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Antigovernment Protesters Block Roads Throughout Argentina - 2001-07-31

Antigovernment protesters in Argentina have blocked roads and highways throughout the country, in a demonstration against President Fernando de la Rua's economic austerity policies.

The 24-hour protest began early Tuesday when thousands of unemployed Argentines blocked roads and highways to protest the government's economic policies.

Known as "piqueteros," the protesters are demanding jobs and more social welfare programs to help the unemployed. They also are calling on the de la Rua government to reverse its latest economic austerity measures.

The Argentine Senate Monday approved the government's latest austerity package which calls for, among other things, sharp cuts in the salaries and pensions of public sector employees.

Argentina is in the midst of a deep recession, and is struggling to make payments on its $128 billion national debt.