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Massa’s front struggles to take distance

Anti-government CGT leaders Hugo Moyano and Luis Barrionuevo seen yesterday after a news conference.
Former Tigre leader condemns picket lines as gov’t links Barrionuevo to Renewal Front

The Renewal Front led by Sergio Massa had a difficult time distancing itself from yesterday’s national strike staged by anti-government unions led by long-time teamsters’ leader Hugo Moyano and restaurant workers’ head Luis Barrionuevo, a move that may compromise the former Tigre mayor’s ability to portray himself as the usher of a new way of doing politics.

Although Massa said strike action “should only be the last resort”, Massa’s number two, Darío Giustozzi, yesterday justified the labour action, saying that “the government has closed off within itself in the last two years.”

“(There are) no channels for dialogue, and that is one of the main reasons for this strike,” Giustozzi said.

Yesterday, Massa said that setting up roadblocks to strengthen the strike was “insane.”

“Today we’re working, like we do every day, for issues the people really care about, such as security, inflation and taxes,” Massa said yesterday.

During a news conference held alongside Moyano and anti-government CTA leader Pablo Micheli, Barrionuevo said he did not back any presidential candidate. Last month, however, the leader of the restaurant workers had said he would be pushing for a “national union board” to back Massa’s presidential bid in 2015.

“Massa is fresh, intelligent, a very skilled person,” Barrionuevo had told Rock and Pop radio on March 24.

Government points fingers

Meanwhile, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s administration insisted on linking the strike to the Renewal Front and said Barrionuevo had become “another leader” of the Tigre mayor’s opposition party.

“With this opposition action, (Barrionuevo) had become a leader of the Renewal Front, along with other leaders such as Sergio Massa, Felipe Solá and Darío Giustozzi,” Capitanich told reporters yesterday morning.

According to the Kirchnerite official, Barrionuevo had also become “a model for the left that is looking for a new leadership,” in reference to leftist parties that joined the measure and carried out roadblocks in many access routes to Buenos Aires.

However, the Cabinet chief agreed with CGT leaders by condemning picket lines set in different points of Buenos Aires and said those amounted to “medieval” protest methods.

“In the Middle Ages, feudal lords blocked access routes to the population. There is no room for barbarianism,” Capitanich said during his daily press conference at Government House.

Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli — who already announced his decision to run for president next year — called the strike a “picket against the country’s progress.”

“We need to move from protest to proposal,” Scioli said.

Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo, another Kirchnerite representative with presidential aspirations, said the strike was “a extortion” because, he said, “children were not able to go to school and people couldn’t reach their workplaces.”

In this context, downtown Buenos Aires City was plastered with posters linking Barrionuevo to former president Carlos Menem. “They brought the country to bankruptcy, now they are bringing it to a halt,” the posters — presumably linked to pro-government organizations — said.

The “signature” used colours from Massa’s Renewal Front, thus bringing the Tigre leader to the association.

Opposition divided

The opposition was markedly divided in its outlook on yesterday’s strike, with most supporting the demands behind it, but many also questioning the methodology employed, particularly focusing on the blockading of roads.

Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri, for instance, reduced the initiative to “Peronist infighting” that would not bring about anything to the table as “the government will not change the (country’s) situation.”

Radical Party (UCR) Chairman and Senator Ernesto Sanz said he understood the “reasons behind the strike, in terms of the reality that workers are suffering the effects of inflation and the cuts (to public utilities subsidies),” but that “before striking, there are other methods.”

UCR lawmaker Ricardo Alfonsín entirely blamed the government, “because not only is it responsible for the problems they cause — pension allocations, the income tax floor and inflation — but also because of its political clumsiness in closing off any chance of dialogue.”

UNEN front Senator Fernando “Pino” Solanas fully backed the measure though saying “there is no doubt over the legitimacy of this strike, because it arises out of the legitimate demand for free wage negotiations and dignified pensions.”

— Herald with DyN

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