Rural producers took a tractor to Plaza de Mayo, in downtown Buenos Aires, this Saturday (23), to complain against the government’s intentions to increase taxes on exports and against economic policy in general.
Armed with Argentine flags and anti-government posters, producers and workers shouted slogans against measures for the countryside and to try to curb inflation, which have not been showing results. Food is up 7.8% last month, and annual inflation is at 50%.
Hundreds of people on foot, not directly linked to the camp, joined the protest, which drew thousands of people.
Producers complain about the existing export taxes, the government’s threats to stop exports of some products – such as wheat and meat – to “fight domestic inflation” and “guarantee the supply of the domestic market” and the exchange rate duality.
In fact, Argentina currently has seven different quotations for the dollar, and whoever wants to import-export must work with the official quotation, while prices increase in parallel. In addition, they account for 170 different taxes on the most varied production activities linked to exports.
In his most recent speeches, President Alberto Fernández has said that the country is “at war against inflation.” In practice, he has increased protectionist policies that have failed to contain prices.
One of the posters said: “A country with less taxes, just spend less and dedicate yourself to something else”.
The final straw for the protest came in recent days when the government increased the DEX (export duties) on soy flour and oil by two percentage points, to equate them to 33% of the rate paid for the grain.
Economy Minister Martín Guzmán said that, for the time being, there are no plans to increase the DEX (also called retentions) for wheat and corn. But the rumors that not even he has a guaranteed seat in the post bring even more distrust to the market.
The current secretary of Interior Commerce, Roberto Feletti, author of the plans to freeze prices in force today in the country, asked the government to increase export duties on wheat and corn. The internal tension between them should continue in the coming days.
According to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, due to the increase in production costs, the area devoted to wheat cultivation this year will be between 3% and 5% smaller.
One of the big banners that were seen in the square said: “We have not come to ask you to help us, but to get off of us”. Another: “We are not willing to continue funding the rope they are hanging us with.”