Argentina farmers revive protests, warn of return to strikes
Argentine farmers staged a large rally on Monday (August 18, 2008), warning the government they may strike again if it doesn't come up with solutions to an increasingly unfavourable price environment.
That threat raises the spectre of a return to the crisis of two months ago in which a nationwide farmers' strike crippled the economy.
"Today we mobilise peacefully, but if we do not advance rapidly, we will once again arrive at a state of conflict," said Eduardo Buzzi, leader of Argentine Agrarian Federation, or FAA, at a televised rally in Villa Constitucion, where members of his mostly small farmer-dominated organisation gathered with their tractors during Monday's public holiday.
While Buzzi led one demonstration, Alfredo de Angeli, the high-profile leader of the FAA's chapter in the province of Entre Rios, staged a separate rally near Gualeguaychu, a key focal point of the previous conflict.
Buzzi said that although the farmers had last month successfully defeated legislation increasing soy export taxes, "the problem of the farm sector has not ended" just because the soy export tax rate is back at 35 percent. Now, he said, farmers are running out of a patience with government officials that keep on asking them for "more time" to draw up proposals.
Describing the difficulties of the sector, he cited continued restrictions on exports for a variety of other agricultural products, runaway costs for things such as fertiliser and land rents, low and controlled domestic prices, and an exchange rate that strengthened while international soy prices dropped.
Buzzi's words followed his earlier comments "whether or not this results in a strike depends on what happens this week."
The Argentine Rural Society, the Argentine Rural Confederation and Coninagro plan to hold a joint rally with the FAA on Saturday (August 23, 2008).