Unrest in Misiones as hundreds of officers protest in front of police building

The Milei administation has created a crisis committee and pledged to send 200 military officers

Hundreds of teachers and police officers demanded pay raises outside a Misiones police building for the second straight day on Saturday, raising alarms in the national and provincial administrations.

Some 2,000 demonstrators put up tents to cover themselves from the drizzle outside the police radio command in Posadas, the provincial capital. People and police cars were still pouring into the streets on Saturday afternoon. Less than a hundred meters away, teachers held a separate demonstration that included burning tires.

“You can see close to six hundred active [officers], some with their faces covered and some in uniforms — I counted 21 police cars and 30 other cars,” Pablo García, a journalist from the Info Tierra Colorada media outlet present at the protest, told the Herald. He added that retired police officers and their families also took part in the demonstration.

The national security ministry created a crisis committee to coordinate efforts with the provincial government. The ministry announced that the national government would send 200 military police to help quell the incidents. A spokesperson for the national Interior Ministry told the Herald that they are waiting for provincial governor Hugo Passalacqua to provide instructions as to how to proceed.

The mass demonstrations began after a group of teachers — who had been protesting for roughly a month — broke into the provincial legislature on Thursday. Close to 3:00 a.m. on Friday, police officers started arriving in squad cars and began burning tires in front of the radio command headquarters. 

They later gave the tires to the teachers, who used them for their protests.

Although some reports stated that protestors had seized the building, the police spokesperson showed the judge on duty, Ricardo Balor, that the protest was limited to the exterior and that the radio command was operating normally.

The police are being represented in salary negotiations by retired officers since active officers are not allowed to form a union. Teachers, on the other hand, have had a plethora of unions, but most of them are under an independent group with no legal representation.

According to García, the police are not on strike as officers are still on duty in the rest of the city.

“More than salaries”

Teachers and police are demanding a 100% pay raise, claiming that they have lost more than 50% of their purchasing power in the last eight months due to inflation rates. The Misiones government announced a 15% raise for the police, meaning monthly salaries of AR$467,759 (US$494) for officers and AR$558,778 (US$617) for sergeants.

According to Misiones teachers, they are the worst-paid in the country, amid rampant inflation that reached a 280% interannual rate in April. “A new teacher in the province is currently earning around AR$240,000 (US$254 at the official exchange rate) [a month]; those with the highest seniority earn AR$394,000 (US$416),” he said in an interview with the AnRed media outlet.

The situation has worsened since the national government eliminated certain transfers to provinces. Among those benefits is the Teachers’ Incentive National Fund (FONID, in Spanish), which was used to pay part of the teachers’ salaries. However, Passalaqua is still close to Javier Milei. After meeting with Interior Minister Guillermo Francos in April, the deputies that responded to him voted in favor of Milei’s omnibus bill. 

“We will help to the extent that they help the people from Misiones, mutual governance. Quid pro quo,” Passalaqua said at the time to the La Nación newspaper.

García said he did not think the conflict would end soon, stating that the protest goes “beyond salaries.” The police spokesperson, for instance, is demanding an “amnesty” for officers involved in the protests, given that they would face disciplinary measures because they cannot legally hold demonstrations.

As for teachers, he said that they “are coming from various points of the province.” 

“They say that schools that don’t have toilets or fans, that they have stopped serving breakfast [for students in need] or paying janitors,” he said. “Fundamental issues are being discussed.”


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