Tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets nationwide and in smaller groups around the globe last Thursday to protest the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In the last several months, demonstrations like this have become increasingly common: a similar protest in September drew around 200,000 angry Buenos Aires residents out of their homes, armed with pots and pans in a so-called cacerolazo, clamoring and banging their utensils to express their dissatisfaction with the current administration.
Although Fernández de Kirchner was elected with 54 percent of the vote just a year ago, her approval ratings have since fallen to little over 31 percent. The issues moving people into the squares are numerous. The public’s concern over insecurity, inflation, government corruption, and rumors of constitutional reform to facilitate a third term for the president in 2015 are some of the most important grievances.
"We don't want a Chávez who is in power for thirty years. Cristina needs to respect the constitution," says German Levisman, a 29-year-old pharmacist who is worried about the prospect of a third term for Fernández de Kirchner and angered by the government’s policies. "Something that's worth five pesos will increase in price by one peso in a few months. I can't possibly save any money for a house of my own. Meanwhile, government officials buy themselves luxury apartments in the business district. And they have the audacity to call hardworking people 'oligarchs' and 'bad persons?' They are the real bad guys!"
The president has refrained from a direct response to Thursday’s mass protest, which was mobilized mostly via social networks. Fernández de Kirchner did allude to the protest indirectly, referring to participants as "provocative people" who “want to return to the ultra-conservative regime".
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.