Relatives of those who lost their lives to Covid-19 staged a march in Buenos Aires on Monday, with many angrily protesting in the wake of revelations that President Alberto Fernández and First Lady Fabiola Yáñez held a birthday party last year when social gatherings were prohibited.
The so-called ‘Marcha de las Piedras’ (‘March of the Stones’) rally took place at two main locations in Buenos Aires, with demonstrators rallying while stones bearing the names of their relatives who had lost their lives to Covid-19. In a symbolic attribution of responsibility, the protesters left the stones outside the Casa Rosada and the Olivos presidential residence, where Fernández and Yáñez staged last year’s illegal celebration.
At the end of the rally, the stones were gathered up the government. Who said they would be “properly stored” until being used in the deployment of a memorial marking the more than 100,000 lives lost to Covid-19.
"I came to bring stones for my niece, 31, and her uncle, 58. The president does what he wants while we obeyed [the restrictions]. Here we are and our relatives are there," said Miriam Deleppe, as she rallied in the Plaza de Mayo, in front of Government House.
The rally, which was planned before the party revelations broke, gained extra support in the wake of the scandal.
"We carried on doing what the president asked for and he did the opposite of what had to be done. And that prompts anger, repudiation and silence. I think things are paid for and at some point they will foot the bill," said Raquel Corts, another protester, as she left a stone in front of the Casa Rosada.
Verónica Mansilla, a teacher, brought dozens of stones with him. He’d been asked to bring them, he said, by others who could not risk it.
"I brought the stone for five relatives and neighbours, and I volunteered for this march. This week I added 70 more stones, which I brought with me today and I have already deposited them here," he said.
A total of 109,105 people have died and more than five million have contracted Covid-19 in Argentina since the start of the pandemic, according to official figures on Monday.