17 June 2008

Cacerolazo, and then?

I had a tiring, satisfactory long weekend. Friday night, Marisa and I went to see a series of five episodes filmed by a local producer. On Saturday, I attended the unveiling of Che Guevara's statue (Marisa stayed home because she wasn't feeling well). Sunday was Father's Day, so we went to my place to have lunch with my parents, then we left for a recital that served as the closing for Guevara's 80th birthday celebrations, and after that, we marched on to Marisa's folks' home to have dinner with her parents and the families of her brother and one of her cousins. Monday morning, we woke up early to do an architectonic photo tour downtown; right after noon I left for a friend's house to have an asado.

I was still there when, at 5:30 PM, I received a mass SMS calling people to turn off the lights for 15 minutes at 8 PM and then start a cacerolazo against the government. I didn't pay attention to it. I was too tired to think of protesting anything, I was stuffed full and it was cold. Besides, I didn't think anybody would attend. I got back home at around 7 PM, and one hour later I was proven terribly wrong.

I was exhilarated. On edge. Finally! I only wished I could've been there. People were banging pots and pans or honking their horns or simply out on the streets singing or waving flags, disorganized but not incoherent. Thousands (some say 10,000, some say 40,000 or more) in Rosario around the Flag Memorial, many thousands also in several parts of Córdoba City, thousands in Buenos Aires near the Obelisk and also in Olivos, in front of the presidential residence, where the previous night a small group of demonstrators had been forced to leave by a group of government-paid thugs. And in La Plata, Posadas, Catamarca, Santa Cruz, San Rafael and Mendoza City, Chaco, in the larger cities and the towns of the deep countryside and even the places dominated by Kirchnerist administrations. Some were asking for the President to leave; most demanded that she act — do what must be done to put the country back on track, and send the First Gentleman back to where he belongs.

The hardcore Kirchnerists are in the latest stages of paranoia and denial, seeing coups and destabilization and conspiracies everywhere. Luis D'Elía even called people to take up arms in defence of the government. But the rest of the K people are cautiously stepping back from the mad leader.

Yesterday, vice-president Julio Cobos asked for Congress to intervene and discuss, exactly what should've been done to begin with, and just the kind of consensus-based, non-coercive process Néstor K abhors. Several loyal governors suddenly announced they wouldn't attend the government rally planned for Wednesday at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Many long-time Peronists showed their disgust for D'Elía's manners. The K Radicals supported their leader, the vice-president. Here in Santa Fe, governor Hermes Binner put it succintly: "This way of governing is coming to an end."

Today the President broadcast one more of her venom-filled speeches, comparing the downfall of Perón in 1955 to what is supposedly being done to her..., and then, she said that, just to please the ungrateful and the ever-discontent and show her respect for the law, she would submit the export taxes to the approval of Congress. It took her 45 minutes of badly doctored speech to acknowledge that she'd been forced to take a step back.

Now Kirchnerism has an automatic majority in Congress. But it's not the monolithic front it used to be. Even if the retenciones pass the legislative filter, it will cost (we hope) several politicians their post in the near future. You'll have to think for yourself and decide, ladies and gentlemen — and then face the consequences when you go back home to your constituencies asking for their vote.


  1. I'm glad to find some basic descriptions, in English, of the current situation; we are temporarily living in BA, and had a general idea of what was going on. Thanks. I've posted a link on my blog to help explain to folks back home.

  2. Well written my friend. I was just about to tell our friends not to fly down from the states this weekend. After hearing D'Elia I thought it wouldn't be safe.

    It appears Argentina was taken right up to the cliff before the K's blinked.

    We'll see were it goes from here.



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