Last year when Germany hosted the G20 summit in the northern port city of Hamburg, police struggled to contain black-clad anti-capitalist militants who torched cars, looted shops and hurled Molotov cocktails while tens of thousands more people demonstrated peacefully.
And this year too, on Friday thousands of protesters marched onto the streets of Buenos Aires to protest the G20’s economic policies as the world’s leading industrialized nations opened their annual summit in the Argentine capital. The government said 25,000 police officers were on hand in case violence broke out.
This year the streets were tightly sealed so the protesters could not go anywhere near the riverside Costa Salguero convention center- where the summit is being held. Police and border patrols have cordoned off 12-square kilometers outside the convention center, even cargo traffic on the river side has been held off. Friday was also declared a national bank holiday, while Public transportation was suspended and hundreds of intersections blocked to control traffic and crowds. All these measures made it harder for activists to get to the march, but nevertheless many reached the city’s main thoroughfare, 9 de Julio, and ended at the capitol building. Many groups instead of just walking hired private buses to get protestors to the city.
Leaders of global powers such as United States, Russia, China have gathered and the biggest discussion to be held is the hope of discussing US-China trade war. President Donald Trump also stated that because of Russia’s recent act against Ukraine he may not hold discussions with Russian leaders.
Buenos Aires was largely locked down for the march, which was organized by a coalition of labor unions and rights groups.
“We are against the policies of the G20, which are tearing the world apart. In Argentina and the rest of the world there’s lack of education, food and work, because of the policies that they are over there discussing,” said protester Patricia Silvino, a 54-year-old factory worker.
Indeed, the summit comes at a tough time for Argentina. Inflation is running at about 40 percent so far this year while the economy contracts.
“Down with capitalism and down with the G20!” shouted Benjamin Grillo, a 59-year-old high school math teacher protesting against cuts in Argentina’s education budget.
President Mauricio Macri, a free markets advocate elected in 2015 amid high hopes that he could straighten out an economy distorted by years of heavy-handed trade and currency controls, has seen his popularity fall as the local peso currency loses value and average Argentines lose purchasing power.