Remember that strike that I wrote about about two months ago. The farmer strike against the government. Well, it's still going. Here's the lowdown over the past few months.
In October when the soy farmers planted their crops, the government retention rate was 26%. This was only the base retention that the gov't charged, not including taxes and all that other fun stuff. When Nestor Krischner left office in December, he increased the retention to 33%. Nestor's wife Cristina took over presidency in December. The week before the soy harvest, she increased the renentino to 45%. This put the farmers over the edge, so they strikes. Rightfully so. Within the past seven months the rentention has nearly doubled.
The middle and upper classes have been strongly supporting the farmers. Why aren't you taxing big business like you are soy farmers. Well, the strike has been going on and off for 90 days now. The farmers stop it for a week to talk with the gov, nothing gets accomplished, and they start striking. This has been the situation for the past two months. It's a repeptive cycle.
However, just this week, Cristina pulled a good one out. The government really didn't say anything about what they were going to use all the retention money for. Everyone knows it would have been used to buy more votes in an election or magically dissapeared. This is the common feeling about all tax dollars. Well, Cristina gets on the podium and says along the lines of, "We've been plannning to use this money to rebuild hospitals and public schools. The farmers are horrible, money-hoarding bastards for not wanting to help fund schools and hospitals."
This REALLY fired up the people. So now, after three months of not telling anyone where the money was going, she pulls this out. "If you would have told us this three months ago, we wouldn't have had a problem" is the basic farming community response. "We're not stupid and we know exactly what you're trying to do to us." However, it's not working. The people are even more pissed at the government for trying to swing public opinion.
It's an definitely an interesting situation down here. It's refreshing to see people actually stand up for what they believe in. If they don't like something, they hit the streets and protest. In the States, everyone is too apathetic to do anything. Prices of tuition go up, "shucks, I guess we'll pay it." Gas prices going through the roof, "darn, I guess we'll just wait until prices go down." The US could take a page out of Argentina's social demonstration chapter.
Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina