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Tuesday 18 December 2018

Argentines plan anti-Kirchner march

President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is facing large-scale protests
President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is facing large-scale protests

Thousands of Argentines are using social networks to mobilise a huge march against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in 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 Ms Fernandez will try to hold on to power indefinitely by ending constitutional term limits, the protesters plan to march on the famous obelisk in the capital Buenos Aires .

Protests are also planned in plazas nationwide and outside Argentinian embassies and consulates around the world.

The protests, called "cacerolazos" or casserole pots, hold deep symbolism for Argentines, who recall the country's economic debacle of a decade ago. The "throw them all out" chants of that era's marches forced presidents from office and left Argentina practically ungovernable until Ms Fernandez's late husband, Nestor Kirchner, assumed the presidency in 2003.

The current president's supporters sought to ignore two earlier cacerolazos this year, but with the latest effort promising to turn out huge numbers, her loyalists have come out in force.

They dismiss the protesters as part of a wealthy elite, or beholden to discredited opposition parties, and misled by news coverage from media companies representing the country's most powerful economic interests.

Ms Fernandez has suggested that too much of Argentina's political rhetoric masks darker motivations that few want to openly express.

"No more lying," she said in a speech on Wednesday. "It's all that I ask of all the Argentines, that we speak with the truth. And if you don't like the government because of its human rights policies, say it's because of human rights; if you don't like the government because those who used to be poor and you could hire them for nothing, and now you can't, that you say as well."

Polls suggest neither side has a firm grip on people's sympathies.

Ms Fernandez was re-elected by a landslide 54% over a divided opposition just a year ago but she saw her approval rating fall to 31% in a nationwide survey in September by the firm Management & Fit. The survey of 2,259 people also said 65% of respondents disapproved of her opponents' performance.

Press Association

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