Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Deaths, Looting and Riots as Argentina Crisis Grows

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Deaths, Looting and Riots as Argentina Crisis Grows

Article excerpt


AT LEAST six people have been killed in widespread rioting and the entire Cabinet has offered its resignation as Argentina today edged closer to political meltdown in the face of the country's plummeting economy. President Fernando De la Rua declared a state of siege, putting troops on the streets and adopting special powers to deal with looting and fighting that has left more than 100 injured and 320 arrested.

Economy minister Domingo Cavallo resigned after angry crowds besieged his home, blaming him for spiralling unemployment and a run on the banks.

Demonstrators in central Buenos Aires defied the state of siege to celebrate Mr Cavallo's departure and continue their protest at mounting austerity and poverty.

Tens of thousands of the capital's angry citizens had earlier gathered in the central Playa de Mayo to protest at the government's handling of the financial crisis.

Thousands more stood on their balconies or hung out of their windows, banging pots and pans.

The demonstration was reportedly peaceful until police began firing tear gas to disperse the crowd. However, instead of melting away protesters grabbed rocks and began fighting back. There were further clashes outside the Casa Rosada government house and the economic ministry building.

Hours earlier, President De la Rua defended his emergency decree in a televised address, saying it was needed to quell unrest that convulsed much of the capital and many of Argentina's largest cities. The rioting had been edging closer to the centre of power, forcing him to take urgent steps.

Mr De la Rua blamed criminals for organising the looting, but in many cases desperate pensioners and mothers with babies have been seen helping themselves to everyday items. "I urge those that are doing violence to cease those acts. With violence, we won't solve any of our problems," he said.

The response from one looter carrying food from a Buenos Aires supermarket was uncompromising. …

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