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ARGENTINA | 24-04-2022 09:47

Farmers, agricultural producers descend on Buenos Aires for anti-government protest

Thousands of farmers and agricultural producers descended on Buenos Aires on Saturday to protest against the government's policies.

Thousands of farmers and agricultural producers descended on Buenos Aires on Saturday to protest against the tax burden facing the sector.

The protesters drove in cars and vans, as well as dozens of tractors, along Avenida del Libertador all the way to the Casa Rosada, the seat of the government, where they read out a proclamation.  

"We have not come here to ask for a hand, but to get both hands off us ... We are not willing to continue financing the noose with which they are hanging us," the statement read. 

"Unfortunately, we cannot take advantage of international prices to continue supporting the country," complained Dario Magi, 56, owner of a chicken and pig farm, who warned of the fiscal pressures on the agricultural sector and called for a tax cut.

According to a study by FADA, a foundation financed by the sector, 64.9 percent of agricultural producers' income goes to taxes, most of it from export duties, popularly known as 'retenciones.'

"The retentions are our production and he [President Alberto Fernández] wastes it. We have no benefits from what he is stealing from us, because the retentions are our profit, let him let us produce," said Magi.

The protesters also expressed fears over recent plans announced by Economy Minister  Martin Guzman, who opened the door to a tax on "unexpected" income resulting from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The minister is eyeing a new tax on those companies that have a profit of more than one billion pesos (about US$8.5 million) and whose profits have "increased significantly."

The government has already said the new policy would not affect the sector. Agriculture Minister Julián Domínguez told the Clarín newspaper that Argentine producers "did not capture the unexpected income" because they sold their production before prices soared due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He also said that they will have to face the next harvest with the 60 percent increase in the price of fertilisers on the cards.

"If there are any claims that need to be addressed, we will address them and we will listen to them," said Domínguez. 

The head of the Frente de Todos bloc in the Chamber of Deputies, Germán Martínez, described the protest as "a purely political activity of the sectors closest to [opposition coalition] Juntos por el Cambio."

"They have every right to express themselves in a democracy, but the objective must be clearly defined," Martínez said.

The opposition says they did not formalise organise the protest, though many lawmakers supported the protest action.

 

 

– TIMES/AFP

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