Friday, April 19, 2013

Argentinians rally against Fernández government

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Thousands march against corruption and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's plans to overhaul judiciary

A giant wave of peaceful protesters took to the streets of Argentina, banging spoons against kitchen pots, in a rally that attracted even larger crowds than a similar mass demonstration in November against corruption, inflation and insecurity under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Huge crowds carried flags and banners through the capital, Buenos Aires, proclaiming "Freedom" and "Corruption Kills". Similar demonstrations were seen in other cities.

Yet as the protest peaked, the president, en route to Venezuela for the inauguration of Nicolás Maduro, ignored the proceedings and instead tweeted about her age. "Yes, I'm stubborn, and plus I am old, but it's actually lucky to reach old age isn't it?" the 60-year-old wrote.

The massive turnout for the rally, organised via Facebook and Twitter, was fuelled by anger against judicial overhaul being pushed through Congress that could give the government virtual control of the courts.

The Fernández administration has also been shaken in recent days by allegations that businessmen laundered tens of millions of euros obtained from public work contracts through offshore accounts.

Critics say the legal moves are designed to prevent investigations into corruption and reverse a series of rulings against the government's attempt to dismember the Clarín media empire, which has been a staunch critic.

On Thursday, Fernández criticised a court that declared unconstitutional essential parts of an overhaul of the press that would force Clarín to sell a large part of its cable assets.

"It left me speechless, I thought there would be more decorum," she said, accusing the judges of "ruling in favour of those who pay for their trips and who knows what else", and repeating claims from her government that some of them had received favours from the media titan.

Clarín has since hit back with a media campaign stating: "She has no limits, do you?"

The changes to the courts system proposes that judges be elected in Argentina's general elections on political party tickets, something critics say will make them subservient to political interests and reduces the power of the supreme court. Given the president's majority in Congress, it is likely the proposals will be made law before the end of the month. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Warren Murray, Matthew Weaver, Paul Owen 19 Apr, 2013

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