Feb 13, 2020 11:44 UTC
  • Argentinians protest as government begins debt talks with IMF

Thousands of people have protested in Argentina against their government’s dealings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as Buenos Aires opens week-long talks with the US-based organization in an attempt to seek relief from its foreign debt burden.

According to reports, the talks started on Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Congress in Buenos Aires to protest against the IMF and demand a suspension of debt payments.

“We don’t want money to go to the IMF. We want it to be designated for a serious plan to help the poorest sectors,” said one of the protesters.

The Argentinian government hopes to renegotiate 195 billion dollars of its 311-billion-dollar foreign debt, including a deeply unpopular 44-billion-dollar bailout loan from the IMF in 2018.

Argentina’s debt crisis was sparked by a sudden crash in the pesos’ value more than 18 months ago, a fall that continued last year. The poverty rate has risen to more than 35 percent, inflation for the year to September was at almost 38 percent, and the peso has depreciated 70 percent since January 2018.

President Alberto Fernandez, who seeks a deal with the IMF, insists that Argentina cannot meet debt payments without economic growth.

Earlier on Wednesday, Argentina’s Economy Minister Martin Guzman said the IMF was partly to blame for the country’s current debt crisis.

“The IMF, which executed a loan, the largest in its history, a loan that was not used to increase the country’s productivity at all... is also responsible for the debt and economic crisis that Argentina is going through today,” he said.

Argentina doesn’t have the cash to pay its creditors and is desperate for relief from its total debt burden. The Latin American country has until March 31 to reach an agreement with its creditors before it will almost certainly be unable to meet its repayment obligations.