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Barrionuevo: Massa will crush Kirchnerism

Opposition CGT leaders Hugo Moyano and Luis Barrionuevo celebrate the strike on Thursday.

Opposition CGT leader says former Tigre mayor reminds him of Menem’s rise to power

A day after a 24-hour general strike paralyzed much of the country, the leader of one of the opposition unions that called for the strike, Luis Barrionuevo, made no secret that he had high hopes for Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa’s political future during the next elections.

Responding to government insinuations that the union leader had become a leading figure in the Renewal Front, Barrionuevo said yesterday that “Sergio Massa is going to crush Kirchnerism in the presidential elections next year.”

Barrionuevo told Radio La Red that the government “is making a mistake with Massa, they keep on pushing him away because he thinks differently” and that he is attacked “because he won the elections, he beat Daniel (Scioli) and her,” in reference to the president.

Barrionuevo did emphasize though that even if he sees Massa in a positive light, he won’t be throwing the support of a “national union board” behind any of the presidential candidates thus far, noting that the former Tigre mayor has officials capable of generating an electoral support structure, Barrionuevo added that Massa reminded him of Carlos Menem at the end of the 1980s, when “he had all of the lawmakers and governors against him” but that he managed to win a primary in the Peronist party and later presidential elections.

“He needs a support structure all over the country to make his votes count” in the elections Barrionuevo added, and while he denied that there would be an imminent meeting between the unions and the Renewal Front, he continued by saying “that’s what happened with Menem. We organized a ‘Menem for President’ national union board because the votes needed to be counted.”

Renewal Front officials had made an effort to distance themselves from the strike, saying that Barrionuevo had been looking to promote Córdoba Governor José Manuel de la Sota but that its failure had prompted him to seek alternatives.

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

Government voices

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich also weighed in on the strike during his morning press conference, saying that “it is very difficult to evaluate the impact” of the unoin action because “sometimes a strike can be confused with a lock-out.” He also seemed to imply union leaders lacked conviction, saying that many of those “who are now critical were previously allies and benefited from this government’s success at increasing the level of economic activity.”

For his part, Florencio Randazzo, Interior and Transport Minister, said “the strike was an extortion and led by union leaders that are part of the past.”

Labour Minister Carlos Tomada did not beat around the bush yesterday, saying “the government’s programme will not be altered in the least” following the strike.

Union crossfire

Barrionuevo also had some choice words in response to Capitanich’s sarcastic comments that he was now a left-wing leader following the roadblocks set up yesterday by leftist groups.

“I’ve never had anything to do with the left. I don’t share any of their policies. They’re clumsy,” he said. “They sought to minimize the strike with the roadblocks, but they don’t know our history.”

Barrionuevo also took aim at Rubén “Pollo” Sobrero, a railway workers’ union leader, who had said that it made him “sick in the stomach” to be participating in the same strike as Barrionuevo. The restaurant workers’ union leader said that “I can’t answer somebody who is insignificant, because he never ran anything, never administered anything.”

Hugo Yasky, leader of the CTA grouping sympathetic to the government in opposition to Pablo Micheli’s CTA, considered that the general strike “was full of empty slogans” and that the various factions within the union opposition “are unlikely to be able to generate a political project” together in the long run.

Economic impact

Calculations released by the consulting firm Inversor Global set the cost of Thursday’s national strike at 2.5 billion pesos in lost production.

The number is based on dividing the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 365 and adjusting for the proportion of activity lost during the strike, which was not quite 100 percent of the total. A normal day of economic activity generates about 3.3 billion pesos.

The government today made official its decision to withhold 1/30th of the monthly subsidies distributed to the bus companies that observed the general strike. The Interior and Transport Ministry will withhold about 50 million pesos worth of state funds.

Herald with DyN, Télam

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