Protests initiated last week by provincial police officers over their wages eased in several provinces throughout the weekend but problems of unrest remain unresolved in some districts such as Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, Santa Fe, Chaco, Tucumán, La Pampa, and Chubut. Latest reports also mention disturbances in the northern provinces of Misiones and Jujuy.
Protests erupted in Córdoba on Tuesday and spread to various other cities in the country. Police officers went on strike to demand higher wages and on Wednesday officers and the provincial government reached a preliminary agreement.
While tensions have eased in Córdoba, on Sunday Buenos Aires police officers from La Plata and Mar del Plata organised a protest with their relatives to also demand wage increases. In Santa Fe, police officers were also joined by their family members today in protest in front of the provincial government building. Protests were also held in the southern provinces of Neuquén and Río Negro, although a preliminary deal on new salary arrangements have apparently been reached.
Security Minister María Cecilia Rodríguez, who was sworn in last week, talked to newspaper Página 12 about the ongoing protests and stated: “This is clearly a wage problem triggered by a negotiation in Córdoba that repeated itself in other provinces.”
In Rosario, province of Santa Fe, retired policemen continued to protest throughout the weekend in front of the police regional headquarters. They form part of the group Apropol Organisation and publicly oppose the policies of governor Antonio Bonfatti. On Saturday, five motorcycles were stolen after a shopping centre was looted and robbed. According to La Nación, on the same evening, armed men and women attacked a clothing store and cleaned it out.
Bonfatti made a request to the national government to deploy federal security forces to control the situation. The government therefore sent border guards and coast guards as a preventative measure to the spreading violence. Ttoday, security secretary Sergio Berni, in an interview with news agency Télam, stated: “The situation [looting and violence] seems under control… we are waiting for the police to resume their work.”
In the town of Concordia, Entre Ríos, shops were attacked throughout Sunday night and terrified residents remained indoors to avoid the violence, with one person comparing the unrest to “scenes of war.” One person who was believed to be taking part in the looting was electrocuted and died. The national government also sent reinforces to the province, after a request from governor Sergio Urribarri.
Meanwhile, Chief of Cabinet Jorge Capitanich addressed the role the government has been playing to stabilise the situation, saying they are “monitoring the situation in each Argentine province, with each provincial government and with each one in charge to generate mechanisms of social and civic protection,” referring to the intervention of the gendarmerie, prefecture, and federal police forces in certain areas of the country.
He also called for peace and calm in the affected areas asking for the return of “social peace, harmony, and cohabitation.” According to the chief of cabinet, there is a wage negotiation agenda for 2014 in the pipeline and he has also asked for the judiciary bodies to address the acts of vandalism and violent disturbances.
At a press conference this morning in the Casa Rosada, Capitanich stated that he has spoken to various governors across the country where problems erupted and they all “agreed the police protests had a similar modus operandi.”