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Reflections After Argentina's #8N Protests

Argentines have been analyzing the present and the future of the country after the massive anti-government protests held on November 8, 2012.

One common theme present in many reflections is the polarization of opinion and the division in society between those who favor the government and those who are against it. Sebastián Waisbrot in his blog Catdevmind [es] writes:

La división en Argentina es difícil de explicar. Puedo afirmar, sin duda alguna, que hay muchísimo más fanatismo político de lo que jamás vi en mi vida. También la sociedad está bastante dicotómica: gente a favor o en contra del gobierno actual, con pocas divisiones dentro de esos grupos, o por lo menos poca discusión.
Como ejemplo de este fanatismo, es la primera vez que entiendo por qué en la mesa no se discute de política. Grupos de amigos dividido, gente que se deja de ver, momentos incómodos. ¡Gente que se borra de Facebook!

Division in Argentina is difficult to explain. I can affirm, without a doubt, that there is much more political fanaticism than I've ever seen in my life. It is also quite a dichotomous society: people in favor or against the current government, with few divisions within these groups, or at least little discussion between them. As an example of this fanaticism, it is the first time that I understand why people don't discuss politics at the kitchen table. Groups of friends are divided, people have stopped seeing each other, awkward moments. People are even blocking friends on Facebook!

In his post “Divided”, Matias Gonzalo [es] deplores the hatred that exists in society:

El odio hacia el prójimo nos moviliza, y eso es lo que nos hace perder la humanidad. El desprecio simplemente divide más y más, y hoy no somos más que una población de necios, disfrazados de Nación. Ciegos y sordos consecuencia de un fanatismo insoportable, ya sea por el fanatismo de que todo está bien, como el fanatismo de que todo está mal.

Hatred directed at another person is what moves us, and that's what makes us lose humanity. Contempt simply divides us more and more, and today we are but a population of fools, a disguised Nation. Blind and deaf, an unbearable consequence of fanaticism, both the fanaticism of “all is well”, and the fanaticism of “everything is bad”.

Matias concludes:

Hoy somos extremos, somos gorilas [anti-peronistas], somos peronistas, somos K [a favor de Kirchner], somos anti-K, somos 8N, somos 7D [7 de diciembre, día en que arranca la nueva Ley de medios]. Somos todo, menos una sociedad.

Today we are extremes, we are gorilas [anti-Peronists] [es], we are peronistas [Peronists], we are K [in favor of Kirchner], we are anti-K, we are 8N, we are 7D [December 7, the day a new media law will come into effect]. We are everything, except a society. 

Protesta 8N

8N Protest, Photo: Martin E Iglesias on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Citizens of other countries are also analyzing this confrontation and division, like Colombian blogger Jenny Manrique [es] in Americas Quarterly:

La polarización se exacerbó en estos dos años en modo y forma complejos, a tal punto que los interlocutores se han convertido en enemigos y los discursos están llenos de odio.

The polarization has exacerbated in these two years in a complex way, to such a point that both parts have become enemies and speeches are full of hate.

She also analyzes both sides of the political spectrum in the #8N [es] protests:

Algunos cargaban pancartas con términos desobligantes: “Fuera Cristina”, “Andate Yegüa”, “Abajo la dictadura de Argenzuela”. Términos que tienen una cargada connotación si se tiene en cuenta que este país vivió una de las dictaduras más cruentas en América Latina.

Y al otro lado el oficialismo que considera las demandas una expresión del “corporativismo mediático” que no se agrupa alrededor de una idea coherente y que no reconoce que tiene detrás una “mano negra política” como el macrismo (de Mauricio Macri, intendente de Buenos Aires, gran opositor de los Kirchner y cuyo modelo es de derecha.)

Some carried banners with disparaging terms: “Out Cristina”, “Go away bi…”, “Down with Argenzuela [a combination of Argentina and Venezuela] dictatorship”. Terms that have a loaded connotation if you consider that this country lived through one of the bloodiest dictatorships in Latin America.

And on the other side, the government considers these demands as an expression of “media corporatism”, which is not united around a coherent idea and which does not recognize that behind it there is a “black political hand” like macrism (from Mauricio Macri, Mayor of Buenos Aires and a big Kirchner opponent, and whose [political] model is from the Right.)

In the blog Cuadernos de la Ira [es], Chilean blogger Jorge Muzam writes:

Los bandos en conflicto son feroces para embestirse y desacreditarse. Por un lado, están los que apoyan al actual gobierno de Cristina Fernández, y por otro lado todo el resto, que son en esencia una variopinta barriada cultural de pensamiento derechista

The warring factions are fierce to discredit each other. On one side, there are those who favor the current government of Cristina Fernández, and on the other side there are all the rest, who are in essence a cultural motley of right-wing thinking

Agrupaciones kirchneristas acompañando a la Presidenta Cristina Fernández en el día de la bandera. Foto: Laura Schneider.

Kirchnerist groups accompanying President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner during Flag Day celebration. photo: Laura Schneider.

Twitter is also a network that Argentines use to share opinions. On November 9, after the 8N demonstrations, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) [es] wrote:

@CFKArgentina: En esta semana han ocurrido dos hechos importantísimos: uno es la elección del Presidente de USA, primera potencia del mundo.

@CFKArgentina [es]: this week two important events took place: one is the reelection of the President of the USA, the leading power in the world.

And Ramiro Castañeda (@ramiroski_) [es] responded:

@ramiroski_:  @CFKArgentina hubo un hecho muy importante, el pueblo argentino demostró tener carácter y valentía para exigirle a sus ineptos gobernantes.

@ramiroski_: @CFKArgentina There was a very important event, the Argentine people have shown character and courage to demand [action from] their inept rulers.

Horacio Elsinger [es], in his post “Is everything the same after 8N?” [es], concludes:

El gobierno conserva toda su fortaleza, pero no debe dormirse en los laureles. La mejor manera de defender y consolidar el terreno ganado es seguir avanzando en la transformación del país.

The government retains all its strength, but it should not rest on its laurels. The best way to defend and consolidate the gains is to continue advancing in the transformation of the country.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1059956607 Larita Piki

    There’s no ‘division of the country’, the president has a 54% of approval (in fact, according to some national consulting, if there’s a national election today she’d win again with 54 or more porcentage of approval). The #8N meant absolute nothing, that was an argentinean Tea Party, right wing extremist, ultra catholics, white supremasists, upper class racists, etc. Argentina is doing way better than any other country in the world at todays crisis and the powerful elite of the world doesn’t like that.

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