The head of the Argentine truckers union, Hugo Moyano, a former ally of the government and currently one of its main opponents, on Tuesday brought several trucks to the doors of the Labor Ministry to protest a decision by that department against his union.
The protest paralyzed traffic on Tuesday morning along one of the main avenues in downtown Buenos Aires.
The truckers union is demanding that 1,000 of the 1,600 workers in the local Maxiconsumo wholesale supermarket chain - including employees such as cashiers, who are currently represented by the retail employees union - join the truckers union.
The attempt by the union Moyano heads to absorb the Maxiconsumo employees was denied by the Labor Ministry, whereupon the truckers on Monday blockaded supermarkets and distribution centers owned and/or operated by the chain and on Tuesday took their protest into the capital's downtown area.
On Monday, Labor Minister Carlos Tomada had accused Moyano of staging his protest for political ends and to complicate the normal nationwide distribution of food.
But on Tuesday, before the Labor Ministry, Moyano rejected Tomada's accusations and said that the workers in the logistical section of the supermarket must be represented by his union, since they are "transport workers."
"I prefer to lose my life before betraying the workers ... Tomada is going to go down in history as the most traitorous labor minister," Moyano said.
The minister said that it is "noteworthy" that the protest measure launched by Moyano "is the first act" after the union leader announced days ago that he will create a political party to compete in the October legislative elections.
Tomada also said that the blockades are also seeking to "affect the accord" that the government reached days ago with the supermarket chains to freeze food prices until April 1.
"We're going to guarantee that the man who has to lead the country's fate is not going to betray the workers again," Moyano replied on Tuesday.
In addition to leading the truckers, Moyano heads the opposition wing of the CGT, Argentina's largest union, which over the past few months has called strikes and protest mobilizations against the government of Cristina Fernandez. EFE