Argentine police break up airport protest
23 December 2015, Nirapad News: Argentine police used water cannon Tuesday to break up a protest by poultry workers facing layoffs who blocked access to the city’s international airport.
The workers, who threw stones at the riot police, said at least 10 members of their group were wounded in the clashes.
The former employees of bankrupt poultry company Cresta Roja had blocked the road to Ezeiza International airport outside Buenos Aires since last week, forcing some passengers to drag suitcases for two kilometers (more than a mile) to catch their flights.
They are demanding new jobs and the wages they say they are still owed.
Their spokesman, Cristian Villalba, blamed conservative new President Mauricio Macri for what he called a “brutal” crackdown.
“They had told us we could continue picketing if we left two lanes of the highway clear. Then today they came and told us we had five minutes to clear out, by order of Mauricio Macri,” he told journalists.
Cresta Roja, formerly Argentina’s second largest poultry company, employed 3,400 people at two plants before going bankrupt.
It has remained open with subsidies from Buenos Aires province, but Tuesday is the final day for it to present a restructuring plan or face mandatory sale.
The crackdown by Macri’s newly inaugurated administration represents a change in approach to labor protests, which had been tolerated for 12 years under leftist presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner.
“They have the right to protest, but not to violate the right to travel freely,” said Vice President Gabriela Michetti.
Police were executing a court order to unblock the road, and managed to do it “without a dramatic situation,” she argued.