The broad avenues of Buenos Aires were crowded on Thursday night by Argentina’s biggest and noisiest anti-government demonstration in a decade, as hundreds of thousands of protesters marched or banged pots to express frustration at President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
After a smaller rally in September, the noisy but peaceful protest – estimated at between 250,000 to 500,000 people – marks an escalation of opposition to the Argentinian leader, particularly among a middle class that is upset at inflation, corruption, media controls and suggestions Fernández may want to amend the constitution so she can serve a third term.
Congregating around the landmark obelisk in the centre of the capital, protesters carried handmade signs demanding “Stop corruption” and “No Re-election” while they chanted: “This is for Cristina who is watching us on TV.” Tens of thousands of others joined a cacerolazo (casserole) demonstration outside the presidential palace, beating kitchen utensils so loudly their clamour cannot have been ignored inside.
Word of the demonstration spread through social networks. Many organisers remain anonymous, but Mariana Torres, administrator of the Facebook page El Anti-K, one of the most active in calling for the rally, said she was delighted: “It was a true feast for democracy.”
There was no single cause of discontent. Many in the middle class are angry at the highest inflation in a decade, estimated at a yearly 25% by private economists, currency controls that have created a black market in dollars, and one of the slowest economic growth rates in Latin America.
Banners and chants also took aim at recent corruption cases and Fernández’s efforts to limit the power of big newspaper and TV conglomerates. Clarín, the country’s most powerful media group, has stepped up its criticism of the government before the introduction on 7 December of a law that will weaken its empire…