Argentine President Fernando de la Rua resigned yesterday as tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets anddefied a state of siege he had declared less than 24 hours earlier, when protests and food riots swept the country.More than 25 people were killed, many by police, during several days of protest prompted by government imposedausterity measures that have devastated the poor and middle class in a country already ravaged by four years ofrecession.
Argentina’s government began unraveling just four days ago, when desperate residents in poor neighborhoods of BuenosAries began protesting and breaking into grocery stores for food. By Wednesday protests had spread around thecountry, prompting the declaration of a state of siege and the resignation on Thursday of first the despisedeconomics minister and then the entire cabinet.
Argentina has been in a deep recession for more than four years, with the government struggling to find ways to payoff a $132 billion dollar debt. In recent months the IMF has ordered harsh austerity measures as a condition formore than $40 billion in aid to prop up the country’s currency, measures which critics say only worsened Argentina’seconomic crisis.
- Alan Cibils, economist living in Buenos Aries and an expert on Argentina’s economic crisis. He’s been inthe streets during the protests of the last few days.