Road and air transport delays gripped Argentina Tuesday as President Cristina Kirchner, her approval rating in free fall, faced the second mass protest in as many weeks.
After tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on November 8 to complain about inflation and high crime rates, unions called a 24-hour general strike over taxes, led by a union boss once allied with Mrs Kirchner.
“There are hundreds of road blocks across the country,” said one of the strike organisers, Oscar de Isasi, as he appealed for the government to “change course.”
Road blocks cut off main access routes into the capital Buenos Aires, causing traffic jams, while domestic flights were canceled at the city’s Aeroparque airport.
One full subway line also came to a standstill.
Despite the impact, Mrs Kirchner tried to downplay the demonstration’s impact.
“This was not a strike today. Not even a little march,” the president said at an event in nearby San Pedro. “Let’s say a bit of a squeeze – or a threat.”
“Every worker has the right to do what he wants,” she said. “But I will put up with whatever I have to put up with. Nobody is going to scare me off with threats and tantrums.”
Chilean airline LAN announced it scrapped flights within Argentina starting in the afternoon, as well as seven regional flights headed to and originating from Sao Paulo, Lima and the Chilean capital Santiago.
The November 8 demonstration reflected the loss of faith among the middle class in Mrs Kirchner, who last year won re-election with 54 percent of the vote.
Argentina’s growth rate fell from nine percent in 2011 to just 2.2 percent this year, according to the World Bank.
Mrs Kirchner’s popularity has also dropped, from 60 percent the week of her re-election to 34 percent now, according to the Giacobbe and Associates polling institute.
Argentina’s first elected female president, Mrs Kirchner was initially voted into office in 2007.
The Argentine constitution currently bars her from running for a third consecutive term in 2015, but her supporters in Congress have been lobbying for an amendment to change that.
Mrs Kirchner succeeded her husband Nestor, who then died of a heart attack in 2010.