Argentina: Thousands Take to Streets in Protest Against Socialist Government

People take part in a protest against the government of Argentina's President Alberto Fern

Thousands in Argentina took to the streets on Monday to protest against the country’s socialist government, currently presiding over one of the world’s most severe economic crises, worsened by strict lockdown measures.

Demonstrations took place around the capital of Buenos Aires and other cities including Córdoba, Menzoda, Rosario, Salta, and Mar Del Plata. The protests were related to issues including the government’s disastrous handling of the economy, attempts to interfere in the independent judiciary, and the draconian measures imposed in response to the Chinese coronavirus.

One of the protests took place outside the residence of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who currently serves as vice president. Many pundits have expressed concerns that Kirchner, and not President Alberto Fernández (no relation), is largely driving the nation’s policies. The two came into their offices at the end of last year.

“Disagreeing with a government is part of democracy. Mobilizing, even with the risk that it implies in a pandemic, too,” Fernández wrote on Twitter. “But promoting a call for a protest at a person’s home only encourages division and damages that democratic coexistence.”

Many in the opposition — including the head of former President Mauricio Macri’s Republican Proposal party, Patricia Bullrich, as well as lawmakers Fernando Iglesias and Waldo Wolff, both of whom form part of the United for Change Coalition — attended the rallies. The former described the protests as being for “the economy, health, education, and the freedom of Argentines.”

Although many issues were at stake for the protesters, the most pressing matter currently facing Argentina is the country’s ongoing economic meltdown. Last week, the country’s Central Bank confirmed that the economy will contract by 11.8 percent in the year 2020 as inflation reaches record highs and poverty climbs over 40 percent. As a result of this crisis, the Fernández government has enforced strict price and currency controls, although these measures are expected to do little to solve the country’s dire economic predicament in the long term.

Argentina’s economic difficulties date back decades, although strict coronavirus measures imposed by the government have rapidly accelerated its current decline. Last Friday, Fernández announced that flexible restrictions will continue until at least October 25. As of Tuesday, health officials have recorded over 900,000 cases of the virus and over 24,000 deaths in a population of 44.5 million, making it among the world’s highest mortality rates.

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