Hundreds of thousands of protestors, probably a million according to some estimates, took to the streets of Buenos Aires on Thursday evening to hold the 8N pot-banging demonstration against the administration of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.
Similar gatherings took place in the Greater Buenos Aires and other major Argentine cities as well as in tens of overseas cities in front of Argentine embassies and consulates, as confirmed by the social networks and twitters.
In Buenos Aires the concentration point was the Obelisk and the wide 9 de Julio Avenue, probably the widest in the world, which was tight-packed with the numerous columns (19) reaching out to other emblematic areas of the Argentine capital.
The build up of the march via internet major social networks, Facebook, Twitter, with minimum political organization, evolved with no incidents and with a huge display of Argentine flags and protest signs calling for the defence of democracy and institutions, demanding less inflation, less crime, less arrogance, uprooting corruption, an end to the dollar clamp and no more re-re-elections.
The march, which has been described as popular and impulsive to a mere ploy by the opposition, according to opposite ends of the political spectrum had already had its first protests set in front of the Argentine Consulate in Australia by expats living in the Oceania.
Social networks also contributed largely to the overseas set up summoning pot-banging in front of Argentine embassies and consulates in Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt, Bonn, Hamburg); Austria; Bolivia, Brazil (Río de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte); Canada (Toronto, Montreal); Chile (Santiago, Valparaíso); China; Colombia; Costa Rica; England; France; Israel (Tel aviv, Hertzlia Pituah, Migdal Haemek); Italy (Roma, Milan, Padova); Japan, Mexico; Norway; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia); South Africa; Sweden; Switzerland; Netherlands (Hague, Amsterdam); Uruguay (Montevideo, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Colonia); US (Washington DC, Miami, New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston) and even in Venezuela, Cristina Fernandez closest ally.
Likewise an estimated 20.000 gathered next to the presidential residence in suburban Olivos, where President Cristina Fernandez was staying and banged pots and pans for almost three hours, before dissolving peacefully.
The unprecedented outpour to the streets to protest, probably the strongest blow the Cristina Fernandez administration has received, overwhelmed the previous 13 September march and surprised organizers and the government. Another surprise was the fact that some of the columns that concentrated at the Obelisk came from the south of the city, traditionally the workers neighbourhoods, politically faithful to the government.
Earlier in the afternoon President Cristina Fernandez evoked her late husband, Nestor Kirchner and criticized without mentioning it, the 8N demonstration and pledging to never give up.
After enumerating a long list of achievements in the ‘won’ decade, the President said despite adverse situations such as the struggle with the farmers, or the electoral defeat in 2009, Nestor Kirchner never gave up or run away but also admitted defeat, and kept on fighting lifting his head even higher.
“And that is what he taught me: never give up, not even in the worst moments, because that is when you calibre true leaders” she emphasized.
Addressing the Argentine-Chile ministerial meeting, as well as diplomats, governors, members of Congress and top officials, (who on this occasion were not enthusiastic about a family picture), the President insisted that “the last decade has been a successful decade for the region, because we have gained in inclusion, in growth, in development and we have been able to overcome that thing that made incompatible economic growth with social inclusion”.
However the build up to 8N was not without crossed accusations and claims of other interests involved. From government lines the opposition and the media were targeted as responsible for the protest, but the opposition said it was clearly a people’s organized march with “no political colours or identification”.
The government’s sharp tongue and former cabinet chief, Senator Anibal Fernandez did not spare comments: “I have no doubt that the mobilization is an invention of the paid extreme-right wing, although there are people who want to march because there are things they do not like.”
Government supporter Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayor president Estela Barnes de Carlotto said “The protest is not useful for anyone, because it lacks a petition with proposals, (although) I don’t dispute it, because it’s a constitutional right.”
From his twitter Buenos Aires city mayor Mauricio Macri said “people are making themselves heard in all the country under an only flag”.
Member of Congress Francisco de Narvaez said “people are demanding from the government and from opposition: we want the real problems to be solved”.
Ricardo Alfonsin from the leading opposition group twitted: “8N: my respects and commitment. We Argentines don’t tolerate any more lies, bullying, authoritarianism or arrogance”.
The march was also spurred in Buenos Aires by Wednesday’s blackout which left the city with no power for hours and with scarce drinking water, a situation that persisted in some neighbourhoods early Thursday.
The blackout which the government is considering could have been “intentional”, and is investigating, but could also be the result of a consumption peak consequence of the heat wave, occurred a week after a similar situation when the Argentine capital services collapsed with torrential rains and flash floods.
“Somebody could have turned the lights off; we are investigating” said Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido, who only a month ago pledged that the government had taken all necessary precautions to avoid mayor blackouts of brownouts this summer.