Argentina: indignados occupy Buenos Aires

Hundreds of thousands of indignados—”indignant ones,” as econo-protesters call themselves in Spain and Argentina—filled the streets of Buenos Aires and other cities in the South American country Nov. 8 to protest the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The main focal point was the capital’s iconic Obelisk Plaza, which was occupied by multitudes beating on pots and pans (cacerlazo), and chanting “We are not afraid!” Protesters opposed rising prices, corruption, and a proposed constitutional reform many fear will allow Fernández to hold onto power indefinitely by ending term limits. By popular consensus, the only banner at the protests was the national flag—to emphasize that it was an action of Argentines and not political parties.

The protest came a day after a massive blackout plunged much of Buenos Aires into darkness amid a heat wave, halting subway lines and leaving commuters stranded. The timing of the blackout led to widespread rumors that it was intentional sabotage by power company Edesur to undercut the planned protest mobilization. The government has pledged an investigation into the power outage. (El Confidencial, Madrid, Nov. 9; AP, Nov. 9; FT, El Intransigente, Tucumán, Nov. 8; World War 4 Report sources)

The blackout came a week after flooding from unusually heavy rains caused over 1,000 to evacuate their homes in the capital, as well as causing sporadic power cuts and halting subway lines. The floods also severely delayed soy planting in Argentina, at a time when consumer nations such as China are counting on the country to help control soaring prices by replenishing supplies. Global grain prices are already inflated by the crippling drought in the US over the North American summer this year. (AP, Oct. 29; Reuters, Oct. 25)