BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- Argentina's new national
government moved on Wednesday to take direct control of the troubled
northern province of Corrientes, where thousands of public servants are
blocking roads to demand overdue salaries.
The center-left Alliance government of President Fernando de la Rua sent
bill to Congress asking it to approve direct control of Corrientes for a period
of at least 180 days, congressmen said.
Corrientes, 500 miles (800 km) north of the capital Buenos Aires, slumped
into financial and political crisis in April, leading to serious delays in paying
the wages to public servants who make up 80 percent of the local
Public school teachers have been on strike for eight months, meaning
thousands of pupils have lost a whole school year. Striking court workers
have held up thousands of legal cases and public hospitals refuse to attend
anything other than emergencies.
Thousands of protesters installed roadblocks on the main access roads to
the province on the Paraguayan border on Tuesday.
"The situation is getting out of hand because truck drivers are also protesting,
to demand their right to be able to drive freely down the road," Gendarmes
policeman Jorge Chiappe told local radio. The para-military Gendarmes
have been in control of the province since civilian police also went on strike.
On Monday, 400 Gendarmes used tear gas and water cannons to clear a
roadblock on a bridge connecting Corrientes with the neighboring province
of Chaco. But the demonstrators returned minutes later.
The province's economic straits have worsened under a political paralysis.
The province's Senate on Monday named a new governor, Carlos
Tomasella, but the outgoing Gov. Hugo Perie refused to abandon his post.
Copyright 1999 Reuters.