Strikes as recession squeezes Argentina’s oil-rich south

Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina, Sept 18 (AFP/APP):Shuttered schools, hospital services pared back to a minimum, officials on strike — Argentina’s southern oil-producing province of Chubut is a microcosm of the country’s crippling economic crisis.

The debt-burdened Patagonian province is suffering the same explosive cocktail of galloping inflation, a plummeting peso and colossal debt.

Public servants in the country’s oil hub, whether teachers, doctors, judges or police, are no longer paid on time.

“I don’t know when this is going to end,” said an exasperated Yael Matos, a teacher in the provincial capital Comodoro Rivadavia, 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) south of Buenos Aires.

Matos is one of Chubut’s 60,000 civil servants who have yet to receive their salary for August.

“We don’t have a payment date, we were supposed to receive our salary today, but that didn’t happen,” she told AFP.

On a classroom blackboard, the date “August 1” is scrawled in chalk, marking the last day of classes before a teachers’ strike now stretching into its ninth week.

“There is empathy from society,” says Matos, who admits that the school year — which in the southern hemisphere runs from March to December — is all but lost.

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