Tens of thousands march in Buenos Aires against austerity, tariffs

Tens of thousands march in Buenos Aires against austerity, tariffs
FILE PHOTO: Argentina's President Mauricio Macri speaks during a meeting with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia, Brazil, January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino -
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By Adam Jourdan

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of demonstrators blocked major roads in Buenos Aires on Wednesday as they marched to protest high unemployment and the policies of centre-right Argentine leader Mauricio Macri, including cuts to public utility subsidies.

Average Argentines, already struggling with high inflation and a recession, have been hit by higher water, light and heating bills as Macri cuts government spending. The cuts fall under an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to erase Argentina's primary fiscal deficit by the end of this year.

One protester, who identified himself as Alberto, attended the march in downtown Buenos Aires with his 1-year-old daughter. He said he was there because he could not find work and said his family got little state support.

"If there's no work, I won't have anything to leave behind for my children," he told a reporter.

Macri is expected to run for a second term in October's general election, when he may face a challenge from his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez, a favourite of Argentina's left-leaning opposition.

Under a cloudless Southern Hemisphere summer sky, protesters carried banners with pictures of Marxist revolutionary leader Che Guevara while others hailed Argentina's former President Juan Peron and his iconic wife, Evita.

Protests are common in Argentina, where labour unions battle for wage hikes in line with fast-rising consumer prices. Inflation at the end of last year was 47.6 percent, a 27-year high.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; writing by Hugh Bronstein; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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