Hernan Etchaleco: Wave of lootings in Argentina

Hundreds of Argentineans are looting supermarkets, retail and wholesale shops all along the country in a wave started Tuesday night. In the meantime, the Government asked the population to keep calmed in view of the riots registered in the suburbs of Buenos Aires as well as in the main cities, Reuters reports.

Lootings are being carried on by unemployed groups whom are taking everything they can from stores, but mainly food and clothes. One of the most dramatic episodes happened in Ciudadela, a town near Buenos Aires, were 600 demonstrators cleaned up a wholesale market during two hours until police arrived.

In Cordoba, the second city of the country in terms of population, presumable City Hall employees broke into the Palace burning some offices and destroying furniture and windows. They claimed against cuts in the city budget for 2002.

Meanwhile, fearing new attacks, shops in the downtown of Buenos Aires started to close down early in the morning while several Majors decreed “Social emergency” on their respective jurisdictions. Late in the afternoon, the Government announced a program to deliver 7 million US Dollars in food to assist people necessities, but it does not appear to calm demonstrators.

Pablo Baylac, President spokesman denounced presence of activists within the looters, but also expressed that the situation is a consequence of the economical crisis affecting the country for more than four years. In turn, Pope Juan Pablo II prayed today for “The reconciliation and reciprocal understanding between Argentineans”.

A similar wave of lootings precipitated the end of the democratic government of Raъl Alfonsin, radical as well as De la Rua in 1989, six month earlier than its legal deadline. Peronist Carlos Menem followed him in power until 1999, when current President took over after his victory in the elections of the same year.

President De la Rua decreed the martial law within the national territory as a consequence of the civil commotion arising out from the wave of loots of Wednesday, after an emergency meeting held in the House of Government. The situation remained uncertain in the Capital, while the people were rapidly returning to their homes from their works.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

Photo: DyN

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