Argentines stage huge anti-government protests


Buenos Aires: Hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets in different parts of the country to protest President Cristina Fernandez’s policies.

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Marchers gathered Thursday at the Obelisk of Buenos Aires, a city icon and epicenter of the protests in this capital, chanting slogans accusing Fernandez of lying to the people.

One large group, which made its way along the street by the blowing of horns and banging of pots and tambourines, arrived at that landmark carrying a massive, 200-meter-long flag.

Although official figures on the number of demonstrators have not yet been released, local media put the total at hundreds of thousands of people.

The protests lasted just over two hours in most of the country. In Buenos Aires a group of people made their way from the Obelisk to the emblematic Plaza de Mayo square outside the presidential palace.

The demonstrations took place peacefully nationwide except for a few isolated incidents.

As in a previous nationwide protest Sep 13, marchers demanded greater public safety amid constant media reports about violent home robberies and other crimes, respect for freedom of the press and an independent judiciary.

They also denounced high inflation, the government’s currency controls and a possible constitutional amendment that would allow Fernandez to run for a third term in 2015.

Huge protests also were held Thursday night in cities in the country’s interior such as Cordoba, Salta, Rosario, Tucuman, Mendoza, Santa Fe, La Plata and San Carlos de Bariloche.

Government supporters, meanwhile, denounced the marches as an attempt by the opposition to destabilize the government.

Fernandez, for her part, hailed Argentina’s “total democracy” Thursday and urged opposition leaders to reveal their true intentions.

The president, whose late husband and predecessor Nestor Kirchner came to power in 2003 amid one of the worst economic and social crises in the country’s history, was first elected in October 2007 and then won a second term in a landslide last year.

But her approval rating has plunged over the past 12 months, according to the latest survey by private consulting firm Management & Fit.