BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s major cities were paralyzed on Tuesday amid a strike called by unions representing transportation workers who want the government to raise the threshold for a tax on higher earners.
Freight and commuter trains, buses and subway systems stopped at midnight and taxis were scarce on the streets of Buenos Aires, with similar situations in large provincial capitals such as Rosario, Cordoba and Mendoza.
All scheduled flights were canceled at Jorge Newbery Airport, Buenos Aires’ domestic terminal, while Ezeiza International Airport saw a dozen flights cancelled or re-routed to other destinations.
Leftist militants blocked the main roads leading into the city, preventing commuters from reaching their jobs downtown.
The strike also halted cargo transportation, port activities and trash collection. Hospitals remained open only for emergency cases and banks and courts were closed.
Transport unions are demanding changes to a special tax levied on salaries of more than 15,000 pesos ($1,170) a month. The government, however, says the tax affects only the highest-paid 10 percent of workers.
“The strike is total,” said Luis Barrionuevo, leader of the Blue and White General Confederation of Labor.
Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez called the strike “political” and said that “95 percent of people would have gone to work, but they can’t because they have don’t have transportation.”