called for "greater firmness" from President Fernández, reading from a document that warned of the need to "restore the role of the State in the control and planning of the economy."
"The government cannot continue to be subject to the conditions of corporate sectors that privilege their interests over the interests of the majority," cautioned the text, which called for the "urgent" granting of an "emergency" bonus payment to citizens to alleviate the rising prices in the basic food basket.
One year out from the 2023 presidential elections, the ruling coalition’s Kirchnerite sectors are calling on the government to "resume the path" that in 2019 won it election. The government’s plans were ultimately postponed by the pandemic and are now challenged by the international crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The main document, which was co-signed by organisations representing small and medium-sized enterprises (PyMES) and worker cooperatives, called for "an end to the monopolistic and oligopolistic practices of the concentrated groups of the economy" and urges the state to "set reference values" to combat inflation.
Speaking later in the afternoon, national lawmaker Máximo Kirchner called on Peronism to “offer in 2023 a project for a country that interprets the people."
In a speech that fiercely criticised former president Mauricio Macri, who succeeded his mother in power, Kirchner called on the president to deliver “a fixed sum to get us out of the stranglehold."
"We have a debt of 44 billion dollars with the IMF and the debt with private creditors. Have you seen that debt in the neighbourhoods, have you seen it in better hospitals, better schools, police cars? There was nothing, they have left us an unpayable bill in the way it is organised," complained the Frente de Todos lawmaker.
"Argentine society is not a failure, if there was someone who failed, it was Mauricio Macri, who was not up to the task, why treat his own people like this?
President Alberto Fernández, who formally heads the Justicialist Party (PJ, Peronist), did not take part in any of the scheduled events to mark Loyalty Day, choosing instead to attend the inauguration of public works projects in Buenos Aires Province.
During his speech, he announced a one-off bonus payment "for the most neglected sectors" and investment for the popular economy. Although he avoided giving details, according to reports the bonus payment will be 45,000 pesos to be paid in two instalments in November and December.
"In the course of this week, we are going to reinforce social aid, we are going to deliver a bonus for the most vulnerable and those who do not receive any help from the state because we do not want anyone to be forgotten," said the head of state.
He too strongly criticised his predecessor in office. “Macri doesn't think like us, he wants to put an end to the state, to put an end to the flag carrier, to put an end to our railways,” said Fernández.