Argentines Protest President Fernandez's Economic Policies Amid Rising Inflation

 @crvillarreal
on September 14 2012 1:08 PM
Argentine Protest
Protesters shout slogans against the Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in front of the Piramide de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Reuters

Thousands of Argentines, in their distinct fashion of publicly airing grievances, marched in Buenos Aires Thursday night banging pots in protest of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her handling of the economy amid rising inflation.

Fernandez has been criticized for implementing populist polices at the expense of the upper and middle classes and tightening controls over the economy.

"People are fed up with the government's aggressive policies, the authoritarianism and the fact that it's ignoring people's problems, such as inflation," opposition lawmaker Eduardo Amadeo recently told the Bloomberg news agency.

With inflation soaring over 25 percent a year, many Argentines have attempted to exchange their depreciating pesos for dollars, but Fernandez has implemented strict currency exchange controls to prevent this and keep money circulating within the stagnating economy.

Argentina's GDP is projected to grow only 2.2 percent in 2012, down from 8.9 percent in 2011, according to the World Bank.

Fernandez's administration has reported the official inflation rate at around 9.2 percent annually, which the political opposition has questioned after commissioning an independent report that showed prices rose 24 percent in August compared to the previous year, Bloomberg reported.

Fernandez has also expanded the nation's welfare program, increasing cash handouts to poor families with children by approximately 26 percent, coinciding with estimated rate of inflation, Al-Jazeera reported.

 "We are generating policies that ensure growth for the benefit of the poor," Fernando Yarade, a member of congress and Fernandez's Front for Victory coalition, told Bloomberg.

"Some sectors, which are a minority, may not be happy with those policies, but we try to govern for the majority."

Fernandez's approval rating has dipped to 30 percent after being reelected last year to a second term with 54 percent of the vote, according to a recent survey conducting by Argentine polling firm Management & Fit, the Associated Press reported.

The survey, which polled 2,259 people nationwide, also found that nearly 70 percent disapproved of the political opposition's performance as well.

Fernandez responded to the protests during a speech in the capital, San Juan.

"I'm not going to make myself nervous, and nobody else will either," she said, according to the AP. "I'm going to do what I've always done: fight and work. I don't know any other way of life."

"We need everyone to understand that we have to put more resources into the most vulnerable sectors," she added.

However, rising inflation and expansion of government controls over the economy remain major concerns for Fernandez's detractors.

"I hope the president understands this message that many Argentines are asking to be heard," Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri, a member of the conservative Republican Proposal coalition, wrote in a Twitter post Thursday.

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