By Miguel Lo Bianco and Horacio Soria
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Thousands of Argentines marched through the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to protest against a likely deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revamp more than $40 billion of debt the country cannot pay back.
The protesters paraded through the capital with banners saying “no to paying the IMF” and “no to an IMF deal”, a sign of rising tension in the South American nation over the tentative agreement struck late last month.
Argentina and the IMF announced a breakthrough in talks in late January to revamp a failed 2018 loan, which would see debt payments pushed back but involve pledges to meet certain economic targets agreed with the lender.
That agreement still needs details ironed out and approval from both Argentina’s Congress and the IMF board.
“No to the government’s deal with the IMF,” said Celeste Fierro, a protest leader, wearing a T-shirt reading “scams are not paid”.
“They want us to pay with more (fiscal) adjustments, with more precariousness and taking more out of us, that is why we cannot allow the submission of our people to the designs of the IMF.”
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said last week that while an agreement had been reached in principle with Argentina on a new standby loan, “hard work” still lay ahead.
In Argentina, splits have appeared in the ruling Peronist coalition over the deal, with one prominent lawmaker stepping down from his position in Congress in opposition to it.
Juan Carlos Giordano, a representative for a leftist group in the march, said that the debt deal was akin to making working class people foot the bill and that the funds should be used to pull people out of poverty.
“The aim is to defend wages, defend work so that the money goes to combat social ills,” he said, blaming the previous government of conservative Mauricio Macri for taking on the IMF debt.
“We are marking a path. The path of no submission, no to resignation, and no to the IMF.”
(Reporting by Miguel Lo Bianco and Horacio Soria; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Robert Birsel)