South America Blog
About this blog
Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Buenos Aires, Chile, Argentina, and Patagonia. Here he shares his vast knowledge of South America and its people.
- The Papal Cumbia
- The Uruguayan Sacraments: Tango & Mate
- Taxing the Tourist: Argentina's AFIP Aims Low
- Fortress Falklands: A Book Review
- Pope Argentinus I, The Musical: Ragtime Meets Tango
- Credit Where Credit Is Undue?
- ¿Adios Hugo?
- When "No" Is A Positive
- Chile and Its "Crazies"
- The Oscars: A Post Mortem, So to Speak
- Sacrificing the Atacama? A Chilean View of Dakar
- Chilean Oscar Faceoff? "No" v. "Kon-Tiki"
- Friday Digest: Southern Cone Nuggets
- Dancing in the Mud? The Andean Aftermath
- Floods & Mud: Summer Storms Hit the Andes
VIP Pot-Banging? Cacerolazos Continue in Buenos Aires
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 numerous 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.
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 from 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 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. It's worth adding that San Juan is also a Peronist symbol, the city where Juan Domingo Perón's contribution to earthquake relief in 1944 made him a national figure.
The government's dismissal is certainly an 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 safe haven for their savings and investments. And they’re managing to do so despite the “currency clamp” that restricts acquisition and transfer of foreign currency.
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.