Argentina: Striking teacher killed by police

Carlos Fuentealba

Fellow strikers blocked roads across the province on Friday and a national general strike has been called for Monday by the teaching unions after a protester was killed by a tear gas grenade.

Carlos Fuentealba,41, was killed on Thursday night after being hit in the head by the gas grenade, fired into a crowd of protesters by police.

Mr Fuentealba was sitting in a car that was part of a rolling blockade when the shot was fired, according to the driver, Gonzalo Arroyo, the car was suddenly surrounded by 20 officers who began to strike it with rifle butts so that they would stop in the middle of the clouds of tear gas, another officer then fired a tear gas grenade, from a distance of less than two metres, into the back windscreen. Carlos, who was in the back seat, was struck in the neck. He died from his injuries late on Thursday night.

Teachers in the central province, along with many of their colleagues in other provinces, have been striking since the 5th of March after the state government refused to raise wages. In response to the Governor's refusal to negotiate strikers' pickets began to block roads on Thursday in order to increase the pressure. Riot police were sent in to attack these demonstrators, with many sustaining injuries.

On Friday the two main roads in the state were blocked by pickets over 200-strong. There has been unrest in the neighbouring provinces of Salta and Santa Cruz, where brutality has also been reported. Teachers have also been striking in the provinces of Tierra del Fuego and La Rioja, and, to a lesser extent, in Formosa and Chaco. The Governor's hopes for re-election next month appear to have been ruined by the violence, it is hard to say what effect this may have on future repression of demonstrations.

The CGT has called for an "hour of mourning" on Monday, stating that no bus, train or refuse services will operate during this time. Other industries are also expected to take part. However as it will take place between 12pm and 1pm this seems to be a rather small token gesture.