Argentinean surgeons protest, refuse to operate
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Heart surgeons in Argentina's
cash-strapped public hospitals refused to conduct routine surgery Monday in
protest over a lack of medical supplies.
Dairy farmers demanding higher prices for their milk marched in the countryside,
while protests against a bank freeze returned in the capital.
The scattered protests were peaceful but highlighted the still-simmering
over Argentina's four-year-old economic downturn, this country's worst fiscal
crisis in decades. The country defaulted in December on $141 billion in public debt
and has since sharply devalued its peso.
In Buenos Aires, a group of cardiovascular surgeons said Monday they would
perform emergency surgery, postponing all routine operations for a day to demand
the government provide more medical supplies and pay back wages.
The doctors charge that a lack of medical supplies, brought on by the crisis
has nearly bankrupted public medicine, poses a grave threat to patient welfare.
They also complained of a delay by public health care systems in reimbursing
doctors for their services.
In other developments, a small group of demonstrators beat pots and pans
banks in downtown Buenos Aires as they have almost weekly since a partial
banking freeze was imposed December 1. "We deposited dollars, so we want
dollars back!" they chanted.
The government severely limited cash withdrawals on Argentine savings after
on the banks last November.
Meanwhile, in the central province of Santiago del Estero, some 150 dairy
blocked highways to demand a hike in milk prices.
Similar protests were reported elsewhere in the countryside.
Analysts have said unchecked price increases could spur a return to high
and sow further uncertainty in an economy that has been battered by four years of
The country's tailspin has left more than 22 percent of the workforce unemployed.
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.