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ARGENTINA | 20-09-2020 22:30

Anti-government protests once again take place in cities across country

Rallies take place in cities across Argentina for a second consecutive Saturday, as demonstrators express anger at coronavirus lockdown, currency controls, controversial transfer of judges and judicial reform bill.

Hundreds of citizens took to the streets on Saturday for the latest in a series of anti-government protests.

Rallies took place in Buenos Aires, Bahía Blanca, La Plata, Misiones, Neuquen, Córdoba, Mendoza, Rosario and other cities across Argentina for a second consecutive Saturday. Hundreds of people attended the main rally in the capital, with demonstrators wearing face masks carrying national flags, signs and banners. Others aired criticism from the balconies of their homes, banging pots and pans in cacerolazo protests, while others attended marches in cars, respecting social distancing rules.

Once again, demonstrators expressed their anger at the coronavirus lockdown, as well as a host of government policies. Many criticised renewed currency control measures introduced by the Central Bank, while complaints about the economy and the controversial judicial reform bill were also aired.

The protesters, generally opposition supporters, were especially angered by President Alberto Fernández's decree last week approving the transfer of three judges investigating corruption allegations against Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, which came in the wake of a upper house vote in which Juntos por el Cambio senators refused to participate.

"Politicians have to exist but those who are corrupt" have to go to jail, said one protester who identified himself only as Patricio. 

"People are tired, if they don't do what is due, this country is over," added the 71-year-old.

Patricio, who described himself as apolitical, said that Argentina could not go on “without justice."

The series of demonstrations are for the most part organised via social media channels, though some opposition lawmakers have attended rallies and expressed their support for the protests.

Among those who did attend on Saturday was former security minister Patricia Bullrich, now the leader of former president Mauricio Macri’s PRO party. She posted a picture of herself at the march in downtown Buenos Aires on Twitter, which drew hundreds of protesters. The former Macri administration official was wearing a face mask and was inside a car.

"We express ourselves for the future, for democracy, for the value of merit and because more and more of us think that Argentina is not condemned to impunity or a downward path," she said in a message.

The protest comes with coronavirus infections hitting high daily numbers. On Friday, close to 12 new cases were confirmed, followed by more than 9,000 on Saturday and more than 8,000 on Sunday. To date, the country has recorded more than 620,000 cases, with more than 13,000 fatalities. 

Citizens in Argentina have been under some form of lockdown for more than six months. President Fernández announced on Friday that quarantine measures, which were first put in place on March 20, are to be extended until October 11.

Not all who demonstrated, however, were against the rules put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. One middle-aged protester, Viviana, said she was not “anti-quarantine” but said the situation had gone on too long.

"I am not anti-quarantine, because in fact I am quarantining, but this is beyond me, I am getting sick from being locked up listening every day" to the president, she said angrily.

 

– TIMES/AP/AFP

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