Fred Fuentes fuentf01 at tartarus.uwa.edu.au
Thu Aug 26 09:15:55 MDT 2004

Militant leader of Argentine jobless is arrested
25 Aug 2004 19:33:12 GMT

Source: Reuters

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Argentine police on
Wednesday arrested a firebrand leader of the militant unemployed
movement who has become one of the most vocal opponents of President
Nestor Kirchner's government.

Raul Castells was wanted for invading a casino with other militants
and demanding money to leave the premises.

The jobless activists, known as "piqueteros," habitually occupy
multinationals, McDonalds restaurants and government ministries and
block major roads.

Kirchner has given orders to police not to arrest or use physical
force against the piqueteros on the streets, but Castells' arrest had
already been ordered by a judge.

Castells gave himself up without resistance, security officials in
the province of Santa Fe said.

A self-styled revolutionary socialist, Castells is one of Argentina's
best-known public figures since the collapse of its economy in early

His Independent Movement of Pensioners and Unemployed Workers and
some five other piquetero groups claim to represent the half of the
population that lives below the poverty line and the 15 percent who
can't find a job.

Castells' arrest came on a day of heavy piquetero activity, with
marches and invasions planned across Buenos Aires to demand jobs.
Foreign energy concerns like Spain's Repsol-YPF <REP.MC> and Anglo-
Dutch Shell <SHEL.L> are among the targets.

Castells' wife, Nina Pelloso, also a well-known piquetero leader,
warned of widespread protests after the arrest.

"This helplessness, this anger is going to become hate and we will
win the streets to demand his freedom," Pelloso told TN television.

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