independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

City runs riot during police strike

A man carries an armful of merchandise he took from a shop in Cordoba, Argentina (AP)

Argentina's second largest city has been rocked by waves of looting and robberies after police went on strike for higher pay .

The violence in Cordoba began on Tuesday night and continued morning, with shop windows being shattered, mobs stealing goods, robbers attacking people in the streets and vigilantes arming themselves to protect their homes. More supermarkets and a mobile television van recording the violence were attacked even as officers and provincial authorities began negotiations to end the strike.

Hospital authorities reported one shooting death and more than 100 injuries, mostly from shattered glass.

Governor Jose Manuel de la Sota said before going into negotiations with police that 56 people had been arrested.

He said has offered a 52% pay increase 12,600 pesos a month, which he called "the best salary for police in Argentina," according to Cordoba's Voz del Interior newspaper. That is about £1,220 at the official exchange rate, or about £825 at the black market rate many Argentines consider to be a more reliable measure of their money's value.

Miguel Ortiz, a lawyer representing the police, said the provincial government had "verbally" accepted the officers' demand for a bit more and that he expected an deal to be signed.

Mr De la Sota also described the strike as a police response to his decision to close 140 brothels that provide income to corrupt officers. "We know that this, which is a terrible business, horrible, is linked to drug trafficking and that it would bring us problems sooner or later," he said.

Mr De la Sota, a political rival of president Cristina Fernandez who has long complained that his province is denied its share of national resources, was returning from Colombia as the violence broke out. He said the president denied his initial appeals for help.

Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich denied turning away any requests for assistance, and said the national government had been monitoring the situation while the governor was out of the country. He said Mr de la Sota was trying to shift the blame for a problem that was entirely his responsibility.

-AP

Press Association

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