For the past 2 weeks, people have staged massive protests throughout the country´s rural areas. Citizens have acted in response to newly elected president Christina Kirschner's economic decision to raise the export tax on Argentinian meat and grains. Christina would like to keep commodity prices affordable for Argentinians. In order to do this she has chosen to raise the taxes for those farmers and ranchers who choose to export their commodities. By doing this, she has made it impossible for Argentina´s small-scale farmers and ranchers to make a viable living by doing what they do.
At this moment there is a huge movement to end the nationalization of these sorts of these industries. Over the last 2 weeks, farmers and ranchers have held massive protests through out the country. They have effectivly set up road blockades in order to stop trucks that are bringing goods into Buenos Aires. Their production has nearly slowed to a stand-still. Producers are dumping their meat and grains out in a refusal to sell them until Christina reverses her decision.
The protest has been widely sucessful, as sortages of meats and dairy products are apparent through out the country. In Buenos Aires, nearly all of the meat-shops have had to close because of their lack of supply. Wherever you can get meat, it is not worth buying it because it is so expensive.
Residents of Buenos Aires have largly taken the side of the farmers and ranchers. They are not only in support of them, people have a ferocious contempt for Christina´s failed policies. On Tuesday night the sentiments of the masses culminated into a near-riot through out the city. In a flurry, Christina put together a sub-par speech in which she claimed that she was governing for "all of Argentina". She confirmed her stance that she will NEVER give in to "extortion".
Christina´s speech only served to inferiorate people more. By 12:00 am the entire city was erupt with rhythmically sounding car-horns, old women who were leaning out their windows banging on pots and pans and entire crowds of people that slowly grew as they congergated in the center of the city, Plaza de Mayo.
I filmed the video below during the early hours of Tuesday evening, before Christina gave her speech. I watched protest grow as a constant stream of people arrived into the plaza, all banging pots and pans. At the same time, a group of youth from a rural part of the Buenos Aires province also arrived and swarmed themselves into the crowd. As stated, I left before the plaza ¨blew up¨with angry citizens. What follows is a clip of the protests as they were just begining.
The farmers and ranchers have drawn support from a wide range of social classes, both urban and rural. The pricipal demonstrators in Tuesday´s protest were largly business-suit men and women who arrived after finishing work downtown. A friend described to me the emblematic sight that he saw of a businessman without a pot-top and pan to bang who instead chose to bang his leather brief-case against the riot-fence in Plaza de Mayo in order to make noise. Also within the crowd were young students, neo-nazi sympathizers, entire families, infentile children, and citizen-journalists like me, who captured the events with shaky hand-held cameras.
Since Tuesday evening, protests have continued, but on a smaller-scale and under the front of groups with more paticular causes, such as "La Liberation del Sur", which held a protest in the plaza on Thursday afternoon which attracted two to three thousand people. Outside of the city, in Provinces such as Jujuy, Entre Rios, Cordoba, picketers continue to blockade roadways in order to prevent the shipment of meat and grains. On Thursday afternoon, Cristina appeared to be more symapthetic to the cause of the demonstrators. Also, meetings between Cristina´s government and union members also began again.
Protests in Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Tuesday, March 26 2008-Still interested in what is happening in Argentina? Here are some links of professional reports from newspapers and magazines:
-(ok i am currently working on the blog, will post these in a few hours)