- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

BUENOS AIRES Argentine President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa's week-old Cabinet submitted its collective resignation yesterday, following renewed unrest and violence over economic policy and unpopular government officials.
In one of the worst clashes overnight, a retired policeman guarding a service station in Buenos Aires' Floresta district shot and killed three boys after a heated argument, according to local media reports that cited eyewitnesses.
The incident sparked violent protests in the area, and security officials used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
However, Mr. Rodriguez Saa did receive encouragement from President Bush, who telephoned the embattled Argentine head yesterday from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and urged him to stick with the unpopular recovery plan offered by the International Monetary Fund.
Mr. Bush "emphasized the need for the Argentine government to develop a sustainable economic plan and work closely with international financial institutions to do so," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
Austerity measures introduced by the earlier government led to riots that toppled previous Argentine President Fernando de la Rua. A similar fate threatens Mr. Rodriguez Saa, now that rioting has resumed.
"I deeply deplore the incidents of violence overnight Friday to Saturday," said Mr. Rodriguez Saa. "I call on all Argentines to maintain peace."
All the ministers for the interim president offered to quit after the latest clashes, a government spokesman told reporters. It was unclear whether the resignations had been accepted.
Separately, employees at the casino in Mar del Plata, 250 miles south of the capital, joined the pot-clanging masses of protesters, chanting, "We're not going to take it anymore." The demonstration marked the beginning of a strike demanding that salaries and end-of-year bonus checks be disbursed by tomorrow.
One of the strike's organizers, Mario Golato, warned that if the workers are not paid soon, "the Mar del Plata casino will remain closed."
The largely peaceful protests in Buenos Aires turned violent again when a group of teen-agers tried to storm the presidential palace and clashed with riot police.
Twelve policemen were injured, six of them seriously, the federal police said. Thirty-three demonstrators were detained.
Mr. Rodriguez Saa, a member of the Peronist Party, became president on Dec. 23 following the resignation of Mr. de la Rua amid violence that resulted in 30 deaths.

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