Argentine cabinet chief resigns after defeat in farmers' strike

Other News Materials 23 July 2008 23:02 (UTC +04:00)

Just days after the government of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner gave in to a massive and extended farmers' strike, her cabinet chief Wednesday submitted his resignation, dpa reported.

Alberto Fernandez, one of the country's most influential politicians who was appointed by Kirchner's predecessor and husband, Nestor Kirchner, in 2003, cited "exhaustion" and "loss of authority" as reasons for his departure, national media reported on Wednesday.

No mention was made of his successor.

On Friday, Fernandez announced the government's revocation of a controversial increase of export tariffs on soybeans and sunflower that sparked a four-month conflict with the country's powerful agricultural sector.

A day earlier, the tariffs failed to survive a vote in the Argentine Senate.

Argentina is the world's third-largest producer of soybeans and exports over 95 per cent of its production. The proposed tariffs were to have been increased on soybeans from 35 to 47 per cent, based on the current price, and were intended to use rising global food prices to increase government revenues.

On Friday after the measure was revoked, tariffs were again reduced to 35 per cent, independent of international prices.

For months, farmers gad blocked the transport of harvests to markets and blockaded transport on major roads.

Fernandez was not the only political sacrifice. On Friday, Kirchner fired her agricultural minister, Javier de Urquiza, and named Charlos Cheppi as his successor.

The standoff with the country's powerful agricultural sector has severely damaged the image of Kirchner's government.