THE RIGHT wing Dutch government plans to deport 26,000 refugees during the next three years. The move is opposed by a majority of people in the Netherlands. A poll showed over 80 percent of people support allowing more refugees to stay. Protests against the government's plan began in the north of the Netherlands, organised by the group Van Harte Pardon (Wholeheartedly Pardon).
The protests have snowballed. Over 3,000 people demonstrated in The Hague, while 2,000 gathered in a church in Leeuwarden for a discussion. Another 2,000 marched in the city centre of Groningen, 1,400 students demonstrated in Sneek, and smaller actions have taken place all over the country. A lot of native Dutch have said they are prepared to make a hiding place for refugees in their homes. Networks are being set up to thwart the police when they start throwing out refugees from their houses. On 10 April there will be a national demonstration.
At the Groningen demonstration an Iranian woman spoke: 'There is nothing romantic about the life of a refugee. We are not fortune hunters. Don't see us as pitiful because we are refugees, but because of the way we are treated.' At the demonstration people chanted that the government, not refugees, should be expelled.
Janneke Prins, Groningen, Netherlands
Argentina: the movement back on the streets
'PIQUETEROS'-unemployed protesters-returned to the streets of Argentina in massive numbers last week. Some 65,000 blocked 107 roads in different parts of the country. They were protesting at a reduction in the number of places on job schemes and at a new labour law which bans strikes in 'essential services' and makes it easier for employers to sack people.
Two and a quarter years ago the piqueteros movement played an important part in the mass uprising that drove out the then president and opened up a long period of political instability.
The election of Kirchner as president nearly a year ago seemed to return things to normal. There was a honeymoon period, with union leaders and some of the piqueteros groups portraying Kirchner as a 'left winger' aligned with president Lula in neighbouring Brazil and with president Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. But the agreement Kirchner signed with the IMF showed his true colours-and as he implements it with cuts into jobs programmes and attacks on workers' rights, the movement from below is regaining strength.