Argentine Police End Strike After 1 Dead in Cordoba Looting

Police officers in the Argentine province of Cordoba lifted a strike that left one dead after looting spread in unguarded streets of the country’s second-largest city. The officers got a 33 percent salary increase.

The officers are resuming their duties after an agreement was signed with the provincial government, Miguel Ortiz Pellegrini, legal adviser to the police, said in a radio interview. The national Security Secretary Sergio Berni said he’s sending 2,000 security forces to help after Cordoba Governor Jose Manuel De la Sota used his Twitter account to ask President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for reinforcements earlier today.

“It’s a joke to send a message for help on Twitter at 4 in the morning,” Berni told Radio 10. “You can always send me a text message and we’ll respond.”

Looting in Cordoba’s capital began yesterday afternoon after police refused to patrol streets in demand for higher wages. The rioters smashed supermarket doors and stole goods from food and beverages to flat-screen TVs, according to images broadcast by CN23 television channel. A 20-year-old man died after being shot in the chest, Hospital San Roque spokesman Constantino Martinez told Radio Cordoba. The unrest has left about 60 people injured.

Federal Monitor

The Cordoba police force has about 22,000 men, according to La Nacion newspaper. They were seeking an increase of more than 100 percent to their minimum monthly wage of about 6,000 pesos ($968), the Buenos Aires-based newspaper said. De la Sota offered an 8,000 peso minimum wage plus a 52 percent raise in benefits that was finally accepted by the police.

Fernandez’s Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said it was Cordoba’s responsibility to control the riots and that the federal government was monitoring the situation.

‘We can’t interfere in a matter of provincial jurisdiction related to a salary protest,’’ Capitanich told reporters in Buenos Aires. “It’s very easy to govern transferring responsibilities to others.”

Cordoba Security Minister Alejandra Monteoliva, on behalf of the executive branch, signed two deals with the officers’ legal adviser and three police officers’ wives. According to Argentina’s constitution, security personnel aren’t allowed to form unions or go out on strike, so the wives had to sign the agreements on behalf of their husbands.

The first accord covers the salary increase and benefits while the second guarantees nobody will be fired for striking.

A few minutes after the signing, police returned to Cordoba’s empty streets shown by TN television that only hours before had shown people taking products from toilet paper to baby strollers from shops, some using carts from the stores being looted.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.