Thousands gathered in cities across the country to protest against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her government last night.
A similar cacerolazo (from cacerola – pot which people symbolically bang on to indicate their discontent) had taken place last month, on 13thSeptember, but last night’s, with a participation of 70,000 to 700,000 people depending on sources, was larger.
“What the Argentine people did [yesterday] they should be proud of. […] The message was for the President who is the one that has to change,” said Mauricio Macri, governor of the city of Buenos Aires and member of the opposition party Propuesta Republicana (PRO) on the radio program Primera Mañana.
“I didn’t lose any sleep over the protest last night and I won’t lose any sleep over it today,” Senator Aníbal Fernández from President Fernández’s Frente Para la Victoria (FPV) defiantly told Radio Mitre this morning.
The recurring themes during both protests were insecurity, corruption, freedom of expression, and opposition to constitutional reform. Argentines opposed to the government fear that President Fernández and her party will push for a constitutional reform that would allow her to run for a third consecutive term, which is forbidden under the current constitution. President Fernández however has never said a reform was in her plans or expressed the wish to run again for the presidency.
The organisation of the protest mainly took place over the internet via social networking platforms with the tag 8N (for 8th November). Although the PRO party was the most largely represented, protesters united against the current government rather than in favour of any specific party. This is the result of an increasing polarisation in Argentine society between pro or anti-government groups and while the opposition count with the support of large parts of the private media they have no formal political representation.
A majority of those present were from the middle and upper classes of Argentine society who have felt most threatened by the current government’s fiscal and political reforms. Protests even sprung up in capitals across the world in countries with large Argentine expat communities. Protesters in front of embassies in Paris, Madrid, and Sydney will have been particularly hardly hit by the recent monetary reforms that have made it harder to send money out of Argentina.