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Argentina: Why are Citizens Outraged?

[All links lead to Spanish-language websites unless otherwise noted.]

Argentinians calling for “justice, freedom, security, and currency exchange” marched [en] on September 13, 2012, throughout the country.

The blog Pienso, luego Pienso, Luego Existo published an extensive analysis of its vision for the protests and commented on the good and the bad of the march:

Lo bueno de la protesta, fue también el ánimo festivo generalizado, y la sensación de seguridad que había porque eran todos “como uno”. Como bien diría más tarde Relato Del Presente, fue la única vez que saqué el celular de mi bolsillo sin miedo a que me lo afanasen [...] También estaban esas extrañas ganas de salir a abrazar a cada uno de los que estaban ahí; así de grande era la alegría de saber que se estaba entre hermanos. Diferentes, con distintos motivos, pero hermanos patrióticos al fin.

The good thing about the protest was also the general festive mood and the feeling of safety because everyone there was just ordinary people. As the blog Relato Del Presente would explain later, it was the only time that I've taken my cell phone out of my pocket without fearing that someone would rob me of it [...] There also was this strange urge to go out and hug each and every one of the people there; the happiness of knowing that you were among brothers was that great. Different, with differing motives, but in the end brothers in patriotism.

When it came to the bad, the author wrote:

Lo malo de la protesta, es lo mismo que dije en el post sobre los cacerolazos en tiempos K [Kirchner]. Debería haber sido algo serio, y no con risas por doquier (aunque, admito, es contagiosa esa alegría y hasta es beneficiosa en cierto punto); la gente tiene como un desconocimiento de los peligros que implica hacer semejante marcha (había muchísimos chicos y jóvenes); y no deberían ser cacerolas, sino algo más organizado e integrante. Por ejemplo, ya se está hablando de una marcha para Octubre con remeras blancas. Eso sí sería más idóneo.

The bad thing about the protest is the same thing that I talked about in the post about the cacerolazos [demonstrations in which protesters bang on pots and pans] in the age of Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de KirchnerIt should have been something serious and without laughter from all around (although, I admit, that joy was contagious and even beneficial at a certain point); the people are ignorant of the dangers involved in staging a march like this (there were many children and young people); and there shouldn't have been pots and pans, but something more organized and integral instead. For example, there is already talk of a march for October with white t-shirts. That would be more fitting.
Marcha 13 de septiembre, 2012 en Buenos Aires.

March on September 13, 2012 in Buenos Aires. Photo by Maximiliano Ramos, copyright Demotix.

Moreover the author added:

También hay que unificar los reclamos hacia fines más nobles y abarcativos. Pedir por el cepo al dólar es un derecho también justificado, pero menos representativo o importante que el comer por $6 o la inseguridad. Hay que aprender a reconocer las prioridades. Lo mismo pasa con los cantitos de “yo no la voté”: recordemos que hay muchos allí que SÍ la votaron (lo noté ahí mismo) y se sienten apartados del reclamo por ello (y no deberían; la autocrítica o el reconocer el error no es limitante ni excluyente).

The demands must also be unified to achieve a more noble and comprehensive end. To ask for exchange to the dollar is a justified right as well, but less representative or important than eating on $6 or the lack of security. You have to learn to prioritize. The same thing happened with the refrain “I didn't vote for her”: remember that there are many there who did vote for her (I noticed this there) and feel left out for it (and they shouldn't; self-criticism or recognizing that you made a mistake is not restrictive or exclusive).

What was demanded?

The blogger known as “crazy Mario” from Te escracho ya summarized the various demands. Among them was “the abuse of national broadcasts”, a topic that was previously covered in a Global Voices post [en]. National broadcasts are the coordinated and simultaneous transmission between radio and television channels of official announcements.

La convocatoria, que creció informalmente a través de las redes sociales en Internet, tuvo como consignas el reclamo contra una posible re-reelección presidencial, la inseguridad, el abuso en la utilización de la cadena nacional, las restricciones para las importaciones, la compra de dólares y los viajes al exterior, entre otras decisiones del Gobierno.

The call for protest, which grew informally on social networking sites on the Internet, stated that it was against the possible re-reelection of the president; the lack of security; the abuse of the national broadcasts; and the restrictions placed on imported goods, the purchase of dollars, and travel outside of the country, among other decisions made by the government.

Currency exchange

The Argentinian government has implemented a series of measures [en] that exercise control over the currency market. The latest measures affect purchases made with a credit or debit card using foreign currencies. As stated by the Federal Tax Administration (AFIP), “the Federal Tax Administration implemented a 15 percent fee on purchases made outside of the country.”

In the same statement, AFIP also commented that the companies that administer the cards should “provide detailed information about the purchases made by the credit cardholders and anything additional [...] identifying the country in which the purchases were carried out”.

Changes to election law

A constitutional reform that would allow President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to run for reelection has also caused concern among those Argentinians who took to the streets in protest on September 13. Tony de Vivieros on the blog 6to Poder – Aldea Global explained what this constitutional reform would mean and commented about other reforms to the country's election law:

El kirchnerismo ha promovido una reforma de la ley electoral de Argentina para introducir dos cambios muy controvertidos: reducir la edad mínima para votar a 16 años y habilitar la participación electoral a los extranjeros con al menos dos años de residencia permanente en el país.

The Kirchner camp has promoted a reform to Argentina's election law in order to bring about two controversial changes: reduce the voting age to 16 years old and allow foreigners with at least two years of permanent residency in the country to vote.

Security

Marcha en Buenos Aires, 13 de septiembre, 2012.

March in Buenos Aires, September 13, 2012. Photo by Maximiliano Ramos, copyright Demotix.

Safety in Argentina is a matter of concern for many Argentinians, and a recent speech by the President in which she referred to leave given to prisoners for cultural activities sparked controversy. Those who protested on September 13 cried “enough” in reference to the lack of security. On that day, María Celeste (@tehdramaqueen) shared on Twitter:

@tehdramaqueen: #13ASTA carteles en la marcha: justicia para las víctimas deinseguridad http://yfrog.com/nx2njbgj 

@tehdramaqueen: #13ASTA [#enough] signs from the march: justice for the victims of the lack of safety http://yfrog.com/nx2njbgj 

A country divided?

In a post titled “The binary country”, blogger Gaston Maine mentioned these and other reasons for which Argentinians went out and protested en masse on September 13. He described that in Argentina it seems as if “someone has drawn a line on the ground of the country in chalk, and we find ourselves divided in two camps”:

Nos quedamos sin opciones. Nos hicimos fundamentalistas, absolutistas, binarios. Los que ayer salieron a la calle son anti K [Kirchner], imperialistas que odian a Cristina, ricos que cuidan su ranchito y no les importa el crecimiento del pais. Los que ayer se quedaron en su casa son K, loros repetidores de la mentira del gobierno, chorros, choripaneros, beneficiarios de algún plan social.

We find ourselves out of options. We have become fundamentalists, absolutists, binary. Those who took to the streets yesterday are anti K [Kirchner], imperialists who hate Cristina, the rich who tend to their ranch and don't care about the country's growth. Those who stayed at home are K, parrots repeating the government's lie, thieves, campaigners, beneficiaries of some sort of welfare.

Maine concluded:

Mientras pasa todo esto, un 54 [refiriéndose el porcentaje que votó por Cristina Fernández de Kirchner en las pasadas elecciones] que ya dejó de serlo se rie de “la otra mitad”; y de esa otra mitad, un grupo de improvisados piden -otra vez!- que se vayan todos. Parece que no aprendimos nada.

While all this happens, 54 percent [referring to the percentage that voted for Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in the last elections] which have already stopped being it laughs at “the other half”; and from within that other half, a group of improvisors demand -again!- that they all leave. It seems we haven't learned anything.

Upcoming protests

The Yo no vote a la Kretina, y Ud? [I didn't vote for the Cretin, and you?] Facebook page is organizing another march together with other groups. And on Twitter, @reddemilitantes has called for protest on October 27 to coincide with the anniversary of the death of former President of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner [en].

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