Thousands march in Argentina capital for more aid to the poor

November 18, 2016 3:42 PM EST

Demonstrators from social organizations and unions rally outside the Congress demanding an increase in social security payments and in support of an opposition-backed bill that seeks payments to the poorest families and creates more new jobs, in Buenos Ai


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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of protesters, marching under the banners of unions and leftist groups, blocked traffic in Argentina's capital on Friday to pressure the government into increasing subsidies to the poor.

The country continues to suffer through a prolonged economic recession nearly one year after President Mauricio Macri's center-right administration took office and instituted market-friendly reforms aimed at boosting Argentina's competitiveness and taming rampant inflation.

Macri has largely maintained the generous social programs he inherited from the previous populist administration of Cristina Fernandez, but his relations with unions and leftist social groups have been tense because of soaring consumer prices.

On Friday, some of the country's largest unions, including the General Workers' Confederation, blocked Avenue 9 de Julio - one of the widest streets in the world - to pressure the government to approve legislation that would boost subsidies to the poor and create jobs with public funds.

"I don't think the government has the courage to change the situation," said Pablo Moyano, deputy secretary of a powerful truck drivers' union. "They govern for wealthiest sectors. I wish they had worked as quickly on a solution for workers as they did for the farmers, for the miners."

Macri's ruling coalition opposes the law, which was approved by the Senate this week but has not yet been considered by the lower house.

(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)



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