Argentina’s July 9 Independence Day celebrations were a sombre affair this year, as the country grapples with ongoing economic uncertainty and social tension surrounding issues like abortion.
The two main events yesterday reflected the polarisation Argentina has experienced for over a decade: On the one hand, an official event with President Mauricio Macri and his allies in Tucumán province. On the other, a festival and protest event organised by anti-Macri left-wing groups in downtown Buenos Aires.
MACRI IN TUCUMÁN
In Tucumán, President Macri was joined by Tucumán Archbishop Carlos Sánchez, Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, provincial governor Juan Manzur, and another 70 national government officials. Two-and-a-half thousand police officers were deployed to Tucumán for the event.
Macri used his speech to call for unity — both political and social — as Argentina faces tough economic times. Specifically, he urged provincial governors to support and work toward securing his government’s 2019 Budget, which the opposition says will harbour harsh austerity demands from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“I especially call on the leaders of this country to continue accompanying [my government], thinking about all Argentines”, he said. “We have promoted regional economies, we haven’t stopped half way. Let’s continue building a fair Argentina”, he added.
Macri spoke briefly about Argentina’s history, surprising many with his emphasis on the role of women.
“We all have a specific image in our head of that July 9: of heroic men who decided to split from Spain. But it’s missing an important part: women. Brave and tenacious, they decided to join the revolution and change history”, Macri declared.
He said Argentina had a “debt” with women that “we can no longer postpone”.
ANTI-IMF, ANTI-MACRI MARCH
In downtown Buenos Aires, opposition groups marched down the 9 de Julio avenue to the Social Development Ministry, where they protested the government’s recent loan deal with the IMF.
“The Fatherland won’t give in” was the slogan for this year’s march, bringing together a number of anti-government groups including those allied to former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, unions, religious groups and human rights organisations including the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo-Founding Line and the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.
Several members of the Renewal Front congressional coalition were also in attendance, including Daniel Arroyo and Felipe Solá.
Solá, a former Buenos Aires province governor, has indicated his intention to run for president in 2019, having rejected former presidential candidate Sergio Massa’s leadership of the Renewal Front, a centrist Peronist movement.