March 23, 2009

Argentina farmers on 7-day strike

Farmers across Argentina are staging a seven-day strike, blocking some roads to prevent the transport of grains, oil seeds and cattle, official say.

The strike, which started Saturday, resumes a dispute that erupted last year between farmers and the administration of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over an increase in export taxes on grains and oilseeds, in part to generate money for provincial and municipal governments.

The farmers are allowing perishables such as milk, fruit, vegetables and produce from drought suffering areas to be taken to market, Mercopress reported.

The farmers' leaders say they have not directed their members to blockade roads.

All farmers are in a state of alert and mobilization; the liaison remains in full session. But we do not sponsor pickets or road blocks, said Mario Llambias, one of the farmers' leaders.

The Latin American Herald Tribune reported picketing and roadblocks at about 70 locations at the strike's outset.

I believe we have this right, we ask producers to be on the routes, to hand out leaflets. The roadblocks are intermittent and very brief. We don't want to annoy people traveling the roads, said Eduardo Buzzi, head of the Argentine Agrarian Federation.

Buzzi accused the government of strangling producers to the point of asphyxia.