BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Thousands of people are using social networks to mobilize a huge march Thursday night against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, organizing what they hope will be the country’s biggest anti-government protest in more than a decade.
Angered by rising inflation, violent crime and high-profile corruption, and afraid Fernandez will try to hold onto power indefinitely by ending constitutional term limits, the protesters plan to bang pots and march on the iconic obelisk in Argentina’s capital. Protests also are planned in plazas nationwide and outside Argentine embassies and consulates around the world.
The protests, called “cacerolazos,” or casserole pots, hold deep symbolism for Argentines, who recall all too well the country’s economic debacle of a decade ago. The “throw them all out” chants of that era’s pot-banging marches forced presidents from office and left Argentina practically ungovernable until Fernandez’s late husband, Nestor Kirchner, assumed the presidency in 2003.
Argentina’s opposition parties remain weak and balkanized and face a credibility crisis, having lost control of Congress and nearly every other institution capable of restraining the government. Instead, much of the opposition has coalesced around social media sites created by Torres and attorney Marcelo Moran, who insist they aren’t affiliated with any political organization. The eight sites and accounts they manage claim more than 200,000 followers.
Torres dismissed most opposition politicians as having lost touch with Argentines, and said she expected some of them to try to piggyback on the marches.
March organizers aren’t the only ones spreading their opinions through social networks.
Writer Ivy Cangaro and business consultant Juan Carlos Romero launched a counter-campaign, “8-N I won’t go,” which has more than 27,000 followers. They too say they don’t belong to any particular political platform, but support Fernandez.
Cangaro said the march is misguided. “The premises are false and have been imposed by the media through fear. The people assume it’s real and so feel the need to go out and protest against it, but it has nothing to do with what’s real and tangible.”