Thousands of protesters descended on downtown Buenos Aires on Monday afternoon, as anti-government demonstrators took to the streets across Argentina.
‘For the economy, health, education and the freedom of Argentines’ was the main rallying call for the ‘12O Banderazo’ – the latest in a series of ongoing protests expressing anger at President Alberto Fernández's government that have taken place during the coronavirus quarantine.
Posters carrying slogans such as ‘No to judicial reform’ and ‘Enough with impunity’ could be seen at the protests, with the largest formations seen in the capital, in parts of Greater Buenos Aires and in major cities such as Córdoba, Mendoza, Rosario, Salta, Mar del Plata and San Miguel de Tucumán.
The demonstration in Buenos Aires City began at 4pm, when hundreds of people carrying Argentine flags began to congregate on Avenida 9 de Julio, before gathering at the capital’s famous Obelisk. Soon cars began joining the rally, with traffic stretching down the city’s main avenues. Blue-and-white balloons were released into the sky, while those rallying sung the national anthem.
On the outskirts of the capital, demonstrators also rallied outside the Olivos presidential residence with Peronist supporters soon forming a counter-demonstration. Large congregations were also seen at key intersections in the capital, including Cabildo and Juramento in Belgrano, among others.
One of the most controversial rallies took place in Recoleta, outside the home of Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – an act that was denounced by government officials beforehand. Members of the ruling Frente de Todos coalition also criticised media outlets who publicised the rally outside Fernández de Kirchner’s home in their newspapers, saying it was inappropriate to put out the former president’s address.
Prior to the rally, President Fernández expressed his displeasure at the targeting of an individuals’ private residence in a post on Twitter.
"Disagreeing with a government is part of democracy. Mobilising, even with the risk that it implies in a pandemic, too. But promoting a call for a protest at a person's home only encourages the grieta and damages that democratic coexistence," he said, referencing Argentina’s stark political polarisation.
A host of political leaders – most from the more outspoken, hardline wing of the Juntos por el Cambio opposition coalition – publicised the rally and joined demonstrators on the streets, including national lawmakers Fernando Iglesias and Waldo Wolff, as well as the head of the former president Mauricio Macri’s PRO party, Patricia Bullrich.
Among those who were quoted at the event was the former head of public media under the 2015-2019 Macri administration, Hernán Lombardi.
He called on the government to move “towards the agenda of the people and leave the agenda of the vice-president," criticising Fernández de Kirchner, a former two-term president.
"We have so many economic and health problems that we have come to tell you [the government] peacefully [of them]," he said, speaking near the Obelisk.
Local news agencies reported that the biggest gatherings were in Buenos Aires City and Córdoba, where much of the anger was said to be focused on the length lockdown imposed to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in Argentina.