Hernan Etchaleco: New riots in Argentina

Again, spontaneous protests stormed Buenos Aires Thursday night, after Government’s decision to further freeze savings accounts. The pacific demonstration which congregated around 10.000 citizens in the main squares of the city, turned violent later as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to demonstrators.

As happened before the resignation of former President De la Rua, people started leaving their homes beating pots, pans to get together on the main corners of the different city’s neighborhoods. Then, people walked down to the center of the city and moved towards the House of Government, which was under a strong police custody.

The crowd blamed on the Peso devaluation and claimed for the resignation of each and every member of the Supreme Court of Justice, whom released former President Carlos Menem from his House arrest two months ago. President Eduardo Duhalde was another target of the protestors, as well; everybody cried: “I did not vote for him” and claimed for immediate elections.

Late night, small groups of demonstrators left the House of Government area and attacked several bank branches. Spanish and American financial institutions were the preferred targets of rioters.

On Friday, banks finally opened their gates to the people, as well as foreign exchange markets. The center of Buenos Aires looked overcrowded with people trying to withdraw savings despite the restrictions, and trading foreign currencies in the black market. By the end of the day, the Peso remained at 1.75 to the Us Dollar.

It also became known that some Wall Street analysts are warning the currency’s value may indeed plummet quickly. International investment bank JP Morgan expects the Peso to depreciate to 2.70 by December 2002.

Many Argentinians expect very hard times this year, as memories of hyperinflation remain fresh in their heads. President Duhalde is working on a fixed prices program to prevent this situation, but today’s Argentina does not let anybody to forecast results.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

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