Pro­test­ers defy virus mea­sures in Ar­gentina

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - BUENOS AIRES -REUTERS

Thou­sands of op­po­si­tion demon­stra­tors took to the streets in cities across Ar­gentina on Mon­day to protest against Pres­i­dent Al­berto Fer­nan­dez and his plans to ex­tend con­fine­ment mea­sures against the virus.

Demon­stra­tors de­fied so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules to an­swer calls to protest against a govern­ment an­nounce­ment last Fri­day to ex­tend con­tain­ment mea­sures in the Buenos Aires re­gion un­til Au­gust 30.

The cap­i­tal is home to 90 per­cent of the coun­try's grow­ing coro­n­avirus caseload. Demon­stra­tors shout­ing "free­dom, free­dom" gath­ered around the land­mark Obelisk in cen­tral

Buenos Aires, wav­ing Ar­gen­tine flags and chant­ing anti-govern­ment slo­gans.

Demon­stra­tors also protested against Fer­nan­dez's planned ju­di­cial re­form to ex­pand the num­ber of fed­eral courts in an ef­fort to di­lute the in­flu­ence of judges sus­pected of mak­ing po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated de­ci­sions. The protests in Buenos Aires and other main cities took place de­spite a re­cent eas­ing of re­stric­tions, even as the coun­try bat­tles a steady rise in in­fec­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est health fig­ures, Ar­gentina has recorded nearly 300,000 in­fec­tions and 5,750 deaths from the coro­n­avirus, while re­port­ing more than 5,000 new cases a day for the past week.

Ear­lier Fer­nan­dez, whose ju­di­cial re­form plans were a key part of his elec­tion cam­paign, called for unity in a speech com­mem­o­rat­ing Ar­gen­tine rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader Jose de San Martin. "We have lived a unique mo­ment of hu­man­ity, not just in Ar­gentina, where a pan­demic is be­sieg­ing us, in­fect­ing us, sick­en­ing us, killing us," he said.

The task ahead was to re­build a coun­try that has been "eco­nom­i­cally an­ni­hi­lated," by the for­mer cen­ter-right govern­ment of his pre­de­ces­sor Mauri­cio Macri. "They have left be­hind an im­pres­sive amount of debt, they have con­di­tioned the fu­ture of many gen­er­a­tions and they have plunged more than 40pc of Ar­gen­tines into poverty," Fer­nan­dez said.

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