It’s been a wild week in Buenos Aires, as a second major middle-class cacerolazo (pot-banging demonstration) followed on the heels of the protest I described a couple weeks ago. This one, according to published accounts, used online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to get people out of their houses and marching toward the Plaza de Mayo, popularly known as the “Plaza de Protestas,” opposite the Casa Rosada presidential palace. It’s usually the working-class Peronist throngs who demonstrate here, but this crowd was different, as the video below suggests (while also giving an idea of the noise factor).
My wife María Laura, still in Buenos Aires, wrote me Thursday night that “Our neighborhood is an inferno!” because of the cacophony. She didn’t know quite what to make of them since, as I said in my earlier post, some protestors appeared to have superficial reasons for their participation. She said most of the current protestors seemed upset at their inability to purchase dollars for travel abroad. From the accounts I read in various Argentine sources, I replied, issues such as bogus inflation statistics, crime and amending the constitution to permit president Cristina Fernández another term appeared at least equally important.
An article in Bloomberg News summarizes the protests well, and suggests that the issues are not likely to go away any time soon. There are likely to be further cacerolazos, perhaps I when I return to the city (very tentatively) in November. According to my wife’s account, “[I]n our neighborhood people do it from the anonymity of their homes. They turn the lights off and open the windows. But it was mostly car horns and a big bullhorn that was deafening.”
A government spokesman, meanwhile, dismissed the protestors as “more concerned about what happens in Miami than in San Juan,” the western provincial capital where the president was speaking that same night. That’s a gross oversimplification, but perhaps not a total fabrication: according to The New York Times, "Argentines have quietly passed Brazilians to become the most active group from Latin America buying Miami real estate," which they view as a haven for their savings. And they're managing to do so despite the "currency clamp" that restricts their acquisition and transfer of foreign currency.
Tango by the River
As announced earlier, I will give a digital slide lecture on Buenos Aires at Tango by the River in Sacramento, next Friday, September 21st, at 6 p.m.
Limited to a maximum of 50 people, the event will also include tango performances; admission costs $10 at the door, or $8 in advance. I have spoken here several times before, and we always sell out, so plan in advance. Signed copies of my Moon Handbooks on Argentina, Buenos Aires, Chile and Patagonia will be available at discount prices.