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Tens of thousands of Argentines demonstrate against the Government of Alberto Fernández

Demonstration against the Government of Alberto Fernández at the obelisk of Buenos Aires, on August 17, 2020.Natacha Pisarenko / AP

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in numerous Argentine cities against the Government of Alberto Fernández. The protest, called on social media with the actor Luis Brandoni as the visible head, very specifically rejected the judicial reform, interpreted as a maneuver to ensure the impunity of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in her corruption trials, and also expressed fatigue for a quarantine that is now in its sixth month.

The largest march was held in Buenos Aires on Monday afternoon. Thousands of vehicles blocked 9 de Julio Avenue, honking their horns and waving Argentine flags, while large groups of pedestrians chanted slogans in favor of freedom and against corruption. The participants were almost unanimously voters of Mauricio Macri in the last elections and of anti-Peronist essence, but very few leaders of the political opposition joined the protest. The most notable presence, with Macri on vacation in France, was that of Patricia Bullrich, president of the Republican Proposal. Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, the most powerful opponent due to his position as head of government of the city of Buenos Aires, did not attend and limited himself to begging the protesters to maintain precautionary measures against the pandemic.

There was already a demonstration on July 9 in Buenos Aires, with more recklessness (few masks, no safety distance), a more tense atmosphere and fewer attendees. The protest on Monday, August 17, did protect himself, with rare exceptions, with masks, although the crowds prevented taking distances, and did not leave room for the Government to blame four exalted: there were many, in a peaceful environment.

There were some conspiranoids (one who refused in advance to be vaccinated against covid-19, another who demanded the massive use of chlorine dioxide as therapy, etc.), but the most common shouts and banners were of rejection of the former president and today vice president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, against judicial reform (interpreted as a maneuver to rid the vice president of the most tough judges), against corruption in general, against citizen insecurity and against quarantine, popularly called “quarantine”, which keeps closed thousands of businesses.

The previous protest, on July 9, caused an appreciable spike in infections. The Government used that antecedent to try to cool the call. The Minister of Health, Ginés González García, stated that it was “absolutely unnecessary at a time of risk to expose people for a political idea.” “That each one bears the responsibility that fits him to summon this type of thing”, said the president, Alberto Fernández. Also the deputy head of government of the city of Buenos Aires, Diego Santilli, an opponent, objected to the rallies: “I don’t think the march is convenient,” he said.