Farmers are flexing their muscles in Argentina, blocking roads and staging a seven day strike. They are furious at the government’s refusal to lower export taxes on the country’s main crop, soya beans. The farmers say that hefty taxes are devastating an industry already hit hard by a recent drought. Hence a week-long freeze in the sale of cereals, oilseeds and livestock and highway protests.
One local protest leader, Nicolas Lusteau, said: “We are sorry for the truck drivers but blocking the roads is our only way to be heard. We have been to Congress. We have knocked on the doors of politicians and governors. We have talked to Congressmen. But they make promises that they don’t ultimately keep.” Not only is President Cristina Kirchner adamant the taxes won’t come down. She is to channel much of the revenue into an emergency fund for Argentina’s provinces – a move many farmers say is simply aimed at securing votes ahead of upcoming mid-term elections. The latest protest erupted after the ruling party refused to debate a bill to cut the taxes – to the dismay of farmers, some of whom had made the trip to parliament.