thousands of people demonstrate in Argentina against the debt agreement

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Protesters marched through the capital with banners saying ‘no to IMF payment’ and ‘no to an IMF deal’ in a sign of rising tensions in the South American nation over the tentative deal reached at the end of last month.

Argentina and the IMF announced a breakthrough in talks in late January to revamp a failed loan in 2018, which would see debt payments pushed back but involve promises to meet certain economic targets agreed with the lender.

This agreement still needs to be refined and approved by the Argentine Congress and the IMF’s Executive Board.

“No to the government’s agreement with the IMF,” said Celeste Fierro, a protest leader, wearing a T-shirt reading “scams don’t get paid.”

“They want us to pay with more (fiscal) adjustments, with more precariousness and taking more from us, which is why we cannot allow the submission of our people to the designs of the IMF.”

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said last week that while an agreement in principle had been reached with Argentina on a new standby loan, “hard work” remained to be done.

In Argentina, splits have emerged within the ruling Peronist coalition over the deal, with a prominent lawmaker resigning from his congressional post to oppose it.

Juan Carlos Giordano, a representative of a left-wing group taking part in the march, said the debt deal was about making workers foot the bill and the funds should be used to lift people out of poverty.

“The objective is to defend wages, to defend work so that the money is used to fight against social ills,” he said, blaming the previous government of conservative Mauricio Macri for having assumed the debt of the IMF.

“We are marking a path. The path of non-submission, no resignation and no IMF.

(Reporting by Miguel Lo Bianco and Horacio Soria; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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